Ramblings: Juolevi Injury; Name Value and Comparing Seasons

by Michael Clifford on June 12, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Juolevi Injury; Name Value and Comparing Seasons

The Vancouver Canucks announced an injury to prospect defenceman Olli Juolevi. The release reads as if he suffered a lower-back injury while training. There has been no further updates for a recovery timeline but we will provide one when one is given.

The 20-year old defenceman is expected to be a pillar of the Canucks blue line for years to come but this is another setback in the development of the young man. Let’s hope it’s nothing serious and he can come back completely healthy for the 2018-19 season, wherever he plays.  

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At the end of training camp last September, I wrote a Ramblings on reviewing player performance without identifying the actual players. It’s basically an exercise to remove the name value of a player and focus only on their numbers. Name value will always have a place in fantasy sports, especially when trading with another fantasy owner, but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s the best numbers wins. Now, name value usually arises from exceptional performance, but sometimes it can lead fantasy owners astray. It can give the illusion that a player has (or had) more value than they do.  

In that spirit, let’s do this exercise again but for the 2017-18 season. I will post stat lines for two players with the names removed and then provide further context to these numbers. In an effort to keep everyone on an even playing field as far as injuries are concerned, we will use a per-game rate.  

These Ramblings will cover forwards.

 

Player A: 77 games played, 0.44 goals/game, 0.45 assists/game, 0.18 PIM/game, 2.99 shots/game,
0.23 PP points/game

Player B: 80 games played, 0.41 goals/game, 0.41 assists/game, 0.21 PIM/game, 3.83 shots/game,
0.2 PP points/game

Player A skated on the top line for a playoff team for the majority of the season, even though his regular centre missed about a one-third of the season due to injury. It was the second season in a row this player managed at least 30 goals and is going into his age-25 season, smack in the middle of what should be the peak production years of his career. Though different leagues may have valued him differently, he had an ADP somewhere between the top-75 and top-100 players off the board.

Player B skated on the top line for a non-playoff team for the entire year and was missing his regular left winger for about 20 games. He, too, cracked 30 goals, though it was his fourth year in a row in doing so. He set a career-high in shots per game but a five-year-low shooting percentage kept him from getting to  40 goals for the second time. All the same, he’s regarded as one of the top players in his game at his position. He may have been a late first-round pick in some leagues and went no later than the second round.

Player A is Anaheim Ducks forward Rickard Rakell and Player B is St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko.

At the end of March, I wrote about Tarasenko’s season and the belief I have for him to rebound. He still had a really good year! Just not what we expected. There’s not much reason to go further, just go read those Ramblings from a few months ago.  

This is about Rakell.

Over the last three seasons (via Corsica), Rakell has a rate of 1.18 goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five. To put that into perspective, Alex Ovechkin is at 1.15, Brad Marchand is at 1.10, and it’s tied with Tarasenko. This is over 220 games. It’s not a small sample.

Yet, Rakell is never discussed among the top-end goal scorers in the game, is he? We hear about the guys named above all the time. We hear about Nikita Kucherov, Jamie Benn, Filip Forsberg, Tyler Seguin, and Steven Stamkos, all players whom Rakell has a higher goals/60 at 5v5 over the last three years. Yet we never, ever, hear about Rakell discussed as a top finisher.

For fantasy owners, that’s a good thing. That whole spiel at the beginning about name value may as well have been the prologue to an entire Ramblings dedicated to Rakell. He doesn’t have it. That’s an advantage for fantasy owners wanting to draft him.

Here’s the issue: they need someone who can finish on the other side of that top line. It’s all well and good that Rakell can be relied upon for at least 30 goals, and maybe could push 40, but without an influx of assists, he won’t reach the true upper echelon of fantasy value like some of the players named above; 35 assists are good, but 45 assists would be nice.

All the same, Rakell is one of the top finishers in the NHL. For those in hits leagues, he gives you lots of those as well. He won’t be a top-50 pick and provides the perfect value opportunity.

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Our next grouping is a pair of centres.

Player A: 82 games played, 0.39 goals/game, 0.41 assists/game, 0.29 PIM/game, 2.65 shots/game,
0.13 PP points/game

Player B: 62 games played, 0.39 goals/game, 0.39 assists/game, 0.32 PIM/game, 2.44 shots/game,
0.15 PP points/game

Player A was the second-line centre for a playoff team and was one of the best values in fantasy last year. He was either undrafted or a late-round pick and exploded for a 30/30 season, totalling 64 points. He was so good that his line was eventually used as a shutdown line though he was just 21 years old. Given his performance both in the regular season and playoffs, and his team’s continued expectations, he’s going to be much more expensive in drafts this year.

Player B was injured for part of the year, but when he did play, he had his best season in three years. Though it seems like he’s been around forever, this player is only going into his age-25 season. He played all over the lineup for a non-playoff team, but by the end of the year, he was skating alongside the best player in the world. The team’s offseason should see some upheaval, but if he’s still around on that top line come training camp, a fantasy value explosion is very possible.

Maybe a bit too much was given away during the paragraphs and the answers seem obvious. Regardless, Player A is Brayden Point and Player B is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Let’s be clear here: this is in no way disparaging Point. I wrote previously that he was a miss for me this year and watching him all season, it’s clear he’s an All Star-calibre player. Like, not in a year or two. He’s an All Star-calibre player right now. That he was moved to the top PP unit, where he stayed, late in the year only bodes well for his fantasy value next year. The focus here is on RNH, though.

Being that he’s played six 82-game seasons (often less because, well, injuries), is a first overall pick, and has yet to produce a 25-goal or 60-point season probably makes his keeper/dynasty owners a little, shall we say, upset. Hold on to some hope, though.

RNH returned to the Oilers lineup on March 3rd. He was moved alongside Connor McDavid on March 10th where he stayed basically for the rest of the season, a span of 13 games. In those 13 games, RNH played over 20 minutes a night, managed 15 points, and landed just under three shots on goal per game.

The question is if he stays there. Draisaitl spent some time on the top line but did not stay. Lucic spent some time on the top line but did not stay. It was basically a rotating door on either side of McDavid all year long. RNH may not even be in an Oilers uniform next year. If he is, though, he won’t be expensive in drafts. He’ll be worth taking the gamble.

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Finally, a battle of players with multiple eligibilities (though we’ll see what they actually have next year).

Player A: 82 games played, 0.3 goals/game, 0.3 assists/game, 0.32 PIM/game, 2.29 shots/game,
0.26 PP points/game

Player B: 80 games played, 0.29 goals/game, 0.31 assists/game, 0.33 PIM/game, 2.34 shots/game,
0.16 PP points/game

Player A was moved around the lineup for a non-playoff team. It was his third full season in the NHL and, going into his age-23 year, is hitting his prime. Over his three full seasons, he’s averaged 22 goals per 82 games and 16 PP points per campaign. Though his team has tried him as a centre at times, it appears he’s destined to be a winger. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, as he similarly appears destined to be a winger for one of the most dynamic young players in the game.

Player B has the look of a true top-6 scorer thus far in his young career. Though there have been fits and starts, he really broke through in the 2017 postseason. His 2017-18 campaign, the first real full season he’s had, was a success as he posted nearly 50 points while playing just over 15 minutes per game. He’s locked into his top-6 role but the power play opportunity may not be there as his team does have top-end scoring wingers ahead of him. All the same, entering his age-22 season, this forward has the look of a perennial 30-goal scorer. He’s also starting to get noticed in fantasy circles and profiles as someone who will be such a fantasy darling in the preseason that his ADP gets driven up.

Maybe too much was given away here as well. Player A is Sam Reinhart while Player B is Kevin Fiala.

Fiala is a favourite of mine and many here at Dobber. There’s not much need to dig in further here beyond this: be wary of his ADP. As mentioned, it’s easy to envision him being on every “sleeper” list from St. John’s to Orange Country and thus inflating his ADP.

Though I’m sure Sabres fans were hoping for more from Reinhart by this point, he’s averaged 48 points per 82 games over the last three years, having done so on the second-lowest scoring team in that span (Vegas excluded). To do that at a young age on such a poor offensive team is a testament to his talent, not a knock against him.

What will determine his value next year is his role. If he can maintain his winger status with Jack Eichel as his pivot, along with the top PP minutes, he can be a 60-point player. However, if they decide to move him to the third line to try and lengthen the scoring in the lineup as they did at times last year, it might be another 45- or 50-point season. The nice thing is like RNH, it won’t be an expensive price at the draft table so it’ll be a gamble worth taking.

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These are just a few groupings. We could do this with dozens of players. The point remains the same: try to divorce name value from actual production as much as possible. It will make you a better fantasy hockey analyst.