Ramblings: Draft guide day; Shattenkirk buyout; Girard and Butcher sign; Morrissey; Mete – August 1

by Michael Clifford on August 1, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Draft guide day; Shattenkirk buyout; Girard and Butcher sign; Morrissey; Mete – August 1

 

Today is the day! The 2019-20 Dobber Hockey Fantasy Guide is set to be released today in the late afternoon (depending where you live). It has everything fantasy owners need to get a leg up in their leagues: rankings, projections, depth charts, profiles, articles, and a whole lot more. And it’s constantly updated all throughout training camp.

Head to the Dobber Shop and grab your copy now!

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There was some confusion about when the Rangers’ buyout window would open but it does appear that Kevin Shattenkirk will be a buyout casualty. Here is the breakdown:

 

 

It’s a big cap hit in 2019-20 but honestly, with the lockout looming, it might not matter at all.

Shattenkirk is not the player he was but he’s still more than serviceable. Remember that his first year with the Rangers saw him playing with an injured knee for half a season before shutting things down and having surgery. His second year saw the team trade almost anything that wasn’t nailed down. Maybe he’ll be better when he isn’t injured and surrounded with AHLers?

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There were a pair of signings of young defencemen that will be of importance to cap league owners.

Sam Girard is now Colorado’s most recent signing as he got a seven-year extension from the Avalanche with an average annual value of $5M. It’s not one of those bonus-laden contracts, either, so there’s not much lockout protection for him.

I’ve already written extensively about Girard this offseason. We discussed his exit rates and the post-Barrie fallout. There will be a lot more written about him in the guide, so I very much recommend picking that up to get an even deeper look beyond what I’ve written.

If Girard runs the power play this year, his contract will look like a steal almost right out of the gate. Regardless, in a few years, we could be looking back at this contract like we do with Roman Josi’s.

What to do in cap leagues is another matter. Again, if he runs the power play, he’ll be worth the $5M hit. If he doesn’t, I’m not sure there are enough peripheral stats from a 21-year old defenceman for the cap hit to be palatable. He then presents a big risk in these kinds of leagues. My personal belief is he’ll be their PPQB out of the gate but whether he remains there is a different discussion. It’s a precarious situation for cap league owners.

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The second deal of the day saw Will Butcher signing for three years with the Devils with an annual cap hit just over $3.7M.

It’s hard to see how Butcher will live up to this value in cap leagues. Quite literally half of his points (37) in his career (74) have come with the man advantage and the team trading for P.K. Subban has pushed Butcher to, at best, the second PP unit. While the team has certainly improved their scoring, a guy who doesn’t post peripherals losing up to half of his point production – it won’t be that much, but he could lose 30 percent – makes the cap hit tough to stomach.

One thing I do wonder is if the Devils go to two even power-play units. They have Hall, Hischier, Palmieri, Hughes, Gusev, Simmonds, Subban, Butcher, and Severson. That’s nearly two full units and they could easily be split evenly, both in terms of talent and ice time. In that kind of situation, Butcher could flirt with 40 points again. Without at least double-digit PP points, though, it’s hard to see him being worth the fantasy cap hit.

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The Winnipeg Jets still have a lot of work to do this offseason, but one name I haven’t heard much: Josh Morrissey. It’s probably a name fantasy owners should keep in mind.

Last year, Morrissey played nearly 22:30 per game, 16:46 of those minutes at five-on-five. Between the losses of Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers, there are two top-4 guys gone and nearly 34 minutes per game at 5v5 that need filling.

Now, obviously, Morrissey won’t eat all of those minutes but he will get a huge bump. That’s important for a guy whose fantasy value is largely derived from peripherals; just getting up to Byfuglien’s 2018-19 levels of 5v5 TOI would add 4-5 hits and 8-9 blocked shots. That’s assuming constant rates compared to 2018-19 where his hits per minute declined. If that rebounds, we could easily see double-digit additions to hits and blocked shots above what we’d expect, and that’s just with additional 5v5 time. That doesn’t include any potential penalty kill minutes added – he already led the team in per-game rates last year – as well as additional time at other strengths.

Then there’s Byfuglien’s injury history. He’s missed significant chunks of the last two years and is going into his age-34 season. Everyone’s worried about how Byfuglien’s injury history could affect him this year, how about considering how Byfuglien’s injury history could affect Morrissey’s fantasy value? He played to a 40-point pace last year and did so with both Trouba and Myers to contend with. With those impediments are gone, what can Morrissey do this year?

Right now, among my projections, he comes in as the 46th defenceman in standard Yahoo! leagues, and that’s with the assumption of just 20 percent of the top PP minutes. Last year, looking at historical ADP data, he was probably drafted around the 75th defenceman. I do not think his ADP climbs that much this year and that makes him a pretty good option even if Byfuglien plays 75 games. If Byfuglien misses half the season again, Morrissey will be an absolute steal.

There is always the chance that if Big Buff goes down, they use Neal Pionk on the top power play instead, given his handedness. In that situation, I’m going to scream incessantly into a pillow until I pass out.

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While on the topic of defencemen: Mikhail Sergachev.

There shouldn’t be much doubt that Sergachev is on the cusp of stardom. When we look at defencemen his age to have posted 70 points over two seasons, the list is small and distinguished with names like Karlsson, Doughty, Werenski, Berard, Niedermayer, and so on. There are some misses on the list (Tyler Myers being one), but they’re mostly stars.

Then we look under the hood and see a lot of goodness. For example, here are his entries, exits, and shot assists over the last two years from CJ Turtoro’s viz:

 

The sample is big enough to be reliable and he performs comparably to one of the best offensive defencemen of this decade. And Sergachev turned 21 a month ago.

That only shows Sergachev going through some of the processes necessary to generate shot and goals at a higher rate than expected. Did he actually do that? Well here are his impacts on goals, expected goals, and shots, both offensively and defensively, from Evolving Hockey:

 

 

In terms of driving actual goals and actual shot attempts, Sergachev is near the 95th percentile of the NHL. And he’s just 21!

There is work to do defensively, of that there is no doubt. But we have to remember how young he is and how much he has to learn still. That will come with time, but his performance so far has been nothing short of superlative.

He’s an interesting name this year because he’s supposed to be the third-pair LHD but with Hedman, McDonagh, and Coburn around, there has been talk of moving him into the top-4 and having one of the left shots move to the right. Now, that would mean more minutes for Sergachev but we know having two same-handed defencemen on the same pair will mostly likely hurt their outcomes. Would additional minutes help offset the potential decline in offence?

That the team will be so good offensively, and Sergachev has seen steps forward in ice time and peripheral production, means a good fantasy season is likely in the cards. I’m just not convinced the move to top-4 minutes will be the immediate boon to production that it appears to be. If anything, it’d be more production on PP2 that will help.

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One last young defenceman I want to talk about today: Victor Mete.

It was kind of a meme last year that Mete couldn’t score. In fact, he hasn’t scored yet in his career, failing to tally in his 120 career games. You’ve to kind of feel for the kid at this point.

That he’s failed to score a goal kind of hides the fact that he’s pretty good offensively already. I know it’s hard to reconcile the two concepts – the guy with zero goals and 20 assists in 120 games is good offensively? – but he does a lot of the same things as Sergachev. His numbers aren’t as good, but over the last two years, he’s in the 90th percentile in entries with possession and 70th percentile in exits with possession. There are other holes in this game, but he’s very good at helping generate the transition, and that’s important for any team’s offensive game.

There is still a lot of growth to do before he’s a reliable fantasy asset. He needs to generate shots on his own, he needs to be better at finding his teammates once they do get in the offensive zone, and he needs to improve enough to force the hand of his coaches and get those prime PP minutes. In other words, he’s years away from being a guy we can just draft and plant in our lineup for fantasy purposes. But there are the beginnings of a solid fantasy contributor here, and that should be exciting for both fantasy owners and Habs fans.

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Staying with defencemen, the word from The Athletic’s Michael Russo is that Jake Gardiner is set to sign with a team but said team needs to move out a contract first.

The team that immediately popped in my mind was Buffalo. They have a lot of RHD depth and both Rasmus Ristolainen and Zach Bogosian seem like logical moves. If either was traded without the team taking salary back, it would leave them with over $8M in cap space and signing Gardiner would give them a 1-2 on the left-hand side of Dahlin and Gardiner. That would be formidable.

Detroit is possible but with them only one year away from clearing so much bad money, it would make more sense to wait until you can clear space rather than trading picks/prospects to clear those bad contracts now.

The Rangers also make sense but they’d have to move more than just Kevin Shattenkirk and doing so would start to deplete the young depth they’ve accumulated. I doubt they want to go that route.

It really does seem Buffalo is the logical land spot. What do you guys think?