Ramblings: Jost, Zucker, Steel, Chabot, Kreider, and Forsberg – July 17

by Michael Clifford on July 17, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Jost, Zucker, Steel, Chabot, Kreider, and Forsberg – July 17

 

We’re only a couple weeks away from the release of the 2018-19 Dobber Hockey fantasy guide! It is set for release on August 1st and will be updated regularly as new information becomes available. Be sure to grab it early, get a grasp on values for players, and see how they can fluctuate over the next two months. It’s a great way to identify values later in draft season.

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For the second straight year, Filip Forsberg’s overall time on ice declined. For the second straight year, his five-on-five ice time per game declined. For the third straight year, his five-on-five shot rate declined. For the second straight year, his shots per game declined. For the second straight year, his five-on-five individual expected goals rate declined.

Anyone watching Forsberg knows he’s not in decline. The guy’s hitting his prime. Injuries played a factor last year and the emergence of Viktor Arvidsson meant fewer shots to go around when the duo was on the ice together.

One thing that saved his season was his shooting percentage on the power play. His previous career-high was 15.4 percent. From 2014-17, he shot 11.3 percent on aggregate. In 2017-18, he shot 26.7 percent. Just playing 82 games will help mitigate the drop in PP goals but a return to normalcy could still cut his PP goal totals by three or four, even with the 15 extra games.

The team shot 8.8 percent with him on the ice at five-on-five from 2014-17. Last year, that jumped to 10.2 percent. Despite the team’s expected goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five with Forsberg on the ice being 2.7, they scored 3.6.

He also set a career-high in individual points percentage – the rate he tallies points on goals scored with him on the ice – with his previous high coming in 2014-15. It was a marginal record, but still his best.

Forsberg wasn’t very far off a point-per-game pace last year. The question is if he can repeat that and be an 80-point player this year. Given the high percentages basically across the board, I find it hard to believe he’ll be near a point-per-game player. Maybe he can crack 70 points but I’ll be interested to see his ADP once September rolls around. It might be too rich to search for any profit.

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Writing about Alex Kerfoot last week got me thinking about Tyson Jost.

Jost had a fine year for a teenager, managing 22 points in 65 games playing under 15 minutes a game. There were growing pains along the way. He suffered an injury early in the year and eventually had to be sent to the AHL to sort his game out after his recovery. He was moved up and down the lineup. It’s not a terrible thing, though. In the era of super rookies and emerging players, it’s easy to forget that for many players, development is neither immediate nor linear.

It’s worth looking at what the numbers aside from just goals and points say.

Here’s how things like Jost’s zone entries, zone exits, and shot rates compared with another 19-year old centre in 2017-18 (from CJ Turtoro’s tableau):

The sample differs but 23 games for Jost is not nothing. He’s showing himself to be a player who looks to generate offence as soon as he gets the puck but being a scorer more than a distributor.

Another area Jost excelled is penalty differential. In terms of penalties drawn per 60 minutes of five-on-five ice time last year, Jost was 31st out of 307 forwards with at least 700 minutes played. He ranked just behind names like Ondrej Kase, David Perron, Connor McDavid, Brendan Gallagher, and Kevin Fiala. In other words, pretty good company. That led to a plus-5 penalty differential, a solid mark in limited action.

He didn’t have star-level boxcar stats but Jost did a lot of the ‘little things’ extremely well last year. If he can continue his progression of creating plays both coming out of the defensive zone and entering the offensive zone, looking to score, and giving his team the numerical advantage, he’ll be a solid fantasy contributor in the next year or two. It may not happen in 2018-19 but once that young roster starts to fill out, Jost should be just fine. Dynasty owners just need to exercise some patience.

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Sometimes I wonder about Chris Kreider’s ADP this year. His goal, assist, shot, and penalty minute paces (per game) were pretty much around his career norms. He’ll be on the top line with top power-play minutes. With the Rangers going through a rebuild and Kreider coming off a season where he missed a lot of games due to injury, does his ADP get depressed? He can be a very good across-the-board roto contributor when healthy. With a new coach and true top-line minutes, this seems like value in the making.

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One player whose ADP I’m excited (scared?) to see in September is Yanni Gourde.

Gourde was a player in the vein of guys before him like Viktor Arvidsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and to a lesser extent Ondrej Kase. A guy certain pockets of the hockey community saw a player with good underlying results in small samples, solid minor league numbers, and hoped they’d get a chance. Gourde finally got his chance and managed 25 goals and 64 points as a 26-year old in his first full season.

Assuming the reports are accurate, Tampa Bay looks like the landing spot for Erik Karlsson. The question is the return. Is Gourde part of the package? Tyler Johnson? Alex Killorn? There will surely be picks and prospects. It’s still uncertain if any roster players are part of the package. Regardless, the lineup as it sits today is not likely to be the lineup in two months.

Gourde likely slots on the third line this year, be it as the centre or winger. Who plays with him? Will either Killorn or Johnson still be around? Will he be lined up with Cedric Paquette? Maybe one of their young wingers in Boris Katchouk or Taylor Raddysh, unless they’re part of the Karlsson trade.

There’s also the shooting percentage, which was over 18 percent overall and over 14.5 percent at five-on-five. That put him just outside the top-10 league-wide among forwards with 1000 minutes.

Gourde is a very good player. In cap leagues, he’s an exceptional asset. I just worry that the steam behind Tampa Bay as a team, Gourde’s superb year, and everyone wanting to get The Next Marchessault will push his ADP too high to be had at a reasonable price. We’ll see in a couple months.

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Speaking of the impending Erik Karlsson trade, what does this do to Thomas Chabot? It surely gives him more minutes, especially on the power play, but the quality of that team will be… lacking, let’s say.

Chabot was, predictably, caved in last year shots-wise when playing away from Karlsson. That’s to be expected from such a young defenceman playing on a team devoid of talent. But who does he play with next year that could help in this regard? Cody Ceci?

Though he looks to have a bright future it could be tough sledding ahead for Chabot. It may be a few years yet before his fantasy potential is realized and it’ll have nothing to do with his play personally. Just the team surrounding him and the player he’s paired with.

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This has to be the year the Ducks finally throw Sam Steel in the lineup, right? He averaged a shade under two points per game in his Draft+1 year and followed that with 83 points in 54 games last year. The injury to Ryan Kesler, and the uncertainty that brings, undoubtedly leaves them one centre short. He has to figure into the lineup, right?

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the need for the Ducks to move Ondrej Kase to the top line. I’m not sure that will actually be the case (no pun intended but welcomed nonetheless). A third-line duo of Steel-Kase is something that would be worth the look for the Ducks. Scoring outside of Rickard Rakell was hard to come by in 2017-18; Kase and Adam Henrique were a distant second behind Rakell’s 34-goal total with 20 each. Being able to run forward pairs of Getzlaf-Rakell, Henrique-Silfverberg, and Steel-Kase is a good way to spread out the talent while having solid lines throughout the roster. Provided, of course, that Steel can prove himself.

I’m intrigued here. He won’t get the top PP minutes to bring significant fantasy relevance but with so much time having elapsed since his draft, outside of dynasty owners, Steel is likely to go under the radar in keeper league setups. Take a flier on him late.

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For those on Twitter, there’s a great account run by twin brothers called Evolving Wild. Though they delve often into the Minnesota team, they cover other ground as well. I just started recently following them but they’ve been around for a while.

Anyway, last week they were discussing Jason Zucker and posted this:

If you think that’s rich, Matt Cane’s salary projections (you should follow him, too) have Zucker at $5.2-million.

Now, there’s a difference between what a player is really worth and what they get on the market. Fourth liners are often overvalued (hi, Vancouver) while superstars less so. Teams often overpay for middle-of-the-roster players on the open market – go look at 2016’s free agency period – and underpay their top talent. Teams are getting better with aging curves but it’s a process.

Basically, all this is just reinforcing my unabashed love for Zucker. He’s an excellent hockey player who can do everything you’d want from a top-line forward. He should have had an offer sheet before he got to arbitration. Matt Dumba, too.

Again, what a player gets on the market (or in arbitration) isn’t what he’s necessarily worth. It’s just one way of valuing a player. Owners in cap leagues should be wary of this. I know it sounds basic but it’s just a friendly reminder.