Ramblings: Marchessault Extends in Vegas, Forsberg’s Injury Fallout, Glass Saving and more (Jan 4)

by steve laidlaw on January 3, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Marchessault Extends in Vegas, Forsberg’s Injury Fallout, Glass Saving and more (Jan 4)

 

Jonathan Marchessault signed six-year contract extension worth $5.0 million annually. There is some risk for Vegas signing a 27-year-old having a career season, but Marchessault has always had talent, scoring efficiently at every stop in his career. Only now is he getting full-time top usage and is very much the driver of the bus on his line, unlike last season, when you might have thought it was simply sponging off Aleksander Barkov.

I will never begrudge a player for getting paid. I do wonder how this will impact Marchessault going forward. Generally, I pooh-pooh the notion of contract status affecting players, not because there cannot be psychological affects, but because each player is impacted differently. For every player who has a great performance in a contract year, there is another who has a bad season. For instance, Cam Atkinson has been a train wreck, but earned a contract extension similar as Marchessault’s.

Will Marchessault’s scoring fall off because of a contract extension? Or will it fall off because his on-ice shooting percentage is a little too high at 10.2%? In future years, will his production fall short of what he did this season because of a big-money deal or because player performance typically tapers off at age 26?

None of this is to say that Marchessault will be bad. He is clearly very good, producing possession metrics, shot rates and scoring rates of a legit top line winger. If anything, $5.0 million of average annual value is underpayment for what Marchessault will provide. He should be at or close to a top line winger for the first few years of this deal. On the typical aging curve, a player produces about 75% of their peak 5-on-5 production once they reach 30.

Through his five seasons of NHL action, ranging from age 23-27, Marchessault has produced 2.0 points per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play, which is a benchmark I use for identifying elite scoring talent. Marchssault has peaked with 2.8 points per 60 this season. I suspect this is more outlier than his actual peak, but we can’t know for sure. Following the standard aging curve, by year three or four of this new deal Marchessault will have tapered into the 1.5-1.8 points-per-60 range, which is solid, but not top line stuff. Before going full panic mode, again Marchessault should still be good for the next few seasons.

The breakdown of the deal for Vegas is that it the payouts mirror very well what we’d expect from Marchessault given standard aging:

 

Season

Age

Salary ($M)

2018-19

28

7.0

2019-20

29

6.0

2020-21

30

5.0

2021-22

31

5.0

2022-23

32

3.5

2023-24

33

3.5

 

This is brilliant. They pay Marchessault like a top line talent for the first couple of years, like a second liner for the next couple and a third liner by the end. Marchessault gets to cash in with a big pay day up front, and entirety of the deal keeps the AAV at a below-market rate. Marchessault probably didn’t get as much as he could have hitting unrestricted free agency. He especially took a hit in those last two years, and didn’t get any kind of trade protection as a result. This really is a team-friendly deal.

I’d bet good money that by the end of that deal Marchessault is traded to a penny-pinching team like Ottawa, Arizona, Florida, or whoever the latest doormat is by 2022. This deal was practically designed to be offloaded to a rebuilder trying to hit the cap floor without having to payout actual salaries.

It is important to note that aging curves only look at 5-on-5 impact because the ability to score in the most predominant and balanced phase of the game is the best measure of player scoring talent. They don’t look at PP scoring because it just isn’t as reliable a figure for predicting future scoring. However, if a player proves himself a top scoring option for his prime he can hang onto power play minutes well past his scoring prime, which can keep him relevant even as his 5-on-5 figures dip. For fantasy owners in keeper leagues, the hope is that Marchessault hangs onto top unit PP time for at least the first half of that deal, giving you three more years of a 60-point threat.

As for this year, I do think Marchessault slows in the second half. He’s on pace for 84 points. I’d bet on 70. Let’s use Atkinson as an example once more. At this point last season, Atkinson had 37 points in 35 games. Marchessault has those EXACT totals. Atkinson finished with 25 in the final 47. I don’t expect the bottom to drop out so precipitously for Vegas or Marchessault, particularly because of how reliant Atkinson was on PP production, but we have the road map for second half decline.

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A few more games like this from Jeff Glass and Anton Forsberg will have to start shopping for apartments in Rockford. Glass is 2-0-1 in three starts having given the team a chance in all three starts. This gets back to my theory about there being 100 goaltenders on earth who could run with a starting gig for an extended period if given the chance. So far, Glass looks good enough to run.

Jordan Oesterle has emerged as a big-minute option for the Blackhawks, skating at least 19 minutes in all 10 games he has played since getting back into the lineup. He has spent a ton of time paired with Duncan Keith, and has put up five points in the last three games. I haven’t seen Oesterle rack up enough power play time to warrant grabbing in most leagues, but there’s a spot for him, especially as he has averaged 2.0 SOG per game.

You might also find some use for Oesterle given the Blackhawks’ off-night schedule going Friday/Sunday to close out the week, plus Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday/Sunday before hitting their bye.

I took advantage of this grabbing Nick Schmaltz in all of my leagues, but I have an affinity for this player. He has been attached to Patrick Kane pretty well all year, and has generated more chances than his numbers indicate. He has four goals and 10 points in his last 10 games. Be prepared to ride a rollercoaster, but Schmaltz has value.

Vinnie Hinostroza is kickstarting the top line for Chicago. He has points in three straight, while Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews have points in back-to-back games. We aren’t yet streaking with these guys, but signs of life are nice.

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Mika Zibanejad scored his first goal (and point) since returning from a concussion. His power-play goal ended an eight-game scoring drought and is a good sign for a sputtering PP. It did take the Rangers six chances to get that one goal, so we can probably still call it sputtering.

JT Miller swapped spots in the lineup with Rick Nash earning top line and top PP unit minutes. He was held scoreless in 18:55 of action, but could have a greater impact if this deployment continues.

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Andreas Athanasiou had a two-goal night against Ottawa including the overtime winner, which probably couldn’t have been scored any faster:

 

Anthony Mantha is likely still banged up. He returned after sitting out the last two games with a groin injury and skated just 12:51. He did manage an assist and looked dangerous at various points.

Skating in Mantha’s spot on the Zetterberg line is Tyler Bertuzzi. It was mentioned on the broadcast that Bertuzzi was told to find a place in Detroit, so expect him up for the rest of the season. I don’t think he’ll have universal fantasy value, but Bertuzzi could have some merit in deep multi-category leagues and in keeper leagues.

Read more about Bertuzzi here.

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The verdict is in, Patrick Maroon has been suspended two games for his blind-side hit to the head of Drew Doughty. In some leagues, this is enough to make him droppable. In others, it’s an annoyance.

This should push Milan Lucic back onto the top line after Maroon had reclaimed that spot for a whole half of a game.

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Filip Forsberg will miss 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury. This injury undercuts yet another shot at Forsberg scoring 70 points (He has averaged 62 points over the past three seasons) and ends an iron-man run after three straight seasons with 82 games. The silver lining is that this could once again supress his value at your draft next season. Forsberg went off the board at the 45th pick in the average Yahoo draft, somewhere in the fourth or fifth round depending on league size. That’s great value if he’s there again. Forsberg will absolutely score 70+ points one of these years. I’ll keep drafting him!

Check out Nashville’s lines without Forsberg:

#1           25.8%    ARVIDSSON,VIKTOR – JARNKROK,CALLE – JOHANSEN,RYAN

#2           24.2%    FIALA,KEVIN – SMITH,CRAIG – TURRIS,KYLE

#3           17.6%    BONINO,NICK – HARTNELL,SCOTT – SISSONS,COLTON

#4           9%          MCLEOD,CODY – SALOMAKI,MIIKKA – WATSON,AUSTIN

 

There will be no replacing the leading scorer in this lineup. Calle Jarnkrok has snagged top line and top PP unit duties, but minutes have tilted towards the second line of Kevin Fiala, Kyle Turris and Craig Smith. Fiala has skated over 16 minutes in each of the past five games. It makes sense, as that line was one of the hottest in December, but Fiala has also gone scoreless in those five games as attention has shifted to that group.

For what it’s worth, Jarnkrok had been hot of late scoring seven goals and 12 points in 14 games to close out December. Much of that damage was done while centering a line with Forsberg and Pontus Aberg. Now the offense has been concentrated into two lines, making the whole easier to stop. Still Jarnkrok’s minutes are way up, especially his PP usage, so he may have some use over the next month or so.

Given that Forsberg had spent a decent amount of time split off from Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen, the impact of his loss is dulled a bit. However, Johansen had been trending up thanks to improvements in PP scoring. Losing exposure to Forsberg here will certainly hurt.

I wonder if we won’t see Johansen start shooting the puck more frequently. The decline in his shooting has turned him into an assist-heavy option, which is highly volatile: see Alexander Wennberg.

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The latest on Shea Weber:

 

Jeff Petry is your direct replacement, but considering the offensive woes of the Canadiens he may not be the best replacement. You may still be scrambling for the best option. Defensemen who have had tremendous value over the past month who are under 50% owned on Yahoo:

 

Shea Theodore – 26% owned – After too many false starts early on, the advice was to jump out on Theodore. Now that he is a lineup fixture he is a must-use option. The minutes are still meager at 19:16 per game, but he hasn’t been scratched since mid-November. We don’t know which PP unit will be the top one on any given night, but he sees plenty of regular use. Most importantly, Theodore is scoring. He has eight points in his last seven games. Get him while he’s hot.

 

Colin Miller – 42% owned – The more highly owned, but less dynamic version of Theodore.


Erik Johnson –  38% owned – He has ceded top PP unit minutes to Sam Girard, but I expect this situation to be fluid. Johnson skates HUGE minutes in all situations and has been a multi-category stud. If nothing else, his high floor in PIM and SOG (also blocked shots and hits) will provide value while you wait.

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Semyon Varlamov is expected to miss the next two games heading into Colorado’s bye week. Andrew Hammond was recalled, but it’s safe to assume Jonathan Bernier will get the next two starts. More importantly, the Avalanche play on loaded Thursday and Saturday slates, so you are unlikely to find room for the Avalanche netminder no matter who it ends up being.

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Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.