Wild West Summer Series 2019: Colorado

by chriskane on July 3, 2019


Welcome to Week 5 of our summer series. Like 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 over- or underperformed compared to 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 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. 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: Colorado

Recap

Colorado finished the 2018-19 season with 90 points and clinching the final Wild Card spot. They won their first round like they played the majority of the season: on the back of Nathan MacKinnon in particular, but the top line in general. Not to be completely outdone, Philipp Grubauer shone in net down the stretch (after a rough start to the season) and is another main reason Colorado pulled away and won the Wild Card race.

Undervalued

Gabriel Landeskog

Landeskog entered the 2018-19 campaign coming off of a 62-point season, and in this category format that includes hits, he was ranked highly. He was drafted very reasonably, with an average draft position of 95th overall right between Jonathan Huberdeau, and Matthew Tkachuk (both of whom ironically also had great seasons).

By the end of the season he was the 4th-ranked winger and 24th-ranked player (oddly, again ranked right ahead of Huberdeau).
 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

ADP

Nikita Kucherov

TBL

RW

4

3

Patrick Kane

CHI

RW

14

20

Gabriel Landeskog

COL

LW

24

95

Jonathan Huberdeau

FLA

LW

25

93

Brad Marchand

BOS

LW

27

6


One thing to mention straight away, is that Landeskog is likely always going to be a bit more valuable with these league settings (due to his hits in particular) than in general fantasy, or points leagues, so we might always expect a bit of a value difference between the drafted value and the Fantasy Hockey Rank. In this case, though, that potential difference does not begin to cover the gap.
 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

73

34

41

75

1.03

243

14

120

26

64

4:06

21:09


Landeskog set career highs across the board (in goals, assists, power-play points, shots, power-play time on ice, total time on ice), and he did it in what appears to be a pretty sustainable fashion. His career high in goals comes with a career high in shots. That career high in shots comes with a career high in time on ice. His career high in power-play points comes with a career high in power-play time. All of his underlying numbers look good. The only potential question is a slightly inflated shooting percentage. At the end of the day, though, assuming he continues to get this deployment, he should be able to repeat this performance.

That is the question though. Towards the end of the 2018-19 season Landeskog started seeing an increasing amount of time with Alex Kerfoot (now traded) at even strength, and lower time on ice on the power play. Generally he was able to maintain production so it did not hamper his overall season tallies, but the Colorado coaching staff have demonstrated a desire to try splitting up their big three. If Landeskog were to be the odd man out, it would certainly have a negative impact on his fantasy value.

Over the long term there has not yet been a successful separation of the top line, though the additions of Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky might indicate some shuffling is in order. For now he has point per game potential and we should consider drafting him like it.

Philipp Grubauer

Grubauer really had a tale of two seasons in 2018-19. He entered the season with a bit of hype coming off of a very successful backup season for Washington in 2017-18. The hope was clearly that he was going to push Semyon Varlamov for starts and eventually take the job from him. Given that he was drafted at a fairly reasonable, if slightly conservative 185th overall (right between Keith Kinkaid and Jimmy Howard).
 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

Anton Khudobin

DAL

G

116

Jack Campbell

LAK

G

146

Philipp Grubauer

COL

G

147

David Rittich

CGY

G

151

Jimmy Howard

DET

G

152


By the end of the season he had moved up quite a bit in the rankings to 147th overall among a group of goalies who all exceeded expectations in 2018-19. He ended with a very reasonable stat line, which is fairly fitting of his end-of-year ranking. It doesn’t really do his season justice though.
 

GP

W

GAA

SV

SV%

QS%

37

18

2.64

982

0.917

56.8


He started the season poorly. It took him until March 7 to get 25 games played. He was very often playing only every two, three, or four games. His cumulative stats weren’t great either with a GAA of 3.21, and a save percentage of .897. Not exactly what Colorado was hoping for. After March 7 though his stats took a dramatic swing. Down the stretch and into the playoffs Grubauer played 20 games averaging a 1.90 GAA and a .941 save percentage.

So, what changed? Personally, I don’t have that in-depth information, but as far as the data tells us, Varlamov was faltering and Grubauer picked a very opportune moment to kick it into high gear. His initial strong performances at the beginning of March were rewarded with more starts, which he then turned into more strong performances. It was an incredible run, only outdone perhaps by Jordan Binnington’s run to the cup for the Blues.

Grubauer made a significant case for being the Colorado starter for 2019-20, which seems to have been the intention when he was signed. With Varlamov out of the picture, it is Grubauer’s net at this point. There are worse choices than a bonafide starter for a high-octane offensive team.

Goalies are certainly fickle and hard to predict, but his situation has certainly improved from 2018-19 so draft him accordingly.

Overvalued

Derick Brassard (listed here because he finished the season with Colorado)

Drafted at 155, it may seem difficult for Brassard to have been overvalued, but he certainly managed it. It looks as though managers may have been hoping for some time with Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby over in Pittsburgh, or some power-play time but it that did not materialize. He was drafted right between Nico Hischier and Dylan Larkin, and well of the three Brassard is not the one I would choose. He ended the season as the 493rd ranked player.
 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

Carter Rowney

ANA

C

476

Nolan Patrick

PHI

C

482

Derick Brassard

COL

C

493

Pavel Zacha

NJD

C

501

Dominik Kahun

CHI

C

505


Brassard was shuffled around the league in 2018-19 playing for three different teams (Pittsburgh, Florida, Colorado). Each landing spot seemed to imply a new chance, a new lease on life, but it really just did not work out for Brassard. His 23 points in 70 games was his lowest full season pace to date. His time in Colorado was particularly poor, putting up only five points in 29 games.
 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

70

14

9

23

0.33

110

12.7

102

5

15

1:35

15:00


He did see some occasional time with quality players in each location, but by and large his role was reduced in 2018-19, and his time on ice was his lowest since 2009-10. In other not great news, his 23 points is buoyed by his 12.7% shooting percentage, which is his highest percentage in the last three years.

It is unclear what is next for Brassard. He has now played for four teams over two seasons and the results speak for themselves – and they aren’t positive. If we want some optimism though, four of his previous six seasons he put up 50+ point paces and twice approached 60 points. He is now 31, but it is hard to know how much of the decline is due to him being shuffled around, or how much of the shuffling is due to him declining. Either way, there is a lot not to like about the last couple years’ performance. With question marks around his landing place and deployment, it is clear that a 50-point pace is the absolute best-case scenario for Brassard going forward. Half point per game or less is much more likely and makes him a very unappealing target in all except the deepest leagues.

Thanks for reading

Previous Team Articles:

Anaheim

Arizona

Calgary

Chicago