Ramblings: NHL Awards; Corey Perry bought out; Jesse Puljujärvi; primary points; goalie starts – June 20

by Michael Clifford on June 20, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: NHL Awards; Corey Perry bought out; Jesse Puljujärvi; primary points; goalie starts – June 20

 

The NHL Awards were Wednesday night but the big news item of the day was the news that Anaheim would be buying out Corey Perry from his contract. The Ducks will save six million in cap space this year, two million next year, and then carry two million in dead money the year after.

Perry has fought injuries the last two years especially, managing just 23 goals and 59 points in 102 games. He turned 34 in May.

This is one of those cases where it’s easy to forget just how good he was. Individually, Perry has a Hart Trophy, a Rocket Richard Trophy, multiple All-Star nods, and has the 10th-most goals since the 2005 lockout. He also has a Stanley Cup, a World Junior title, Olympic gold, and a World Cup. It’s a distinguished career that probably won’t get him to the Hall of Fame but will have him in the conversation of the next tier below.

All the same, it’s been a bad couple seasons for Perry. At best, he’s an average NHLer right now with power play proficiency (from Hockey Viz):

 

 

Where he ends up is to be determined but he’s a guy I see in a team’s bottom-6 with top PP minutes. He can’t play a top line role anymore and teams would do well to recognize that. Maybe he latches on somewhere to chase another Cup, or maybe it’s to get one last payday. I doubt he has much fantasy value outside of deep leagues regardless, but let’s wait and see where he lands.

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Looks like it’ll be pool party season everywhere but Edmonton this summer:

 

 

That’s not just a rumour from Dreger, either. Here is the young winger’s agent:

 

 

I feel pretty confident saying Pulju is going to flourish elsewhere. He was good for the Oilers when he wasn’t chained to the atrocity they called a bottom-6, not to mention he fought injuries as well. I’m excited to see who trades for him.

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You can check out the results for the NHL Awards here. I try to not care about them but they impact player salaries, so I guess I have to care a bit.

A few thoughts:

  • It was a tough choice for the Jack Adams. Barry Trotz was behind a remarkable turnaround under tough circumstances while Jon Cooper was behind the bench for maybe the best regular seasons this century. No real qualms either way.
  • Esa Lindell got a fifth-place Norris vote. Sure, why not.
  • Eventually, the general public will know what smart analysts and fantasy hockey owners know: John Gibson is real, real good.
  • Carey Price might have had the moment of the evening.

That’s about it.

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A few days ago on Twitter, I posted some simple primary points/60 rates (goals and first assists) at five-on-five from the last three years. Namely, they were just to point out specific groupings of players, given how wildly views on their production potential can vary. Here’s the first group:

 

 

Indeed, we have Brett Connolly outscoring Alex Ovechkin in primary points on a per-60 basis over the last three years, while Thomas Vanek is sandwiched between the guy riding shotgun with Sidney Crosby and the guy riding shotgun with Aleksander Barkov. Not to denigrate Guentzel or Dadonov here, just a comparison on what kind of line mates each guy had to work with compared to Vanek.

The next set of comparisons were a little further down the list but still very intriguing nonetheless:

 

There’s a guy who just signed a $72-million contract tied with another guy who has 196 points over the last two years, and also Yanni Gourde.

Gourde is the guy I am most interested in (I wrote extensively about Skinner’s new contract last week). It’s no secret that the Lightning are in a big cap crunch. They have to sign Brayden Point, need to sign five more players (or use rookies) beyond that to fill out the roster, and have $8M in cap space, give or take, with which to do it. At least one guy with a decent cap hit will need to be traded.

The problem in Tampa is almost everyone has some sort of trade protection, be it NMC, partial NTC, whatever. The Bolts will have to get creative here. Gourde could end up somewhere else, or someone else could be traded, opening a spot in the top-6. We’ll see what Tampa does in the summer. Just keep in mind that Gourde, despite the point drop in 2018-19, is a very, very good hockey player.

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Just something small I was thinking of: the NHL needs to cut down its preseason. Guys should report for a week of practice after Labour Day, then a week of 3-4 preseason games, then the season should start. Having eight preseason games is just absolutely not necessary and extends the season for far too long.

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Be sure to grab your copy of the 2019 Dobber Hockey Prospects Report! Available now in the Dobber Shop.

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Thanks to the success of the Raptors – what a parade that was, by the way – the term ‘load management’ made its way into the lexicon of even casual sports fans. This had been going on for years as Kawhi Leonard’s former team did this often in the past, but it really came to the forefront as Toronto’s management of Kawhi’s games and minutes during the season, apparently, helped quite a bit in the playoffs.

This is also happening in the NHL but not in the sense of skaters. At least, not widely. It is happening with goalies, though, and that’s the topic for today.

We’ve been hearing “1A/1B” or “split-starts” for a few seasons now but it was prevalent more than ever in 2018-19. Just for a quick preview, here are the number of goalies per season, since the 2013 lockout, with at least 55 starts (from Hockey-Reference):

  • 2013-14: 15
  • 2014-15: 17
  • 2015-16: 14
  • 2016-17: 17
  • 2017-18: 16
  • 2018-19: 12

Now, one season does not make a pattern but given how much discussion there’s been publicly about controlling starts, I feel comfortable saying that’s the direction the league is moving. And when we get to an even higher threshold, say 65 starts, we only had one goalie get there in 2018-19 (Devan Dubnyk) compared to six in 2014-15. With the success of the Islanders, Hurricanes, and Bruins, there will be even more public discussion about it.

Of course, a lot depends on the two goalies. If Jaroslav Halak is posting a .902 save percentage rather than .922, does he get 40 appearances and 37 starts? Sometimes you end up with a situation like the Islanders, in which case it doesn’t really matter which goalie starts, or sometimes you end up with a situation like the Panthers, in which case it doesn’t really matter which goalie starts, though not for the same reasons.

I know this might seem like an obvious observation to make, but games played affects everything for a goalie. It affects wins (only 10 goalies had 30 wins in 2018-19, down from 12 the year before and 14 the year before that) to shutouts, and to your ratios as well; a .925 save percentage in 45 games is not as impactful as a .925 save percentage in 55 games. Not to mention leagues where saves are counted rather than using save percentage. Games played is crucial for fantasy value among goalies, especially where options are limited and you can’t run to the waiver wire to cover like with a defenceman or forward.

One thing I do appreciate about this approach is that it changes fantasy draft strategy. There may be only 10 goalies who get 55 starts next year. Does that make people more aggressive for guys like Frederik Andersen or John Gibson? Or do people get nervous that those teams will adopt those policies as well, driving down their draft day price?

I’d like to hear from the community about how they plan to attack goalies in September. I’ve usually been a guy who has waited on goaltending but this could change things for me. What about you?