Ramblings: Domi, Marchand, Potential 2017 Free Agents

by Ian Gooding on July 17, 2016

Domi, Marchand, potential 2017 free agents, plus more…

Welcome to the Sunday Ramblings, where you’ve got me on my usual day… plus one more. Yes, you’ll have to put up with me for two consecutive days. Dobber will have the night off.

The dog days of summer are often difficult to provide much in the way of meaningful hockey content. So then I’ll try to make it worth your while. Let’s do a mailbag for the Monday Ramblings. I like the mailbag format, because I can provide lengthier answers than the 1-2 sentences I would usually provide in the Forum. This allows me to really think about the question and break it down (or as your math teacher used to say, show your work).

So post your burning fantasy hockey questions in the comments below. Or if you think your league mates are also reading, then shoot me an email at goodsfantasyhockey (at) gmail (dot) com. Like Frasier Crane, I’m listening.

*

I find myself checking out Dobber Prospects more and more these days. Not just to look up information on a prospect that I don’t know a lot about, but to check out the Ramblings from Peter Harling and his crew. Most recently, I found Paul Zwambag’s Friday Prospect Ramblings to be exactly what I was looking for regarding the difference between one-way and two-way contracts.

Like many, I had once assumed a “one-way” contract meant that the player had to pass through waivers to be sent down to the AHL, while a “two-way” contract meant that the player could be sent to the minors without passing through waivers. Actually, it has to do with the amount the player is paid between the NHL and AHL (one-way means the same amount, while two-way means a lower amount in the AHL as opposed to the NHL).

As for waivers, the chart listed in the article shows when a player needs to pass through waivers. The factors involved are age, years since the player’s first NHL contract, and games played.

A few examples of contracts were also listed. One signing that probably didn’t get a lot of attention outside of my local market was the Canucks’ signing of goalie Richard Bachman through 2017-18. Yet this was a pre-emptive signing for the Las Vegas expansion draft next summer, where teams need to have at least one goalie (along with two forwards and one defenseman) under contract and therefore available for selection. Bachman will probably spend another season in the AHL.

*

In case you want to do your homework early, here’s an article from theScore that lists five potential big-name free agents in 2017. So which of these players will re-sign, and which ones will become free agents?
 


I think it’s a foregone conclusion that Kevin Shattenkirk and Ben Bishop will be on new teams. Shattenkirk wasn’t even listed as one of the Blues’ core players by GM Doug Armstrong, although he may still be on the roster at training camp (theScore). As for Bishop, it’s simply the circumstances of the upcoming expansion draft and emergence of Andrei Vasilevskiy.

As for the Sharks, they will be a team to watch in the summer of 2017. They need to provide Brent Burns with a large raise on his $5.76 million that he will earn in 2016-17 while convincing Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau to take a hometown age-related discount to stay in San Jose. I can’t see the Sharks not signing Burns, but the rest of their defense is already locked up and a group of young forwards (Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi, Matt Nieto, Chris Tierney) will be RFAs. So it won’t be easy.

The Capitals might be another team of interest next summer. Currently they have only five forwards under contract past 2016-17, and they still need to get rising star Evgeny Kuznetsov re-signed. So signing T.J. Oshie could prove tricky.

*

Technically, Brad Marchand could be on that list as well. But the Bruins are reportedly in talks to extend him. According to GM Don Sweeney, Marchand has been identified as a “core guy”, which makes sense if you consider his career-high of 37 goals last season. That also means that Marchand stands to earn at least a slight raise from the $4.5 million that he will earn in 2016-17.

Marchand’s success last season makes him a player of interest this coming season. Since Marchand’s previous career high is 28 goals, the initial thought is to look at his shooting percentage and believe that he is due for a sub-30 goal season in 2016-17. However, his 14.8 shooting percentage is in line with his career average of 15 percent. Let’s eliminate luck from the equation.

What was the key for Marchand then? More shots. Way more shots. A total of 250, in fact, which was substantially higher than his previous career high of 180. Marchand has been inseparable from Patrice Bergeron over the past few seasons, so something must have really clicked last season. But it’s also worth mentioning that he had an increase in icetime of almost two minutes per game and a slight increase in power-play time of about half a minute from 2014-15 (and an increase of half a minute in power-play time on top of that from 2013-14).

To sort this all out, more icetime (including power-play time) led to a few more power-play points and a lot more shots on goal, all of which were key to Marchand’s ascent to fantasy stardom.

*

Nothing to see here, kids. Just Sidney Crosby placing the Stanley Cup on the counter at the local Tim Hortons.
 


 

*

All the Calder Trophy discussion last season surrounded Artemi Panarin, Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, and Shayne Gostisbehere. One super rookie who was largely ignored was Max Domi, who was one of three rookies to reach 50 points last season.

Domi is currently ranked 66 in the Dobber keeper skater rankings. The most notable young center with a similar value is Robby Fabbri, whose value skyrocketed during the playoffs to reach this point.

With a total of 18 goals and 52 points in his rookie season, Domi seems to be on pace to reach his three-year peak of 65 points that was listed in Dobber’s fantasy guide last season. Other rookies to reach the 50-55-point range in their first season over recent seasons include Tyler Johnson, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Henrique, Michael Grabner, Matt Duchene, and John Tavares.

Let’s throw out Tavares and Grabner from the list, since Domi doesn’t have either the upside of Tavares or the downside of Grabner. So could Domi reach 70 points like Johnson has? Or will it take him several seasons to reach 50 points again, as was the case with Henrique? In other words, will we see the Domi that burst out of the gate over the first two months of the season (20 points in 23 games), or the Domi that struggled over December and January (12 points in 26 games)?

Dave Tippett tends to distribute icetime evenly among his forwards, with only the departed Mikkel Boedker averaging more than 18 minutes of icetime per game last season. With the forwards needing to pick up the slack with Boedker’s loss, and Domi having a full season under his belt, Tippett may be ready to hand Domi and fellow rookie Anthony Duclair a greater role.

A total of 20 goals and 60 points seems like a reasonable assumption for Domi for the coming season, although he will need to increase his 156 shots taken. But that could come with a bump in icetime from the 16 minutes per game that he averaged last season.

While we’re at it, I would budget 50 points for Duclair. I wouldn’t go much higher than that, since a regression from his 19.0 shooting percentage seems inevitable.

Enjoy your Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.