Wild West Summer Series 2019: Vancouver

by chriskane on September 2, 2019

Welcome to week 13 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 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 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: Vancouver

 

Recap:

Vancouver finished the season with 81 points, good (or not) for 12th in the West. The rebuild is in full swing with some exciting new talent making a name for themselves for the Canucks. Elias Pettersson didn’t disappoint and appears poised to take the next step in his development. 

 

Undervalued:

Jacob Markstrom:

Markstrom entered the 2018-19 with some uncertainty. He was coming off of a 60 game season, but Vancouver brought in Andres Nilsson conceivably to help hold down the fort until Thatcher Demko was ready to inherit the job. That confidence was reflected in his draft positon: 214th overall and the 33rd goalie, right before Jusse Saros. By the end of the season his value boosted to 41st overall and he was the 15th ranked goalie (and yes that is Braden Holtby ranked lower than Markstrom).

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

Thomas Greiss

NYI

G

38

Matt Murray

PIT

G

39

Jacob Markstrom

VAN

G

41

John Gibson

ANA

G

42

Braden Holtby

WSH

G

48

 

With similar games played numbers between 2017-18 and 18-19, a change in role is not the reason for the dramatic change in fortune.

 

GP

W

GAA

SV

SV%

QS%

60

28

2.77

1730

0.912

63.3

 

Markstrom was simply a better goalie in 2018-19. His save percentage actually remained the same between the two seasons, but his shots against numbers increased rather dramatically. A few more wins and more consistent performances from Markstrom meant that his quality start percentage jumped from 48% in 2017-18 to 63% in 2018-19.

 

What can we expect for 2019-20? More of the same. There is a chance that Thatcher Demko gets a bit more of the net than the other backups have managed in the previous two seasons. Markstrom is potentially eligible for unrestricted free agency and the Canucks might want to see what they have in goalie-of-the-future Demko. Ultimately though Markstrom is the starter to begin the season.

 

Over the last two seasons, Markstrom has actually been reasonably consistent and there are no real red flags in his performance. His short handed save percentage is remarkably in line with where it should be (and a little low if anything), and his expected goals against numbers align well with his actual goals against numbers. Those stats bode well for a repeat of the kind of performance he had in 2018-19, plus another full season from Elias Pettersson and adding a new prospect in Quinn Hughes on the backend does not hurt Vancouver’s overall outlook. 

 

Alex Edler:

Perpetually undervalued, Elder was once again drafted late, at 205th overall. He was drafted right between Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom. By the end of the season he was the 65th ranked player overall.

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

Seth Jones

CBJ

D

62

Justin Faulk

CAR

D

63

Alexander Edler

VAN

D

65

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

ARI

D

67

Jake Muzzin

TOR

D

75

 

There are a couple of extenuating circumstances here that make the change in his value a bit more pronounced. For starters this league’s settings count a wider range of categories than some leagues (particularly hits and blocks) and it is in these categories that Edler truly excels. Managers are also often cautious as he does get injured. In fact he has never played a full 82 games. That argument doesn’t carry a lot of weight though, as the injuries are definitely baked into the draft price and yet he still dramatically outperforms that value. In addition to his hit and block numbers, he consistently provides strong point, shot, and power-play numbers.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

56

10

24

34

0.61

128

7.8

127

17

166

3:07

0:34

 

Managers were right to be worried as Edler did indeed get injured in 2018-19. He only played 56 games. And yet those 56 games were all it took for him to be the 65th most valuable player. He was the 21st ranked D in 2018-19 and of the top 20 D, there were only three who failed to play at least 75 games. The lowest games played of the group was 64, still nine more games than Edler. In fact we have to go all the way back to Erik Karlsson (ranked 119th) to find the next D who played fewer games than Edler. But let’s be honest Karlsson is a bit of a different breed of D isn’t he? Well we need to go all the way down to 214 and Dustin Byfuglien (42 games) to find our next. Long story short; Edler will get hurt, but when he is playing he is a top ten defensemen in multi-cat leagues.

 

What about 2019-20? A couple of things to consider; Edler’s shooting percentage was too high, he is getting older, and Quinn Hughes (D prospect extraordinaire) is now on the scene. Edler shot at 7.8%, which is significantly higher than 4.4 average from his previous three seasons. If he had shot closer to that average, he would have lost 4-5 goals, which would have him closer to a 44 point 82 game pace rather than a 50 point pace.

 

At age 33 we might expect him to either spend more time injured, or start to lose out on time on ice, and both of those things could impact his value. While missing time is an increased concern, he missed 26 games in 2018-19 and was still the 21st best D to own overall. A further note of optimism, he has seen no dip in ice time over the last four seasons, which account for his 28-32 age seasons. It doesn’t seem like age has really been an issue in the time on ice department yet.

 

Hughes could be a bigger problem though. He is being pegged as the heir apparent to the top power play, and will likely be given an opportunity during one of the periods of time that Edler is inevitably out of the lineup. At some point he will take the top job from Edler, and If he were to run with the opportunity in 2019-20 it could hurt Edler’s power-play production.

 

Ultimately Edler’s days are clearly numbered as a top defensive own, and that number is likely coming quickly. It looks like chances are good Edler can keep most of his time on ice (when he plays), which is good for his peripheral stats. He will also likely hang on to the top power play for one more season (or at least to start), and that should translate to a 15-20 power-play point pace, and a 40-45 point pace overall. All of that adds up to Edler being a guy you want to roster when he is in the lineup. What that is worth on draft day is up to you, but it should be well before 216th overall.

 

Overvalued:

 

Brock Boeser:

Anticipation was reasonably high coming into 2018-19, coming off a 55 point season in 62 games (73 point pace). He was drafted 75th overall right around Max Pacioretty, Nikolai Ehlers, and Mikko Rantanen. By the end of the season he had fallen down to 224th overall.

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

Kevin Labanc

SJS

LW/RW

220

Travis Konecny

PHI

LW/RW

221

Brock Boeser

VAN

RW

224

Bobby Ryan

OTT

LW/RW

225

Reilly Smith

VGK

LW/RW

226

 

Boeser’s value drop isn’t necessarily that he performed poorly, but he didn’t rise to the expectations that managers had for him. Wingers who ended up in the 75th rank range were putting up about a point per game, and Boesor’s 67 point pace fell a bit shy of that.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

69

26

30

56

0.81

209

12.4

14

15

22

3:32

19:10

 

Boeser had similar point numbers between 2017-18 and 2018-19, but unfortunately in more games so his overall pace was lower. Part of that was a drop in his shooting percentage from just over 16% to 12.4%. The news isn’t all grim though. His time on ice jumped by almost two minutes and his power-play time increased by more than 30 seconds. It is certainly also positive that he seems to be a lock to play with superstar Elias Pettersson.

 

For 2018-19 a 70 point floor seems pretty reasonable. That has been his pace over  the last two seasons, and none of the underlying numbers indicate that he was overperforming. Some personal growth from him and Pettersson can only help his pace as well. Suiting up for more than 69 games would also be a huge help to his overall value, but his track record isn’t really long enough to make any kind of guess as to what we can expect for next season. Point per game is likely within reach if all breaks well, so while I might see if I can take him slightly later than he was drafted in 2017-18, I am not waiting too long.

 

Thanks for reading

 

Pick up the 14th Annual DobberHockey Fantasy Guide here

 

Next week: Vegas

 

Previous Team Articles:

 

Anaheim

Arizona

Calgary

Chicago

Colorado

Dallas

Edmonton

LA

Minnesota

Nashville

San Jose

St. Louis