Wild West Summer Series 2018: Vancouver

by Dobber on September 17, 2018

 

So big news out of Ottawa. I took a look at my notes from the San Jose  Column. Timing didn’t work out great on the release of that one, but isn’t that just the way it goes. Erik Karlsson certainly changes the outlook for the power play in San Jose. Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl, who I was reasonably positive about could stand to lose out on power play time depending how Karlsson is deployed. Both could get a small bump if they get to overlap on even strength though. Dobber has updated his projections so go buy the Guide. Show Cam some love too and keep up with the 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.

 

Vancouver

 

Recap:

Vancouver finished 2017-18 7th in the Pacific with 73 points. They had a significant problem with goal scoring, which is likely not going to be helped along by the retirement of Henrik and Daniel Sedin. For 2018-19 Vancouver is certainly relying on the progression of their young guns to make up the difference.

 

Undervalued:

 

Alex Edler:

 

Alex Edler provided exceptional value in the 2017-18 season. He was drafted 260th overall, but finished the season as the 47th most valuable player, and 16th most valuable defensemen. The defensemen around him had an average draft position of 177th.

 

Ivan Provorov

PHI

D

41

John Klingberg

DAL

D

45

Alexander Edler

VAN

D

47

Matt Dumba

MIN

D

55

Tyson Barrie

COL

D

58

 

Expectations were clearly not high for Edler, and it is not exactly surprising. Managers were not all that excited about the offense that Vancouver had to offer in 2017-18 and Edler himself has only two seasons of his 11 seasons where he managed more than 40 points.

 

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

70

6

28

34

0.49

172

3.5

157

15

203

 

While his 34 points doesn’t scream ‘great season’, 2017-18 saw Edler post his best assist, power play point numbers, and point pace since 2011-12, his best hit and block numbers of his career, and his best shot pace since 2013-14. Edler provided incredible value for leagues that count hits and blocks, and he was even able to score at a decent pace.

 

What is a little less clear is exactly what changed. His point pace was the highest of his career, but his personal shooting percentage was a touch low if anything. The team’s 5-on-5 shooting percentage was almost exactly in line with previous years, and while his IPP was a little high, it wasn’t high enough to account for the change. The biggest change (and the cause of the point increase) was his career high power play totals. Unfortunately that career high did not come with an increase in time on ice on the power play, or with a new role, as he was the lone defenseman on the first power play in multiple recent seasons. The biggest difference between 2016-17 and 2017-18 was the effectiveness of the power play. In 2016-17 Vancouver managed 32 goals for a 14.1% success rate. In 2017-18 they scored 53 goals for a 21.26% success rate.

 

The career highs in hits and blocks are also another big question mark as Edler’s average time on ice, and short handed time on ice (usual culprits for changes in these types of stats) were almost exactly the same in 2017-18 as his recent career numbers. To further highlight the change, his average hit per game numbers from 2015-2017 was 1.6, in 2017-18 it was 2.2 per game. For blocks, he was averaging 2.04 per game over that time period, but in 2017-18 it was 2.9. Those are large changes for with no additional time on ice. My tenuous theory is that Vancouver was a more porous defensive team in 2017-18 (as illustrated by higher corsi, fenwick, and shot against numbers, more defensive zone starts, and higher teamwide hits – by almost 300 – and blocks) and so more of Edler’s responsibilities (outside of power play time) were defensive.

 

So for this all to be sustainable we are banking on Vancouver to maintain an above average power play without the Sedins, while at the same time spending enough time in their own zone to allow Edler to keep up his peripheral stats. It feels like something has to give here. A full season from Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and new arrival Elias Pettersson certainly can give some optimism on the power play. Few other changes though do leave open the possibility that defense will be an issue again in 2018-19, which means that Edler may be relied on in a similar way in 2017-18. My conservative pick is to knock off a few power play points, and maybe regress the peripherals just a touch. So maybe he won’t be the 16th most valuable defenseman, but he should still be much more valuable than his 260th overall draft pick from 2017-18.

 

Overvalued:

 

Sam Gagner:

So it might not be fair to say that expectations were high for Sam Gagner going into 2017-18 as he was drafted 160th overall. He was fresh of a 50 point season with Columbus propped up by his 18 points as a power play specialist. It is safe to say his season with Vancouver was not a reprise of that success. He ended up as the 383rd most valuable player in the league, and no one around him was drafted at all in most leagues.

 

Adrian Kempe

LAK

C/LW

370

Brian Boyle

NJD

C/LW

382

Sam Gagner

VAN

C/RW

383

J.T. Compher

COL

C/LW

393

Tommy Wingels

BOS

C/RW

396

 

Gagner saw decreases across in goals, assists, power play points, and shots in 2017-18. He did see increases in hits and blocks (likely due to some of the same issues as Edler above)

 

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

74

10

21

31

0.42

164

6.1

54

11

28

 

In positive news, Gagner saw an increase in average time on ice, he was able to maintain his shot rate from Columbus and still saw a decent amount of time on the first power play with the Sedins.

 

So what for 2018-19? So if everything to were repeat 2017-18 and his low shooting percentage regress to his average he would add three goals. That certainly doesn’t increase his value much. Since the Sedins won’t be in the picture we can speculate that Gagner might get more ice time, and could round out the top power play with Horvat, Boeser, Petterson and Edler. Does that translate to a higher point pace? I am not anticipating much beyond a half point per game (which incidentally is pretty much what his pace would be if his goals rebound).

 

The moral of this story is that Gagner is valuable if a half point per game player with a slightly higher percentage of his points on the power play is valuable. His value seems to be closer to his end of season rank than his draft position.

 

Sven Baertschi:

 

Sven Baertschi was grabbed in leagues as a late round flyer with hopes of upside. That did not exactly materialize in 2017-18. There were weeks where he was worth owning, but certainly did not provide teams value enough to roster him all season in standard sized leagues.

 

Connor Brown

TOR

RW

530

Zack Kassian

EDM

RW

532

Sven Baertschi

VAN

LW

535

Drew Stafford

NJD

LW/RW

537

Matt Hendricks

WPG

LW

541

 

Baertschi was the 535rd most valuable player and the 154th most valuable winger.

 

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

53

14

15

29

0.55

82

17.1

19

9

29

 

Baertschi actually had the highest point pace of his career, which incidentally has reached six seasons now (we won’t count the five games of 2011-12). He is 25 so still seems to have some room to grow, but at some point we have to start thinking that maybe the upside just won’t be there.

 

First the bad news. Baertschi’s most productive season (2017-18) really wasn't that much more productive than his other seasons. He only played 53 games, still has not broken the two shot per game barrier, and had a sky high shooting percentage. His PDO, and 5-on-5 shooting percentage while he was on the ice were also high.

 

The good news? There is room for improvement. His time on ice still isn’t high (just over 15.5 minutes a game), and his power play time is low. The Sedin’s have retired and he may be relied on for more in 2018-19. He spent some time with Horvat and Boesor and did have some success (though not consistently). If he gets that spot again (potentially unlikely with Petterson joining the team) and/or sees an increase in power play time there is a chance he sees an uptick in productivity.

 

Based on his history, and some his underlying numbers it seems like he will need that increased time on ice just to avoid negative regression. So yes, he has a potential opportunity here, but even a modest improvement puts him maybe in Sam Gagner territory, which for most leagues is undraftable. He is definitely on my wait and see list for 2018-19. 

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Next week: Las Vegas

 

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