Wild West Summer Series 2019: St. Louis

by Dobber on August 26, 2019

 

Welcome to week 12 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: St. Louis

 

Recap:

St. Louis finished the regular season with 99 points, good for second in the Central and fourth overall in the West. The story of the season though was the Cinderella run from last place at the start of January to Stanley Cup champions.

 

Undervalued:

Jordan Binnington:

 

It is hard to argue that anyone played a more pivotal roll in St. Louis’ run to the cup, and even just turning around the regular season that Binnington. He started the season in the AHL,having just one NHL game to his name in 2015-16, and unsurprisingly wasn’t drafted in any of the leagues we pulled data from. By the end of the season he was the 12th ranked goalie overall, though was the most valuable goalie from January on.

 

GP

W

GAA

SV

SV%

QS%

32

24

1.89

748

0.927

65.6

 

His stats certainly bear that out. He won 75% of the games he stated, and had incredible personal stats. He certainly seemed to be the jolt St. Louis needed to get their act together and start winning games.

 

The big question is, what do we do with him for 2019-20? That obviously depends on two things; 1. Will he be the starter? 2. How good will he be if he is? Binnington almost single-handedly saved St,. Louis’ season and walked away from 2018-19 with the cup. If that doesn’t earn him the starting gig not much will. He will likely start the season as the Blues’ top netminder. Jake Allen is obviously still a member of the Blues, so there is another option, however Allen has had multiple attempts at holding the number one spot and has yet to manage it. There is no reason that St. Louis should give him the starting roll to begin 2019-20.

 

Unfortunately the likelihood is that Binnington’s numbers will decline. In the last ten seasons there are 11 instances of goalies who played more than 30 games ending a season with a GAA of 2.0 or under, and a save percentage of .927 or higher. Of those 11 instances only one goalie (Tukka Rask) is on that list twice, and not in consecutive years. That doesn’t mean Binnington can’t repeat, just that it is incredibly difficult to do and if he does he will be the only goalie in the last ten seasons to do so.

 

Just because he doesn’t repeat a .927 sv% doesn’t mean he can’t be a good goalie though. 2018-19 was his first full season, but he was 26, a reasonable age to have some strength to his game, and has a very solid AHL history (.915 sv% in 164 games). There is certainly reason to suggest that he can continue to be a solid, and perhaps better than league average option in net for St. Louis.

 

The bottom line is you should consider drafting him as a good goaltender and likely starter for what should be a solid Blues team, but not necessarily as a .927 sv% wunderkind.   

 

Overvalued:

Jaden Schwartz:

 

Schwartz entered 2018-19 with some optimism. He only played 62 games, but put up almost an 80 point pace. He was drafted 125th overall, right behind Alex DeBrincat and just ahead of Jake Guentzel, Jeff Skinner, and Mark Stone. Unfortunately by the end of the season he had dropped all the way to 349th, in much less distinguished company.

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

Leo Komarov

NYI

LW/RW

345

Blake Comeau

DAL

LW

348

Jaden Schwartz

STL

LW

349

Andreas Johnsson

TOR

LW

351

Marcus Foligno

MIN

LW

352

 

We could argue that part of the issue was the lack of games played (69), but in reality that is pretty much the norm for Schwartz at this point. He doesn’t have an 82 game season to his name, and in five of his eight seasons he played less than 70 games.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

69

11

25

36

0.52

183

6

61

5

27

2:16

18:08

 

The real issue was that Schwartz’s point pace was down at .52 points per game, which is his lowest since 2012-13. His time on ice was down a bit, though still over 18 minutes a night, and he also lost some time on the power play. Most of the season he played with Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn (a good place to be), but he did see a change in the fourth quarter seeing most of his time with Oscar Sundqvist and David Perron (less good). With this change he also saw closer to 17 minutes a night (also not as good). Even with these changes a 43 full season point pace seems low for Schwartz.

 

We might be a little worried about his deployment if we didn’t have the playoffs to look at. During the playoffs he was again spending the majority of his time with Schenn and Tarasenko, and put up 20 points over 26 games (even though his time on ice was actually similar to his end of season time).

 

So where do we value Schwartz for 2019-20? Right off the bat we can see that his regular season shooting percentage (6%) was incredibly low. The average over his previous three seasons was 12.8%. If he had been shooting at that rate he would have put up 23 goals as opposed to his 11. That change alone would put him back on a 55 point pace. Conversely his playoff shooting percentage was up at 19%, and a regression on those stats would have dropped him about four goals to a 50ish point pace.

 

50-55 seems like a solid floor for Schwartz because if we look a little closer we also see that a number of his other underlying numbers were also low. His IPP (particularly on the power play) and five on five team shooting percentage were also quite low. His IPP might naturally rise if his personal shooting percentage rises, but his five on five shooting percentage is also very dependent on the rest of his linemates. Essentially we are in a situation where his linemates were not scoring as expected, and when there were goals he was not getting in on them as often as expected (again particularly on the power play). If some of those situations normalize in addition to his personal shooting percentage a 60 point pace is definitely within reach.

 

Alexander Steen:

Steen entered 2018-19 as an older, but still important cog in the St. Louis machine. His point numbers had been dropping for several seasons, but he was still getting hefty ice time. Managers took note and many still took a chance on him with a final draft pick. He ended up being taken 218th overall, right between Timo Meier, and Ondrej Kase. By the end of the season, the wheels fell off a bit and he was valued down at 455th`.

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

Joonas Donskoi

SJS

LW/RW

453

Dominik Simon

PIT

LW

454

Alexander Steen

STL

RW

455

Kenny Agostino

NJD

LW

457

Kyle Clifford

LAK

LW

458

 

It doesn’t take much detective work to figure out what happened to drop his value so much. Steen ended his season with 27 points (a 34 point pace). It was his lowest pace since his second season in 2008-09 and his lowest point total ever.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

65

10

17

27

0.42

114

8.8

55

5

50

1:17

15:50

 

We might expect that part of the drop in value is the fact that Steen only played 65 games, but that likely wasn’t a factor. Steen has been missing time his entire career and it is essentially built into the draft cost at this point. He played a very similar number of games three seasons ago, but had 52 points to show for it.

 

The biggest difference between the two seasons is his time on ice. From 2010-11 to 2016-17, Steen was averaging 19-20 minutes on ice a game each season. In 2018-19 that dropped below 16 minutes for the first time in his career. It is also the first time since 2008-2009 that he wasn’t averaging about three minutes of power-play time per game. The situation was even worse during St. Louis’ playoff run, where he saw just over 13 minutes of ice time overall.

 

The trend here is fairly straightforward. Steen, now 35, is playing less time with lower quality linemates. That isn’t likely to change for the better, so a half point per game pace seems like a ceiling for Steen at this point.

 

Thanks for reading

 

Next week: Vancouver

 

Previous Team Articles:

 

Anaheim

Arizona

Calgary

Chicago

Colorado

Dallas

Edmonton

LA

Minnesota

Nashville

San Jose