Frozen Pool Forensics: Bounce-Back Candidates Part Two

by Cam Robinson on August 12, 2016

Part Two in the Frozen Pool Forensics look at fantasy bounce-back candidates

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We return this week to continue our look at some players who have the potential to bounce back after underwhelming seasons. There are a multitude of reasons for a player to take a step back offensively: Injury, usage, luck, developmental stagnation, drop in shooting percentage or shot totals… We’ll focus on some reasons why the player could regain their former form and highlight some areas that could go wrong on their path back to production-town.

 

Tyler Ennis

 

Average point-per-game output the last three seasons: 0.54

 

Heading into his sixth full season in the league, Ennis is no-longer a spring chicken. He’ll be 27 years old by the time puck drops in October but he’ll also be right in the thick of his prime years, and situated on a very deep Buffalo forward corp. He has teased us before as a potential break-out player but is this the year he finally breaks the 50-point barrier?

 

What Went Wrong in 2015-16?

 

Ennis suffered through an abysmal 2015-16 campaign. He was a strong bet to improve on his career-best 46 points attained the season before as Buffalo had compiled a much stronger offensive cast than Ennis was used to playing with. However, injuries and poor puck luck was the name of the game for the diminutive forward. 

 

Ennis saw time in just 23 games and produced 11 points. His 2.47/shots per game were right along par with his career averages, but his conversion rate, both personal and even-strength, took serious dips. The previous four seasons saw Ennis shoot at a 12.1 percent clip. Last season, he scored on a mere 5.3 percent of his shots on goal. His 4.46 percent during five-on-five play was a full four points below his average during the same time frame.

 

Advanced Stats                             

Year

PDO

5 on 5 SH%

Off. Zone Start %

2015-16

964

4.46

45.6

2014-15

1008

7.38

43.98

2013-14

986

7.07

46.71

2012-13

992

7.19

46.69

2011-12

1059

11.29

55.93

2010-11

1013

9.32

53.77

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heading into 2016-17 Ennis is a very strong bet to see time on the left wing next to either Jack Eichel or Ryan O’Reilly as he spent roughly half his time with each centre last season. As the Sabres continue to develop as a potential up-and-coming force in the East, Ennis should be a candidate to not only crack 50 points for the first time, but perhaps even take a run at 60.

 

Why He May Not Bounce Back

 

Health aside, Ennis has been trending in the wrong direction since he put up an impressive 0.71 points-per-game back in 2011-12 as a 22-year-old – most of those points coming during even-strength play. If he intends on remaining a piece of this new Buffalo top-six he’ll need to produce greater numbers during all situations or he and his 4.6-million-dollar cap hit may be heading elsewhere. It’s time for the former Medicine Hat Tiger to deliver on all that promise he’s showed over the years.

 

Dougie Hamilton

 

Average point-per-game output the last three seasons: 0.50

 

There were a lot of very smart hockey minds who saw big potential coming from Dougie Hamilton and the surprising trade to Calgary did nothing to change those viewpoints. Despite setting new career-highs in points, shots and shooting percentage, Hamilton struggled mightily at times and is hoping for a full season of productivity in 2016-17

 

What Went Wrong in 2015-16?

 

Expected to step right into TJ Brodie’s spot alongside captain, Mark Giordano while Brodie continued rehabbing from offseason surgery, the immediate results were well below par. Hamilton produced just five points through the first 21 games and found little cohesion on the top pair or top power play unit. There was a stretch from October 20 – November 15 where the former ninth overall pick averaged fewer than 16 minutes per contest; many of which came with no power play time.

 

However, as the season progressed, so did his play. Hamilton produced 30 points in the final 45 games – good for a 0.67 point-per-game output, or a 53-point pace. He also saw an average of 3:00 minutes of ice time during that span often on the top power play unit.

 

Top 10 Point Categories Jan. 1-Apr. 9

Rank

Name

Pos

Age

Yrs

Team

GR

GP

EV

PP

SH

PPG

Total

1

GIORDANO,MARK

D

32

8

CGY

 

45

18

15

3

0.80

36

2

HAMILTON,DOUGIE

D

23

2

CGY

 

45

17

13

0

0.67

30

3

BRODIE,T.J.

D

26

4

CGY

 

42

20

5

1

0.62

26

4

ENGELLAND,DERYK

D

34

5

CGY

 

36

9

0

1

0.28

10

5

JOKIPAKKA,JYRKI

D

24

0

CGY

 

18

6

0

0

0.33

6

6

NAKLADAL,JAKUB

D

28

0

CGY

 

27

4

1

0

0.19

5

7

RUSSELL,KRIS

D

29

7

DAL

 

17

2

2

0

0.24

4

8

WIDEMAN,DENNIS

D

33

9

CGY

 

14

2

1

0

0.21

3

9

WOTHERSPOON,TYLER

D

23

0

CGY

 

11

1

0

0

0.09

1

10

SIELOFF,PATRICK

D

22

0

OTT

 

1

1

0

0

1.00

1

 

 

Why He May Not Bounce Back

 

We often speak about opportunity being as important as skill in fantasy hockey and this remains the case with Hamilton. Will the new coaching staff in Calgary use him in a more prevalent role or will he once again see less even-strength ice time than Matt Bartkowski as it occurred a season ago? Along with Giordano and Brodie, Hamilton makes up a formidable trio on the Flames’ backend. One of those three will end up receiving secondary minutes. Will it be Hamilton?

 

James van Riemsdyk

 

Average point-per-game output the last three seasons: 0.72

 

The former second overall selection from 2007 has flashed his enormous potential on a few occasions, but has struggled to put together fully productive years and has rarely had the opportunity to skate alongside top-end talent. 

 

What Went Wrong in 2015-16?

 

The Toronto power forward suffered a mid-season foot injury in January that ended up costing him the whole second half of his year. Despite playing just half of the season on the league’s worst squad, van Riemsdyk produced well. In the 40 games he did suit up for, on a team that was not looking to win many games, he produced 14 goals and 29 points –  the best point-per-game output that he’d enjoyed since the 2013-14 campaign when he scored 30 goals and 61 points.

 

NHL Stats – Last 5 Years

SEASON

GP

G

A

P

PntPG

+/-

PIM

Shots

SH%

HITS

PPG

PPP

SHG

BLKS

FOW

FO%

PPTOI

%PP

%SH

TOI/G

%TOI

2015-2016

40

14

15

29

0.73

3

6

129

10.9

52

5

9

0

7

1

50.0

02:46

54.5

0.5

17:46

29.0

2014-2015

82

27

29

56

0.68

-33

43

248

10.9

83

9

19

1

29

21

38.9

03:33

60.9

11.8

19:05

31.4

2013-2014

80

30

31

61

0.76

-9

50

279

10.8

118

10

16

2

29

46

40.7

03:09

60.4

27.5

21:03

34.5

2012-2013

48

18

13

31

0.65

-4

26

140

12.9

55

5

6

0

15

24

55.8

02:44

52.2

21.6

19:12

31.7

2011-2012

43

11

13

24

0.56

-3

24

121

9.1

37

2

5

0

18

2

40.0

02:48

38.8

0.5

15:10

25.0

Average

82

28

28

56

0.69

-13

42

257

10.9

97

9

15

1

27

26

43.3

03:05

54.5

14.3

18:53

31.0

 

 

As the clear top option on the left side for the Leafs, van Riemsdyk will all but assuredly spend time next to new Golden Boy, Auston Matthews at both even-strength and with the man advantage. While coach Mike Babcock may ease the rookie Matthews into the lineup a bit to start, it won’t take long before he becomes their top line centre, and provide all around him with some nice point increases. A return to the 30 goal, 60-point echelon appears attainable for the former Philadelphia Flyer.

 

Why He May Not Bounce Back

 

Well, he still plays for the Leafs… Even though they should be a better team overall with the additions of Matthews, Fredrik Andersen, and the likely inclusion of at least one of William Nylander and Mitch Marner, the Maple Leafs are still trending towards another missed post-season and high draft pick. If their modus-operandi is to lose games as it was last season, his overall production may take a hit.

 

Mikael Granlund

 

Average point-per-game output the last three seasons: 0.58

 

Six years removed from being the Wild’s ninth overall selection, Granlund has teased and underwhelmed fantasy owners for what seems like forever. Given the opportunity to centre the team’s top line the last two seasons was supposed to generate big numbers, but whether it was chemistry or injury, the results have just not been there. Lauded for his two-way play and distribution skills, his lack of shooting the puck has infuriated owners as he literally passes up golden opportunities to score.

 

What Went Wrong in 2015-16?

 

Here’s another of our bounce-back candidates who actually set career highs in points (44), shots on goal (160), and average time-on-ice (18:07), but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Granlund struggled to find much offense next to top wingers, Jason Pominville and Zach Parise. It wasn’t until the second half of the season when he was moved down the lineup that his play improved.

 

He has witnessed his point-per-game output drop in each of the last two seasons and heading into the final year of his contract, will need to consistently display and produce offense.

 

There are several reasons to like Granlund to finally step up this coming season. He has dressed in exactly 240 NHL games or the equivalent of three full seasons. That benchmark is often a better gauge than the more traditional ‘fourth season blow-up’. He will be led by newly-hired and notoriously offensive-minded coach, Bruce Boudreau, and the late season and playoff experiment that saw him on the wing next to Mikko Koivu at even-strength and on the power play had fans buzzing as he was often the most dynamic player on the ice. His strong play recording 12 points in 10 World Championship games, also alongside Koivu, en route to a silver medal is a nice sign when projecting him next season as well.

 

Why He May Not Bounce Back

 

A new coaching regime, a new position, a new season. There will likely be plenty of changes for Granlund as he begins 2016-17 and with all that in flux, he could see a sluggish start. The other issue will be his reluctance to shoot the puck. Far too often he elects to pass in shooting situations and when he does firethe puck, it’s with little snap, and right into the breadbasket. It’s a little too reminiscent of Henrik Sedin’s shot. It’s an area that needs a lot of work.

 

Bounce-Back Candidates: Part One

 

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Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I’ve suddenly become an expert in obscure Summer Olympic sports.