Bubble week continues here at DobberHockey. This is an annual event we do where our focus is decidedly away from the cream of the fantasy crop and firmly on those players you need to make the hard decisions on. The players in mind will sit in the second-half of Dobber’s Top 300 Keeper Skaters as well as the bubble netminders that go along with them.
We begin with an extension.
Colton Sissons is a realist. The 25-year-old just came off of a career-best 15 goals and 30 points and decided that was likely to be the high-water mark. Instead of taking a short term offer and pushing for greater heights, he and his agent accepted the Predators offer to lock him up to a seven-year contract at 2.857 million per.
25-year-old, Colton Sissons clearly isn't betting on himself to improve much. Which I guess is fine. Lock in that paycheque.
But why is Nashville giving a near-max term deal to a near-replacement level player? https://t.co/VkMrhnzK7O
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) July 23, 2019
I get the pros to Sissons. He’s a strong faceoff guy who specialized in defensive zone draws. And by specialized, I mean he absolutely lived in the defensive end of the rink. And did a good job too.
The Preds clearly feel that Sissons could continue to develop as a player and provide serious value. However, providing such term to a bottom-six defensive specialist you reduce your roster freedom. You limit the ability for a young player on an entry-level contract to push up into that spot and provide similar value for even more cost-effectiveness. Detroit has shown us that it’s not an overly successful recipe when they gave players like Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm seven and five-year deals respectively.
I suppose it shouldn’t be all that surprising that it was David Poile pulling off this move. He gave Calle Jarnkrok 6x2M a few years ago. He also banked on a young Roman Josi with a 7x4M. The latter ended up being spectacular, but the upside was also far greater with the Swiss defender.
Many of my colleagues will investigate players that are within their prime-age or wily veterans who we hope to squeeze a few more drops of juice from before the sun fully sets. I’ve decided to play to my strength and speak about some of the potential young, up-and-coming players who aren’t receiving the same hype as the blue-chippers.
New York has done a lot this offseason. Almost all of it has been a lightning rod of positivity and hopefulness for Rangers fans and fantasy general managers. However, one of the earliest additions to the organization has lost a great deal of shine in the last two months.
Fox is an offensive defenseman. As pure as they come. He racked up 21 goals and 116 points in 97 career NCAA games. He has a WJC gold medal, was a three-time First Team All-American with Harvard, and even took a spin at the World Championships last spring. He culminated his collegiate career by posting nine goals and 48 points in 33 games as a junior. He pumped 3.58 shots on net per game which was the second-most by a blueliner in the nation.
The right-shot defender is a gifted skater who loves to rush the puck. He plays the game quickly and is always searching for an opportunity to create offense. When the Rangers traded for and subsequently signed the 21-year-old back in May, the expectation was he would get a very real look to quarterback the top power-play on Broadway. The addition of Jacob Trouba and his subsequent monster seven-year deal indicates Fox’s opportunities on the right-side have been significantly decreased.
Here’s the thing though, maybe Trouba isn’t the best suited for a top power-play role in New York. He failed to wrestle the job away from Dustin Byfuglien – which isn't the end of the world, Byfuglien is a monster. But in previous seasons Josh Morrissey and Tyler Myers would take their turns when Byfuglien was on the shelf. It took Big Buff being out for half the 2018-19 season for Trouba to finally cusp the 2:00 minute-per-game mark on the man-advantage. And it resulted in him producing BY FAR the most PPPs he’s ever produced (18). On a per-minute basis, it was impressive. Only six other regular, point-producing defenders clicked at a higher rate than his 6.4 PPP/60PPMIN last season.
While Trouba was able to produce very strong power-play production last season, he wasn’t alone. Byfuglien (7.5), Josh Morrissey (5.8) and even Tyler Myers (4.5) produced strong metrics on the man-advantage. This indicates, well, that the Jets power play is effective regardless of the man at the point.
New York will boast similar firepower on their top unit next season. And Trouba will very likely get the first chance to run it and the results could very well be strong. However, a player like Fox, who will be at his most impactful when placed in premier offensive situations, may be able to provide similar value. And if that's the case, it would also free up Trouba to take on more challenging minutes – something the club will desperately want him to do.
The moral of the story is, don’t write-off Fox just because Trouba is in town.
Kyrou likely won’t have the juice to be held onto in limited keepers, but his longterm value should make him a very worthy candidate in deep leagues. He's a player who has had wild success at the junior level with Sarnia and with Canada at the U18 and U20 levels. Now he's making noise in the professional ranks.
While Kyrou began his pro career in St. Louis, the meat of the 2018-19 campaign took place in San Antonio of the American League. He concluded his season with 16 goals and 43 points in 47 games. That 0.91 points-per-game output sat third in the league for U21 players with at least 40 contests. Additionally, his 2.64 shots per game led his team. Also on a per-game basis, he was the team’s most effective special teams’ producer, recording five goals and 19 points on the man-advantage. This is all to say, he had a very successful first campaign in pro hockey.
The 2017-18 OHL Most Outstanding Player’s biggest weapon is his speed. He is one of the more gifted skaters in the world and that ability offers him opportunities all over the ice. It will also likely facilitate an NHL job before long. And while there isn’t a clear home for him in the Blues lineup next fall, his cheap contract coupled with the speedy, skilled game should be a welcomed addition to the bottom-six forward group. Long term, a spot beside a player like Robert Thomas in the top six will provide a secure home and a place to build some strong totals.
Well, looky here, another Ranger! Curse those blue shirts. I’ve been genuinely impressed with their insanely quick rebuild. Sure, winning the lottery and boasting one of the most preferred destinations in the world helps, but they’ve done other smart things too. One of those is having not given up on Buchnevich.
The 24-year-old provided a good deal of hype coming from the KHL where he was one of the more impressive U20 producers. He has battled inconsistency and the subsequent difficulties in gaining prime ice for the better part of his first three seasons. Last year, while failing to improve on his points-per-game mark, he began to show the production needed at even-strength to make a real run at being an impact player.
Buchnevich saw his power-play deployment dip by 45 seconds per contest but earned that back at even-strength. He also saw his offensive zone start percentage fall from 56 to 47 percent in 2018-19, indicating that he's finally earning some trust from the coaching staff. He scored a career-best 21 goals on a 17.6 conversion rate – a metric that is likely to fall. However, he has proven to be a capable and efficient finisher in the past, so somewhere in the low-teens appears like a safe estimate.
— MSG Networks (@MSGNetworks) April 17, 2019
The true crux of his potential rise will be opportunity. While Kaapo Kakko is destined to be an all-world talent, he may not be fully ready to seize all the prime minutes and top defensive pairings that come with a first-line role. Enter Buchnevich who then would slot in as the team’s RW1. And with that comes a spot next to Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin. He’ll then need to see if he can outlast Chris Kreider or Kakko for the same gig on PP1 – far from a lock, but we should likely see his PPTOI increase to two minutes per night.
If Buchnevich can maintain his health and his grip on a top-six role, he should be a prime candidate to breakout for over 50-points next season.
Follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson
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