Ramblings: Leafs sign some depth; Bennett and Djoos avoid arbitration; More Bubble Keeper Questions – July 25

by Michael Clifford on July 25, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Leafs sign some depth; Bennett and Djoos avoid arbitration; More Bubble Keeper Questions – July 25

 

Bubble Keeper Week rolls on here at Dobber Hockey. All week, our editors and writers have been covering the players on the bubble in your keeper leagues. I wrote about my own dilemmas a couple days ago, and there have been articles like this entertaining dive by Brennan Des into Jake DeBrusk and Tomas Tatar, the former being a favourite target of mine.

For anyone in keeper leagues, and I assume it’s most of you, be sure to take a look through all our articles this week. There is everything from the shallowest to the deepest of targets.

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Keepers, projections, prospects, and more are all available in the 2019 Dobber Hockey Ultimate Fantasy Pack. The 2019-20 guide will be out next week so head to the Dobber Shop to grab your copy of these awesome tools and reads right now!

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This has absolutely nothing to do with fantasy hockey but Phil Kessel is selling his house and, well, just read the article.

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The Flames avoid arbitration with Sam Bennett by signing the third liner to a two-year deal with a $2.55M AAV. 

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Washington defenceman Christian Djoos was awarded $1.25M in arbitration for a one-year deal.

My belief is that Djoos is a solid puck-moving defenceman but his issue is that Michal Kempny seems to be attached to John Carlson, which means Djoos would have to beat out Dmitry Orlov to get off the third pair. That seems unlikely right now, so it’ll be hard for Djoos to have much fantasy value.

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The Leafs signed a bevy of players to one- or two-year deals, including Kenny Agostino, Nick Shore, and Pontus Aberg. Some nice depth pieces for the team.

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Earlier this week on Twitter, I threw out a tweet to see if anyone has some keeper league questions to ask. It is Bubble Keeper Week, after all. I will respond to these questions over my next two Ramblings.

Again, we have been answering keeper questions all week so if you have any, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@SlimCliffy) or head on over to the Forums. The Forums are loaded with keeper questions and answers of all kinds. The Forums never sleep.

 

 

Kessel is going to be one of the more fascinating players to discuss this offseason. He’s going from a team that scored the second-most goals in the NHL over the last three years to a team that scored the second-fewest goals in the NHL over the last three years. His production has been supported by an enormous 108 PPPs across 246 games, or 36 PPPs a season. To put that into context, the two highest PP producers for Arizona last year were Alex Galchenyuk and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who combined for 40 PPPs.

My current projection for Kessel, when adjusted for age, is 63.5 points, split across 21.1 goals and 42.4 assists. Considering he was nearly a point-per-game player over the last three years, it’s easy to see just how much a change in scoring environment and age can affect a player’s outlook.

Not to get all first-year philosophical on the readers, but to look ahead at what could be, we should look back at what has already happened.

The 2014-15 season was the year Toronto put their rebuild into high gear. They stripped down their team in an effort to accumulate high picks, a strategy that got them Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews in back-to-back seasons. But that 2014-15 team was real bad, managing just 206 goals and finishing 27th in the league. Arizona, by comparison, scored 209 in 2018-19. Considering scoring has gone up, that’s pretty bad, but it also gives us a gauge about what Kessel can give us, and in 2014-15, he managed 25 goals and 61 points.

If Arizona is markedly better offensively in 2019-20 than they were in 2018-19, then there’s hope Kessel can be a 75-point guy, especially if he helps improve the power play. But a 32-year old Kessel is not a 27-year old Kessel so a lot of things would have to break right for him to get over 70 points. I don’t see him being worth the investment.

 

 

Awkward phrasing aside, this is a fascinating question for a multitude of reasons. Thanks to Adam, a fellow Dobber writer, for the query.

Niederreiter has never had usage like had in Carolina post-trade in 2018-19. His previous single-season high for TOI per game was 15:33 in 2015-16; with the Hurricanes, he was over 18 minutes a night. Just looking at his 2018-19 splits alone between Minnesota and Carolina, he gained about 2:30 at 5v5 and :30 on the power play per game. That kind of usage would give him roughly an additional 5-6 points above what we’d expect with Minnesota at 5v5 and an extra 2-3 points above Minnesota on the PP. Just the additional minutes alone brings him from a 50- or 55-point guy to a 60- or 65-point guy.

I am assuming Nino plays most of his minutes with Sebastian Aho again. That duo was lethal, by the way, as the Hurricanes scored 3.3 goals/60 minutes at 5v5, a rate that would be among the best in the league. It was supported by a very reasonable 8.5 percent on-ice conversion rate, too, so it wasn’t a percentage binge. They were just that good at generating offence.

On the other side, we have Andreas Athanasiou, and he might have the quietest 30-goal season in recent memory. It wasn’t a mirage, either, as Athanasiou, at 5v5, scored at rates similar to guys like Brad Marchand and Jeff Skinner over AA’s first three years. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that he finally popped 30 in 2018-19. In total, over his four years and 247 games (more than three 82-game seasons), Athanasiou is ranked fourth in the league in goals per 60 minutes at 5v5. That’s astounding.

Detroit is in the midst of their rebuild but there is still a ways to go. They have promising young players like Hronek and Zadina, but the current roster is still bogged down with a lot of poor offensive players. With that said, general manager Steve Yzerman intimated the signing of Valtteri Filppula effectively means that AA will be moving to the wing. Andreas Athanasiou as a third-line centre has a wildly different expected outcome than Andreas Athanasiou as a first-line winger.

To me, this question breeds one question of its own, and it’s the only one that matters: will Jeff Blashill play Athanasiou with Dylan Larkin or move him down the lineup to spread the scoring? Given Blashill’s reticence to play AA with Larkin in the past, and the general awfulness of Detroit’s power play, my answer leans Nino.

 

 

I will say right out of the gate that I would exclude Giordano. He turns 36 years old in October and the time to draft him was last year, not this year. He had a career year that included a three-year high in 5v5 individual shooting percentage, a four-year high in 5v5 individual points percentage (IPP, or the rate at which a player garners a point when his team scores a goal with him on the ice), a six-year high in 5v5 on-ice shooting percentage, a five-year high in PPP/60 minutes, and a career-high in on-ice PP goals per 60 minutes. In other words, a lot of things went right for him, and did so in his age-35 season. I would look to trade him for picks rather than rely on a 36-year old to repeat a career year. In the odd chance he does, you have Burns as a tentpole of your blueline.

Just to get the basics out of the way, my projection for Toews in 2019-20 is 26 goals and 43 assists for a nice total of 69 points. For Trocheck, it’s 23 goals and 26 assists for 49 points. Trocheck has typically been good for a lot more assists (he had 24 in 55 games last year) but my assumption here is that he’s mostly lost his role on the top PP unit. He has averaged 13 PPAs/82 games over the last three years and my projection for 2019-20 is 6.3. That explains most of the drop in his assist total.

So, we’re at the point where it’s mostly a wash between goals and shots, and Toews has a big edge in PPPs (~8), assists (~17), and FOW (~110). Trocheck has the expected edge in hits (~87) and blocks (~11). In total, using a value measurement called Standings Gained Points, I have Toews as about 16 percent more valuable, in a nutshell, than Trocheck. My answer is Toews, though if you feel you really need hits, Trocheck is fine.