Ramblings: Luongo retires; Update on Timmins, Tarasenko, Cole; Entry stats – June 27

by Michael Clifford on June 27, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Luongo retires; Update on Timmins, Tarasenko, Cole; Entry stats – June 27

 

One of the storylines for the summer was what Florida goalie Roberto Luongo would do. Try to rehab and play at least one more year? Go on LTIR if the issue persisted? Retire? Well, in an announcement that could only be made in the vein of Roberto Luongo’s personality, we got our answer:

 

 

He also wrote a letter to the fans.

He finishes his career with 489 wins and was one of the best goalies this century. Enshrinement in the Hockey Hall of Fame surely awaits him a few years down the road.

Thanks for all the great memories and laughs, and best to Luongo and his family in the next phase of their lives.

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As for Luongo’s cap implications, the Canucks get a $3.03M cap recapture penalty each of the next three seasons while Florida is dinged for $1.09M. That $3.03M is lessened by subtracting the retained salary on his deal when they traded him, so it works out to be about $2.2M. That could throw a wrench into Vancouver’s plans to sign Tyler Myers. We’ll see what they decide to do.

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We have a new and improved Dobber Shop for you guys to explore! Head over now and check out the 2019 Dobber Prospects Report to get the advantage you need over your league mates on the prospects you need to know for the next few years.

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Mike Reilly was extended by the Habs for two years with a $1.5M AAV.

It seems like a fine contract. The team doesn’t have a glut of young/prospect defencemen like the Flyers that Reilly will need to fend off, so it gives them a bit of security on the third pair. Regardless, he won’t have much fantasy value outside the deepest of leagues barring catastrophic injuries to multiple blue liners.

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For those who missed it on Tuesday, I wrote a bit on the Carl Soderberg trade. The more I think about it, the more I like the trade for the Coyotes. It might limit them a bit in free agency but maybe they weren’t going to be major players anyway.

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Vladimir Tarasenko underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, it was announced. He will be re-evaluated in four weeks and it appears as though he’ll be fine for training camp.

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We’re seeing a lot of chatter around Matt Duchene, naturally, as he’s by far the best UFA centre on the market this year. Given that Jeff Skinner, a winger, just signed for $9M a season, I suspect that Duchene comes in at $10M or more.

I’m of two minds on this one. There’s little doubt that if a team gives him eight years at $10.5M per season or whatever the final number is, that the contract is going to look bad at age 35 and 36. Should he stay relatively healthy, he’ll be near 1200 regular season games by the time those final couple years come around. But in the first half of that contract, he could really help a team that’s on the cusp of a Cup.

It’s kind of why these types of contracts aren’t really just straightforward “this will be bad at the end.” If Duchene puts someone like Nashville or Montreal over the top, no one will really care. It seems smarter for a team hand out a significant contract in pursuit of a Cup than hand out a significant contract as legacy payment for a Cup already won.

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Good news on the injury front: Colorado prospect defenceman Conor Timmins was skating at the Avalanche development camp and met with the media after. Timmins missed all of 2018-19 with issues related to a concussion suffered over a year ago. That he’s on the ice with other players in a normal (i.e. not a non-contact) jersey is all very good news. Let’s hope he’s ready to go come September, fully healthy and ready to contribute to the organization.

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Speaking of Avs defencemen, Ian Cole isn’t expected back until Christmas following the hip surgeries. The team just acquired Kevin Connauton, who figures to be the replacement for Cole until he returns.

This should mean a boatload of ice time, at least through the first two months, for Sam Girard. The left side of the Avalanche blue line isn’t very deep; we’re talking guys like Zadorov, Graves, Barberio, and of course Connauton. Do not be the least bit surprised if Girard is at 21-22 minutes a night early in the season, barring an impact signing or trade.

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Brian Elliott signed a one-year deal with the Flyers and will act, presumably, as the backup for Carter Hart. This doesn’t seem like a situation for a 1A and 1B. The team is loading for a playoff run and their top goalie will get the lion’s share of starts.

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Often in these Ramblings, readers will see me refer to zone entries and exits. It seems to be something that’s really gained traction over the last few years to the point where hockey fans will hear it blurted out on a broadcast without much explanation as to why they’re important. The two big reasons are that controlled zone entries generate more than double the shots than dumping it in and that controlled zone exits by defencemen really get the offence going, helping to keep control of the play. Conversely, neutral zone or blue line breakups have the opposite effect. It’s easy to see why all this is important for fantasy.

I have been going through some 2018-19 zone entry data which is collected by Corey Sznajder (his Patreon can be found here). I wanted to go through some players of interest to me.

Note: these aren’t samples of the whole season. As CJ Turtoro (the guy whose viz are shown below) has noted, it takes these stats about 30 games to stabilize. Players included here will have in the neighbourhood of 30 games tracked, give or take a few. Also, coaching does have impacts but that is another topic for another day.

 

Nick Schmaltz

Remember that guy? He put up 14 points in 17 games with Arizona before being shutdown for the season with a knee injury in January. He starts a fresh seven-year deal worth nearly $41M this season.

Out of the 106 forwards in our sample, Schmaltz came in fifth in carry-in percentage, or the rate at which his zone entries are carried in rather than passed or dumped, at 78.9 percent. The four players ahead of him are Nathan MacKinnon, Taylor Hall, Connor McDavid, and Johnny Gaudreau. He even exceeded Mark Stone (77.6 percent) and Patrick Kane (73.3 percent). It’s not just a one-year thing, either. Here is how he compares to Mark Scheifele over the last three seasons:

 

 

This is great news for Schmaltz’s line mates, whoever they end up being in October. He’s clearly a guy who is always looking to make plays in the offensive zone seeing he ranks so highly in carry-in% and shot assists per 60 minutes (the rate at which his passes lead directly to shots).

Schmaltz’s issues for fantasy is that Arizona doesn’t really have a premier goal scorer for Schmaltz to pass to. I have all the confidence in the world about Clayton Keller being a future perennial All-Star, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be a 30-goal scorer every year. There are guys who can contribute like Richard Panik and Vinnie Hinostroza but they’re more depth scoring than top-end guys. Schmaltz might be able to take a 15-goal guy and make him a 20-goal guy but that doesn’t do a lot for him in the fantasy game. When combined with his lack of shots and other peripherals, and Schmaltz doesn’t have a lot of upside for roto fantasy.

In most leagues, there’s no real need to draft him. At best, fantasy owners will get 20 goals and 60 points out of him with little else across the board. At centre, that’s just not good enough outside of deep leagues.

If he does move to the wing because of the acquisition of Soderberg, it might change things for his fantasy value. We'll see. 

 

Casey Mittelstadt

This was a name that really surprised me. Mittelstadt finished in the top-10 in carry-in% of our sample of 106 forwards at 74.6 percent, between Mathew Barzal and Kane.

By raw numbers, Mittelstadt’s season wasn’t great. He had just 25 points in 77 games, and 10 of those points came on the power play. Managing just 15 points at even strength in 77 games is not a good year for production, almost regardless of situation.

Of course, line mates matter here. The top line of Jeff Skinner, Jack Eichel, and Sam Reinhart were a trio that skated together for 540 minutes at five-on-five, nearly half the season for all of them. Those three guys scored 40, 28, and 22 goals together. Only one other player on the Sabres scored more than 15 and it was Jason Pominville with 16. Some of Mittelstadt’s most common line mates include Evan Rodrigues, Conor Sheary, Tage Thompson, and Kyle Okposo. Those four players have a combined one (1) 20-goal season in the last three years, and Thompson and Rodrigues have 31 goals between them in 260 career games. Now, we can say that a true centre would drive their goal totals up, but we’re still talking about a 20-year old rookie pivot. He can only do so much.

Now, all this said, there is a lot more work for Mittelstadt to do. Getting into the offensive zone with the puck is one thing; actually creating offence is another, and the latter needs work, as does his defensive game. Until he improves his passing or shooting, gaining the blue line with control just doesn’t matter as much as it should.

 

Andre Burakovsky

It didn’t look like Andre Burakovsky was going to get a qualifying offer from the Capitals, but he did. This kind of changes the equation of what I wanted to write but he’s still an interesting player nonetheless.

There were 16 players in our sample with a carry-in% of at least 70 percent and Burakovsky was one of them at 70.7 percent, tied with Jonathan Toews. Like Schmaltz, this isn’t a one-year thing, either. Here are all of Burakovsky’s micro stats from possession entries/exits to shot assists from the last three years:

 

 

Despite strong underlying numbers, Burakovsky hasn’t been able to translate it to the fantasy game, much to the dismay of many fantasy owners over the years, having never reached 20 goals or 40 points in his career. One problem has been usage; about 10 percent of his games over the last three years have seen him exceed 16 minutes in TOI. He’s just been largely used in the bottom-6 because of the elite wingers on the team, and he rarely gets top PP time for the same reason.

How much do things change in a new locale if he is in fact traded? Even if he’s not a great offensive talent himself, he can do things that facilitate scoring for others, and he’s good defensively. Where he lands will determine a lot but this is a guy I could bite on in deeper drafts.