Ramblings: Reviewing a mock draft, top line Pasta, Janmark injury, and more.
A couple of nights ago I was fortunate to take part in a mock draft for theScore with other writers from around the industry, including Neil Parker from here on Dobber, Esten McLaren from theScore, Chris Meaney from FNTSY sports network, and others. It was a 10-team Yahoo league, but there was a wrinkle in the stats. It wasn’t a typical roto league where maybe three or four categories were for goaltenders. Rather, there were 12 categories total, and half of them were for goalies. There were goals, assists, points, power play points, shots on goal, and face-off wins for skaters, and games started, wins, goals against average, saves, save percentage, and shutouts for goalies.
I won’t pretend to know the thought process of other owners, so instead I will just speak as to why I drafted certain players at certain times. Here we go.
The fact that the goalies were half the scoring (this is a head-to-head league) changed my typical draft strategy. This is something that gets brought up constantly, but still seems to elude a fair amount of fantasy owners nonetheless: know your draft settings. I think more than any other fantasy sport, hockey can have wild swings in fantasy value based on settings. My typical draft strategy is to wait on goaltending, which means no teams that consist of Carey Price or Jonathan Quick, but rather Brian Elliott or Roberto Luongo. I knew, though, that goalies were of considerably higher importance than in a normal league. For that reason, this was my start out of the one-hole:
This is something that I would never do in a typical roto or head-to-head league, but had no problem doing it in this setup. I locked down a stud centre for the points/face-off wins, and locked down two top-10 goalies. It was the exact start necessary in this format.
After solidifying the net, the next two pieces of business were as follows: draft Ryan O’Reilly, and get at least two stud defencemen. The reason for drafting O’Reilly is simple: he can win 1000 face-offs, manage 60 points, and do so out of the left wing thanks to his multi-position eligibility. I grabbed him just outside the top-75, and am happy with that.
As far as the d-men go, there were just 12 blue liners last year with at least 50 points, and just 26 with at least 40 points. Without other peripheral stats like plus/minus, hits, or blocked shots to give defencemen additional value, the point-producers were at a premium. Again, anyone that reads my Ramblings knows I’ve been preaching that there is good value to be had outside the top-10 defencemen. That is in standard roto leagues where peripheral stats can be beneficial; players like Alec Martinez or Radko Gudas can be very valuable in a league that counts hits and blocked shots. Not so much in a league where four out of six skater categories are point production in some fashion. For that reason, grabbing two or hopefully three 50-point d-men can provide an advantage over the rest of the league rather than grabbing garden variety 55-point wingers. That led me to do this with my following six picks after going back-to-back goalies:
Each of those defencemen has one 50-point season in the last two years, and I’m comfortable with each of them giving at least 45 points. Throw in O’Reilly and a couple of potential 30-goal wingers, and that stretch of six picks went almost exactly as planned.
Again, this is an exercise in how to be malleable at a draft depending on the league. If this were a typical roto or H2H league, I would be pretty upset with having two goalies and three defencemen in my first nine picks. The settings here, with so much focus on goaltending and actual point production (not peripherals) meant that a deviation in a plan was necessary. As a result, I was thrilled with that start (who doesn’t love their team at the draft though).
Lastly, it was the next two picks that I wanted to talk about from a strict fantasy aspect. This is something I have seen frequently in drafts this year, and it is rather odd:
Over the last three years, James van Riemsdyk has averaged 0.35 goals, 0.37 assists, and 3.25 shots on goal per game. Any idea how many players did that last year, playing at least 41 games? Well, from Hockey Reference:
James van Riemsdyk is one of the few players in the NHL with a legitimate shot at a 30/30/240 season. His ADP is way too low. He should be a top-75 pick, but that gives good value to owners that are looking to grab him around the top-100. Injury prone? Well, he missed two games in the three seasons previous to last year. So, no?
Similarly, Jeff Carter has managed 79 goals, 95 assists, and over three shots a game over the last three years. Any guesses how many players have managed just 75 goals, 75 assists, and three shots a game over the last three years. Again from Hockey Reference:
Every single one of those players is way earlier than Carter in drafts. By Yahoo ADP, the closest to Carter’s (133) is Zach Parise (60). Things are different on ESPN (thankfully) where Carter is going much higher, but I’ve seen him go around the 100th pick with regularity. That, too, is far too low, and a good deal for anyone that grabs him.
Those that read this column regularly know that mock drafting is something I encourage. It can help figure out real ADPs, work the kink out of strategies, and get a feel for how the flows of drafts are going. I also learn by reading about other mock drafts. That was the intended purpose here.
If there’s anything to take away, it’s always read the scoring settings, and keep an eye out for proven producers falling. It happens often.
Speaking of defencemen, how about that Dougie Hamilton? Isn’t he something?
Seriously though. For a guy with back-to-back double-digit goal, 30+ assist seasons, he’s really not getting a lot of love in fantasy. For the record, he’s one of eight defencemen to do so in each of the last two years, and the other seven are pretty much in the top-20 of d-men selected (Burns, Letang, Karlsson, Weber, Giordano, Josi, Barrie).
Not only did Hamilton do what he did in back-to-back years, he also was one of just two defencemen last year to have more than 35 points while playing under 20 minutes a game. The other was Keith Yandle.
A new coaching staff gives me hope that Hamilton gets the ice time he deserves. He’s still probably the third wheel behind Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie, but if Shattenkirk/Pietrangelo/Bouwmeester, Lindholm/Vatanen/Fowler, Markov/Subban/Petry, among others, can all play at least 21 minutes a game together in the same defence corps, this coaching staff can figure it out as well. It is worth noting that post-Kris Russell, Hamilton was close to 21 minutes a game.
It'll be hard for Hamilton to be a 50-point defenceman with Giordano kind of blocking him, but there is room for improvement here. Even just a couple extra minutes a game could like to 3-4 more points. It’s not huge, but this is a potential 45-point defenceman with improved goaltending behind him going regularly outside the top-20 defencemen.
One preseason lineup decision that has been catching my eye is seeing PK Subban paired with Mattias Ekholm. In recent history, the second pair on Nashville had been Ekholm with Ryan Ellis. We may not get that this year, at least to start.
This is of interest to me because I wonder if there may not be a change in philosophy. The pairing of Weber-Josi had historically been given a pile of the tough minutes. Is this splitting of Ellis/Ekholm done with the intention to use either pair against the opposing top line? Does that mean Josi-Ellis get the tough minutes? Keep an eye out early in the season. If it’s the latter, Ekholm may be given more free reign offensively. Or maybe he’s just used a safety valve for Subban if he rushes. We’ll have to wait and see.
I was sad to see the injury to Mattias Janmark. The condition is one I had never heard of, but it’s an issue with his knee, and at best will keep him out until around the all-star break. He may miss the entire season.
A lot of the hype goes to the big guns in Dallas like Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and John Klingberg. Janmark was developing into a very good forward for the Stars, though. He only had two fewer five-on-five points than Patrick Sharp last year, and did so driving the play at a very good level for a rookie.
This is a pretty big loss for the Stars. Sure, that top-six is still absolutely loaded with talent. After that, though, it’s a mix of young kids and vets like Brett Ritchie, Radek Faksa, Patrick Eaves, and Cody Eakin. It’s not a poor bottom-six, but it did get weaker with this injury. Hope to see him back shortly.
Anyone ever see the George Carlin bit on praying to Joe Pesci? If not, hop on YouTube. Like most Carlin bits, it’s worth the watch.
Anyway, sometimes prayers are answered, and sometimes they’re not. Someone must be listening, though, because my prayers have been answered, and it appears that David Pastrnak will at least get first crack at the top line right wing position for the Boston Bruins.
There is nothing in the profile of Pastrnak that says he shouldn’t be a stud. As a 17-year old, he led his Swedish First Division team in scoring. During his brief AHL tenure, he had 32 points in 31 games as an 18-19-year old. His 82-game pace in the NHL? That would be 21 goals and 24 assists for 45 points per 82 games while playing under 14 minutes a game. No one in the NHL last year who averaged under 14 minutes a game cracked 40 points, and only one player had 45 points while playing under 15 a game (Tomas Tatar). In other words, as mentioned, there is nothing that says Pastrnak isn’t a stud in the making.
Claude Julien may give a laundry list of reasons why he can’t trust Pastrnak – turnovers, defence, awareness, whatever – but the fact is this kid can be something special. He’s being basically neglected in fantasy drafts, and even without significant power play time, he has legitimate 50-point upside this year. Don’t miss the boat, especially in keeper leagues or dynasties.
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