Ramblings: Looking Ahead to Free Agent Frenzy, Krug and Seidenberg (July 1)

by Michael Clifford on June 30, 2016

Looking ahead to Christmas in the summer, NHL Free Agent Frenzy, as well as thoughts on Krug/Seidenberg.

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HAPPY FREE AGENCY DAY!

The Dobber team will have all the coverage fantasy owners need throughout the day right here on Dobber Hockey. Be sure to check back regularly to see the latest signings, what it means for next year, and what impact it can have on keeper and dynasty teams. Maybe even a trade or two!

Signings will be discussed as they occur (or as quickly as we can type coherent thoughts, anyway). We encourage readers to jump into the comments, the forums, or even on Twitter to discuss what this could mean for them. It’s going to be a wild weekend, with impending expansion playing a factor into trades and signings, so be sure to keep it locked to Dobber Hockey.

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In yesterday’s ‘Capped,’ Chris Pudsey went around the league to look for some landing spots for some of the big name free agent forwards. I recommend readers take a spin through that.

Seeing as today is the beginning of free agency, here are some landing spots that could be very beneficial to keeper owners for free agents (or maybe just my personal wishlist).

Milan Lucic

With Taylor Hall traded, and the rumours that have been swirling around the Oilers for the last week, it seems a likelihood that Lucic ends up in Edmonton. The Oilers have a left wing vacancy, general manager Peter Chiarelli is very familiar with what he can do, and he seems to fit the plan for the team.  

After finishing with 44 points in his last year with Boston, Lucic bounced back in a big way with 55 points last year for Los Angeles. That is more the type of production fantasy owners have come to expect with regards to the big winger.

It seems likely that Lucic would slot into the top left wing spot alongside Connor McDavid, and that can only help his fantasy value. It should go without saying, but McDavid appears to be the generational talent that he projected to be. Though he played just over half a season, this is how his four most-common line mates performed playing alongside him, and playing away from him in bold, at five-on-five:

 

Team Shot Attempts For/60

Goals For/60

Points/60

Pouliot w/ McDavid

58.57

3.78

2.94

Pouliot w/o McDavid

54.62

1.59

1.30

Eberle w/ McDavid

63.75

3.79

2.64

Eberle w/o McDavid

57.49

1.58

1.38

Yakupov w/ McDavid

58.45

3.80

2.63

Yakupov w/o McDavid

53.06

1.31

0.83

Maroon w/ McDavid

62.26

4.93

3.14

Maroon w/o McDavid

55.19

1.61

1.04

 

Now, these are all small samples we’re working with here, but they’re all we have to work with. What’s incredible isn’t that McDavid made all these wingers better players (possession numbers are all better with McDavid, as well), but just how drastic the change was. Surely in a full 82-game season, Patrick Maroon won’t out-produce Sidney Crosby just because Maroon is playing with McDavid. However, to say he could considerably out-produce his previous career-high in points is not folly.

That is why, despite Lucic being a downgrade from Taylor Hall both in real hockey and fantasy, Lucic appears to be walking into an incredibly fortuitous situation. Should Lucic end up in Edmonton alongside McDavid, a career year does not seem unrealistic.

David Perron

Since his career-year in Edmonton in 2013-2014, it hasn’t really been all roses for Perron. Posting just 77 points in 152 games since the end of that season, the guy who was a perennial 20-goal scorer (when healthy) has failed to reach that mark in each of the past two years. So what went wrong? Well, maybe it’s just being a bit unlucky.  

Perron never seemed to fit in Pittsburgh, but chemistry is something that is difficult to quantify, particularly in small samples. So let’s look at the bigger picture:

  • Perron’s lowest personal shooting percentage seasons at five-on-five have come in the last two years. He had never shot under 10-percent for a season until 2014-2015, and that cratered to under 6-percent this year.
  • Perron’s lowest on-ice shooting percentage seasons at five-on-five (the rate at which his team scores when he’s on the ice) have been the last two seasons.
  • Perron’s two of his three lowest individual points percentage seasons since his rookie year (the rate at which he garners a point when his team scores with him on the ice) have been his last two years.

And, despite all these career-lows, or near-career-lows, on a per minute basis, Perron out-produced names like Justin Abdelkader, Eric Staal, Henrik Zetterberg, Nazem Kadri, Patrick Marleau, and Troy Brouwer over the last two seasons.

Maybe injuries over his career are slowing him down, but his shots per 60 minutes over the last two years (7.87 and 7.65) have been higher than his career average from 2007-2014 (6.73). He’s also still just 28 years old, so he’s not in the same camp as names like Sharp, Marleau, or Iginla.

I think Perron, in the right situation, cracks 50 points again. He would look good playing in Brooklyn alongside John Tavares, or in Calgary on the top line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau.

Andrew Ladd

The 46 points Ladd totaled last year is not what fantasy owners have come to expect from the talented winger over the last few years. I wonder how many people realize that he posted a three-year high in goals, though, with 25?

Ladd’s low point total was due to his low assist total. He had his lowest assist per 60 minutes rate since 2011-2012, and the lowest first assist rate of his career (well, since 2007-2008). Not surprisingly, he also had his lowest on-ice shooting percentage since 2011-2012 as well.

There is no way to quantify this, but I wonder how much Ladd was distracted last year. Basically, once the season was lost after a 4-8-1 November record, Ladd was all but assured to be traded by the trade deadline. Once he was traded, he never really seemed to find his groove in Chicago. I do think it’s worth considering last season a one-off year, rather than the beginning of a serious downward decline in production.

The individual shots and shot generated per 60 minutes were pretty normal for Ladd, which indicates to me he was as involved in the offence. It’s worth noting that he had two (2) power play assists in 59 games with the Jets before he was traded. If that number is somewhere around eight, he’s over 50 points for the year, and the conversation about his production is likely a different one.

So, who needs a very solid left winger who can score? Anaheim. I know they work with an internal budget, and still have Hampus Lindholm to sign (should they choose). Ladd will cost a pretty penny, I would have to think. It just seems he’s the type of player the coach and management would love, and fits a glaring need the Ducks have. They probably go the cheaper route, but a guy can dream.

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In a slight non-fantasy slant, there was a good read over at Puck Daddy yesterday comparing Subban and Weber from Ryan Lambert. Readers would do well to give it a look.

Some may want to give the edge to Montreal because of toughness, leadership, etc. Fine. If that’s where people want to hang their hat on the trade, by all means, you are free to do so. But by any measure we can quantify, this was bad for Montreal. And that doesn’t even mention the social impact:

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The Bruins blue line is in definite need of a rebuild, and it started in earnest yesterday.

First, Boston put Dennis Seidenberg on waivers for purposes of a buyout. He was never the super solid defenceman he was made out to be, but probably could still be useful to someone as a depth guy. Just not with a $4-million AAV. However, in real-time stats fantasy leagues, a depth pair doesn’t bring much fantasy value, so Seidenberg’s fantasy-relevant days are likely over.

Boston also signed RFA defenceman Torey Krug to a four-year deal:

I really like this deal for Boston. At worst, Krug is a very good number-2, top pair d-man who can run a power play. He’s an elite point producer, and getting him for a little over $5-million a year seems to be a good price for Boston.

I wrote a little bit on this a month ago here in the Ramblings.

Krug seems to be poised for a huge fantasy year. Coming into his Age 25 season, with three full years under his belt, Krug has proven to be a 40-point d-man. Keep this in mind: after averaging 13 goals in each of his first two seasons, Krug scored just four last year, on 244 shots on goal. In fact, Krug’s 1.6-percent shooting rate was the worst in the NHL for any player with at least 150 shots on goal. Just rebounding to what he did in the first two years pushes him over the 50-point plateau.

That doesn’t even take into consideration the potential for more minutes. Krug has seen his minutes increase by roughly two minutes a game each full season in the NHL. Now that he’s being paid as a top pair guy, and due to lack of other viable options, I don’t see how he finishes with under 50 points next year, barring injury, extreme bad luck, or a complete implosion by the Bruins offensively.

Value comes from looking for indicators of a breakout. Krug has some of those indicators. Do not be surprised if he finishes somewhere in the 10-15 range in roto leagues among d-men next year.

*Some stats from Hockey Reference, Hockey Analysis, and Frozen Pool. Cap info from CapFriendly