Ramblings: Ellis Signing, Sekera Injured Again, Rankings Explained (Aug 15)

by Ian Gooding on August 15, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Ellis Signing, Sekera Injured Again, Rankings Explained (Aug 15)


Ellis Signing, Sekera Injured Again, Rankings Explained, plus more…

There were two significant news items on Tuesday, both involving defensemen from the Western Conference.

The Nashville Predators have locked up another key piece of their top-flight defense, agreeing to an eight-year extension for $50 million with Ryan Ellis starting in 2019-20. If you haven’t seen it already, Ellis made NHL.com’s Top 20 Defensemen list, checking in at number 20. It should be status quo for the Preds, who also boast fellow top-20 d-men P.K. Subban and Roman Josi in their top 4 (along with Mattias Ekholm). Some Preds’ salary cap facts:
 


In spite of missing the first half of the season due to a knee injury, Ellis finished the season with 32 points. This worked out to 0.73 points per game, which was 11th in the NHL among d-men and slightly ahead of teammates Subban and Josi. We can’t really rank Ellis ahead of Subban and Josi in fantasy, however, simply because of the lack of power-play time (unless the Preds decide to move Ellis to the first unit). Only 5 of Ellis’ 32 points came on the man advantage in 2017-18. That move to the first unit or a Subban/Josi injury would cause Ellis’ fantasy value to go through the roof.

This depth on defense all but assures that the Preds will take their time with 2016 first-round pick Dante Fabbro. He will be eased into the Preds’ lineup once he leaves college, which could happen as early as March. There was some crazy talk in these parts (Vancouver) about the Preds not being able to sign Fabbro (a la Jimmy Vesey) and watching him choose his hometown team. But with the way that the Preds develop NHL-level defensemen, Fabbro would be silly to turn his back on the team that drafted him.

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Now, the not-so-good news from a team that hasn’t had a lot of good news on defense over the last decade. It looks like Andrej Sekera will start the season on IR for the second consecutive time, as the Oilers have announced that he recently underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon.

The Sekera injury turns up the heat on the Oilers in terms of getting a deal done with RFA Darnell Nurse, another critical top-4 defensemen. Don’t be surprised if the Oilers add an inexpensive veteran defenseman as well for depth purposes. However, the name that immediately comes to mind for fantasy keeper owners is Evan Bouchard, who now seems all the more likely to at least start the season on a nine-game trial.

Ethan Bear’s name might not jump out at you as much as Bouchard’s (although Ethan Bear is one of the better hockey names out there), yet Bear is also a player to watch here. A point-per-game scorer during his final two seasons in the WHL, Bear was called up by the Oilers in March and impressed, logging an average of nearly two minutes per game on the power play. Bear’s chances of starting the season in Edmonton also improve because of the Sekera injury.

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Here I’m going to respond to a couple of comments on the Sunday Ramblings where I discussed the ESPN Fantasy Hockey rankings. Nothing bad, just wanted to expand on the points that were made.

Wes: “That ESPN list lost all credibility to me the moment I saw Reilly Smith ranked above players like Patrik Laine and Jack Eichel. Just saying.”

For the record, I agree with Wes in that there’s no way Smith should be listed ahead of Eichel and Laine. To expand on his point, ESPN lists Smith at 51 (RW10), Laine at 57 (RW11), and Eichel at 62 (C25). So what I’ll try to do is explain why ESPN happened to rank Smith, who is on his fourth NHL team over a seven-year NHL career, ahead of two of hockey’s brightest young stars.
 

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

PIM

PPP

ATOI

SOG

Reilly Smith

67

22

38

31

24

14

17:55

162

Jack Eichel

67

25

39

-25

32

20

20:09

246

Patrik Laine

82

44

26

8

24

31

16:29

241

Mark Scheifele

60

23

37

19

18

16

20:41

125

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fair comparison can be made between Eichel and Smith, as both played the same number of games. In fact, if we were to do a blind Player A/Player B comparison on goals and assists alone, you might be shocked that Eichel and Smith turned out almost identically. Add in just plus/minus and Smith was the more valuable player last season. In fact, Eichel just narrowly edged out Smith in one league format that I play in that counts only goals, assists, plus/minus, and time on ice.

I don’t have an explanation as to why Smith would have ranked ahead of Laine, aside from Smith having more assists and slightly more icetime (and the fact that ranking players can be an grueling task which can lend itself to mistakes). Smith records fewer power-play points and far fewer shots on goal than both Eichel and Laine. Plus any fantasy owner with a reasonable amount of intelligence would know that both Eichel and Laine possess much higher scoring upside than Smith. In most league formats they should be drafted as such, but this is a good exercise in understanding what fantasy limitations a marquee name might have.

chimp82x: “Scheifele doesn't shoot and doesn't offer much at all in the way of peripherals.”

Mark Scheifele is listed by the World Wide Leader at 81 (C30), a number that I also thought was quite low. Although 125 shots is quite low for a player of Scheifele’s scoring ability, keep in mind that he missed 22 games due to injury in 2017-18. Over his previous three seasons, Scheifele has taken an average of 170, 194, and 160 shots on goal, an average of 175 shots per season, or about 2.27 shots per game if you factor in his games played. That’s slightly higher than the 2.08 shots he averaged last season. So over a full season, that still checks out to under 200 shots on goal.

This could very well change this season on a high-powered Jets’ offense, but Scheifele has never reached 20 power-play points in a season. Perhaps had he stayed healthy for a full season, he would have hit that total in 2017-18. Scheifele is a fixture on the first-unit power play, where Blake Wheeler racked up 40 PPP and Patrik Laine reached 31 PPP. But although Scheifele might appear that he is not pulling his weight on the first-unit power play, he probably isn’t going anywhere. So this is a number that has room for improvement.

Scheifele is also not an overly physical player who would accrue roughly 40 penalty minutes and 50 hits. So he isn’t exactly helping you there either, but you’re not drafting him for those stats anyway.

Maybe ESPN undershot on Scheifele a bit, but there’s a very valid point in there that his multicategory value might not be as high as what you might think.

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Here are recent results from the entry draft in my keeper league. This draft started over the weekend and was completed via message board on Monday evening. It is a one-round draft with 12 picks – one for each team.

  1. Rasmus Dahlin
  2. Andrei Svechnikov
  3. Filip Zadina
  4. Quinn Hughes
  5. Brady Tkachuk
  6. Noah Dobson
  7. Oliver Wahlstrom
  8. Evan Bouchard
  9. Adam Boqvist
  10. Ty Smith
  11. Vitali Kravtsov
  12. Joel Farabee (my pick)

Notable omissions were the two early first-round surprise picks in Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Barrett Hayton. I would say scoring upside is not the only reason, though. Both are listed as centers, which in a CBS league is a huge disadvantage because there are a ton of forwards listed as centers (eg. Mitch Marner and Max Domi are only listed as centers and not as wingers). So you don’t necessarily want to draft the 2018 draft’s third overall pick and fifth overall pick in those respective slots if you hold a similar draft to mine.

If you would like to check out my draft-eligible player rankings completed right after the draft, see the June 26 Ramblings.

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An update on my draft lottery idea, which I mentioned back in the May 2 Ramblings. The league took a vote, with eight owners voting for the lottery and just one owner voting against. We needed a two-thirds majority to change to the draft lottery, so it was passed relatively easily. The one owner who voted against was even on board with one of the ideas for conducting the lottery, so no one in the league seemed dead set against the idea. I don’t know what format we will use yet, but I’m hoping that the owners agree to vote in a mini-Final Four-style vote for four different ideas.

If you are thinking about adding a draft lottery to your league, do it! And make it fun! Heck, make the voting for the idea fun too!

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For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.