Wild West Summer Series 2019: Arizona

by chriskane on June 10, 2019

 

Welcome to week two of our summer series. As with last season, this series is intended to take a look at the teams in the Western Conference one by one. We will do a short recap of what took place, but the deep dive here will be into the players that helped make it so, for better or worse. We will be taking a look at a few players who out or under performed their expectations and be considering whether this performance might just be the new normal.

 

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. These ranks are based on a 12team, 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. The idea is to compare this ranking with an expected ranking based on the 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. 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.

 

This week: Arizona

 

Recap:

 

Arizona finished with 86 points, just four shy of a Wild Card slot, which ranked them 9th overall in the west. They demonstrated some excellent team defense, with only Nashville and Dallas allowing fewer goals over the course of the season. The main story lines has to be in net with Antti Raanta showing great promise in 2017-18, but missing a large portion of the season due to injury. Darcy Keumper surprised, stepping up in a big way and anyone who grabbed him was certainly rewarded.

 

 

Undervalued

 

Darcy Kuemper:

As should surprise no one (after his mention a paragraph ago) Kuemper was incredibly undervalued coming into the season. To be fair to all of us who did not consider drafting him, he was not a starter on what wasn’t supposed to be a great team. On the other hand though, he was coming off of a successful backup season (in 2017-18) for LA and Arizona where he finished the season with a career high 29 starts and a combined save percentage of .920.

 

All of that aside – let’s look at where he ranked in 2018-19.

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

ADP

Frederik Andersen

TOR

G

10

44

Sergei Bobrovsky

CBJ

G

11

29

Darcy Kuemper

ARI

G

13

ND

Marc-Andre Fleury

VGK

G

16

41

Pekka Rinne

NSH

G

19

24

Frederik Andersen

TOR

G

10

44

 

Kuemper ended 2018-19 as the 13th most valuable player and the 6th most valuable goalie. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t drafted. The guys who ranked around him here had an average draft position of 35 (just a reminder that a standard 12 team league drafts 192 players, and our draft rankings actually go up to around 250).

 

 

GP

W

GAA

SV

SV%

QS%

55

27

2.33

1551

0.925

67.3

 

It is pretty clear what happened in 2018-19. He was so valuable because Antti Raanta got hurt and Kuemper had an opportunity to play 55 games. In those games though. Kuemper definitely played well as 67.3%  of his games were quality starts. We should take a moment an applaud his effort as he was clearly a second half MVP to anyone who picked him up.

 

Now that that is done, what about 2019-20? Well the first big question is will he get to play? Raanta is supposed to be back and healthy by then. Raanta wasn’t fantastic in his 12 games played, but had an excellent 2017-18 – posting very similar numbers to Kuemper’s 2018-19. Raanta is signed for an extra year, and making more than double Kuemper so it seems pretty likely that Arizona will want to give the guy they are paying a shot at being their number one. It seems like best case scenario for Kuemper then is to start the year in the 1B slot.

 

One additional note: Kuemper had the highest short handed save percentage of anyone who played more than 12 games at .914%. Short handed save percentage is extremely subject to chance, and we would expect that save percentage to be down in the .880s-.890s. .914 is extremely high and implies he had a lot of luck while a man down and that if given the same kinds of opportunities in 2019-20 we would expect some higher goals allowed numbers.

 

Overall Kuemper is in a tough spot. His end of year success likely means that someone is going to be willing to take a shot on him even when Raanta returns. Without an indication of what coach Rick Tocchet plans for him it is hard to recommend drafting him very highly and that may mean not drafting him at all.

Overvalued

 

Clayton Keller:

 

Keller came into 2018-19 with high expectations. Pedigree and a 65 point rookie season will do that. He was drafted 107 overall, right around Evgenii Dadanov, Matthew Tkachuk, and T.J. Oshie. He finished ranked an illustrious 267.

 

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

ADP

Craig Smith

NSH

RW

259

186

Jordan Martinook

CAR

LW

261

ND

Clayton Keller

ARI

LW/RW

267

107

Brandon Saad

CHI

LW

275

243

Wayne Simmonds

NSH

RW

280

115

 

Ranked just behind Jordan Martinook is not where you want to be

 

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

82

14

33

47

0.57

200

7

16

19

21

3:31

18:14

 

Keller’s 47 points were definitely a disappointment. We had all hoped for bigger and better things. Keller’s season was a down one across the board. He had fewer goals, assists, power play points, and shots than in 17-18. He did gain a bit of time on ice – mostly on the power play, which is certainly a good thing but did not translate into points in 18-19. The silver lining here is that all of his underlying numbers are low compared to 17-18 and to where we would expect someone of Keller’s pedigree to end up. His personal and team five-on-five shooting percentages, as well as his IPP are quite low. The implication here is if he were to repeat last season’s quality he would get quite a few more points from it. Even better is that Keller is young so another year of development is likely to improve his season’s quality. He also will have a chance to form some chemistry with Nick Schmaltz who performed well on his trade from Chicago. Keller and Schmaltz had some strong chemistry on the power play in particular, so a full season could do wonders for both of them.

 

Looking at Keller’s season overall there are definitely indicators that he should have been much closer to 60 points than 50. With some natural growth and some potential in linemates 60 seems like a pretty reasonable floor. Given his poor production in 18-19 he might be available at a discount, but I wouldn’t let him drop too far. There is definitely still at least 70 point upside here.

 

Antti Raanta and Nick Schmaltz:

 

These two are grouped together, not because they are similar players, but because they lost out pretty dramatically because of injuries, so don’t forget about them. Both were significant disappointments based on their draft position, but it was not because of their play.

 

Antti Raanta was drafted 149th, and was the 26th goalie off the board. Given that 25 other goalies were picked ahead of him, it might seem hard to say that he was a disappointment, but playing only 12 games will do that. It is hard to use that sample size to tell us anything specific, so just for some reference, here is his 2016-17 season.

 

GP

W

GAA

SV

SV%

QS%

47

21

2.24

1291

0.93

63.8

 

Very solid. Unfortunately as discussed above, Kuemper came in in his absence and played very well. Raanta may have the edge as his contract is significantly larger than Kuemper’s but it likely starts him at 1A at best. The recommendation here isn’t necessarily to draft Raanta, but don’t forget him either. Arizona seems to be a protected place for a goalie to play, and Raanta should have a shot to get his job back.

 

Nick Schmaltz also had an unfortunately short stint with Arizona. After being traded from Chicago in November, he was injured at the end of December and was out the rest of the season. His 17 games with Arizona, were very productive though.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

17

5

9

14

.82

29

17.2

0

7

5

3:34

18:01

 

A big part of that success came because he gained about a minute and a half on the power play, playing with Keller. A high shooting percentage doesn’t hurt either.

 

On the face of it the point pace looks a little steep for Schmaltz as it is not clear if he will be able to maintain a shooting percentage of 17%. His full season numbers (including his time in Chicago) paced him for about 50 points. If we are being conservative that is likely his floor, but getting more time on ice, and more power play time is going to increase those numbers. In addition, all of his underlying numbers (IPP, PDO, team shooting percentage) indicate that positive regression is likely to take place. I am not entirely sure if that 70 point pace if he put up over his 17 games as a Coyote is sustainable, but 60-65 seems like a pretty good bet.

 

 

Thanks for reading

 

Next week: Calgary

 

Previous Team Articles:

Anaheim