Some defencemen to keep an eye on for next year, power play points, and more
For most of these Ramblings, I will be talking about defencemen. At this time, the following should be kept in mind:
- When ranking/projecting defencemen, I cannot stress enough just how much a league’s settings matter. This is especially true when talking about leagues with real-time stats like blocked shots/hits, and leagues that include time on ice. It seems so basic, but this is so common that it has to be said each and every season.
- Situations matters a lot. A big reason there was so much value to be had in guys like John Carlson and John Klingberg last year is that, when healthy, they were the top offensive option for a top offensive team. Realistically, someone like Jake Muzzin is probably a better defenceman than either of them, but being the number-2 option for a middling offensive team is so situationally different that actual talent is pretty much irrelevant. This is where “good in real hockey” and “good in fake hockey” diverge.
With that in mind, a few guys I’m keen on, at least at this point of the summer.
I know, this is a given. Carlson missed 26 games last year, though, and I’m hoping that will keep his ADP somewhat depressed.
It’s important to keep in mind that last year was the first time Carlson had missed a game since he became a regular in the 2010-2011 season. That’s five straight seasons without a single game missed. Health is something that is difficult to predict (Dobber does a good job keeping up with this through the season with the Band-Aid Boys), but I’d be willing to bet it’s a one-off rather than the beginning of a trend.
Carlson will be better in a points-only league than a roto league. He doesn’t rack up the shots or penalty minutes, and that will likely keep him out of the top-5 in roto scoring. With that said, even in roto leagues, I’d be fine with having Carlson as my top defenceman. In a full year, 20 power play points and 55 points total seems like a good baseline, and there is upside beyond that.
The top two defencemen from the Rangers in terms of power play minutes from last year are no longer with the team in Dan Boyle and Keith Yandle. Back in 2013-2014, before those two arrived in New York, McDonagh led all Rangers d-men in power play ice time by a significant margin. Coincidentally, that’s when he also posted a career-high in power play points (13).
Given the lack of depth on the Rangers blue line, I have to imagine McDonagh sees a significant increase in ice time after declining the last two years. It shouldn’t be a shock to see him over 24 minutes a game next year, including top power play minutes. There shouldn’t be some amazing uptick in points, but ~15 power play points and close to 40 points overall seems well within reason. His ADP should be depressed following two down years, and that puts him in the perfect buying opportunity.
A lot of this will depend how he is slotted. The assumption here is that the Oilers will do like they did for significant portions of last year and run two one-defenceman power play units, with Connor McDavid on the top unit. My money is on Klefbom to run that top unit.
Klefbom still hasn’t played 2000 five-on-five minutes for his career (about 1864, actually), but he has managed 0.9 points per 60 minutes in that span. For reference, among defencemen with a 1000 minutes played last year, that would have placed him inside the top-40 in production rate.
This is a guy that will be put on a watch list for now, and I’ll wait to see how he’s used in training camp. I would have to think that Klefbom plays about 22 minutes a game, though, and if he’s on that top power play unit, this could be a 35-40 point defenceman next year. His draft day cost will be low, and is more than worth a chance as a fifth defenceman, or even a bench defenceman depending how the draft goes.
Jones is the frontline defenceman for the Blue Jackets, and take that for what it’s worth. After the trade last year, he immediately jumped up to nearly 24:30 in ice time per game. Given that he only had three goals all year, and most drafters should be fairly down on most Jackets players, the ADP should be low as well.
Coming into his fourth full season, Jones is ready for the limelight. He should be the go-to on the blue line, both at even strength and on the man advantage. There’s a very real possibility here of crossing the 40-point, two-shot-per-game plateaus, and that’s pretty valuable. If he’s going anywhere around the top-30 d-men, I will be a buyer. Just beware of some of the other peripherals, roto leaguers.
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There are a couple of defencemen I think will carry very cheap ADPs, and can be a solid source of power play points next year. Please don’t laugh.
Going back the last three years, the New Jersey Devils have ranked third, third, and first in power play shooting percentage. In that span, the team ranks second overall in the league in that regard, though as to why they have is a little bit of a wonder – it’s not like they have options like Ovechkin or Seguin. The problem is, from a lack of penalties drawn, they rank just outside the top-10 in goals scored per minute on the power play. Adding Taylor Hall will help a fair amount in this regard.
We will see how the New Jersey power play shakes out, but a fantasy owner can hope they stack the first unit with Hall, Michael Cammalleri, Kyle Palmieri, and Adam Henrique. Running a four-forward power play for the Devils makes sense in that they don’t really have enough talent to spread evenly over two units, but have enough for a true top unit.
This is where Damon Severson steps in. Last year, he was second among regular Devils blue liners in power play time per game. The leader was David Schlemko, but he’s now in California after signing a deal with the Sharks. With Severson coming into his third season, and having very solid numbers either by possession or per-minute production, he should be ready for a bigger role on this team. He’s helped generate more shots and more goals when on the ice on the power play than John Moore, and I hope is the go-to on the top PP unit.
Severson probably won’t have much of a cost on draft day at all. This isn’t a guy to lock in as a must-own just yet, but depending how things go in training camp, he could be a decent source of power play points for a late-round pick.
When I think of Vancouver last year, specifically their power play, one thing that stick out to me is the lack of a trigger-man. Had it not been for Jannik Hansen having a career year goals-wise, this team would have had one 20-goal scorer in Daniel Sedin. Quite frankly, that’s not good enough.
Loui Eriksson signing should help the team in this regard. Assuming health, this is a guy who should be reliable for 20 goals, and upwards of 30 depending how he’s deployed. Not only will (hopefully) playing with the Sedins help his totals, but him being on the power play should help Alex Edler as well.
Edler has run into some health problems the last few years, and had his season ended last year with a broken fibula. At this point, I’m assuming he’ll be fine for the start of the season, though I haven’t been able to find reliable updates.
Under the assumption that Edler will be fine for the season, he should be the top power play quarterback. Now that they have an actual option on the power play besides Daniel, Edler could return to power play form. Remember, he’s just a season removed from 19 power play points, a year when Radim Vrbata was still the Radim Vrbata that could fill the net.
Coming off an injured season, and a depressed outlook on the Canucks in general, should lead to Edler having a very low ADP next year. His raw point production may not be solid, but Edler could put up 30-35 points with about 15 on the man advantage. As a fifth defenceman in a roto league, that should play just fine.
There was a very good article over at TSN a couple of days ago regarding Jiri Hudler written by Travis Yost. I encourage readers to go over it, but it basically discusses how it’s kind of weird that Hudler is still unsigned. This is especially true given how, as Yost points out, his teammates tend to score more often playing with him than other line mates.
It is likely that Hudler, now 32 years old, is looking for one last big payday, given that his last deal was the first time in his career he had earned over $3-million a season. Considering that he’s top-20 in the NHL among forwards in five-on-five points per minute over the last three years, he has a case.
Several teams could use Hudler’s production, but fitting in his cap hit is another story. With that in mind, here are a couple landing spots that could be very profitable come draft day.
Other than Ryan Johansen becoming a restricted free agent in a year, the entire core of the Predators is signed for at least two more years. As of right now, the likely second line right winger appears to be Craig Smith, though even that is up in the air.
Hudler is a versatile forward, and can realistically play all three forward positions. The top-six in Nashville features the likes of Johansen, Neal, and Forsberg, but after that, it’s an aging core. Hudler would kind of compound that issue, but at this point, how many years can Hudler realistically get? Maybe four at the most? Probably three? It wouldn’t hamstring the Predators at all, and would enable them to push someone like Smith or Colin Wilson to the third line, and balance the forward group.
The Oilers sacrificed offence for defence already this year by trading Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson. The thing is, Edmonton was tied for 20th in the NHL last year in goals per minute at five-on-five, a year after finishing 26th. Larsson won’t single-handedly bring them far from the basement in goals against where they were last year, though he and Klefbom should help some. This team still needs offence.
Hudler would be able to slot in very nicely on the second line behind Jordan Eberle. It would allow Jesse Puljujarvi to start in the bottom-six, getting his feet wet without playing top competition. If Puljujarvi proves he can play higher in the lineup, Hudler’s flexibility would help a lot in this regard.
Edmonton won’t sign him, in all likelihood, I guess it’s just wishful thinking of, “maybe he can play with McDavid?!”
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