Ramblings: Aggregate Analyst Rankings; Training Camp Notes – September 18

by Michael Clifford on September 17, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Aggregate Analyst Rankings; Training Camp Notes – September 18

In these Ramblings a couple of days ago, I discussed the aggregate rankings over at FantasyPros, focusing on players that I was higher on than the Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR). For those that missed it, just take a spin over there.

On the flipside, not all is rosy, and there are certainly players I’m lower on than others. Some by a bit; some by a lot. Here are some of the players with the largest disparity between where I have them ranked, and where the consensus sits on them to date.

Just note that things are subject to change. As camp wears on, we will receive new information and that will change some rankings. Most won’t change too much, but a few rankings will.


Lower Than:

Martin Jones

Expert Consensus Ranking: 53, Goalie 13

My ranking: 90, Goalie 17

What am I missing about a goalie that, by overall save percentage, has been about league average (not among starters only, that includes backups) since joining San Jose? What am I missing about a goalie who has had a league average expected goals saved above average (xGSAA/48) over the last three years (from Dispelling Voodoo)?

League average performance can be very good in fantasy hockey, but the team in front of that league average performance needs to be an elite one, and I’m not sure San Jose is elite. The team’s adjusted CF% last year was fifth in the league at 51.9 percent, which seems really good! Until you see it was 51.89 percent the year before when they were eighth in the league, and 51.44 percent two years ago when they were 15th. In that sense, the team hasn’t really changed much for a few years. So can we expect Jones to suddenly break out of nowhere? Even in his really good year in 2015-16, he finished up the year (40th) nearly within a round of where his ECR is right now (53). Unless you think he’ll repeat his 2015-16 campaign, this seems like a waste of a pick.

I’m just not as high on the Sharks as some others may be. It’s also a function of the position; if I don’t have one of the elite goalies like Carey Price or Braden Holtby on my fantasy roster, I don’t see the sense in using fourth, fifth, and sixth round picks on guys like Jones, Jake Allen, Pekka Rinne, or Andrei Vasilevskiy. I’d rather just wait and hope to hit on guys like Brian Elliott or Scott Darling.


Seth Jones

Expert Consensus Ranking: 127, Defenceman 26

My Ranking: 155, Defenceman 31

With 12 goals and 42 points, it was a very good year for the young blue liner. However, it’s another young blue liner that will prevent Jones from reaching his fantasy potential, and will make the impending regression even worse.

At five-on-five last year, Jones shot 6.9 percent. The year before, it was 1.56. Going back to the start of his career, he managed 1.64, 5.68, and 4.09. That means he shot 1.31 percent higher last year than his previous career-high, a relative uptick of about 19 percent. That’s a lot. In fact, he scored eight five-on-five goals last year after having 10 (!) to his name for his first four years. It’s not like he will probably start shooting more, either, which could help mitigate a percentage drop, as his shot rate per minute last year was in line with his previous three seasons.

More than that, though, is the power-play issue. If the team keeps using a four-forward top unit with Zach Werenski on the blue line, he won’t be able to pile on the power-play points. With the impending goals drop, very little in the way of strong peripherals, and a lack of power-play production, it could be hard for him to live up to being a borderline top-25 defenceman in roto leagues. More than that, though, is the lack of upside; there are other d-men in the same range like John Carlson and Aaron Ekblad who could legitimately be top-15 roto defencemen if things break right. I don’t see that for Jones so long as Werenski controls a significant portion of PP time.


Zach Parise

Expert Consensus Ranking: 111, Left Wing 26

My Ranking: 170, Left Wing 39

I do wonder if the ECR were completely up-to-date today where Parise would rank. Some of the analysts haven’t been update for a couple weeks, and the news that the left winger is battling a back injury should alter his rankings significantly.

The last time Parise played at least 75 games, let alone close to a full year, was 2011-12. Over the last four seasons he has played 67, 74, 70, and 69 for an average of 12 games missed per season. Beyond that, a back injury for a 33-year old player is incredibly hard to stomach. Maybe he’s fine by the time Opening Night rolls around, or maybe it’s something that lingers with him for the rest of his career.

Beyond that, as he’s aged and the injuries have piled up, he’s earning a lot less ice time. In the lockout-shortened season – his first in Minnesota – he was given 20:40 per game. That has declined every year since, bottoming out at 17:26 last year, his lowest since his rookie campaign in 2005-06. With the team as deep as it is on the wing, there is no real need to play him 19 or 20 minutes a game, let alone risk further injury. So even though his shot rate has been pretty consistent for four years, his shots per game continue to decline, and that’s bad for fantasy.

Even if he were healthy, a 25-goal, 60-point season would be his upside at the moment. That is in a full year with everything going right for him. At this point, he’s pretty much undraftable at his ECR, and even if the team says he’s healthy, I’m avoiding any 30-plus-year old player with back issues.


Joe Thornton

Expert Consensus Ranking: 103, Centre 33

My Ranking: 177, Centre 60

I truly do not understand Thornton’s ranking. He finished outside the top-125 players in roto leagues, and this year he’s coming off knee surgery as a 38-year old. His ice time continues to decline, as does his shot rate.

All this isn’t to say he doesn’t have value. In a full year, Thornton can push for 50 assists, and in roto setups, that can be very valuable as it gives such a huge leg up in one category. I just don’t want to select him in the first 10 rounds of a 12-team league when there are so many options at the centre position. There are other players who can provide as many assists but are younger without the injury history that can be drafted later like Alexander Wennberg


David Backes

Expert Consensus Ranking: 172, Right Wing 41

My Ranking: 194, Right Wing 43

Uncertainty of his role is a big reason that Backes comes in low for me, and is avoidable in drafts altogether. He won’t slot on the top line which is where the prime minutes are. He won’t slot on the top power-play unit, which is given the lion’s share of the deployment. He might slot next to David Krejci on the second line, which would be okay for fantasy, but he could also slot in the third line, which is a death knell.

I get wanting to draft him; he was a favourite of mine in roto leagues when he was slotting on the top line for the Blues. His across-the-board production was coveted. But a massive decline in ice time, an uncertain role at five-on-five with no role on the power play makes me nervous. I think last year’s production was about the high-water mark for him given his slotting on this roster, which means he’s being drafted at about where we can expect him to finish. Without the upside, I’ll pass on where he’s going.



If Patrick Marleau is indeed on Nazem Kadri’s line this year – remember that lines didn’t change much last year for Toronto throughout the year – that really limits his upside. He will still slot on the power play, but on a team with split units getting nearly equal share, that’s not a huge boon for him:

Not long ago, I mused that Kyle Connor might slot on the second line with Mathieu Perreault moving to the third line in more of a checking role. For now, anyway, that doesn’ seem to be the case:

I still think Connor deserves at least a chance to start on the second line. He’s not draftable in most leagues for now, but do keep an eye on him as exhibition season wears on. This guy is a talented scorer, and just needs an opportunity (much like Nikolaj Ehlers needed last year).


One interesting development from Chicago Blackhawks camp (aside from Richard Panik taking the spot I had hoped against hope Ryan Hartman might take) is the centre for Chicago’s second line:

Schmaltz with Kane makes sense. Giving that line easier starts could help the offensive-minded players flourish, and strengthen the third line by moving Artem Anisimov down. We’ll see if it sticks, Coach Q is notorious for his line blenders. 


  • Striker

    I can’t speak to other leagues & their scoring systems but in my 2 fantasy leagues both only award wins & shut outs, 3 for a win in 1, 2 for a shut out & 2 for a win & 2 for a shut out Jones finished 8th in both last season & in 2015 3rd in both. All my 1 year draft leagues & box pools use essentially a similiar format, a total of 9 different pools & his value is essentially the same in all.

    • Michael Clifford

      That’s why consideration of league settings is incredibly important in fantasy hockey. If all that matters are wins and shutout, a guy that starts 65 games for a playoff team is going to be valuable.

      • Striker

        I would wager that 80%+ of all pools, fantasy, single season draft & box, are points driven. 100% of the 1’s I’m in do.

        I love what you guys do here & most of the single season & or draft participants aren’t coming here to help educate themselves but they are the vast majority of poolies, the office pool crowds as I like to call them.

        For the vast majority again 80%+ Jones is a top 10 goalie in a walk baring injury.

  • Dobber

    Bang on about Jones, I’ve felt the same way. Of the other guys you list, the only one that may require more analysis is Jones. I think that guy is on the right trajectory, Id bump him up. He’s just getting started, even with Zach taking the offense role

    • Michael Clifford

      I just can’t see the upside with Seth Jones if he has a half-dozen PP points. Last season is probably as good as it gets without additional PP time.

      • Dobber

        Agreed on PP being a drag. Breakout/big year may be delayed, similar to Pietrangelo needing Shatty out of the way. Here’s what I said in the Fantasy Guide that I think is apt: Seth Jones – The 22-year-old jumped from 0.38 to 0.55 points-per-game last season and he did it with reduced power-play time and six fewer PPPts. Partnering with Werenski, Jones will continue to pile up the ES points and now that Sam Gagner is gone, it’s possible that Jones will become the fifth man on the top PP unit. If that happens, then we could be looking at 60 points or more. Jones has become underrated in fantasy due to the arrival of Werenski but they are both capable of flourishing while co-existing.

      • Striker

        Gagner was a 1st unit PP player in Columbus. I assume Panarin will slide into that spot but the #2 unit should be improved. No way Jenner can be that bad again.

        Hartnell & Saad are also gone & that PP time needs to be redistributed as well. Johnson & Savard didn’t see PP time under Torts last season might 1 or both be seeing some this year?

    • Striker

      At 315 NHL regular season games played Jones still has 2 more full seasons to show what he’s going to be at the NHL level. Still not even fully developed & won’t be for a year +.

      My markers are simple & I use the 80/20 rule for everything in life. 80% follow the odds of probability the other 20% can swing either way.

      The breakthrough/fully developed stage for Dman & forwards 6’3″ & over is 400 NHL regular season games played. For mere mortals the 6’2″ & shorter forwards 200 games. Until players have at least hit these thresholds don’t give up on them if they have a solid pedigree, obvious skills, & opportunity.

      These #’s don’t lie. That said there is a trend developing that is showing some mere mortal forwards, again those 6’2″ & shorter are taking even more than 200 games to breakthrough. Schenn, Niederreiter, Granlund, etc. Not sure why I choose 2 Minny players just the 1st 2 to pop into my head.

      I’ll give you another Minny player,.Charlie Coyle is ready to move into 70 point range playing as a RW be it on the 1st or 3rd line. 6’3″ 221 lbs, 353 NHL regular season games played. Pominville’s power play time is going to someone. Parise’s; LW, back woes are permanent if he can play 65 games this season I will be shocked. It could be tempered for 1 more season & he may move back to C at times & I assume will be when Staal & Koivu are both done.

      Minnesota is just on the cusp of greatness. Is this the year they become 1 of the most dominant teams in the NHL? I think some of their veterans are holding them back, specifically Parise. His quality icetime should be going to Zucker who can’t see a spec of PP time in this roster.

  • Preston

    This guy loses all credibility with me with his first paragraph on Jones. Among the factors he does not consider:

    – Age/continued progression (not many goaltenders have statistical regression at 27)
    – I think the Sharks D is pretty good from their system to forwards to actual defense men.
    – Playoff statistics. No love for how a guy plays when it matters most?

    Pity the fool that takes this guys advice and spends a first round pick on Carey Price. Or Elliott, lol. You take Elliott and Il take Jones any day.

    • Nathan Siery

      I don’t think the argument is at all that Jones is not a better asset than Brian Elliott (he clearly is)- but more an argument of how much better. If I can grab Elliott in the 18th rd and probably get nearly the same production (League average SV%, GAA) minus a handful of wins, why wouldn’t I pass on Jones in the 3rd-5th Rd and just take elliott later and build up a better skater core. I.e, if I’ve already whiffed on the truly elite Goalies – Holtby, Price, Bob- why would I waste a pick a couple rounds later on a guy whose talent level is more in line with Elliott than with any of those guys? Of course he is more stable in his role and less injury prone, but how much are those factors worth on the draft table is the discussion. I’d take Jones in the 8th or 9th Round happily (which is where he’s ranking him), but as a 4th-5th rd pick, I’m much less interested.

    • JoePToms

      Martin Jones might have a ‘slightly’ better sv% and GAA than a guy like Elliott. Maybe even a few more wins (SJ is on the downward trajectory, though). Only issue is, you will take Jones 8-10 rounds earlier than I would take somewhat like Elliott. That is the definition of overrated. Sorry. 🙁

    • Michael Clifford

      1) goalies peak at about 25 years old https://hockey-graphs.com/2014/03/21/how-well-do-goalies-age-a-look-at-a-goalie-aging-curve/
      2) san jose was mid-pack in adjusted scoring chances allowed at 5v5 last year, and now everyone is a year older http://naturalstattrick.com/teamtable.php?season=20162017&stype=2&sit=sva&score=all&rate=y&vs=all&loc=B&gpf=82&fd=2016-10-12&td=2017-04-09 maybe they turn things around, but that’s not a sure thing
      3) if you want to consider playoff statistics, go ahead

      and I never, ever said Elliott was equal to Jones, I said I’d rather wait to draft him. Draft slots have value, and their aggregate has 10 rounds of difference. https://www.fantasypros.com/nhl/adp/overall.php

      • Striker

        Most goalies that eventually become #1 NHL starters & play at least 5 years as such don’t even achieve the feat by 25 with a few exceptions, again see the 80/20 rule.