Our first overtime game of the Stanley Cup Final went the way of the St. Louis Blues by a score of 3-2 thanks to a point shot from Carl Gunnarsson on a delayed penalty.
This was a much different game than the first as St. Louis was the better team on this night and much deserved the win.
The teams traded goals in the first period to give us a 2-2 game after 20 minutes, a score that would stand until 3:51 of overtime.
Both Vince Dunn and Robert Thomas were not in the lineup. Dunn missed Game 1 as well while Thomas took that big hit from Torey Krug. It seems as though Thomas has been battling some sort of injury though because he’s been given a lot of maintenance days through the playoffs when the team has been practicing. Not that the hit didn’t exacerbate it, just that there seemed to be something lingering beforehand.
The thermostat turned up several degrees in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final between Boston and St. Louis. There were a few, legal big hits, namely focused towards Sam Blais, but there was also some more questionable physical play. One such hit was from Oskar Sundqvist who hit Bruins defenceman Matt Gryzelcyk in the numbers hard into the boards. Sundqvist was only given a 2-minute minor but Grzelcyk was forced to leave the game:
I’ll keep my opinion to myself on this and let you guys hash it out in the comments.
Just wanted to note that Colton Parayko maintained his status on the top PP unit . I’ll talk a bit more about him later these Ramblings.
Nilsson was fine last year considering the state of the franchise but there’s also Mike Condon with a year left and Craig Anderson is the presumptive starter. Given the team surrounding him and the competition in net, I’m not sure there’s any fantasy value here.
Dominik Kubalik signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. The 23-year old winger has been playing in Europe since his time in the OHL from 2012-2014 but had a great World Championships for the Czech Republic, totalling 12 points in 10 games.
I’m not quite sure where he fits because Chicago wingers are likely to move just about anywhere on the roster but there is more than enough talent on the roster to support a decent fantasy campaign if Kubalik adapts quickly.
A couple days ago in these Ramblings, I discussed the share of five-on-four PPTOI that some forwards enjoyed this past season. The reason for looking at it like this is that actual PPTOI can be a bit misleading when looking to the next season. While overall PPTOI or PPTOI/game leaders will undoubtedly include many of the top-end offensive options in the league, finding players who sneakily had a big share could mean more overall PPTOI next year if their team draws more penalties. The example I used was the chasm in total five-on-four ice time between Claude Giroux and Tyler Seguin despite similar share because one team drew 20 more penalties than the other.
Today, we’ll be doing the same thing but only looking at defencemen. The parameters:
- All defencemen, no forwards
- At least 60 games played in 2018-19
- At least 100 minutes played at five-on-four
- No players who changed teams during the season
- Expressed as a percentage of TOI for the games the player actually played based off the team’s 5v4 PPTOI per game
- Data from Natural Stat Trick
I want to start with a couple players who didn’t get a lot of PPTOI. *extreme Daenerys voice* Shall we begin?
If the hockey world at large didn’t know how good Parayko is before these playoffs started, they certainly know now. He’s playing over 24 minutes a night and has 11 points in 20 games heading into Game 2. His defensive prowess, beyond the points, has been spectacular.
Fantasy owners have been drooling at the fantasy potential for years now. Parayko’s rookie 2015-16 season saw nine goals, 33 points, over two shots per game, and triple-digit totals in both hits and blocks. When a rookie defenceman has that kind of performance, it’s hard not to salivate a little bit.
He has not, however, really taken the next step in the fantasy game. He has yet to exceed 10 goals or 35 points, and his hit totals have seemingly plateaued in the 120-130 range. While the peripherals are still pretty good, and a player giving us 35 points means he’ll always have a lot of value, there is definitely a lot more to give.
It does not appear as if he’ll be given the opportunity for the upside to happen. Parayko’s five-on-four TOI/game increased over his first three seasons (1:39 to 1:55) but cratered in 2018-19 to 1:19. Vince Dunn’s continued emergence at the NHL level, combined with both Dunn and Alex Pietrangelo being mostly healthy, led to a career-low 105:16 in 5v4 PPTOI for Parayko this past season.
That’s pretty much the entire reason that Parayko will never reach his true fantasy upside. Despite his size, Parayko is a very good puck mover in the vein of someone like Victor Hedman. (I’m definitely not saying he’s on Hedman’s level, just using it as a comparison for a big defenceman who can effectively move the puck.) But the team will have Pietrangelo (I’m assuming they extend him) and Dunn for years to come. Unless one is moved, or there’s a catastrophic injury, 35 points is about all we can hope for from Parayko given his usage.
Just an FYI: usage after Berube took over changed, as from December 1st onward PPTOI significantly favoured Pietrangelo while Dunn and Parayko were a bit closer together, with Dunn getting the edge by about 16 total minutes over the final two-thirds of the season. There’s still a clear hierchy and Parayko isn’t in the top-2.
Of all players who fit the criteria outlined above, Ekholm had the lowest percentage of his team’s 5v4 PPTOI at 27.1 percent. Only Parayko and Duncan Keith were under 30 percent league-wide and only five of the 58 blue liners in our sample were under 33 percent. In other words, Ekholm’s PPTOI was extremely low, even among the lesser-used players.
I bring him up for two reasons.
First, he had a great year with eight goals and 44 points. Good for him and his fantasy owners. Looking ahead, however, it should give people pause that a 28-year old defenceman on a team with Ryan Ellis, P.K. Subban, and Roman Josi surpassed 35 points for the first time in his career. He set career-highs in things like IPP and both primary and secondary assists.
We’re not here to talk about Ekholm’s point regression, thought – at least not directly. The second point that needs to be brought up here is that P.K. Subban’s name has been tied to a lot of trade rumours and it does seem Nashville is ready for major shake-ups after their first-round exit. Should Subban be traded, there are about 200 minutes/82 of PPTOI that need replacing.
Ekholm is the clear fourth guy on the Nashville blue line as far as skating with the man advantage is concerned, and Dante Fabbro is lurking in the shadows. Whether or not Ekholm can sustain close to his 44 points moving forward will depend on what happens with Subban and whether Peter Laviolette decides that Fabbro should be higher in the pecking order. (I doubt it, but the chance is there.) There are a lot of obstacles here but some of them will be cleared up before draft season hits.
Philly’s young blue liner is kind of in the exact same spot as Parayko:
- Provo is stuck behind an established, offensively-talented defenceman in Shayne Gostisbehere
- There’s another young blue liner challenging for PPTOI in Travis Sanheim
- Provorov had a great rookie year that teased the potential upside (and, to be fair, he followed it up with a 41-point season)
- He didn’t get much of the share of PPTOI in 2018-19, coming in with the fourth-lowest mark in our sample at just over 31 percent
Despite having his own rough patches in 2018-19, Shayne Gostisbehere skated over 69 percent of the available 5v4 ice time. In the sample of 58 defencemen, that was the fourth-highest mark. At times, we saw five forwards on the top Flyers unit or other blue liners but, by and large, it was Gostisbehere’s role and looks as if it will continue to be Gostisbehere’s role.
To make matters worse, Sanheim nearly caught up with Provorov in PPTOI per game after Christmas (separated by 15 seconds) than before the holiday break (Provorov exceeded Sanheim by 55 seconds per contest). So, not only was Gostisbehere nearly locked into his role, but Sanheim, at the very least, caught up to Provorov on the PP depth chart.
This is a concern for Provorov owners. He’ll always have enough peripherals-wise that his value will never disappear. But it’s a question of whether he can be more than a 30- to 40-point defenceman. If Travis Sanheim can really surpass Provo next year in the pecking order – and I think he can – that wouldn’t leave much room for upside from the 22-year old Russian.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the guy who had the second-highest share of his team’s available 5v4 TOI in 2018-19 at 75.9 percent. The leader was John Carlson at 82.2 percent with Kris Letang being the only other player over 70 percent.
He’s worth mentioning because he could have had a superlative season if he was healthy to start the year, finishing with 53 points in 64 games. His 47 assists, despite the games missed, were a career high. Krug’s 28 power-play assists were also a career high, cracking the 20 PPA mark for the first time.
I’ll be interested to see his ADP next year. The top line will be back, Jake DeBrusk will have another year under his belt, and there’s not much reason to think the Bruins will take a big step back. But Krug has seen declining shot rates for a few years and doesn’t put up great peripherals otherwise. It will very much depend on the type of league in which he’s being drafted.
Just a quick note here: Severson (47.3 percent) and Will Butcher (50.8 percent) basically split the power-play ice time. The PP units were a mess all year both due to under-performance and injuries. I’m not sure there’s one player I’d put clearly above the other next year thought I do lean to Butcher’s side. But if anyone has a different take on who will be the PPQB next year in New Jersey, feel free to let me know in the comments.
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