Ramblings: Happy Draft Day!, Ottawa, Lehner, Hornqvist, Trocheck – June 22

by Michael Clifford on June 22, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Happy Draft Day!, Ottawa, Lehner, Hornqvist, Trocheck – June 22

Happy Draft day!

For a lot of people, this is the culmination of months and sometimes years of work. They don’t just start following a player in his draft year, it starts years prior. It takes hundreds of hours of scouting, reading, reviewing game notes, creating spreadsheets and databases, and more. Congratulations to all those, specifically our writers and editors here at Dobber Prospects, on another year in the books.

We have Dobber Hockey’s own Cam Robinson and Peter Harling down in Texas for the Draft. You can follow their thoughts on Twitter through those links and there will be lots written at both Dobber Hockey and Dobber Prospects in the coming days. I will also be around on draft night discussing any relevant trades that go down. Don’t worry, fantasy hockey fans. We’ll have you covered. 

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Just a few things to watch on draft day, outside of the actual draft picks:

  • Carolina may be busy dealing significant roster players
  • There is lots of talk about Montreal and Buffalo making some sort of substantial deal
  • Peter Chiarelli seems poised to trade his first rounder again.
  • There’s been chatter on both Wayne Simmonds and Artemi Panarin though just by my personal feeling the former seems much more likely than the latter.
  • Of course, Erik Karlsson seems to already have one foot out the door.

There are other minor deals to consider like Los Angeles looking for a scoring winger, the Rangers looking to gather more young pieces, and more. Keep it locked here on Dobber Hockey.

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For those who missed it, I wrote on Barry Trotz being hired by the Islanders on Thursday. You can read these thoughts here.

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Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion spoke to reporters on Thursday and said, among other things, that the team is likely to keep their draft pick this year. Remember, they owe Colorado their first pick either this year or next year as part of the Matt Duchene trade. If they hold this year’s pick, they have to give their first pick next draft to the Avalanche. If they keep stripping parts off, there’s a good chance they have a lot of lottery balls in 2019. Seems like a dangerous game to play, but then again, not much is making sense from Ottawa these days.

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Bob McKenzie says that the Sabres do not appear to be re-signing Robin Lehner this summer which would make him an unrestricted free agent. Linus Ullmark is the heir apparent, but they will also be bringing someone in. What makes sense to me, and it’s just my own personal hunch, but Philipp Grubauer being available from Washington would make sense. He could get a chance to start with Ullmark as a safety net. Just thinking out loud here.

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We here in the fantasy hockey community throw the term “peripheral” stats around a lot. I’ve written already this offseason – well, during the postseason mostly – about different peripheral stats targets. There was also a Ramblings on baseline production for goals, assists, and shots that should be read. I recommend reading the sections in both those Ramblings for more detail on figuring out the average production for fantasy-relevant players. They go through how targets have changed over the years and what we should be looking for from each position. To recap, the average targets in a 12-team league that rosters 13 total forwards and 6 total defencemen are:

  • Forwards: 50 blocks, 128 hits, 52 PIMs, 201 shots
  • Defencemen: 144 blocks, 151 hits, 54 PIMs, 173 shots

Just how hard is it for a forward to reach each of those marks? And remember: these are average marks for fantasy-relevant forwards in a 12-team league. These aren’t the top-end marks.

There were precisely two forwards who managed at least 50 blocked shots, 128 hits, 52 PIMs, and 201 shots.

 

Patric Hornqvist – 247 shots, 58 PIMs, 137 hits, 64 blocked shots

It seems like fantasy owners have been waiting forever for Hornqvist to have one of *those* seasons. You know the type of season I mean. The type of season where everything breaks right and he just has monster fantasy production. Consider this: since the start of his first full year in 2009-10, Hornqvist has posted at least 220 shots in every 82-game campaign. And yet, despite eight straight seasons with 220+ shots on goal, he has one 30-goal campaign, and it was exactly 30 goals, and it was his first year of 2009-10. Since, he has seven straight seasons of 220+ shots and under 30 goals, the only player to do so, with Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler managing those marks in five out of seven seasons.

Part of that is health, of course. He had 29 goals in 2017-18 but missed 12 games. He had a 25-goal season in 2014-15 but missed 18 games. Anywhere close to full seasons in either of those and he probably breaks 30.

It’s not necessarily his production that he’s drafted for in roto leagues, however. Since donning the Pittsburgh uniform, he’s been a stats beast. Remember that he wasn’t a big contributor in the hits category back in Nashville. In fact, his four highest hit-total seasons are all with the Penguins. He had more hits in 2016-17 than he had in the three seasons from 2009-2012 combined.

The concerns are two-fold.

The first is health. He’s proven he can still put up very stout totals even with just 70 or so games played but a net-front, grinding type of player going into his age-32 season is a worry. Until we see the decline, though, I wouldn’t worry about him missing 8-10 games.

Second is the power play. When he missed time last year, Jake Guentzel was the one who stepped up. Now, it’s nothing to do with Hornqvist’s performance on the PP. He was exceptional. But if he misses 10 games again and Guentzel keeps firing PP tallies, does Hornqvist get his job back? It’s not something I’m overly worried with right now, just something to keep in mind.

As long as fantasy owners are fine with 70 games for Hornqvist, I don’t see much reason to expect a drop-off in performance. Draft him as you normally would.

 

Vincent Trocheck – 287 shots on goal, 54 PIMs, 145 hits, 55 blocked shots

The evolution of Trocheck’s fantasy value is really something. He was a third-round pick in 2011 who spent four years in the OHL and parts of two seasons in the AHL. None of his numbers at any level screamed 30 goals and 70 points in the NHL. And yet, here we are in June of 2018 with Trocheck having reached both of those marks.

I remember a few years ago after his 50-game season that he split with the AHL some people in the Dobber forums glowing about his potential real-time stat value. I did not see it and boy was I wrong. He now has three straight seasons of at least 125 hits, 40 blocked shots, and 40 PIMs. Those numbers will play in multi-cat leagues.

It’s the shots that are really something to behold. He’s nearly doubled his shots per game from 2014-15 (1.78) to 2017-18 (3.50). His TOI per game going up 50 percent is certainly a part of that but he’s increased his shots/60 at five-on-five every season as well. It’s just been a natural progression of a player who was unheralded just getting better and better every year.

If I have one concern it’s the TOI. I would assume that the coaching staff prefer not to have to play their top two centres 22 minutes a night. The addition of Mike Hoffman could allow them to lengthen the lineup as Jared McCann turns into a viable third-line centre. Trocheck should still be a big minutes guy, but maybe it’s 20 a night instead of 21:30? It would hurt his numbers across the board, but not enough to avoid him.

Even if the production falls off a bit to, say, 25 goals and 40 assists, there is more than enough production in other categories for Trocheck to remain one of the elite forwards in multi-cat leagues.

 

Conversely, just how hard is it for a defenceman to reach each of the marks outlined above? There was exactly one defenceman to manage each of those targets.

 

Darnell Nurse – 194 shots on goal, 67 PIMs, 161 hits, 153 blocked shots

It took a couple years and some development for Nurse to get there, but man did he have a very good season. Not only by our fantasy measurements, but look how well he performed in the sample below (about a third of the season) compared to another Alberta defenceman considered to be among the top puck-movers in the NHL in terms of zone entries, exits, and other metrics (viz from CJ Turtoro):

Just as an aside, it makes me wonder if the Oilers know what they have in their defencemen. Nurse was excellent this year. Oscar Klefbom had a down year but he played hurt all season and generally grades out every well. Adam Larsson will forever be linked to Taylor Hall but he’s fine as a second-pair guy. Andrej Sekera just needs to stay healthy. Go get some good third-pair guys and see what they can do. And yet they are looking to trade a top-10 pick for another defenceman. Curious indeed.

Aside from all that, I have no worries about Nurse being able to replicate what he did this year. His underlying metrics are too strong for him to fall off the map. The concern would be progression because they seem determined not to hand over the team to he and Klefbom. In that sense, I don’t think we see a point production explosion from Nurse anytime soon. Can he be a 30-point guy? Sure. 40 points? Not so sure.

With his peripheral production, though, it doesn’t matter. As long as he stays physical and keeps doing what he did by his metrics in 2017-18, he’ll be just fine in multi-cat leagues. I will never help but wonder what he could do if he actually got the chance to run a power-play unit though. They should at least see if he can handle it before parting with more valuable assets.