Wild West Summer Series 2018: Los Angeles

by chriskane on August 13, 2018

After a week of vacation I am working on catching up on all of the great work from the Dobber writers, but never fear that we will be delayed in our review of the Western Conference. Also make sure you are all caught up on Cam’s team breakdowns in the Eastern Edge Series.

 

 * * * Pick up the 13th annual DobberHockey Fantasy Guide HERE * * *

 

The idea for these columns to compare end of 2017-18 Fantasy Hockey Geek rankings for individual players with an expected ranking based on their average draft positions from the start of the year. This process does not necessarily identify who was the most important player to each team but gives us not only an idea of who was a steal/bust on draft day, but where each player was valued going into this season. I will also be adding some thoughts on whether or not that is the new normal for the player in question and if we should be adjusting our draft positions. For a deeper dive on each team plus full projections make sure to get your copy of Dobber’s Fantasy Guide, out now!

 

And now for the technical details. We will be using the Fantasy Hockey Geek tool to get a ranking that combines all of a player’s stats for the searched categories. Like for the previous series, the ranks are based on a 12 team, head-to-head league, using the categories of goals, assists, power play points, shots, hits and blocks for forwards/defensemen and wins, saves, save percentage and goals against average for goalies. Player eligibility for this series is based on Yahoo, and draft ranks are based on average draft positions compiled from Yahoo, ESPN and CBS by FantasyPros.

 

Los Angeles

 

Recap:

The Los Angeles Kings rode a surprising surge from Anze Kopitar and company to secure the first wild card spot in the Western Conference. They finished the season with 98 points and averaging 2.91 goals per game. In the first round of the playoffs they met the Las Vegas Golden Knights, got swept, and managed just three goals in the course of the four games.

 

Undervalued:

Expectations were apparently pretty low for LA Kings in 2017-18, essentially every player who was drafted (minus one we will get to in a second) met or exceeded their draft position. The full list of those who were drafted but undervalued is as follows: Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Jake Muzzin, Dion Phaneuf, and Alec Martinez. Derek Forbort and Christian Folin were not drafted but are ranked right around the end of drafts, so also undervalued at draft day. I did want to add a bit on our favorite and most surprising draft day value, Dustin Brown.

 

Dustin Brown

 

Dustin Brown was not drafted going into 2017-18, and that is not surprising given 36 points was his most recent high since 2012-13. He ended the season as the 50th ranked player in the league and the 10th ranked dedicated winger. As you can see below he ranked in some excellent company.

 

Patrik Laine

WPG

RW

42

Jakub Voracek

PHI

RW

49

Dustin Brown

LAK

LW/RW

50

Gabriel Landeskog

COL

LW

51

Evander Kane

SJS

LW

52

 

2017-18 saw high water marks in goals, assists, shots, power play points, and blocks since at least 2011-2012, and in many cases career highs.

 

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

81

28

33

61

0.75

222

12.6

189

16

33

 

A big reason for Brown’s success is the amount of time he spent with a surging Anze Kopitar. Kopitar has had a few inconsistent years recently, but had career highs in goals, assists and points in 2017-18. That breakout certainly helped Brown gather some points he was not used to seeing, but Brown also received his highest amount of power play time since 2013-14 and his highest overall time one ice since 2012-13.

 

If Brown can keep up his time on ice numbers, his shot, hit, and block numbers do have a chance of staying consistent. Unfortunately his shooting percentage was quite high and even with a similar number of shots next year he could have as many as 10 fewer goals if that percentage returns to a career average. His even strength team shooting percentage was also quite high implying that his team mates got a bit lucky while he was on the ice and there might be fewer goals to go around next season. It seems likely then that his overall point total is bound to go down next year even if he can keep up the same time on ice. Unfortunately though that is definitely not a given. Brown doesn’t have a recent history of maintain that kind of ice time and the Kings added Ilya Kovalchuk over the summer. It remains to be seen exactly where he will fall in the lineup, but there is definitely a good chance that it will impact Brown’s spot either with Kopitar at even strength or on the top power play unit. If Brown loses either one of those spots his point and likely even his shot and hit numbers could drop, and potentially dramatically.

 

All things considered Brown is a high risk draft for 2018-19. At best he keeps all of his time and maybe forms a top trio with Kovalchuk and Kopitar, but is still potentially hurt by personal regression. At worst he is demoted, sees his ice time slashed, and is hit by personal regression. He is also 33 and has many seasons of NHL experience so it is not like he has a new face just breaking into the league. He has a long history of not performing near this level of production. I certainly won’t be drafting him as a top 10 winger, but I will be keeping an eye out for indications he is keeping his spot and making good use of it.

 

Overvalued:

Jeff Carter

One thing my formula doesn’t take into account all that well is seasons limited by injuries. The scores are based on a season performance not on a per game ranking. As we can see from the ranking and the comparables below, Jeff Carter did not rank well in 2017-18. He finished as the 584th most valuable player and 84th most valuable center. What this record does not indicate though is that me missed significant time due to injury.

 

Ryan Kesler

ANA

C

558

Matt Cullen

MIN

C

582

Jeff Carter

LAK

C

584

David Desharnais

NYR

C

589

Brian Gibbons

NJD

C

592

 

For a little extra context Carter was by far the most valuable center who played less than 30 and 40 games, and ranked similarly to players like Joe Thornton and Ryan Kesler who played just shy of 50. All of that is to say that the 27 games Carter player were certainly valuable for anyone who managed to get them.

 

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

27

13

9

22

0.81

85

15.3

27

9

11

 

Carter’s points per game and shots per game remained fairly consistent to previous years. He lost a little time on ice per game, but actually gained time on the power play. His personal shooting percentage and even strength team shooting percentage were a bit high, though not as high as Brown’s above. The small sample size of 2017-18 makes for more difficult comparisons, but as with Brown he has a history in the NHL, and unlike Brown it is a history of producing. Even though he is also 33 (34 in January) he has not shown any real signs of slowing down. Still the aging curve and potential injuries are a slight concern. Carter will likely fall in drafts (he averaged 63rd in 2017-18) because he missed most of the year, but letting him fall too far could be a mistake.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Next week: Minnesota

 

 

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