Ramblings: Faulk/Chychrun Shutdown; Blues Hurt Playoff Chances; Reviewing Misses – April 5

by Michael Clifford on April 5, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Faulk/Chychrun Shutdown; Blues Hurt Playoff Chances; Reviewing Misses – April 5

Fantasy owners got a little scare the other night when Alex Ovechkin went crashing hard into the boards and was slow to get off the ice. He took a maintenance on Wednesday and there’s no certainty he’ll play on Thursday. With playoffs, and playoff drafts, a week away, fantasy owners have to keep this nagging injury in the back of their mind. It may be nothing, it may be something. We’ll have a few more days to figure this out

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It looks like Erik Karlsson may be done for the year. Obviously, with the family issues he’s had off the ice, he hasn’t been traveling with the team. He didn’t play Wednesday in Buffalo and the team has two road games left, one in Pittsburgh and one in Boston. Nothing is official yet.

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Justin Faulk has officially been shutdown for the balance of the season. Jaccob Slavin has been taking the top PP minutes so he’s the guy to add for their final couple games if you need a Hail Mary.

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Another defenceman, Jakob Chychrun, has also been shutdown for the year with a lower-body injury. There’s nothing to expand on yet, I just hope nagging injuries aren’t something that plague him as he starts his career. He’s looked very good as a teenager for the Coyotes and could be a cornerstone for them for years to come.

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Josh Anderson took part in a full practice for the Jackets on Wednesday, indicating he’s closing in on a return to the lineup. They might look to get him in for one game before playoff starts. If you’re targeting Blue Jackets in playoff pools, don’t forget to add him to the list though I doubt he’ll be back on the top line.  

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Marian Gaborik is off to see a back specialist. I’m not sure he’ll ever have much fantasy value again but it’s just a shame to think what could have been if he had stayed healthy his entire career. He’s one of just six forwards with 400 goals and 400 assists this century, and at least four of the others are future Hall of Famers.

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The Blues went into Wednesday night with a game in hand on the Avalanche. They had a 3-1 lead midway through the second period and lost in regulation as Duncan Keith scored with 8.5 seconds left for the 4-3 win. It was a gutting loss for St. Louis’ playoff hopes as they’ll now need some help and no longer control their own destiny.

The St. Louis regulation loss also locks the Kings into a playoff spot.

Alex DeBrincat scored to tie the game in third period, his 28th of the season. Were it not for names like Barzal, McAvoy, Boeser, and Keller, DeBrincat would be getting a lot more press for the rookie season he’s having. He’s doing this all while playing fewer than 15 minutes a night. Not too shabby.

That goal was just Duncan Keith’s second of the season. With the three shots and the goal he had last night his shooting percentage on the season is now up to… 1.1 percent!

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Alex Nylander made his season debut Wednesday night as the Sabres closed out their home schedule. He played a little over 12 minutes and was largely not noticeable. I guess that means he wasn’t doing anything poorly, either?

Ryan O’Reilly scored for the Sabres in their loss and is now one point shy of 60 on the season. Doesn’t feel like it, does it? He also has at least 55 points in six straight 82-game seasons. I wonder if a healthy season from Jack Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt (should they use him as a centre) means fewer minutes next year for O’Reilly.

With a goal and an assist in the win, Ryan Dzingel is now one point shy of 40 on the season.

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There wasn’t a lot in the way of games to discuss from Wednesday night so I figured it was a good time for reflection on the fantasy season that has nearly wrapped up. More specifically, it’s a good time so admit some mistakes.

When you rank over 300 players a season, you’re going to be wrong. Sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot. I thought it would be worth going over some of the players I missed on significantly, why I missed on them, and how it can help in the future. I won’t even bother going into Mathew Barzal; I’d like to meet the person that had him paced out for a 70-point season, let alone cruising beyond 80 points. 

Brock Boeser

Going into the season the hype on Boeser was that he was probably the best pure shooter the Canucks had. To me, that smelled of faint praise for a team that wouldn’t sniff the playoffs. Not only was the expectation that Vancouver would be a low-scoring team, but that Boeser wouldn’t even start the year on the roster. They are, and he didn’t.

Of course, the mistake here is that ignoring individual talent can lead to disaster, especially when the player comes very cheap at the draft table; Boeser’s ADP across the Big Three sites was in the same range as Vadim Shipachyov, Teemu Pulkkinen, Connor Brown, and Chris Kunitz. At that level, betting on talent is often a good bet to make.

Injury was the only thing that kept Boeser from a truly superlative fantasy performance and he still managed 29 goals and 55 points, which is a very good season in and of itself. This was a huge miss on my part. These are the types of players fantasy owners should take a chance on late in drafts. He certainly won’t come at that level of discount next season.

 

Brayden Point

The other huge miss for me was Tampa Bay’s outstanding second-year centre.

Point was coming off a 2016-17 season that saw 40 points in 68 games as a rookie. Pretty good! But it was also a season where Steven Stamkos missed most of the year and Tyler Johnson missed about 20 percent of it. With those two expected back for the entire 2017-18 season, I figured Point would be the third-line centre with sparse power-play time. While he didn’t get much top power-play minutes, it didn’t really matter.

The top-line duo of Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov remained together for most of the year but Point played himself ahead of Johnson very early on. I thought last year’s ice time was about as good as it could get for the 21-year old but, at time of writing, he’s averaging 19:40 per game. He’s earning more five-on-five ice time this year with a healthy lineup than he did last year with all the injuries. He turned that into a 30/30 season, and a very nice return on his ADP (he went even later than Boeser).

His five-on-five shooting percentage is a bit high and that’ll come down next year but even at a depressed rate, he probably still scores around 25 goals and that’s more than enough for where he was drafted in September. My mistake was discounting his ability to play himself ahead of other established players which, again, is a bet to make at an ADP that was so low.

 

Claude Giroux

Oh boy.

After declining goal, assist, and point totals for every season beginning in 2013-14 through 2016-17, I found it hard to buy into a rebound for Giroux. The Flyers were going into 2017-18 with largely the same roster save for Brayden Schenn, so taking him among the top-75 players off the board when he could have been had in the same range as guys like Sean Monahan and John Klingberg didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

All Giroux did this year was set a career-high in goals, assists, and plus/minus (for those in league who count it).

This one I’m not as a mad over as the previous two forwards. His three-year shooting percentage was 8.5 percent; it’s 16.1 percent as of early Wednesday night. That mark is a career-high, and the first time he’s been above 12.6 percent since 2010-11. At five-on-five, he’s shooting 16.1 percent after a previous career-high of 12.1 percent nearly a decade ago. He’s not shooting nearly as much as he was a few years ago and that should be concerning for next season.

I think this is a case where I discounted his potential line mates; Jakub Voracek hasn’t been a big goal scorer in years, Wayne Simmonds is largely a power-play guy, I didn’t think Travis Konecny would have the season he’s having, and I also wasn’t expecting him to be Sean Couturier’s winger all year.

The mistake I made here was completely writing off a player who isn’t really that old yet and has a long history of very solid production. If I had the ability to draft all over again, I’d get some exposure to him rather than just outright avoid him. I suppose that’s the lesson here: if you do a lot of drafts, diversifying is a good idea. Giroux was one of those draft picks who won people their leagues.  

 

Victor Hedman

Listen, we all have regrets. This… this is one is a big regret.

Our Dobber preseason panel had a section on guys we expected to disappoint. We were asked to select three. Two of mine were Joe Pavelski and Leon Draisaitl (I feel good about those). The third was Victor Hedman. As I write this, there’s a good chance he’s the top-rated defenceman in your league. That would depend on league settings, but regardless of your fantasy league, there’s no way he was a flop.

My issue in the preseason revolved around the power play. I thought with everyone healthy that there would be a good chance they’d run two even power-play units, splitting up Stamkos and Kucherov, and the Stamkos unit likely run by Anton Stralman. Were they to have split up their abundance of offensive talent into two units, it would cut significantly into the 33 power-play points Hedman had in 2016-17, and thus make him a player to avoid in drafts for 2017-18.

Let’s just say it didn’t quite work out like that.

For the majority of the season, the top unit featured all three of Stamkos, Kucherov, and Hedman, and the result has been Tampa Bay being ranked fourth in goals per 60 minutes while on the man advantage. Hedman’s PP production has taken a bit of a hit (26 points down from the 33 he had last year), but it’s not nearly as much as I expected.

The lesson here would be that sometimes not to over-think things. Victor Hedman went into 2017-18 as a defenceman averaging 60 points per 82 games over the previous four seasons, the Lightning were healthy and loaded with offence, and he was going to be playing a lot of minutes for them. Sometimes the obvious play is obvious for a reason, and I think I went looking for an issue where we didn’t have evidence one existed.  

 

All the Golden Knights

I don’t think there’s much to go into here. I mean, 75 points (so far) from Jonathan Marchessault, 43 goals (so far) for William Karlsson, a 40-point season for Colin Miller, and career-best ratios from Marc-Andre Fleury. I mean, what?

There are some players we could expect solid seasons from like the acquisitions from Florida, maybe Fleury returning to form, James Neal having a healthy amount of goals? That’s about it. I missed on a lot of the Golden Knights but I feel like I’m not the only one. If you’re one of the people who believed they could have any kind of season close to this, please hit up the comments.