Ramblings: Ondrej Palat, Ryan Kesler, Colton Parayko, Roy Quits, and More (August 12)

by Michael Clifford on August 11, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Ondrej Palat, Ryan Kesler, Colton Parayko, Roy Quits, and More (August 12)

Ondrej Palat, Ryan Kesler, Colton Parayko, Patrick Roy quits, and more

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Ondrej Palat

Just like those that drafted Tyler Johnson last year, any of the fantasy owners that drafted Ondrej Palat were disappointed with the final result. Palat missed 20 games, and managed just 40 points, which was over 20 points off the average he managed in his first two seasons (61). Of course, the injuries had a huge effect here, and if Palat had played 82 games, at his point pace, he finishes with 53 points. Still likely a disappointment, but nowhere near the 40-point season he had.

It was all-around just bad news for Palat. He set a career-low in individual points percentage (the rate at which he tallies a point on five-on-five goals with him on the ice), career-low in first assists, career-low in on-ice shooting percentage, career-low in shots on goal per 60 minutes, and the list goes on. In that sense, it’s kind of astounding that Palat was still on pace for 53 points in 82 games.  

Knowing the downturn Palat had should give fantasy owners hope going into next year. Over their first two seasons together, Palat and Tyler Johnson were on the ice for over 60 shot attempts and 3.4 goals per 60 minutes. That was in 1500 minutes played. Last year, those numbers, specifically the goals, came down a fair amount to 56.6 and 2.60.

The one kicker here is that there is no real telling how the lineup is going to shake out for the Lightning. Are the Triplets going to be reunited behind a Drouin/Stamkos top line? Is Kucherov going to play on the top line, with someone like Ryan Callahan with Palat/Johnson? At present time, there’s no real telling, and that could throw a wrench into all of this.

Palat should come at a good value in drafts. The season following a year when a good player disappointed fantasy owners is usually when the value appears. This is true for Tyler Johnson, and I suspect it’ll be true for Palat as well.  

Ryan Kesler

For the first time since 2010-2011, Ryan Kesler cracked the 50-point mark. Considering he had back-to-back 70-point seasons once upon a time, including a 40-goal campaign, it seems kind of hard to believe. And yet, here we are.

Looking over Kesler’s 2015-2016 season, though, and it seems like this is about as good as it is going to get for him. For starters, his 2.08 shots per game was the lowest for him in a season in nearly a decade. That wasn’t a function of ice time, either, as Kesler’s 6.06 shots per 60 minutes at five-on-five was the lowest for him in a full season since 2007. And it gets worse.

These are the comparables for Kesler in points per 60 minutes over the last three seasons. This is with a minimum of 2500 minutes played (taken from Hockey Analysis):

Things weren’t great this year for Kesler, even with the 53 points, as his points/60 minutes (1.39) was slightly under that of Brian Gionta (1.40). In other words, Kesler’s “resurgent” season was a function of playing a ton of minutes, and nothing else.

Of course, that shouldn’t really matter too much to fantasy owners. There is no way Kesler’s ice time goes down by any significant amount this season, so he could be terribly inefficient again, and still crack 50 points. At the end of the day, the final tallies are all that really matter.

So if anything, Kesler should be drafted with confidence in roto leagues, rather than trepidation. When it comes to producing points in an efficient manner, he’s proven to be one of the worst regulars in the NHL at doing this. But he should still get regular power play minutes, and anything can happen in a given season. Anaheim could shoot 8-percent with him on the ice next year, rather than 6-percent, and he can push 60 points.

I am not a fan of Kesler as a fantasy producer, but someone that will get this much ice time cannot be ignored. He is a high-floor guy, which means a safe draft pick.

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What to make of Colton Parayko next year? The big St. Louis blue liner had a breakout year last year, and for the most part, it was kind of out of nowhere. That isn’t to say it can’t be repeated, but rather the contrary – Parayko will be a top pair defenceman in short order.

The problem is that there are two top-tier defencemen blocking him. It seems as though Parayko is running into the problem that Dougie Hamilton and Alec Martinez run into on their respective teams; they can be very good, but they’re far enough down the depth chart that the loss of time on ice is a problem.

Parayko should get up to about 21 minutes next year, and second power play unit time (maybe even first depending how they’re deployed). For now, though, it seems he’s probably capped at 40 points. That’s still a very good season, so keep an eye on his ADP. There was nothing really out of line in his underlying numbers, so if he can be grabbed as something like a third defenceman in a 12-team league, I’m all for it.

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I mentioned in yesterday’s Ramblings that there is a lot of good data that is coming out which helps analyze hockey further. I would like to present the following.

The great group of writers over at Hockey-Graphs has been working on a passing project, headed by Ryan Stimson, to help quantify what exactly happens on the ice. They’ve looked at things like neutral zone transition, and dangerous in-zone passes. It’s the former, using data for neutral zone tactics, that I’d like to bring up. The article can be read here, and I very much encourage readers to go through it. It is very thorough, and very informative.

This reinforces work done earlier by Eric Tulsky and others, describing how the nature of entering the zone correlates to goal scoring. Their work is based off the Three Zone Project by Corey Sznajder, which can be purchased here.

Fantasy owners are always looking for an edge, and this type of work can help provide it. I can speak to this specifically, as using Sznajder’s work from the 2013-2014 season led me to conclude that Roman Josi’s 40 points that year was not a fluke, and in fact he should improve upon it. I had Josi ranked as a top-20 defenceman going into the 2014-2015 season, and a big reason I had him that high was the data found in Sznajder’s work.

Again, I encourage readers to read both the article above, and to visit the Three Zone Project (note that project is only for the 2013-2014 season, but I believe Mr. Sznajder is working on other things at the moment). It is good information that can help either uncover diamonds in the rough, or help build a case for a player.

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It’s going to get talked about at length, but realistically, what are everyone’s expectations for Alex Radulov this year? At times, I’ve seen 70 points floated, which I find absurd. I think 60 points should be considered a very good year. But what about you guys? Where do you think you’ll be drafting him? Top-75? Top-100? Lower? Let me know in the comments.

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This puts Colorado in kind of a tight spot, as we’re in the second week of August, and now they have to go out and find a coach. Not only find a coach, but a good one, and the good, familiar coaches have been hired. They have some work to do.

From a fantasy aspect, I couldn’t have said it any better than this

Roy was not a good coach. By any objective measure, he failed this team. They were abysmal at both ends of the ice, and the only reason they managed to score was the plethora of extremely talented forwards they have. Whatever success Colorado had – like winning the division – wasn’t because of Roy it was in spite of him.

This is good news for fantasy owners have any of the Colorado players. The team didn’t really lose anyone of consequence since last season, and added some good depth on the blue line (something they had been lacking for a while). With the likes of MacKinnon, Duchene, Landeskog, Soderberg, and Iginla, Mikko Rantanen likely figuring in, plus decent support pieces like Mitchell and Comeau, this is a talented forward group. As long as Semyon Varlamov is solid in net, this is a group that can at least contend for a wild card playoff spot.

Hopefully the Avs start playing less run-and-gun, and a more contemporary style of hockey. Being able to consistently generate offence through controlled zone entries and extended zone time has not been a hallmark of this team. Neither has adequate defensive zone coverage. If they do go in that direction, it could be a big boost for the fantasy-relevant forwards.

We have to wait and see who will be hired as the coach first, but it surely can’t get much worse than the last three years. There is a lot of talent and decent depth on this roster. They can do better than they have. Let’s see if they do.

*Stats from Hockey Reference and Hockey Analysis. Cap information from Cap Friendly.