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When mining the draft floor for underappreciated talent, I like to take a little stroll down the Primary-Points-Per-60 aisle. There we find players who are maximizing their output and are main factors in the production. These guys can already be established stars who garner all the juiciest deployment. They can be up and comers who may or may not be highly valued in leagues already. Or they can be unheralded players who could (and should) be in line for a lineup promotion.
I’d like to hone in on a few of these players today and shine a light on the potential windfall that could be bestowed upon your squad if you find gold in a pan full of silt.
The 25th overall selection from 2015 has been marinating nicely. He spent his draft-plus one campaign in the NCAA where he was named an NCHC All-Rookie. His 10 goals and 26 points in 36 games were good for a share of the team lead despite being a full year younger than any other skater on the team.
The development he charted at the University of Miami (Ohio) helped catapult him into the American league to begin the 2016-17 campaign. There he stepped right into the Manitoba Moose lineup and was an impact player. 13 goals and 48 points in 65 contests.
The 20-year-old was dynamite on the power play. He led all AHL rookies in power play assists with 21, and his 25 total PPPs was good for a share of 2nd most. He even earned himself a quick call-up to the big club.
Last season, the American centre took another step forward. His 35 points in 33 AHL games represented a 1.09 point-per-game output. That figure placed him amongst the top 10 skaters. He played the remaining 31 contests in a limited role with the Jets where you guessed it, he produced some high-level primary points-per-60 (P1/60).
Among players with at least 300 minutes of NHL action last season, Roslovic’s 1.78 P1/60 was firmly in the top 40. And he’s keeping some fine company.
Upon receiving the call-up in the new year, Roslovic was immediately thrust into a middle six winger role and received secondary power play minutes. All in, he was skating around 12 minutes a night with 1:17 of that coming on the man-advantage. He was given the prominent role of replacing an injured Mark Schiefele on the top line for a stretch too.
When Winnipeg traded for Paul Stastny at the deadline, that proved to be the end of the offensive deployment for the offensively-inclined forward. However, he still managed to produce two goals and six points in the final 11 games. This while seeing 11 minutes of even-strength ice and none on the power play.
I like Bryan Little as much as the next guy, but I'm firmly entrenched on the "Give Jack Roslovic the 2C gig in Winnipeg" squad.— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) September 7, 2018
All said each of his 14 points in 31 contests was recorded during even-strength action. 35 percent of those points came from a defensively-deployed third line with Bryan Little and Mathieu Perreault. He stayed with that unit and flashed his skill level for the Jets through two rounds of playoff action.
The two-time AHL All-Star is a 21-year-old with 42 NHL games to his name. Historically he’d be chiselled into a bottom six role to ‘pay his dues’. However, that’s likely not the most effective way to utilize the supremely gifted distributor. It’s been evident for some time that Little has little chemistry with Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers. It shouldn’t take long for the coaching staff to conclude that the hard shut down minutes should fall to Little and Perrault on L3 while Roslovic is allowed to run free with the two dynamic scoring wingers.
It’s a bet I’d be willing to take in the mid-late rounds this draft season. Give this kid some room and let the points flow.
Here are a few other notable players who produced strong P1/60 last season. Each should see their situation, deployment, and/or surrounding talent increase.
Name P1/60 (2017-18)
Anthony Cirelli 2.88
Valentin Zykov 2.86
Sebastian Aho (CAR) 2.38
Ondrej Kase 2.27
Michael Ferland 1.82
William Nylander 1.76 (more on him later)
Travis Konecny 1.69
Josh Ho-Sang 1.64
Jake DeBrusk 1.62
Jeff Skinner 1.42
I haven’t had a chance to say my piece on the new Blake Wheeler extension. A tidal wave of virtual ink has already been spilt on the matter so I won’t splash around too much. However, this is the classic case of paying a player for what they’ve already accomplished.
And that’s okay.
Setting career-highs as a 31-year-old is as impressive as it is unlikely to be replicated. But there are a few things that are sitting nicely for Wheeler and the Jets to feel comfortable in rewarding their team captain for his prior work.
The biggest factor has to be him owning the distinct privilege of dishing to one of the deadliest snipers in the game on the power play. We cannot diminish the Patrik Laine-effect and how his ascension is just beginning. Last season, Wheeler recorded 71 primary points. 71. That was good for the fifth most in the league. However, a disproportionate amount of those came on the man-advantage. His 34 primary points (only six of which were goals) led the league and was nine more than third place, Taylor Hall.
It’s not as if his passes to Laine are going to magically stop ending up in the back of the net because his beard is getting a few grey hairs in it. Realistically, the number of pucks flying past netminders is likely to increase as Laine enters his prime ages – which begins meow.
Wheeler may not top 90 points again, but his contract (and fantasy value) should remain very high for the foreseeable future.
If it hasn't already happened yet, Tyson Barrie absolutely needs to start being considered as one of the top offensive defenders to own in fantasy. Outside of the down year in 2016-17 where he posted a 0.51 point-per-game output, the recently turned 27-year-old has played at a 0.675 point-per-game pace over the last five seasons. That’s a 55-point pace.
Colorado may have jumped the gun a tad in their ascension up the Western Conference standings and could see a bit of a slide back down in 2018-19. However, their young offensive core is explosive. MacKinnon and Rantanen won’t be slowing down anytime soon. These are the pieces that Barrie gets to dance around with when the opposition takes a penalty.
Barrie sat second in defenseman scoring on the power play last season with 31 of his 57 points coming on the man-advantage. He did so in just 68 games. His 7.42 points-per-60 minutes on the powerplay trailed only Morgan Rielly for defenders who saw at least 150 power play minutes.
Heading into 2018-19, Barrie should be considered one of the best bets to break 50-points from the back-end with a realistic shot at 60. Few blueliners can boast that.
William Nylander recorded 47 points during even-strength play last season. That was good for 25th most in the league. Ahead of the likes of Malkin, Barkov, Kuznetsov, Marchand, Tarasenko, Wheeler, Kessel, etc. While his final point count mirrored his 2016-17 season (61 points), his power play production dipped from 27 to 12 last season. If he had replicated his man-advantage metrics, he’d have produced 76 points. Split the difference between the two years and we’re talking about a 69-point player
Is anyone really looking to bet against John Tavares adding some more dirt to that top unit? As a team, the Leafs clicked at 25 percent with the man-advantage last season. That’s not going to move up much more, but there’s no way Matthews and Nylander will live in the sub-15 PPP land.
70-points should be a slam dunk in an 82-game campaign for the 22-year-old Swede. Willy may be the cheapest avenue to get in on the Leafs high-octane offence. I’ll be buying.
Stats courtesy Dobber’s Frozen Pool and corsicahockey.com
Follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson
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