Ramblings: Latest on Byfuglien; Answering Your Questions About Barkov, Cirelli, and More Centers

by Ian Gooding on September 22, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Latest on Byfuglien; Answering Your Questions About Barkov, Cirelli, and More Centers


The latest on Dustin Byfuglien, according to the Bobfather:
 


This isn’t Winnipeg sending a message to punish Byfuglien or anything like that. It’s simply a paper transaction that will allow the Jets to free up Big Buff’s cap space. That should improve the likelihood that Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine are signed sooner, although it by no means should hint that a signing of either winger is imminent.

As for Byfuglien, this news should also mean that he’s not anywhere close to making a decision. One scenario could be a 2007-08 Scott Niedermayer or 2008-09 Mats Sundin-type decision that results in a midseason return, should Byfuglien return at all. If you’ve already drafted him (like I have in one league), your best bet is to simply stash him on your bench and wait it out, unless you are in a shallow league with very little bench space.

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There were several great questions posted in the comments of yesterday’s Ramblings, where I grouped centers. Enough for me to generate nearly an entire Ramblings out of these questions, in fact.

Looking back, I think my groups were okay, although I know any kind of rankings are always subject to debate. I’ll admit that I was a bit rushed in putting them together (my problem, though). With that in mind, I’ll try to have something put together for wingers next weekend.

Here are the groups (tiers, if you want to call them that) I listed for both goalies and defensemen.

Here are the questions that were posted.

Drop Nazem Kadri for Ryan Getzlaf? Points league with peripherals counting for minimal amounts. I'm sort of under the impression that Kadri is likely to return to his 30+ goal, 55+ point days now that he's back in a C2 role.

On the surface, this might look like a yes. Kadri is expected to slot into a C2 role with Colorado, while Getzlaf should remain a C1. However, there’s an argument to be had for keeping Kadri here.

Kadri could return to that 30+ goal, 55+ point form that he experienced in the two seasons prior to John Tavares’ arrival. The Avalanche could assemble what looks like a stronger second line based on offseason acquisitions alone (Kadri, Joonas Donskoi, Andre Burakovsky), but the more important factor for Kadri is the potential for increased scoring opportunities. Interestingly enough, Kadri had an OZ% of nearly 52% in his down season of 2018-19, but it was down to 40% in 2017-18 and 37% in 2016-17 – his two best seasons. Kadri also regressed to 8.7% in the shooting percentage department, where he is a career 12.7% shooter.

On a side note, Burakovsky could be summoned to the first line if Mikko Rantanen remains unsigned to start the season (potential waiver-wire grab?) J.T. Compher or Tyson Jost would be candidates to fill in on the second line.  

Getzlaf should still be considered the better points-per-game option, but there are two red flags that jump out at me: 1) He’s averaged only 61.5 games played over the past two seasons due to injury, and 2) His point total is rather assist-heavy (no more than 15 goals over each of his past four seasons). Getzlaf has the potential for a bounce-back to 70 points, but that’s assuming the now-34-year-old center can withstand the wear and tear of an entire NHL season and the players around him produce, some of which will be quite young.

Unless the player on waivers is clearly the better option over the player I own, I tend to stick with what I have. So I’d probably pass on the swap, at least for now. Not because Kadri is clearly the better option, but because Getzlaf isn’t a substantially better option at the moment.

Do you think Anthony Cirelli will stay on a line centering Steven Stamkos?

In case anyone missed it, Cirelli has been centering the top line with Stamkos while the Lightning and Brayden Point try to agree on a contract. This formation dates back to last season, when Cirelli finished the season on a line with Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. The Lightning have used many different line combinations over the last few seasons, which mean that some juggling is bound to happen once Point is signed. Assuming Point isn’t ready to start the season, Cirelli could stick on the top line with strong preseason play, and beyond that with a strong start. A second-line role for Cirelli, even with Point’s return, is not out of the question either.

Either way, Cirelli could go on a 2015-16 Jonathan Marchessault-like run that will make him all league fantasy-worthy for a good portion of the season. There’s great sleeper potential here. Speaking of which…

I would like to see a similar article that digs deeper to the 200 and lower most likely available players that we should target. The borderline keeper worthy player that we need to look at for a break out surprise. I think you'll need your crystal ball though.

It won’t be an entire article on the topic here, but hopefully you’ll settle for several paragraphs (maybe that’s enough for a short article). Even though I was focusing on the center-only players, I’ll cheat a bit and include C/RW or C/LW players in Yahoo. I’ll also expand this into players just below an ADP of 200 (like 150), but these definitely won’t be players that you’ll need a high pick for. Let’s look into my crystal ball, although I know not all of these will be hits…

Nick Schmaltz – He’ll fall on many draft boards because of his overall point production (25 points in 40 games). Yet before a season-ending knee injury, Schmaltz chipped in 14 points in 17 games as an Arizona Coyote. Add Phil Kessel to the mix, and Schmaltz could provide great value for a late-round pick.

Roope Hintz – A must-add during the fantasy playoffs with 11 points in his last 14 games, Hintz continued that momentum into the real playoffs, scoring five goals and eight points in 13 playoff games. Many fantasy owners are catching on, as Hintz is owned in about half of Yahoo leagues. So you’ll probably need a pick before 200 for him.

Andreas Athanasiou – I saw him play live last season and was blown away by his speed to the net. He may not receive enough attention since he’s playing for the rebuilding Wings. Possibly another pick before 200 is needed here, but he seems capable of production even with so-so linemates.

Jonathan Drouin – A friend of mine in my auction league just won Drouin for not much more than the league minimum. He fell victim to being overranked earlier in his career, and now it seems like fantasy owners are swinging the other way on him. With the price they paid to acquire Drouin, the Habs are going to give him every opportunity to succeed.

Jeff Carter – Before he fell off a cliff last season, Carter consistently produced 0.8 PTS/GP over his previous three seasons. There’s nothing wrong with taking a late-round flier on him, but he’s the kind of player I’d drop very early if he continues to come up empty.  

Jack Roslovic – If Connor and Laine aren’t inked by the start of the season, he could move up into the Jets’ top 6. Like Cirelli, he’ll receive a longer look if he can make the most of his opportunity.

Alexander Wennberg – This is a reach and only for deep leagues, in case you’ve been burned by Wennberg before. The departure of Matt Duchene means that a top-6 center spot is Wennberg’s for the taking. Granted, this will be a make-or-break season for him in which at least his icetime should improve.

(Paraphrased) Aleksander Barkov should be at least on the same tier as John Tavares and Tyler Seguin. Neither Tavares nor Seguin have hit 90 points and Barkov hit 96 last year.

Barkov has a lower ADP (23.4) than Stamkos (16.1), Tavares (19.0), or Seguin (21.9). There could be a number of reasons for that, two of which the commenter pointed out. In spite of having a higher point total than all of these options except for Stamkos last season, Barkov had fewer shots (206) than all of these players. Barkov’s placement in a market where non-traditional hockey market could also affect his ranking, although Tampa Bay and Dallas are kind of in the same boat. I’ll also add the fact that prior to 2018-19, Barkov’s career high was 78 points; and prior to that, 59 points.

I did mention that there could be some overlap in the groups (my way of covering my butt). As the commenter also pointed out, even with some power-play regression, Barkov could still hit 86 points. In addition, his shooting percentage (17% in 2018-19) could also regress to his career average of 13.7%. What could push him back up to 90 despite a power-play point decline is if his shot total increases to near his career high of 256, which would result in an equal of last season’s total of 35 goals if his shooting percentage moves to the career average.

Barkov is simply less of an established player than the other three, and the mass market tends to lean toward its brand names, which might also explain the lower ADP. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the other three are better options, though. If Barkov’s final-quarter total of 32 points in 22 games is a sign of things to come, then he’ll easily reach 90 points again and maybe even 100. Then at that point, maybe we’re talking about him as the next-best center option after McDavid and MacKinnon and Crosby.

One final note: If you're ever trying to decide between multiple players, the Player Comparison Tool on Frozen Tools is a wonderful option. 

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