Ramblings: Below-average analytics, Radim Vrbata, Timo Meier, Chris Kreider and more (July 19)

by Neil Parker on July 19, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Below-average analytics, Radim Vrbata, Timo Meier, Chris Kreider and more (July 19)
Shea Weber - USA TODAY Sports Images

 

 

Below-average analytics, Radim Vrbata, Timo Meier, Chris Kreider and what's next for Ottawa and New York?

 

Shea Weber is an "average NHLer," according to Matt Pfeffer's analytics. No wonder he was fired, and his opinion in the P.K. Subban-Weber deal didn't influence the Montreal front office.

I'm all for incorporating analytics, but the "eye test" is important, too. Anyone who has watched Weber's body of work over the past few seasons knows he's nearing the end of his prime, if he's not already past it, but Weber is certainly a slam-dunk, top-pairing defenseman. As in, Weber is a top-60 defenseman in the league, easily.

Without question.

And top-pairing defensemen aren't average.

Turning to Subban, he racked up two goals and 15 assists through 11 games against Toronto, Buffalo and Columbus last season. He scored 15 points through 25 games against the Western Conference.

Dobber touched on the difference between playing in the Central Division compared to the cushy Eastern Conference in the comments of an article/ramblings when the deal was first finalized. The disparity of those numbers falls somewhere between telling and interesting.

This isn't meant to be an attack on Pfeffer, Subban, analytics or Montreal, it's just my half-baked, off-the-cuff take after reading the above article.

It was easy to toss stones at the Canadiens for not renewing Pfeffer's contract, and casting Montreal as a backward organization. There was no benefit of doubt for Montreal initially, or at least, not in the Twitter bubble where I focus.

Now, though, it's pretty obvious why Pfeffer was canned. If you go to the front office and call a top-15 defenseman in the league an average NHLer, you're not going to be taken seriously. Let's give Pfeffer the benefit of the doubt, though, and return Weber to being a top-60 defenseman.

And it's still absurd.

Weber's far above average, and the fact Pfeffer is standing behind anything else is ridiculous. Good luck going forward, kid.

 

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Interestingly, Andrew Walker said the exact same thing during his show Monday. Nearly word for word, but I said it first here. Just so I don't come across as a copycat.

 

 

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It sounds like Radim Vrbata will sign a deal sooner than later.  But how much should we care?

From 2009-10 through 2014-15, Vrbata scored 141 goals, which ranked 27th among all skaters, and in the company of Max Pacioretty, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. Last year, though, he skidded to just 13 goals and 14 assists through 63 games, and he'll enter his age-35 season this fall.

Additionally, power-play production has been a key to Vrbata's success with 50 goals and 54 assists with the man advantage during the six-year span when he was an excellent contributor.

Among all skaters with 2500 minutes played at five-on-five during the stretch from '09-10 to '14-15, Vrbata's goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five ranked 93rd at a 0.77 mark. His points per 60 minutes was 1.75 at five-on-five, which ranked 119.

During the time timeframe, Vrbata ranked 38th in P/60 (4.74) and 16th in G/60 (2.22) with the man advantage.

Obviously, the landing spot will be incredibly important to Vrbata's fantasy success, but whether he receives top-unit looks with the man advantage will be most important. In the majority of settings, he's unlikely to carry much fantasy relevance as a supporting piece.

He's also unlikely to be cast as anything more, too.

 

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A changing of the guard is ahead for the Boston blue line, and the Bruins have nabbed a number of defenseman early in the past two drafts: Jakub Zboril (No. 15), Brandon Carlo (No. 37) and Jeremy Lauzon (No. 52) in 2015, and Charlie McAvoy (No. 14) and Ryan Lindgren (No. 49) in 2016.

"It's been an area of need that we wanted to address, something I identified in taking over that we hadn't drafted a lot of players in the top two rounds in previous drafts in the back end," general manager Don Sweeney said. "So it was an area we targeted."

Here's a link to the full article.

Finding the next Dougie Hamilton is a central theme of the article, which again stands to question why Hamilton was dealt in the first place.

However, with the Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and Colin Miller led defense corps, there doesn't project to be a solid group for some time. The 2015 and 2016 picks will need time to develop and some aren't going to turn into reliable NHlers.

Tuukka Rask's fantasy value is hanging by a thread.

 

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Timo Meier is a player to watch this fall. He's scored 221 points through 145 games the past two seasons in the QMJHL, including the playoffs, and has nothing left to prove at that level.

If San Jose looks to take a three-line attack and separate Tomas Hertl from Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, Meier is a candidate to stick with the duo on the No. 1 line. As long as Meier is utilized in a top-nine role, he'll approach 40 points as a rookie, which is rare.

San Jose should be a high-scoring club again, so Meier's value isn't tied to that top-line role. However, with even just half his time spent with Thornton and Pavelski, Meier could have a Nikolaj Ehler-like stretches for fantasy owners. 

 

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This is a pretty solid read about Chris Kreider's contract situation, and the dynamics of committing long term or agreeing to a bridge deal. I was a big believer in Kreider in the past, but he doesn't appear to be capable of being a driving force offensively, and at 25, the best offensive years are nearing an end.

The biggest concern is still his lack of ice time, as he's averaged under 16 minutes in each of his first three full seasons. However, it's concerning that Kreider registered 22 fewer shots last year than during the 2014-15 campaign but still scored the same number of goals.

Maintaining a 13.3 shooting percentage is difficult, so unless Kreider ups his shot total, 25 goals could prove to be his ceiling. Through his first three seasons, his shooting percentage was 11.9.

There's still some potential for that 30-goal, 60-point breakout, but the probability is lowering given his age and lack of playing time. In salary cap leagues, Kreider owners should fear he signs a Jaden Schwartz-type contract because Kreider likely won't return value at a $5 million salary.

 

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Slava Voynov was removed from Team Russia for the World Cup of Hockey. Nikita Nesterov is replacing Voynov.

There obviously aren't significant fantasy implications here, but if you were holding out hope for a Voynov return to the NHL in a keeper/dynasty league, you're likely going to be disappointed.

 

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The big news from Monday was the Rangers-Senators deal with Derick Brassard and Mika Zibanejad swapping cities. Ian broke the deal down here. And there are about 11 threads of commentary on the deal in the forums.

Like Ian, and others, I don't see a lot of fantasy impact, but Zibanejad will have huge adjustments to make. Ottawa is a tame city and market compared to New York, so don't underestimate the potential for him to struggle acclimatizing, especially initially.

There was a lot of discussion about New York clearing some cap space with the deal, but Zibanejad is a restricted free agent at the end of next season, and he's looking at a deal in the range of Chris Kreider, Jaden Schwartz and Kyle Palmieri. So, did New York really just save money?

The Rangers certainly got younger, but Brassard is definitely the more complete player right now, and the time to win is now for New York. Yet, Ottawa isn't a contender, and now they've dealt a potential franchise cornerstone moving forward.

It's kind of a puzzler, unless you just look at it as two teams looking to shake it up.

Still, though, these are two bubble teams clearly behind Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa Bay and Montreal in the Eastern Conference.

Here's my guess … New York makes another move, and Mike Hoffman is now inked long term. Why these dominos had to fall first could be clearer down the line, maybe.

 

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Be well, Dobberheads.