Training camps officially start this week which means the march to the start of the season is officially on. If you haven’t snagged your copy of the 2018-19 Dobber Hockey fantasy guide, what are you waiting for? Head to the Dobber Shop and grab yours now!
In the wee hours of Monday morning, the Canadiens finally traded Max Pacioretty after months (years?) of speculation. That he would be traded was only a matter of if, not when, so the return was all that mattered. Pacioretty was shipped to Vegas for Tomas Tatar, a second-round pick, and prospect Nick Suzuki.
Dobber had a pretty accurate take on the trade’s fantasy impact and most of his thoughts mirror my own.
I don’t have too much to add on top of what Dobber wrote other than this: Pacioretty was due to rebound regardless. For the last several years, Pacioretty was a top-end scorer, and one of the most consistent ones at that; from 2011-17, Pacioretty and Alex Ovechkin were the only two players to score at least 30 goals in every 82-game season. The Habs’ captain had one bad season and now he’s gone.
This is just to get out in front of the Vegas Rejuvenated Pacioretty’s Career narrative. He was always going to rebound. My projection, which weights the most recent season heaviest and thus wouldn’t be kind to a person in Pacioretty’s position, was 25 goals and 57 points with the Habs. If he posts those totals (or better), it’s not because of rejuvenation in Vegas. It’s because he wasn’t going to repeat a bad year like 2017-18. At least not for a few years yet.
That isn’t to say this isn’t a beneficial move for him regardless. A quote from Marc Bergevin stated that the 29-year old requested to be traded last year, and that’s no surprise. (Agent Allen Walsh said a week ago that a trade was never requested, so believe what you want to believe.) It’s a surprise that more Habs players aren’t requesting trades considering Bergevin has handled that roster with the deft touch of someone coming off a seven-day bender handling a live grenade. That kind of situation is bad for any player. With the trade and subsequent extension (four years, $28-million), Pacioretty gets essentially a fresh start and a good situation in which to re-establish himself as one of the elite goal scorers in the league.
This does give the Habs the potential to run Kotkaniemi-Suzuki-Poehling down the middle in the not-too-distant future, and that’s if Jonathan Drouin doesn’t work out as a centre. This team went from desperately needing help down the middle to having three prospects that could all project as middle-six centres, plus Drouin (who should be on the wing anyway).
The issue here is that none of Kotkaniemi, Suzuki, and Poehling are what we would deem as a generational centre. A sure thing. A lock like Eichel or Matthews. Sure, Kotkaniemi could be the next Pierre-Luc Dubois; or he could be the next Tyson Jost. Suzuki could be the next Clayton Keller; or he could be the next Luke Kunin. Each of those four ‘centres’ mentioned were taken in the top half of the 2016 draft. Kunin was injured last year but the fact remains the same: the future is still uncertain for each of the next generation of Montreal centres. They’re lottery tickets, and for this team to be good in 2-3 years, they need at least 2/3 of them to pay off in a big way.
By the by, the Pacioretty trade should lock Artturi Lehkonen to the top PP unit for Montreal. With the former captain around, Lehkonen looked to be on the outside looking in. But now, they can run the top unit with Brendan Gallgher in front, Max Domi in the bumper, Drouin on one half-wall and Lehkonen on the other, or something along those lines. The PP unit needs a trigger-man now and Lehkonen is best-suited for that role.
They could also just replace Pacioretty with Tatar, in which case I will be one sad panda.
Last week I got into my projections and they still had some tinkering left. I still have to add most of the true rookies like Svechnikov and Zadina, but I am now mostly done. Let’s dig into some of them.
Here are the parameters for these projections:
- Standard 12-team Yahoo! league without plus/minus. That means goals, assists, PPPs, hits, and shots on goal.
- Based off rosters with three left wingers, three right wingers, three centres, five defencemen, and a utility skater. Everybody is projected for 82 games and they are age-adjusted (finally).
- Goals are based on Corsica’s expected goals model. They will generally be lower on goal scoring in general; these projections only have three players cracking 30 goals. Clearly, that will not be the case. Until I’m smart enough to develop my own goals model (read: never), I will use those from people smarter than me.
- Value is based off Standings Gained Points (SGP). This is a concept I got from Tanner Bell for fantasy baseball but the applications for fantasy hockey are the same. The essence is this: How much value does [Player A] provide over a replacement player in a given category? A replacement player is defined as a player just on the outside of being a starter. For example, in this case, in a 12-team league, we’ll have 36 starting centres total. SGP is determined by how much value in a certain category a given centre provides above the 37th centre according to projections (it’s actually an average of a handful of players arounds the 37th starting centre so as to not weight one category of one player too heavily). So, if [Centre A] is projected to score 26 goals, how much value does that provide over the replacement centre? That process is repeated for each skater, in each category, with the SGP of each category tallied to give total value.
- Plus/minus not being included will change rankings. They are not included because most of plus/minus is largely random. What we know about plus/minus is this: heavily-used defencemen on bad teams are the ones who often get crushed. There were 20 players who finished -25 or worse last year, and nine of them were defencemen. These were the defencemen: Nick Leddy, Alex Goligoski, Jeff Petry, Duncan Keith, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brady Skjei, Justin Faulk, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Erik Karlsson. All heavily-used defencemen on teams who couldn’t score, couldn’t get a save, or both. As for the forwards, there were forwards from bad teams like Montreal and Buffalo, but there was also Devin Shore from Dallas and JT Compher from Colorado. For this reason, I’ve decided to exclude plus/minus, though you can figure out which defencemen are going to have their plus/minus murdered this year.
With all those caveats out of the way, here are my top-20 at each position. Once I add the rookies and do some other minor tweaks, I will have these projections ready for download in their entirety, likely by the weekend.
(note: these are positions from Corsica. I adjusted a lot of them but dual eligibility is not represented.)
- Yahoo! moving from PIMs to hits as standard helps Tyler Seguin a lot. He’s averaged 74.4 hits per 82 games over the last three years. For reference, Nathan MacKinnon has never cracked 60, John Tavares has 72 total hits over the last two years, and Sean Monahan has gone four straight seasons without breaking 40. Last year was the first time Seguin exceed 30 PIMs in a season so the move to hits is beneficial for him.
- Two seasons ago, Mark Scheifele posted 32 goals and 82 points. Great season, right? In this format, those totals didn’t even make him a top-10 centre or top-30 player. If he can post Seguin-like hits, he might be a top-25 player. If he doesn’t, think more top-50.
- In the same vein as Scheifele, consider this: Mathew Barzal finished 2017-18 as the 60th overall player. He did that with 85 points. He’s currently being drafted inside the top-50. I think Barzal is a great player, but banking on a 90-point season with at least a break-even plus/minus just to return value is a lot.
- Speaking of 2017-18 hit totals, if Eichel can extrapolate his 52 hits in 67 games into a full season, it’ll go a long way to helping him be a top-25 player.
- I think Joe Pavelski’s ADP is about fair right now. If Joe Thornton can come back and be the Joe Thornton of a couple years ago (which should help get Pavelski back to 30 goals), then Pavelski can be a value at his ADP this year. If Thornton is not that guy, then Pavelski is probably being drafted at his ceiling right now.
- Brayden Schenn’s ADP on Yahoo! right now is 96th. His Yahoo! ranking is 78th. Even when accounting for his centre-only designation, he’s my 53rd overall skater. And that’s with non-elite PP numbers. If that power play, with all that talent, can be one of the best in the league, Schenn has legitimate top-10 upside in this format.
- Don’t get too caught up with Taylor Hall over Alex Ovechkin. As mentioned earlier, expected goals downplay goal scoring and if Ovechkin pops near 50 again, he’s the top left winger.
- Also mentioned earlier, this is all based on an 82-game season. Evander Kane won’t play 82 games. This does show the upside he has, though.
- Does anyone realize Max Pacioretty has triple-digit hit totals in three of the last four years? If he can get back to his 30-30 level with those types of hit numbers and a bevy of shot totals, he can be a top-5 left winger.
- James van Riemsdyk’s value here is reflected on a full season on the top unit for the Flyers. If they leave Wayne Simmonds there, JvR’s value plummets.
- As I mentioned last week, the move of standard leagues from PIMs to hits is a big ding to the value of Brad Marchand.
- One guy that finished much further down the list than some might expect is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. For now, I still have him listed as the 2C in Edmonton. If he does skate with Connor McDavid at camp when they start this week, he’ll be in the Rakell/Keller tier.
- Don’t get up in arms over Patrik Laine’s rankings. He’s a guy the expected goals model is not a fan of, and his PP projection isn’t kind for that reason as well. He’s in the Tarasenko/Pastrnak tier.
- Mitch Marner’s value here is significantly tied to power play production. The Leafs lost two guys with whom Marner had great success on the power play. If that PP success doesn’t continue, his value takes a big hit.
- Just draft Kyle Palmieri in all your standard leagues. Though ADP data right now is still a little unreliable, his ADP on Yahoo! is currently lower than Conor Sheary. Come on.
- Patric Hornqvist finished as the 55th player last year. He’s being drafted outside the top-100. There aren’t many guys who can give you 25 goals, 50 points, 3+ shots per game, 15-20 PPPs, and at least two hits per game.
- Tyler Toffoli can provide 25 goals, 45 points, 75 hits, and three shots per game. Even without PP time, that’s not bad. He’s a good value right now.
- Mikko Rantanen just missed the top-20 RWs (21st) but he’s still a seventh-round value for me.
- Ristolainen is overvalued here by a lot because his plus/minus isn’t considered. Even with a bad plus/minus though, he can be a top-100 player (he was 110 last year even at -25).
- Ditto Erik Karlsson.
- For now, I still have Justin Faulk on Carolina’s PP1. Carolina ran a four-forward top PP unit last year but that was under a different coach. If we get an indication in training camp that they will indeed keep a four-forward top PP unit, Faulk’s value will take a big hit.
- Alex Edler is like Evander Kane in that he has a lot of upside in this format if he plays 82 games, but we know he won’t play 82 games. This does give some insight into his upside, though, and you can probably draft him as a fifth defenceman. That means low waiver wire replacement value.
That’s it for today. Any questions?
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