Wild West Summer Series 2018: St. Louis

by chriskane on September 10, 2018

The summer season is quickly winding down. We have a few more teams to cover and I will make sure to squeeze them, hopefully as you are preparing for your drafts. As always make sure you buy the Dobber Guide and check out Cam’s, Eastern Edge Series.

 

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.

 

St. Louis

 

Recap:

St. Louis started the 2017-18 season very strong sitting atop the NHL standings on December 11th. An injury to Jaden Schwartz and some inconsistent play from Jake Allen seemed to trigger the an implosion that lead to St. Louis dropping out of the playoffs by one point on the last day of the regular season.

 

Undervalued:

 

Brayden Schenn

 

The move to St. Louis clearly agreed with Brayden Schenn. The finished as the 57th most valuable player and the 11th most valuable center. To say that was an improvement on his previous season is an understatement. It was also a relatively significant improvement on his draft position.

 

Evgeny Kuznetsov

WSH

C

44

John Tavares

NYI

C

54

Brayden Schenn

STL

C

57

Sean Couturier

PHI

C

61

Eric Staal

MIN

C

71

 

In the summer of 2017 it seemed the general consensus that Schenn would likely improve on his 2016-17 numbers, but not many projected him to hit anywhere near 70 points (except Dobber so you had better go buy the guide).

 

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

82

28

42

70

0.85

210

13.3

154

19

37

 

2017-18 saw Schenn’s highest goal, assist, point per game, and shot numbers of his career. He is also incredibly valuable in this league set up as he adds a significant number of hits. His power play numbers, while all still excellent, were actually down slightly from his power play specialist role in Philadelphia. Clearly though, the addition of two minutes of ice time per game overall and playing with the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko will do wonders for your even strength production.

 

His shooting percentage was within the normal range, but a few of his other numbers are a touch high which could imply that 70 might be a bit of a ceiling for Schenn and he may settle in a few points below that. I should also note that Schenn, like the Blues on the whole, collapsed during the second half of the season. Over the first 44 games Schenn had 52 points (97 point pace), over the final 38 games Schenn managed 28 (60 point pace). Now certainly a 60 point pace can be valuable, and that pace is much more in line with his time in Philly than the first 44 games. The question for us then is how much stock do we put into the first 44 games. I come down on the side of the larger sample, and think we can hope for something close to the full season pace from 2017-18, but perhaps not a full repeat.

 

Carter Hutton

Carter Hutton, Ben Bishop and Braden Holtby. I would never have placed those three in the same goalie tier for my 2017-18 draft. And yet, here we are, Hutton the most valuable of the three. Hutton was undrafted in essentially every league, while the goalies surrounding him had an average draft position of 67.

 

Martin Jones

SJS

G

27

Antti Raanta

ARI

G

33

Carter Hutton

STL

G

64

Ben Bishop

DAL

G

74

Braden Holtby

WSH

G

75

He started the year as a backup, and with the help of a faltering Jake Allen, was able to seize the reins for a chunk of the season an post excellent numbers in the process.

 

Games Played

Wins

Saves

SV%

GAA

32

17

754

0.931

2.09

 

Now it is tempting to think that Hutton just needed the opportunity, and when it was finally given to him he tore it up. Unfortunately that isn’t entirely the case. Hutton is a 32 year old journeyman backup who has played for three different teams in the last five seasons (soon to be a fourth). The jump in 2017-18 wasn’t really about opportunity. In 2016-17 he actually a got a similar amount of games (while still on St. Louis) and clearly no one was rushing to grab him in 2017-18. Why? His numbers were decidedly worse.

 

2016-17

Games Played

Wins

Saves

SV%

GAA

30

13

605

0.913

2.39

 

2017-18 isn’t even the most he has played in a season. Back in 2013-14 he played 40 games and his numbers were even worse than in 2016-17.

 

Buffalo saw something that they liked in Hutton, and are seemingly hoping to pull an Antti Raanta and turn a backup into a solid number one. On the plus side he has a chance at some extended playing time in 2018-19, but on the down side Buffalo isn’t exactly known for their defense, and Hutton doesn’t really have a history of exceptional goaltending. Because of the change in team, Hutton certainly carries more value going into 2018-19, however expecting him to repeat 2017-18’s success is likely a mistake.

 

Overvalued:

 

Jaden Schwartz

Ok, I know, I have put injured players here for a couple of teams now. That is the obvious answer. Clearly an injured player is going to disappoint in a season long comparison. So yes, Jaden Schwartz was injured for a bit, only playing 62 games, but that is only part of the story.

 

Schwartz finished as the 251st most valuable player, and the 65th most valuable winger overall. He was drafted 112th on average, but those around him were drafted somewhere around 190th on average (still a disappointing return).

 

Kyle Okposo

BUF

RW

242

Alex Tuch

VGK

RW

243

Jaden Schwartz

STL

LW

251

Austin Watson

NSH

LW

252

Mark Stone

OTT

RW

254

 

It is hard to square that value with the season I remember from Schwartz. His name was always seeming to appear on the score sheet, and that is actually born out in the stat line.

 

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

62

24

35

59

0.95

157

15.3

52

11

30

 

Schwartz had the highest point output and point per game pace of his career, and by a fair margin. He saw his highest power play time and total time on ice. He seemed to click well with Tarasenko and Schenn, so if only he had played a full season…

 

Unfortunately if you look at his value per game to account for those missed games it actually gets worse. Schwartz becomes the 83rd most valuable winger, and yes that is Cal Clutterbuck who provided more value than Jaden Schwartz. To be fair a very the average per game values at this level are all very close, and a small deviation in performance would could easily move him up to 75th overall, but the point remains.

 

Cal Clutterbuck

NYI

RW

David Backes

BOS

RW

Jaden Schwartz

STL

LW

Brock McGinn

CAR

LW

Josh Anderson

COL

RW

 

The problem is, that while there are not a lot of wingers at his scoring pace or better (maybe 15), there are quite a few (about 60) who are shooting more than him, about 80 who hit more than him, and about 40 who block more, and another 40 that have a better power play point pace than Schwartz. That hurt a bit as those peripheral categories can weigh quite a bit in a composite score for a player.

 

Schwartz then is a bit of a conundrum. His scoring pace makes him a high draft target, but he doesn’t necessarily provide the value of some of the other wing options. In points only leagues he certainly provides a great per game value. In leagues that count a wider range of categories, he definitely starts to fall a bit. In the type of league described above, I am expecting the asking price to be more than the season value so I am unlikely to have the chance to draft Schwartz.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Next week: Vancouver

 

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