Wild West Summer Series 2019: San Jose

by chriskane on August 19, 2019

 

Welcome to week 11 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 out or underperformed 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 not only gives us 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: San Jose

 

Recap:

San Jose finished 2018-19 2nd in Pacific and also the Western Conference with 101 points. They had breakout campaigns from several up and coming players, but a relatively miserable season from Martin Jones. Ultimately the Sharks couldn’t get past the Stanely Cup winning Blues in the conference finals.

 

Undervalued:

Timo Meier:

Meier was drafted 216th overall lin 2018-19, right behind Jonathan Drouin and Brandon Pirri. By the end of the season he was ranked 96th. The wingers ranked around him had an average draft position of about 140.

 

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

Mark Stone

VGK

RW

78

Alex DeBrincat

CHI

LW/RW

93

Timo Meier

SJS

LW

96

Brendan Gallagher

MTL

RW

97

Cam Atkinson

CBJ

RW

99

Meier finished among some very valuable wingers, and if we take a look at his stat line it is not much a question as to how he got there.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

78

30

36

66

0.85

250

12

99

10

40

1:48

16:58

 

With 250 shots and a 69 point pace, he certainly deserves to be more highly ranked than his 216th overall draft position. Meier had a career year in his third season and it is not even close. Prior to 2018-19 his career high in points was 36 in 82 games. Unsurprisingly those career numbers appear across the board in goals, assists, shots, power-play points, and time on ice. At the end of the day his jump in value came because he actually jumped in value. He was significantly more productive than in previous years.

 

What about 2019-20 though, can he keep it up? First let’s take a look at Meier individually. Most of his underlying numbers are a touch high for his career, but wouldn’t necessarily be high for a 70 point player, and entering just his fourth season there it is certainly reasonable to wonder if he has grown into just that type of player. His shooting percentage (12%), and his IPP (74%) are perfect examples of this. These numbers are high for him, but not necessarily high for a top six forward who can score 70 points. Was he used like a top six forward though? His time on ice was up, but still just barely passed 16 minutes a night. He also saw an increase in power-play time, but it was still quite low at about 35% of the team’s total time. So while it is nice that his role increased (and that is certainly part of why his stats increased) the limited time still does raise question marks.

 

Fortunately for Meier, his role is likely going to bigger in 2019-20. The Sharks have lost Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi. Pavelski certainly leaves the bigger hole, and Meier stands to benefit, particularly on the power play.

 

Overall if there had been no roster moves on San Jose, I would have some questions about Meier being able to repeat his 2018-19 season. However, the possibility of increasing his time on ice, and particularly time on the power play increasing the likelihood that he can repeat a 70 point pace season.

 

Kevin Labanc:

Labanc entered the 2018-19 season with a seemingly similar past to Meier, however, while Meier was drafted 216th overall, Labanc wasn’t drafted at all. He didn’t have exactly the same kind of breakout performance as Meier, but by the end of the season he was ranked 220th overall.

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

Rickard Rakell

ANA

LW/RW

211

Anthony Mantha

DET

LW/RW

213

Kevin Labanc

SJS

LW/RW

220

Travis Konecny

PHI

LW/RW

221

Brock Boeser

VAN

RW

224

 

Like with Meier, Labanc saw a career season in 2018-19. Unlike Meier though his career year did not come about because he saw additional deployment and increases in time on ice.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

82

17

39

56

0.68

130

13.1

66

20

16

2:19

14:01

 

His time on ice and power-play numbers are essentially the same as in 2017-18, where Labanc put up 40 points. It appears that Labanc did more with the same, but it is not readily apparent exactly why that happened. It is hard to say that his linemates improved, he still seemed to be a third line player, but with Joe Thornton and Marcus Sorenson instead of some combination of Meier, Logan Couture, and Tomas Hertl. His personal numbers were definitely high though. His 13% shooting percentage is almost double that of 2017-18, and higher than his career average. His IPP is similarly higher than expected over 70% for the first time in his career. His team five on five shooting percentage is also up over 9% for the first time in his career.

 

A lot of this mirrors what we were seeing with Meier, and raises some of the same questions. His shooting percentage and IPP could be reasonable for a top six forward who is capable of scoring 70+ points, but it just isn’t clear yet if that is Labanc. He will also have a potential option to step forward into the gaps left by Pavelski and Donskoi, but is definitely lower on the depth chart than Meier, so will likely continue getting less prime deployment. As with Meier, he needs a bump in deployment to keep the pace in had in 2018-19, but it just isn’t clear if his increases will be enough. Optimistically we can slot him in for a repeat of 55 points, but if he sticks on the third line, without more ice time, then 50 seems like a more reasonable ceiling.

 

Overvalued:

Joe Thornton:

 

Thortnon was drafted 177th overall at the beginning of 2018-19. Mikka Zibanejad, Matt Duchene, and Bo Horvat were all drafted just after, and Elias Pettersson was drafted right before him. By the end of the season he had fallen 426th.

 

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

Lucas Wallmark

CAR

C

418

Bryan Little

WPG

C

420

Joe Thornton

SJS

C

424

Sean Kuraly

BOS

C

436

Jordan Staal

CAR

C

438

 

At 39 Thornton was a bit of a risky gamble in 2018-19, particularly given he only played 47 games in 2017-18. Clearly managers still saw value in his potential production. In general he rewarded owners with 50 points, which is fine, though not exactly what managers were hoping for from their 177th pick.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

73

16

35

51

0.7

90

17.8

17

15

14

1:54

15:33

 

Thornton did manage 51 points in his 73 games, but that is still the second lowest pace of his career. It isn’t surprising, he was 39, going on 40, and playing 15 minutes from the third line. He also was barely shooting, managing only 90 shots in 73 games. His shooting percentage was high, but generally the rest of this numbers look fairly reasonable.

 

For 2019-20 it is safe to say that drafting him 177th would be too high. Assuming he signs and returns for the Sharks for one more season, his 55ish point pace is likely a ceiling. At age 40 it also is not a guarantee he will suit up for the whole season. He also doesn’t provide much outside of points (really mostly assists). His shots, hits, and blocks are all terrible so won’t help much at all. If you are in a points only league he might be a nice stream or last pick, but otherwise there are many other 50 point centermen who can provide a lot more additional value.

 

Thanks for reading

 

Next week: St. Louis

 

Previous Team Articles:

 

Anaheim

Arizona

Calgary

Chicago

Colorado

Dallas

Edmonton

LA

Minnesota

Nashville