As training camp makes way for the (way too long) preseason schedule, we’re beginning to see the massive list of unsigned RFAs start to dwindle. Monday witnessed Travis Konecny and Brock Boeser put pen to ink and thus putting a bow on their team’s respective unsigned lists. These two have been linked since the 2015 draft when they went 23rd and24th overall. I’d like to spend a few moments dissecting their potential for this season.
The 22-year-old witnessed stagnation in his third NHL campaign. He witnessed micro improvements in ice-time (both at even-strength and on the man-advantage), as well as putting a few more shots on goal over the course of the campaign. The ‘biggest’ jump was his recording four power-play markers and eight PPPs as a whole. This was up from the 1+2 he recorded in all of 2017-18.
Konecny was considered a clean breakout candidate heading into last season. He had established himself as a consistent first-line player next to Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. The potential for some top line power-play deployment appeared tangible. And he did, indeed, see some time on that top unit early on. However, the final 20 games of the season wiped away the glowing optimism for 2019-20.
Philly opted to roll Giroux, Couturier and JVR as their top option. The demotion was swift for the former OHL star, as Konecny fell to the bottom six. He remained on the second power-play unit – albeit skating just 66 seconds per game there. Yet he still managed to produce six goals and 12 points in 20 contests. Not terrible when considering his most common mates down the stretch were Ryan Hartman and Scott Laughton
The fourth-year boom should be fueling further expectations this season, but as we know, deployment is king. There is a chance that the Flyers reunite Couts, Giroux and Konecny at even-strength. If that’s the case, another 25-goal, 50-point season is doable. The top PP looks as locked as can be upfront, so expecting him to charge up the point board is likely too optimistic.
If he finds himself on a lower line with Nolan Patrick or Kevin Hayes at evens, then anything above a 20/20 campaign will be difficult to obtain.
Fun Fact: Konecny and Bo Horvat are cousins. Travis’ five-year, 33 million dollar deal he signed on Monday is the exact same contract that Horvat signed in 2017. I guess they’ll be splitting the tab at the family get-togethers.
Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Boeser’s 55 goals sit firmly amongst the top 50 goal scorers league-wide. On a per-minute basis, things become even rosier. Boeser’s 1.4 goals per 60 minutes sit tied for 15th in the league with Connor McDavid, Kyle Connor, Vladimir Tarasenko and Taylor Hall.
He is an elite finisher who is just getting started.
Now, just like any high-end finisher worth their salt, there will be stretches of fire amongst a few icy spells. That’s just the name of the game. But for Boeser, his close relationship with Elias Pettersson is his ace in the hole. He will be locked to Pettersson at even-strength and on the team’s top power-play unit. Those two boast two of the more lethal shots in the game. If teams sag off of one to lock down the other, well, you can guess where the puck will end up.
The knock on Brock has been injury concerns. He’s missed 33 games the past two seasons with back and wrist ailments. Providing a full season worth of games in year three should go a long way in convincing fantasy owners that he’s an elite piece.
By signing a three-year deal worth 5.875 million per, Boeser is banking on himself. He will conclude the deal in the heart of his statistical prime and if things go to plan, it will be set up for a monstrous third contract. For the Canucks, they get their second-best player locked up for a reasonable price and find out if the health concerns are real or just bad luck to begin a career.
Side note: While I give very little credence to camp/preseason chatter, Pettersson is looking set to hit another level in 2019-20. The rail-thin, pre-pubescent boy we welcomed to the NHL last season has been replaced by a man. The Alien already dazzled with a scrimmage goal and led the team by nearly half the rink during the club's vomit-inducing bag skate/fitness test.
Elias Pettersson is looking like Captain Canuck this year 💪🏻👀 pic.twitter.com/oMkpXErngR
— The Hockey Gods! (@HockeyGods) August 31, 2019
I may have gone a little low on Pettersson for my Annual Player Projections this year. Remember, half the proceeds from this venture go to helping preserve, maintain and protect the Amazon Rainforest and all its inhabitants!
Boston signed RFA Brandon Carlo to a two-year deal worth 2.85M per.
The Preds have apparently set up their top power-play unit.
Matt Duchene says he’ll be net-front on the Predators’ power play. Based on what Peter Laviolette said last night, the team’s “PP1” appears to be Duchene, Forsberg, Johansen, Arvidsson and Josi.
— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) September 17, 2019
This bodes well for Roman Josi owners who were banking on him pushing for monster returns during his contract season. I’ve spoken about Josi a few times this summer, and continue to feel that his value is going be met in points-only setting, but to knock him down a few pegs in multi-cat setups.
This news should also give a little relief to Duchene/Johansen owners who feared one would be banished to the second line AND second power-play unit. Duchene as the net-front likely snakes a few of his PPAs though.
We are just two more weeks away from regular-season action. You do not want to be left holding the bag on draft day. Head over to the shop to grab a copy of the Annual Fantasy Guide and Prospect Report. These two documents are worth their weight in gold. And now available in French!
Tyson Barrie’s deployment is going to take a hard shift and we’re not talking in a positive avenue.
As expected, Barrie’s PPTOI will take a substantial hit.
He averaged 28 PPPs the last two seasons while seeing nearly 4 mins of PPTOI per game. That’s coming way down this year
Adjust accordingly on draft day. https://t.co/iJhAVKK1uQ
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) September 16, 2019
Over the last two campaigns, only John Carlson, Keith Yandle, and Brent Burns saw more ice on the man-advantage on the backend. As it would be, those are the only defenders who produced more points on the PP.
The best-case scenario would’ve seen Barrie and Morgan Rielly share the top spot – or the Leafs employ a 3+2 unit. But if Barrie is indeed destined to live on PP2, then you can expect his PPTOI to be cut in half, and dare I say, his production at that strength to fall around the same amount.
I’d like to reiterate what Mike wrote last night about Andreas Johnsson. I'm 2/2 in drafts this year – grabbing Johnsson in the 16th round of a multicat keeper, and in the 10th round in a one-year, semi-multi.
Follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson
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