Geek of the Week: Should We Reach for the Stars?

by Ben Burnett on November 10, 2019


It’s been a tale of two halves for the Dallas Stars in 2019-20. The annual off-season winners got off to an awful 1-7-1 start, before ripping off seven wins in their next eight games. On an individual level, a number of the Stars’ biggest name players struggled to start the season. Through those first nine games, Roope Hintz was the only forward really carrying his weight fantasy-wise, with six points. Perennial fantasy studs like Tyler Seguin, Alex Radulov, and Jamie Benn were all under half a point per game through that stretch. Since that mid-October turnaround, we’ve seen players like Seguin and Radulov emerge, as well as signs of life from new UFA signing Joe Pavelski.

The Stars have a few players that I think it’s pretty simple to give advice for: Seguin? He’s gonna be a stud. Radulov looks like he is likely to fall off from last year’s total, but still very much a rosterable player in all leagues; Miro Heiskanen is a hold / add in all leagues while he has the opportunity to snatch PP1 duties with the news John Klingberg is out. The question I’m looking at this week, is which of the other fantasy-relevant players are worth buying, dropping, or holding. So let’s take a look at the Stars players who may skirt the line between rosterable and dropworthy.

Jamie Benn

The former Olympic gold-medal winner has six points in the team’s first 17 games this year. That 29-point pace is bound to regress somewhat, but is it enough to make him a must own in fantasy circles? His ice time, power play usage, and shot rates have consistently fallen for a few years now.

The positives for Benn include a way-too-low shooting percentage (2.7 percent) and a lion’s share of his recent even strength time playing alongside Seguin and Radulov. In bangers’ leagues, Benn is averaging more than two hits per game for the first time since his rookie season in 2009-10.

Expectations should be tempered for the former multi-cat stud. While his shooting luck will improve, he’ll need to shoot more to help that matter much. Right now if we regressed his percentages to league average, here’s where we might expect Benn to finish 2019-20:

*Players’ SH projections will be built into the Pace total.
 

 

GP

ATOI

G

A

PTS

SOG

PIMs

Hits

Blks

ES

65

13:45

14

19

33

107

26

100

45

PP

65

2:48

6

6

12

34

9

4

1

Pace

82

16:55

21

30

51

178

39

143

65


Advice: A 51-point pace, with nearly two hits per game makes Benn very rosterable in most bangers’ leagues, though he’s very unlikely to pay off that top-50 average draft position. If you can sell Benn at his former name value, you have to do it at this point. The risk that he has become this sub-60-point peripheral specialist is too high.

Joe Pavelski

Much like Benn, Pavelski was a monster in multi-category leagues for years. Unlike Benn, he didn’t crash as he approached his 30s. In fact, Pavs enjoyed a career-best 78-point season when he was Benn’s age now. Pavelski’s age-related regression appears to be hitting a bit later, but it’s here nonetheless. The former San Jose captain has three goals and eight points in 17 games with his new team. He leads the Stars with over three minutes per night on the power play, which is a very positive development. However, it is disheartening to see his shot rate dip below two shots per game.

With Pavelski it’s a little trickier forecasting what he is capable of, because we’ve only seen 17 games of play with a new squad. But I’ll assume it’s slightly rosier than the 39-point pace he’s put up so far and use rate stats extending back into some of his last years with the Sharks.
 

 

GP

ATOI

G

A

PTS

SOG

PIMs

Hits

Blks

ES

65

14:12

12

16

28

92

15

48

44

PP

65

3:08

4

8

12

27

8

5

1

Pace

82

18:19

20

29

49

151

32

65

60


Advice: Just like Benn, I see Pavelski hitting right around 50 points. Unfortunately, he’s pacing for uncharacteristically low shots and hit rates. Pavelski is a drop for me in shallow leagues. In deeper leagues, you’re likely stuck with him unless someone is willing to buy in off his recent hot streak.

Roope Hintz

Unlike the rest of these bums (kidding… mostly), Hintz has made a name for himself this season, scoring a few highlight goals and leading the Stars in scoring through their first 17 games. While that is heartening to hear, it would be better if it wasn’t while pacing for 56 points. The second-year winger is shooting over 27 percent, so his 46-goal pace might not be so sustainable. Hintz’s early season goal-scoring made him seem like a steal in drafts, but here’s what I expect him to do rest of season, if we assume his percentages drift down to more sustainable levels.

Hintz has only played 74 games in his young career, so we’re going to use his career shooting percentage to forecast his likely future results. This is where we could see the most amount of variance, as HIntz has only shot 132 pucks in his young career. We’ll use his career even strength and power play shooting percentages to project his total.

Hintz is expected to miss time over the next few weeks, but I will give full-season projection numbers (minus the single game he already missed), because I feel that is more helpful than giving an abbreviated season pace.
 

 

GP

ATOI

G

A

PTS

SOG

PIMs

Hits

Blks

ES

65

13:04

15

18

33

114

11

96

37

PP

65

2:06

3

5

8

16

2

1

2

Pace

81

16:12

27

25

52

167

15

113

46


Advice: The question many Hintz owners were asking a few games into the season is how high is the ceiling? The goals and hit totals are definitely a big positive. But those shots, penalty minutes, and assist rates won’t do much for banger league players. Given Hintz is shooting at an unsustainable clip, it would be really nice to see him pick up that shot rate on the power play. Until then, it’s tough to see him becoming a consistent-30 goal scorer in the NHL. The ceiling should be sky high, but a lack of overall ice time keeps him from having a shot at a 30/3/60 statline or better.

John Klingberg

Since he joined the Stars full time in 2013-14, Klingberg is sixth in the league in points per game among all defensemen. Suddenly, this year, that scoring touch has disappeared. Through 17 games, Klingberg has only four points, with only two coming on the power play. Not only that, Klingberg now faces a multi-week injury that could give sophomore-blueliner Heiskanen the opportunity he needs to snag that top power play spot.

At this point, if you’ve been considering dropping him, hopefully you can stash him on your IR list until he’s healthy and if he hops right back into the PP1 spot all the better for you. Given Klingberg could lose his PP1 spot to Heiskanen before he next returns to the ice, projections for him need to be tempered between what he could do on a dedicated PP1 unit, ro what he might put up on a second unit.

Surprisingly, Klingberg hasn’t run away with the PPTOI so far this year, and there’s only a 20-second difference between his usage and Heiskanen. As such, I’m going to assume he splits the difference there, and plays 2:40 on the power play, as a happy medium. As with Hintz, I’ll give a full 82 game pace, despite the fact he is slated to miss some time.
 

 

GP

ATOI

G

A

PTS

SOG

PIMs

Hits

Blks

ES

65

19:54

5

22

27

118

13

39

73

PP

65

2:50

1

13

14

18

6

0

3

Pace

82

23:37

7

38

45

173

34

53

99


Advice: As mentioned above, I think it may be Miro Heiskanen SZN, and if you’re a Klingberg owner who sees Heiskanen on the wire, I think you have to grab him while Kling sits for the next few weeks. In general, it’s definitely looking like it will be one of Klingberg’s down years, as the 41 points over 65 games projected just above would put him on a 52-point pace for the season. I think regardless you should keep Klingberg stashed in IR, and in deeper leagues I would understand letting him go if he comes back to an even further diminished power-play role. But the point upside is just so high that in deeper leagues I think you’re holding and praying he can get back to 2017-18 levels. Godspeed.