Ramblings: The Alien, Laine, Point’s Lack of Power Play Prowess, Fourth Year Breakout Theory & More (Nov. 3rd)

by Cam Robinson on November 2, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: The Alien, Laine, Point’s Lack of Power Play Prowess, Fourth Year Breakout Theory & More (Nov. 3rd)

 

The NHL Global Series wrapped up on Friday morning in Helsinki. The Jets took the first tilt 4-2 and the Panthers managed to repay the favour a day later with a 4-2 victory or their own.

 

Keith Yandle and Evgeni Dadonov led the way with a goal and an assist each. Both have been impressive early on this season. Yandle has failed to hit the scoresheet just twice this year and is up to 12 points in 11 contests. That puts him in a tie for sixth in defenseman scoring.

 

Dadonov extended his point streak to eight games and 10 points. The 29-year-old is clicking along to the tune of 13 points in 11 games. He’s seeing all of his ice next to Sasha Barkov and making many people eat crow who figured the addition of Mike Hoffman would diminish his returns.

 

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Meanwhile, Patrik Laine scored his fourth goal while on ‘home ice’. After recording three goals and five points through the first 12 games, the 20-year-old appears to have his mojo back after a quick trip to the motherland. Check out the release on his tally on Friday. What a rocket. 


 

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Meanwhile, Blake Wheeler extended his point streak to eight games and 12 points. After a career-high 91 points in 2017-18, the 32-year-old was a prime candidate for real regression. He started his season with four points in six games and those projections were looking real.

 

He’s now up to 16 points in 14 games and its tied for 11th in league scoring. Things are going well for the Jets’ captain. Breaking 90-points again is a big ask, but he’s the lynchpin and offensive catalyst on one of the most talented teams on the planet. 80 should be a lock if he remains healthy.

 

If the buy low window is still somehow open, you better wedge your way through.

 

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Luongo, who suffered an injury just 32 minutes into the first game of the season, returned to action on Friday. As his Florida Panthers’ squad went to Finland to participate in the  Global Series, Luongo came as the third netminder. Turns out, he was feeling better than expected.

 

Luongo looked none-the-worse-for-wear as he made 32/34 stops for his first win of the season. This brings us to the question of how much we can expect from Bobby Lu this year. His resume speaks for itself, and Father Time has been kind to his counting stats.

 

As a 38-year-old last season, he posted the second-best save percentage mark of his career (0.929%) albeit in just 35 contests. That muted number was the result of a rash of injuries. Father Time hasn't been as kind to his body.

 

The future Hall of Famer is money in the bank while he’s healthy. He should see the lion’s share of starts ahead of Reimer and has a more than capable Florida team to hit some nice win totals. However, owners need to be wary of the retched IR stint. Another is coming. We don’t know when. We don’t know to what part of the body. But it’s coming.

 

With that in mind, who would you prefer for this season?

 

 

 

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Vancouver took on Colorado and it was all about the Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser show. The two youngsters were magical. Boeser opened the scoring 58 seconds into the game on a nice feed from Pettersson. 

 

The two hooked up for another tally in the second frame. This time via the Sedin backboard bank pass variety. Talk about silky. 

 

 

The two teams opened things up nice and wide in the middle frame. They went back-and-forth to the tune of seven second-period goals. The final of which was Pettersson chipping home a greasy rebound to knot the game at fours. He ended up tying the game 6-6 with 36 seconds remaining for his fourth point of the night and got the assist on Derrick Pouliot's OT winner for his fifth. 

 

I've run out of superlatives. 

 

It's amazing that Pettersson is still a teenager. The things he does are out of this world. He's certainly earning that Alien nickname. The rookie is up to nine goals and 15 points in nine NHL games and just continues to amaze on a nightly basis.

 

For anyone who thinks they have a sell-high opportunity in a keeper league, think again. There is only one sell-high option and his name is McDavid. Unless he's coming back, hold on to EP40 with all your might. 

 

As for Boeser, this was a good sign for him and his fantasy owners. The second-year forward has been hampered early this season by a nagging groin injury which has taken the fizz out of his speed and shot. He may not be 100 percent just yet but he'll get points playing with EP40 and when he is fully healthy, watch out. 

 

He finished the night with two goals and two helpers. He's up to four goals and 11 points in 13 games. 

 

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Alex Kerfoot managed scored a beauty goal as he split the D deke and finished it off. It was his second goal and ninth point of the season. 

 

 

 

 

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Arizona kept things rolling by beating the Hurricanes 4-3 in overtime on Friday evening. 

 

Dylan Strome with just his first assist and third point of the season. Not exactly the breakout many were hoping for from the 21-year-old. Granted he's not getting the even-strength deployment you'd like to see, but he is seeing over 50 percent of the team's power play time. The now-or-never period is approaching for the former third overall pick. 

 

Sebastian Aho's season-long point streak came to an end on Friday. It was a hell of a run. 

 

 

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Not enough people are talking about Evgeni Malkin. The dude is feelin' it. He's your league leader for points-per-game (1.82) and trails only Mikko Rantanen for overall points with 20 in 10 contests. He missed four games last season and hasn't sat out yet in 2018-19. At 32 years of age, his propensity for injury should be ramping up. However, he may be going all Benjamin Button on us and turning his Achilles heel into a strength. If Geno can be a consistently healthy player, his value, even in keeper leagues, is through the roof. 

 

Near-generational players – and that's exactly what he is, have a prolonged shelf life. I won't be betting against him replicating a near-100-point-pace for the foreseeable future. 

 

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The other day I tweeted out that Brayden Point is a high-end number one centre. It was received with mixed emotions. Perhaps because I should’ve been more specific. Point is a high-end 1C. Just not in all situations.

 

For some reason, Point is a truly elite play driver at even-strength but fails to make the same level of impact on the man-advantage. Through 162 games, the 22-year-old has produced 120 total points. Five have come while shorthanded. 27 have come on the power play and the remaining 88 at even-strength.

 

His five-on-five production, along with his primary point production places him in a nice spot. Last season he was tied for 31st in the NHL with 50 ESPs. He shared that mark with Phil Kessel and Jakub Voracek. It was ahead of Blake Wheeler and Mikko Rantanen.

 

The difference is, all of those players cashed in on triple the power play production. While Point was hammering opponents at a top-30 rate at evens, his 11-powerplay points a year ago ranked 162nd. He shared that spot with Devin Shore, Dion Phaneuf, Brad Hunt and Sam Gagner.

 

It’s not simply a deployment issue either. While Point wasn’t being rolled out for four minutes on a top unit, he was still seeing over 40 percent of the Bolts man-advantage time. He just wasn’t doing much with it. His PPP/60 was 3.468 last season. That mark is good for 302nd overall. Meanwhile, his 2.389 ESP/60 ranked 75th in the league.

 

 

So, what’s up?

 

Well, I had written all this on Thursday. As is the case whenever you write something and wait to publish it, someone else does and does it better than you could have. Alan aka @loserpoints from RawCharge and HockeyGraphs dropped a terrific deep-dive into the causes of Point’s struggles on the man-advantage on Friday morning. It’s definitely worth the click.

 

The short answer is that it’s not simply bad luck. Point being utilized as a right-hand shot at the top of the right circle forces him to be a distributor on the second power-play unit. He’s a strong passer, but a more dangerous finisher. This is resulting in him taking less dangerous shots and producing at a far less threatening manner than he does at evens.

 

The best thing for Point and for fantasy owners is seeing him jump up to PP1. Ideally in place of Alex Killorn. It looked deadly in the playoffs last spring and would provide a boost all over the place.

 

Simply switching him to the left circle on the second unit and allowing him to fire away would be the next clear move. However, Alan brought up another idea: placing him on the point on the second unit.

 

It’s not rocket science. Tampa needs to utilize this player to his max capabilities on the man-advantage. I’m sure the entirety of his fantasy owners agree with me.

 

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Sticking with Tampa Bay, they signed soon-to-be unrestricted free agent and underdog champion, Yanni Gourde to a six-year deal worth 5.166 million per season. The 26-year-old is a lesson in dedication. The undrafted forward produced at every level and earned himself a shot at the big time. Since being there, he's been a terrific swiss army knife on the Cup-contending squad. Over the past two seasons, he ranks sixth in WAR according to Evolving-Hockey. He produces at a terrific point-per-60 clip, especially at even-strength. His 2.731 ESP/60 last season ranked 22nd in the league. 

 

I love this deal. Gourde can play all three forward positions, he's a great even-strength producer, and he's worked his bag off to get it. 

 

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I have a theory (yes, I have a few) that the fourth-year breakout rule is shrinking. The game is consistently getting younger. The players are better trained from a younger age – both on and off the ice. Their deployment and thusly, impact, are being achieved with regularity at a quicker pace than ever before.

 

For some time, my benchmark for projecting a tangible increase in production was the 225-games played mark. It wasn’t hard and fast. I’d take a gander at players who had anywhere from 190-250 games under their belts, consult their deployment and the potential for increased ice and make some reasoned deductions.

 

Now, it’s creeping closer to the 80-150 game arena. We saw it a year ago when Mikko Rantanen came into the season with 38 points in 84 career games. He dropped 84 on us during his next 81. Brayden Point had 68 games on his resume before burgeoning into a fantasy asset a season ago. 160 contests for Dylan Larkin before he jumped up to 63 points in 83 games.

 

This isn’t just a forward change either. Players on the backend are reaching higher heights sooner as well. Shayne Gostisbehere flew onto the scene in 2015-16, but heading into last season, he had 142 games and produced at a 49-point pace. He put up 65 points in 79 games in 2017-18.

 

2016-17 holds examples as well. 109 games for Leon Draisaitl prior to his near-point-per-game campaign that year. 117 games for David Pastrnak before jumping up to the 70-point level.

 

2018-19 is shaping up to be host to a few more early risers. Timo Meier came into this campaign with 115 games where he had posted 42 points. He’s already up to nine goals and 14 points through 13 contests.

 

The same can be said for Sebastian Aho. He of the 160 games played prior to this year is showing the world he’s more than just a good player. He’s an offensive driver and likely repeat offender amongst the league’s top scorers. 

 

We’re also seeing loftier and loftier results from first-year players. Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen the average output of the top 10 rookie scorers increase from a 51-point-pace in 2007-08 to 59 points in 2017-18. The three highest rookie outputs from the past decade have been 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

 

If Elias Pettersson has anything to say about it, that streak will continue once again in 2018-19. This year’s current top 10 first-year players are playing at a 53-point-pace early on.

 

Year

Total Points

Total Games Played

Point-Per-Game Average

Point Pace Per 82 Games

*2018-19

71

109

0.65

53-point-pace

2017-18

570

788

0.72

59-point-pace

2016-17

516

772

0.67

55-point-pace

2015-16

484

735

0.66

54-point-pace

2014-15

474

782

0.61

49-point-pace

2013-14

424

762

0.56

46-point-pace

**2012-13

258

417

0.62

51-point-pace

2011-12

411

750

0.55

45-point-pace

2010-11

474

760

0.62

51-point-pace

2009-10

410

 793

0.52

42-point pace

2008-09

457

737

0.62

51-point-pace

2007-08

489

788

0.62

51-point-pace

 

* – Stats as of Thursday, November 1

** – Lockout

 

All the more reason you should follow @DobberProspects and check that site regularly. It's a young man's game; find out more about the next wave before your competitors do. 

 

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Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson