For part three of this series we are going to look at Right Wings in the West. We will be using the Fantasy Hockey Geek ranking tool to get a ranking that combines all of a player’s stats for the searched categories. For the purposes of this series, the 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. Player eligibility for this series is based on Yahoo, and any draft ranks are based on average draft positions compiled from Yahoo, ESPN and CBS by FantasyPros.
3. Leon Draisaitl (29)
Leon Draisaitl had a career season in 2018-19. His 105 points eclipses his previous best by almost 30 points. As may be obvious his career season came with career highs in goals (50), and assists (55), as well as power play points (29), and shots (231). He also saw career highs in total time on ice, power play time, and percent of his team’s power play time.
On the surface that is what we like to see, his career high in goals comes with a career high in shots. His career high in power play points comes with a career high in power play time. Unfortunately it isn’t all rosy, his 50 goals on 231 shots still amounts to a shooting percentage of 21.7%. The prior three seasons he averaged a 14.7 shooting percentage. That percentage applied to this season would have resulted in 34 goals, not 50. Does that mean we can expect a drop in 15 goals next season? Maybe, but one additional note – he added 10 goals on the power play from 2017-18 and that comes with additional power play time. His spike in shooting percentage could be somewhat supported because of that extra time and production on the power play.
Draisaitl rode shotgun with Connor McDavid for the majority of his shifts in 2018-19, clearly as long as that continues he is all set. That is not to say that he cannot produce on his own he definitely can, but who doesn’t perform better next to McDavid? His percentages look a little high across the board for 2018-19. Normally that would be an indication that is point pace might drop in 2019-20, but McDavid throws conventional wisdom for a loop. Though I would guess that a repeat of 2017-19 is possible, I might peg him a little closer to 95 points than 105.
2. Blake Wheeler (21)
Blake Wheeler is the only remaining player from the top three in 2017-18 to make the list in 2018-19 as well. Wheeler posted a very similar season in 2018-19. His goal numbers (20) dropped slightly, but his assist numbers (71) increased slightly, so overall his point pace was essentially the same. Shots (231), and hits (81) were slightly down as well. In 2017-18 there was a bit of a concern that the power play numbers were a bit unsustainable and they did indeed fall from 40 down to 33. That decrease is an unfortunate point as it dropped at the same time as he saw an increase of about 30 seconds of power play time.
Wheeler’s 8.7 shooting percentage is a little bit off his three year average of 9.4, but not dramatically so. He could regress to a more effective percentage, but he also has three straight years of declining shot numbers even with increases in power play and total time on ice over the same period. He is 32 going on 33 and at some point is likely going to be slowing down. Obviously he has demonstrated value – being a top two right winger in his age 31 and 32 age seasons, but the magic is likely going to wear off at some point. As long as the deployment sticks he likely can hang on for another season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a point per game season rather than a 90 point season in 2019-20.
1. Patrick Kane (14)
So I admit to calling this one wrong. At some point last summer I took a look at Patrick Kane and was seeing several years of declining numbers, pretty much across the board. I went ahead and advised managers to sell while Kane still commanded the value of his recent 100+ point season. I hope you did not heed that advice. Kane had a career season of 110 points. He put up career highs in assists (66) and his second highest goal total (44). A rebounding shooting percentage certainly helped in the goal department, but so did adding 60 shots (up to 341) from 2017-18.
What sparked the jump this season? Well he had a career high in ice time at almost 22.5 minutes per game. That is a minute higher than his previous career high and almost two minutes more than 2017-18. He also added 20 seconds to his power play time, averaging the highest power play time since his rookie season. Some of his increase in production can be attributed to that increased time – there were games where he was double shifted, at both even strength and on the power play, but he also saw a rebound in a few of his percentage numbers. As stated above his personal shooting percentage (12.9%) rebounded in a bit from a disappointed 2017-18 season. His five on five shooting percentage, was high at 11.35%. That personal shooting percentage is not all that high for his career, though is a bit higher than his three year average of 11.4%. His five on five shooting percentage though is quite high, and even his personal average for the prior three season is down at 9.11.
What does all of that mean? Well if he can keep up his time on ice and deployment he has a good shot at some lofty totals again. My best guess is that another 100+ point season might require a bit of luck ask, but 90+ seems quite likely.
Bubble Players (just missed a top ranking):
Vladimir Tarasenko (56) had a slow start to the season, as did many of the Blues, but really turned a corner in the second half. He ended as the 5th ranked right wing and 56th ranked player overall. Mikko Rantanen (51), just edged Tarasenko to grab the fourth spot with a career year of 87 points (31g 56a).He spent the majority of his time with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog (who made top three in our other positions lists) but still performed when Colorado attempted to spread out the offense a bit.
What do we do with Patrik Laine (117)? The third ranked right wing from 2017-19 fell all the way down the board to 12th, and 117th overall. His 50 points on the season was a far cry from his 70 points in 2017-18 and the hopes for further breakout. In fact unless you caught all of his November games you really missed the boat. In 12 games he scored 18 goals in November. That is right 18 of his 30 goals came in a 12 game stretch (1.5 goals per game). The rest of the season he scored .17 goals per game (which is a 14 goal full season pace). His shot count was about the same and his time on ice actually increased. His personal, team five on five, and IPP all dropped pretty dramatically. To be fair they had been pretty high in the previous two years, but maybe not high enough that we wouldn’t expect a high caliber player to be able to maintain them. 2019-20 is a big year then, if he rebounds back to those higher percentages we are looking 75+, if not we could be looking at a 30 goal 55-60 point season.
Elias Lindholm (73) destroyed his career highs, putting up 78 (27 g, 51 a) points in 81 games. He was the 7th ranked winger (73rd player overall), ranked right behind Alexander Radulov His average draft position was 248, Radulov’s? 59. Excellent value I would say. There are a couple of warning signs though. Lindholm fell off fairly dramatically over that last quarter of the season scoring only nine points in his final 19 games. That dry spell only partially corrected his dramatically high percentage numbers. His personal shooting percentage, and his team five on five shooting percentage are very high for him. Part of that is likely due to better deployment, more power play time, and better linemates, but likely not all. If the last quarter of the season is any indication Lindholm is certainly not a lock to repeat his 78 point season – though falling back to 45 doesn’t seem likely while he is on Calgary's top line and power play.
Thanks for reading. Next week: defenseman
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