Geek of the Week: Right Wings to Target in Banger League Drafts

by Ben Burnett on September 22, 2019
  • Geek of the Week
  • Geek of the Week: Right Wings to Target in Banger League Drafts

We’re now in the thick of draft season, and the hope for this column is it helps both those who still have drafts upcoming, and also for those in shallower leagues who can find some value on the waiver wire. At the bottom I’ll list a few players who may still be on the waiver wire in deeper leagues that may be worth a stash for those who could use some help shoring up peripheral stats after the draft.

As with the previous installments, this column will look for players who provide outsized impacts on their draft position in peripheral-based fantasy leagues. Last week’s column listed some left wings with question marks, and the week before listed safe floor defensemen. Today we’ll look for players who provide decent point production while also giving teams category coverage with penalty minutes, hits and / or blocks on the right side.

Using the Fantasy Hockey Geek draft tool and Dobber’s 2019-20 season projections, I’ve calculated a few players who are likely to significantly outperform their average draft positions (ADP) in Yahoo. This week we’re starting with a player who offers superstar-level upside, and a fairly high bangers league floor.

Andrei Svechnikov Yahoo ADP 136, RW 31; FHG 57, RW 9

Last year’s 37-point campaign wasn’t quite what fantasy owners were hoping for when Svechnikov was drafted second overall by the Canes in 2018. However, he quietly provided a very respectable 2.3 shots and 1.5 hits per game. He also put up 62 penalty minutes last year, 4th among all rookies. So while the offense wasn’t there in Year 1, Svech still provided value to owners in multi-cat leagues. The question this year is whether the upside in 2020 will be enough to justify a top 100 pick.

One area where there is room to project improvements in year two for Svech is powerplay usage. The Russian rookie saw less than 40 percent of the team’s powerplay usage in 2019. That top line and powerplay unit in Carolina featured a now-”retired” Justin Williams on RW. Nothing is set in stone until we see head coach Rod Brind’Amour’s Game 1 lineup, but it’s easy to picture Svechnikov sliding right into that spot. With steady PP1 deployment, Svech would have an outside shot at doubling his year one-point totals.

While the elite usage isn’t guaranteed, it seems safe to project an overall increase in ice time for the much-touted sophomore. Last year, Svech played 14:39 per game, respectable mid-six minutes. But this is an emerging superstar who is likely the best talent on the right side on a good Carolina team. With added minutes (and some potential run alongside Sebastian Aho), Svech should be able to at least repeat his shot, hit and penalty minute rates from last year. That alone makes him draftable at 136. But just how high is the offensive upside in year two? If he can put up 50+ this season, he’s unquestionably one of the 100 most useful skaters in bangers leagues this year.

Micheal Ferland Yahoo ADP 167, RW 58; FHG 118 RW 20

Death. Taxes. Line 1 Ferland. It’s difficult to think of a career middle-six talent who has spent their career with better linemates than Ferland. In consecutive years he’s gone from Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, to Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, to now riding shotgun with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. All while being available on fantasy waiver wires or as a late-round pick.

Given his linemates, Ferland hasn’t put up great offensive numbers over a full campaign. He’ll go on runs, sure, as he did when he put up 10 points in the first 10 games of 2019. But despite his linemates, Ferland has remained a player with 50-point upside, never actually cashing in consistently enough through the season to make him a must-own in points only leagues.

But Ferland needs to be rostered in any peripheral league. Over the past two years, while riding shotgun with elite producers, Ferland put up back-to-back 40-point seasons, and a per-82 game pace of 166 shots, 196 hits, and 45 penalty minutes. Given the baseline point production, Ferland can reasonably be expected to contribute in a variety of categories. Don’t let someone else beat you to him in the last round of the draft.

Dustin Brown Yahoo ADP 180, RW 81; FHG 118, RW 17

In 2017 you’d have been excused for writing Brown off after four consecutive sub-0.5 point per game seasons. But now, following a massive jump in powerplay deployment, the former captain of the Kings is averaging 60 points per 82 games over the last two years. In 2019, Brown is being drafted as one of the last L1 / PP1 forwards in the league, and at 180, his ADP is criminal in peripheral-heavy formats.

There are reasons to fade Brown in your rankings. Part of his low ADP must be tied up in the fact he plays for one of the league’s least exciting teams. At 34 years old, Brown is no spring chicken either. And while Brown is an excellent producer in the hits category, last year’s 170 hit pace was the lowest in his 12-year career.

But at some point it becomes ridiculous to fade a top-line player any further than the 81st right wing drafted on Yahoo. While the hit rate may be declining, if his floor is 1.5 hits per game, the 12th round is incredible value for a player of Brown’s stat profile. In fact, only six forwards last year paced for 55+ points and 150+ hits (minimum 20 games played). For a player whose value is tied up in peripherals, Brown may not rack up blocks and penalty minutes at a rate fantasy owners like. But that late in the draft it’s tough to find a player with so little risk attached.

More quick hits:

Basically the poster boy for peripheral-heavy leagues, it’s impossible to write a column like this without mentioning the capital’s bad boy Tom Wilson (ADP 157, FHG rank 35), so here’s his shoutout. Wilson will put up elite hits and penalty minutes, and could provide 50-point upside if things break right playing alongside Ovechkin and Kuznetsov this season. It’s definitely worth reaching for Wilson inside the top 100 if you’re in a categories league that features hits and penalty minutes.

Wayne Simmonds (ADP 164, FHG 143) was an elite under-the-radar player in these leagues for years when he cleaned up the net-front on Philly’s PP1. Depending on how the Devils choose to break up their two heavily-talented PP units, Simmonds has an outside shot at providing excellent cross-category coverage. Worth a flyer, especially in deeper leagues.

Josh Anderson (ADP 172, FHG 191) is a player whose FHG value actually potentially underrates him. He’s typically played in a third-line role, and will certainly fill peripherals from that spot (230 shots, 214 hits, 60 penalty minutes in 2019), but with an Artemi Panarin-shaped hole on PP1, could the Blue Jackets’ powerplay configuration be restructured? If so, you want to get in on the ground floor of this player who could explode in the right situation.

A few names I’m looking at in deeper leagues:

Andrew Shaw likely won’t pace for 61 points in 2019-20, but he’s still going unranked in Yahoo’s ADP. The penalty minutes, hits and a decent point-floor should still be there for him in Chicago.

Richard Panik is a safe-floor player (44 penalty minutes, 140 shots, 137 hits, 52 blocks in 2019) on a new team in Washington.

Andre Burakovsky isn’t a peripheral-category filler, but you could do worse as a deep-league stash while Mikko Rantanen remains unsigned. With news he’s filling in for Rantanen on L1 and PP1, he’s a post-draft add that you can abandon if/when Rant re-signs.