Ramblings: Free Agent Frenzy Eve, Further Growth for Jake Guentzel?

by Ian Gooding on June 30, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Free Agent Frenzy Eve, Further Growth for Jake Guentzel?


Happy Canada Day from Dobber Hockey, which I am proud to say is Canadian made!

Some fantasy impact pieces from today:

Fantasy Take: James Reimer to Carolina

Fantasy Take: Andrew Shaw to Chicago

And from yesterday, you can check out my Phil Kessel for Alex Galchenyuk fantasy impact piece here.

Regarding the comments about Jake Guentzel’s value improving considerably with the Kessel trade: I had been under the impression that Guentzel had bumped Hornqvist off the first-unit power play before the end of the season. The first-unit power play usage (small sample size as it is) confirmed that there was more of a split during the Pens’ brief (four-game) playoff series with the Islanders.

32.43%  PP           CROSBY,SIDNEY – HORNQVIST,PATRIC – KESSEL,PHIL – MALKIN,EVGENI

25.68%  PP           CROSBY,SIDNEY – GUENTZEL,JAKE – KESSEL,PHIL – MALKIN,EVGENI

Guentzel had also been promoted onto the first-unit power play at times during the season because of injuries to players like Evgeni Malkin. His season power-play time checked out at 2:07 per game, while Hornqvist’s was 2:43. And as you might already know, there’s an especially big gap in icetime between the first unit and the second unit in Pittsburgh.

There may still be room for growth for Guentzel anyway. He is about to hit that magical fourth season. As well, only 6 of his 40 goals and 11 of his 76 points were on the man advantage. Only nine players recorded more even-strength points than Guentzel (64) last season. So Guentzel could potentially add another 10-15 points, mostly on the power play. His shooting percentage last season (17.6) was a bit higher than his career average (16.3), so there could be some minor regression in the goal total.

Overall, I think a 20-25 point increase (as one commenter suggested) seems like a reach. Then we’re talking 100 points, which seems high even to the most passionate Guentzel supporter. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and assume he will score more power-play points than Malkin (26) or Sidney Crosby (29) had in 2018-19. However, after what I thought was a breakout (48 points in 2017-18 to 76 points in 2018-19), yes, there could be further improvement still. Whether that is a result of Kessel being traded or his being on the first-unit power play permanently regardless could be up for debate, but Kessel leaving certainly doesn’t hurt Guentzel’s fantasy value.

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Earlier in the day, there were a couple players placed on waivers for the purpose of a buyout:

David Schlemko (PHI) – Schlemko played just 18 games last season, all with the Canadiens. He was traded to the Flyers in February, but only played for the Flyers’ AHL affiliate after that. He has one year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $2.1 million.

Andrej Sekera (EDM) – Out of the lineup until February because of injury, Sekera played in just 24 games last season, recording four assists. Buying out Sekera’s contract would free up $3 million in cap space over the next two seasons. Caleb Jones looks like the defenseman most likely to make the jump full-time into the NHL (Edmonton Journal), although 2018 first-round pick Evan Bouchard and Ethan Bear are also in the mix and are definitely of interest to fantasy owners. Especially Bouchard. 

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Widely expected free agent signings tomorrow:

Joe Pavelski is expected to sign with the Stars on a three-year contract.
 


Corey Perry is also expected to sign a one-year contract with the Stars.
 


If the Stars can land both Pavelski and Perry from two former Pacific Division rivals, they already look like a big winner of free agency. These would be great short-term moves, as both are well into their 30s.

Matt Duchene is expected to sign in Nashville. The contract could be around $8 million per season.
 


The latest on some other players:

The Blue Jackets made a last-ditch, late-night effort to keep Artemi Panarin, but midnight ET passed and he declined. As his rightsholder, the Jackets were allowed to offer the extra (eighth) year on the trade. The offer was believed to be eight years at a total of $96 million. That would work out to be an average annual value of $12 million per season. So expect him to sign somewhere on a seven-year deal of at minimum $12 million, though he could be turning down money to leave Columbus. Wow.
 


Also in that last tweet: It looks like Anders Lee and Robin Lehner could be finding new homes, although I’d have to think the Islanders circle back on Lee if Panarin decides on the Rangers or Panthers instead. If Panarin and Semyon Varlamov sign with the Islanders as a duo, then Lee and Lehner will move on for sure.

And just what Canucks’ fans expected… maybe not as bad as originally thought… but still not ideal in a cap world…
 


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Here are some minor signings that won't likely (unless Dobber disagrees) receive their own fantasy take piece:

Not a new-team signing, but Joonas Korpisalo has signed a one-year contract to stay in Columbus (Aaron Portzline). Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins could be the two goalies battling for a starting job in Columbus. Man, the Blue Jackets are suffering the biggest net loss of talent on free agent frenzy day, and it's not even close. But we knew that was probably coming. When we have more time, we'll break down the Jackets' goaltending situation in more detail. Merzlikins has a bright future, but how soon will he be ready? In the short term, it's sure looking like slim pickings in net for the CBJs.

Markus Granlund has agreed to a one-year contract worth $1.3 million with Edmonton. The Canucks have more than enough forwards on their roster and could afford to lose Granlund. In 2016-17, Granlund was one goal shy of reaching 20 goals and may have reached that mark had it not been for an injury that cost him the final two weeks of the regular season. Expect him to battle for a third- or fourth-line spot with the Oilers. 

Luke Schenn's strong late-season performance with the Canucks will likely land him a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. I'm happy for Schenn, who managed to battle his way out of the AHL last season (Frank Seravalli).

Jordie Benn is expected to sign with the Canucks to help shore up their defense (Elliotte Friedman).

According to Bob McKenzie, the recently bought out Sekera will sign a one-year contract with the Dallas Stars.  

Noel Acciari is expected to sign in Florida at three years and $5 million total (Elliotte Friedman). Acciari's 221 hits in 2018-19 placed him in the top 20 in that category.

Not a new team signing, but a player that should be owned in fantasy leagues. The Sharks will reportedly sign Timo Meier to a four-year deal with a $6 million AAV (Pierre LeBrun). 

Also not a new team signing. The Blue Jackets have re-signed Ryan Murray to a two-year extension worth $4.5 million in 2019-20 and $4.7 million in 2020-21 (Aaron Portzline). Murray recorded a career high 29 points (all but one were assists) in just 56 games in 2018-19. That's a 42-point pace over a full season. 

Even Garnet Hathaway is getting four years. The hard-nosed former Flame (200 hits in 2018-19) is now a Washington Capital on a four-year deal that pays him $6 million total. 

For more signings, see the July 1 Moving Day Tracker

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For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.