Ramblings: Bubble Keeper Week Cap League; Heiskanen and Honka; Iginla; Zucker – July 27

by Michael Clifford on July 27, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Bubble Keeper Week Cap League; Heiskanen and Honka; Iginla; Zucker – July 27

 

Bubble Keeper Week is continuing here at Dobber Hockey and I’ve been very heartened to see the Dobber community come out and talk fantasy hockey. This is typically a time of year where most people have football, baseball, and barbecues on the mind, and it goes to show the passion you, as a community, has for the game we all love.

A couple days ago I mentioned one keeper league I have that follows a cap structure. We keep 18 and the scoring is as follows for skaters: goals, assists, shots, special-teams points, hits, blocks, takeaways, face-off wins. We start three centres, three of each wing, four defencemen, three utility, and two goalies. We haven’t had our rookie draft yet.

This is my roster (missing are goalies Jonathan Quick, Aaron Dell, and Darcy Kuemper) and they are last year’s salaries, which means someone’s contract information like Boone Jenner’s is incorrect:

 

 

These are the guys I know I’m keeping for sure: Nico Hischier, Jake Guentzel, Chris Kreider, Yanni Gourde, Ivan Provorov, Shea Theodore, Nazem Kadri, Brett Ritchie, Brad Marchand, Boone Jenner, Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jonathan Quick, and Aaron Dell. That makes 14.

A couple guys I’m waiting on are Josh Morrissey and to an extent Ondrej Kase. Both are RFAs without their new contracts as of yet.  

Some guys I’m unsure of: Pavel Zacha, Evgenii Dadonov, and Justin Faulk.

I have always been a fan of Zacha and think he’s due to breakout this year so, considering his cheap salary, I will probably keep him.

Dadonov I really don’t know what to do with. He provides little in peripherals and could lose his power-play spot to Mike Hoffman. If he’s basically a nothing in half the categories, is he worth $4-million in this league setup? 

Finally, I thought Faulk would be in a new destination by now. The addition of Dougie Hamilton is going to ruin hopes of a bounce back for Faulk in a Carolina uniform. It’s a matter of whether we get 2016-17 Faulk or 2017-18 Faulk. I just don’t know yet.

What does the Dobber community think on each of Zacha, Dadonov, and Faulk in this format?

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We are down to a one-handed number of days as the 2018-19 Dobber Hockey fantasy guide is set to release in five days. Be sure to grab your copy early so you can absorb all the fantasy goodness contained within and take advantage of the updates that will occur as we progress to the end of the off season. Just head to the Dobber Shop and pre-order yours now!

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Sean Shapiro of The Athletic had an interview recently with new Stars head coach Jim Montgomery. I encourage those with subscriptions to read it but there were a few interesting takeaways:

  • It sounds like we can expect the trio of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alex Radulov to skate together infrequently at five-on-five. I assume Radulov is the guy moved down. Reading between the lines, does that mean Valeri Nichushkin gets a shot on the top line?
  • Montgomery specifically talks about wanting to play a “puck-possession game” which probably bodes well for their skill players.
  • Montgomery also specifically gushes over Miro Heiskanen’s ability to generate offence from the defensive zone, so maybe they let him make mistakes while trying to create offence through the neutral zone.
  • The new coach also discusses Julius Honka’s ability to create clean entries, which is something he will be emphasizing. Those who’ve waited for Honka to finally be a staple of this blue line, it looks like it may happen.

There is a lot more to the interview, specifically talking about Stephen Johns, Radek Faksa, Devin Shore, and Jason Spezza. I really do encourage people to read it. This interview is more enlightening than the vast majority of interviews from coaches.

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Something I’ve just been thinking about for this year is Jeff Carter’s value. He lost two-thirds of his 2017-18 due to injury but still managed 13 goals and 22 points in 27 games. That’s pretty good.

My big issue is that he’s going into his age-34 season. The list of centres with 25-goal, 30-assist seasons at the age or older over the last five seasons is as follows: Pavel Datysuk (2014-15). That’s it. That’s the whole list. In fact, Datsyuk is the only centre in the last decade to have a season with at least 25 goals and 30 assists at the age of 34 or older. We know of aging curves in hockey. We know that shots and shooting percentage fall off in the late 20s and get worse. There was also an article recently from Ryan Stimson at The Athletic showing that playmaking skills can sustain themselves much more than shooting later into a career. Carter is a shooter.

He’ll still get 17-18 minutes a night centering the second line and on the top power-play unit. With Ilya Kovalchuk in town, do some of his shots on the PP disappear?

This will largely be a question of ADP. He was often drafted inside the top-75 last year. Even if he’s still just inside the top-100, it might be worth passing on him. Once I finish projections, I’ll have a better idea of where to grab him. This might be a situation where I’d rather be a year early jumping off the boat than a year late.

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A couple days ago, the Calgary Flames announced that Jarome Iginla would be having a retirement ceremony in Calgary at the end of the month. So ends a career that began as a draft pick of the Dallas Stars and ends as one of the most prolific wingers to step on NHL ice.

In the history of the NHL, there have been 17 players to manage both 600 goals and 600 assists in their career. Only two aren’t Hall of Famers and those two are Iginla and Jaromir Jagr. That’s why I had to laugh when I saw some people on social media, just after the announcement was made, ask whether Iginla was a Hall of Famer. I know they’re just trying to spark some sort of discussion (need those engagement numbers) but the thought to the contrary is an absurd one.

Let’s dig a little more into Iginla’s career (all from Hockey Reference’s Play Index):

  • From 1998-1999 through 2014-15, a span of 16 seasons, Iginla managed 25 goals in 15 of those seasons, only missing in the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign. Marian Hossa had the next-most 25-goal seasons with 12.
  • In the 10 seasons from 2001-02 through 2011-12, the prime production years of his career, he had 806 points in 800 games. Only Joe Thornton had more points in those seasons (899).
  • Since the turn of the century, Iginla has 12 seasons with at least 30 goals and 30 assists. No one else has more than eight.

No matter how it’s cut or sliced, Iginla is one of the top wingers to skate in the modern era of the NHL. That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of his impact on the game when you consider his impact on others:

When someone leaves the game of hockey, be it retirement from the playing or management side, there are always platitudes that are offered. Every single person is the Classiest Person Ever in hockey. Every single person is a Hall Of Fame Individual. Et cetera. Et cetera. These aren’t platitudes when it comes to Iginla. From fellow players, to fans, to coaches, to just regular people on the street, he treated everyone with respect, and assumed the role of a true leader.

We will see another player like Iginla; there are too many talented players across the world for it not to happen. I’m not sure we’ll see another player with his on- and off-ice qualities again, though.

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I have gotten a couple questions on Jason Zucker – which is kind of surprising given I’ve probably written more about him than any other player over the last few months – so I wanted to go through his breakout season piece by piece.

Zucker’s 2017-18 was a career year, cracking 60 points for the first time. In fact, he cracked 50 points for the first time, finishing with 33 goals and 31 assists. He also played a full 82-game season for the first time, while averaging 16:58 TOI per game, also a career-best.

We may look at his 14.9 percent shooting and just assume, considering he shot 12.1 percent over the previous five seasons, that it’ll come down. Here’s the thing: his 11.5 percent shooting at five-on-five in 2017-18 was actually lower than both his 2016-17 season (12.6 percent) and his 2014-15 season (15.3 percent). His aggregate shooting percentage from 2012-2016 at five-on-five was 11.4 percent, right in line with his 2017-18 season. He scored 20 goals at five-on-five, as he did the year before. In other words, he didn’t get lucky at five-on-five.

The difference came on the power play. For his career, Zucker had three PP goals in 248 games before last season. He was finally given regular minutes and popped seven. Minnesota split their time between two units so it’s not as if he had monster top-unit minutes like guys in Washington, Boston, or San Jose. Even though he was given regular power-play minutes, looking in a league-wide context, he still had fewer minutes on the man advantage than guys like Alex Tuch, Alex Kerfoot, Max Domi, Nick Schmaltz, and Adam Henrique.

Zucker shot 21.9 percent on the power play, which explains his bump in overall shooting percentage. That may seem high, and it’s certainly above average, but among forwards with 170-plus minutes on the man advantage last year, that mark wasn’t even inside the top-20.

The one concern is that this was the third straight season with a declining shot attempt rate at five-on-five. Though his actual shot on goal rate went up, his shot attempt rate went down. That’s probably an aberration and if he doesn’t start shooting more, his overall shot totals will decline unless he sees more ice time. If his ice time and shot rates don’t change, don’t be surprised if he drops 20 or so shots off his totals, which would result in a few fewer goals.

His individual points percentage last year was 68.8 percent, a three-year high, but not far off his 2016-17 season (65.3 percent) and lower than his 2014-15 season (74.3 percent). Again, it just seems about normal for him.

All told, despite it being the best production season of his career, not too much of his 2017-18 season was out of line with what he had done in his career, and most of the changes can be explained in a change in usage. Maybe he doesn’t improve next year, or even declines a little, but barring a really unlucky year, there should be too much of a change. He can still push for 30 goals and 60 points.

 

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