Ramblings: Reaching for Players in Drafts; Training Camp Notes – September 30

by Michael Clifford on September 29, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Reaching for Players in Drafts; Training Camp Notes – September 30

A couple Ramblings ago, I asked the Dobber community to provide me with some players they had seen, in their eyes, over-drafted in drafts they had done. These reaches can sometimes work out – congrats to everyone that grabbed Artemi Panarin a few rounds early in their 2015-16 drafts – and sometimes it’s just a waste of a pick. I compiled a few of those responses, as well as some from both mock drafts and personal drafts I’ve done, for a list of guys that have been reached for in drafts and whether it could be worth it or not.

 

Ian Cole

I mean, this could work out depending on the reach, but the quote from the reader was that Cole went for $17 in an auction draft with a $250 budget. This is the definition of reaching, but might not be as far-fetched as it seems on the surface.

In case anyone missed it, Cole had a good year last year. He tied a career high with five goals, set a career high with 26 points, finished plus-26, and combined for over 350 hits/blocked shots. Throw in his 72 penalty minutes and a league that counts those peripheral stats, and it’s a really good year.

It’s conceivable that he can come close to repeating last year provided he can still play close to 20 minutes a game. His .929 on-ice save percentage at five-on-five is a bit high, but it was still outside the top-40 defencemen with 1000 minutes played, and Matt Murray’s five-on-five save percentage through his first two regular seasons is .934. It probably won’t stay that high in a full season, but he can be in the .929 neighbourhood.

Pittsburgh still has loads of offensive talent, but if everyone is healthy, Cole will be pushed down the lineup a bit. All the same, if Murray performs as expected, with their offensive power, Cole should be a plus-player again. He will provide a lot of hits and blocked shots if given the ice time, too. While $17 is too much on a $250 budget, in a peripherals league, I understand why it was done.

 

Jacob Trouba

One reader chimed in and said that they reached for Trouba in the eighth round again of a league that counts peripherals. Given his ADP, this does qualify as a reach but it’s the good kind to make. Here’s why.

The Jets, as a team, look primed to explode offensively. The top-six forward mix is loaded with all-world offensive talent, Dustin Byfuglien is still a top-tier weapon on the blue line, and less-established players like Kyle Connor and Marko Dano look ready to make the jump. In all, this has the looks of a top-5 offence this year.

Big Buff will still hog the top power-play minutes, but Trouba should eat up the secondary time. He is also becoming more relied upon by the coaches having played nearly 25 minutes a game last year. Trouba is known for being very good defensively but it shouldn’t take away from his vision and ability to move the puck effectively.

Back to the original point, as to why this is a “safe” reach: the peripheral stats. Over the last two years, per 82 games, he’s averaging 146 hits, 172 blocked shots, 67 penalty minutes, and 167 shots on goal. That is obscene stat-stuffing for leagues that count peripheral categories, and with no holdout or injury this year, he should be able to provide a lot more than just points.

That is what makes this a safe reach. Even if he flatlines offensively and only gives 30 points, there is so much more to his fantasy game that the downside isn’t significant. If he lives up to his full offensive potential, then this is a very good selection to make.

 

Auston Matthews 

The last reader-submitted reach, if we can call it that, was Matthews drawing the second-highest price in an auction draft behind only Connor McDavid. More than Sidney Crosby or Patrick Kane.

The first question here is whether Matthews can be the second-best fantasy option this season. The answer: yes he can. The second question is what has to go right for Matthews to be the second-best fantasy option this year. The answer: a lot.

If you look at players to have scored at a point-per-game pace over the last four seasons, outside of Alex Ovechkin, only Corey Perry hit that mark while registering fewer than 45 assists (39). Of the remaining 18 instances of players hitting a point-per-game, two-thirds of them managed at least 50 assists.

For Matthews to add at least 10 assists to his total from last year, he’ll need William Nylander to be a 30-goal guy, or Zach Hyman (or whichever left winger ends up on that line) to chip in. Some extra power-play minutes wouldn’t hurt, and neither would some extra penalty minutes.

Matthews should be among the Leafs forward leaders in ice time, but is it 18 minutes a game? 19? 20? The more the merrier, but Mike Babcock is likely like to spread things out again. I have no doubt Matthews can be the second-best fantasy option this year. Am I willing to draft him as such? No, but I’m more risk averse than most when considering early draft picks. Are you willing to draft him as such? Sound off in the comments.

 

Ryan McDonagh

In a draft I did recently – a standard roto league without hits/blocked shots – McDonagh went just outside the top-100. It wasn’t the first draft I had seen him go around that spot, and I’m a bit confounded as to why.

I was very bullish on McDonagh last year. With Keith Yandle gone, and no real threat to his power-play minutes, it seemed a rebound season from back-to-back seasons with under 40 points was in order. He set a career-high in power-play assists and power-play points, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I am very bearish on McDonagh this year for the opposite reason; with Kevin Shattenkirk on the roster, now there is a direct threat (and a superior option) to him for top power-play time. The captain could still play 24-25 minutes a game, but if he’s not getting the prime PP minutes, repeating double-digit power-play points will be tough.

A roto setup still affords McDonagh a roster spot on teams in 12-team leagues. He can still provide 30 points, shots, a few penalty minutes, and good real-time stats. Those expecting him to repeat last year production-wise, though, are in for a rude awakening. He’s not the go-to guy on the blue line anymore, and players that aren’t go-to guys on the blue line can struggle to crack that magical 40-point plateau. It could happen but I’m not willing to use a draft pick this high on it.

 

Anze Kopitar

One reach that I’ve seen consistently in both real and mock drafts is the top Los Angeles centre. I suppose it would depend on whether you think there’s a huge rebound season in order, but reaching for him anywhere near the top-50 players in roto leagues is foolish.

Has anyone looked at the Kings’ lines of late? At best, Kopitar will be skating with Michael Cammalleri and Marian Gaborik, two extremely injury-prone players in their mid-thirties. He could also be lining with Dustin Brown – a guy who has failed to crack 20 goals or 40 points in five straight seasons – or Jonny Brodzinski, a 24-year old with six career NHL games who sounds like he was on WCW Thunder in 2000.

I hate to sound disrespectful as I’m a huge fan of both Cammalleri and Gaborik, I think Brown can be effective in a reduced role, and Brodzinski could surprise. However, none of these are options that scream to me, “yep, Kopitar’s getting back to 25 goals and 70 points.” He’s shooting less personally, and seems to be moving more towards a defensive role on the team, freeing up Jeff Carter’s line more offensively.

Kopitar is still an all-world talent at both ends of the ice, but he’s not good enough offensively to drag two bottom-six players to seasons that will allow him to produce like he has in the past. Drafting him with the expectation that he can do what he did in 2015-16, and at a draft price commensurate as such, is a wasted draft pick.

 

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A couple training camp notes (remember that pre-season games finish Sunday, though most teams will play their final game today).

 

Buffalo’s final pre-season game was Friday night, and it saw Zemgus Girgensons on the top line with Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo. The second line had Evander Kane next to Jack Eichel and Jason Pominville, and Sam Reinhart centering the third line.

I’ve written this before, but to reiterate the point: if Reinhart is left on the third line this year – which is smart for the team to do – it’s horrific for his fantasy upside. He likely stays on the top power-play unit, but skating on the third line and away from the team’s top offensive options at five-on-five makes it unlikely he improves much on last season’s production. Be wary in drafts this year.

 

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Alex Galchenyuk’s fantasy value is plummeting faster than Felix Baumgartner:

He might still see top PP time, but this is a situation similar to Reinhart. As long as Galchenyuk continues to play down the lineup, his upside is devastated. He’s easily passable at his ADP right now, which is generally around the 12th or 13th round. 

 

3 responses to “Ramblings: Reaching for Players in Drafts; Training Camp Notes – September 30”

  1. Allan Phillips says:

    That was my league where Cole was bought for $17. It’s more understandable if the cap was $250, but the draft cap was really $200, going to an in-season cap of $220. What really blows my mind is that there was more than one person had to bid to reach that price! Maybe they were bidding him up, but that was a risky deal.

  2. estarr31 says:

    I drafted Galchenyuk last pick of the 4th round (technically 10th round with first 6 rounds gone as keepers). And I’m heavily regretting it. That was 115th overall. Best forwards available at the time were: Palat, Stone, Kopitar, Keller, Niederreiter, Backes, Wennburg, Zuccarello, Hornquist, (G,A,PPP,PIM,S,Hit,Blk).

    I did not want him going into the draft, or at least, I had valued him late if he slipped. But my options were thin and I rushed my decision. It is a keeper league, so I should have thought about the value asset that pick can hold, and just drafted Nico Hischier or Clayton Keller who was there. At worst, I could have always moved Nico as a valuable asset late in the year for a title run, or at best, have a long-term keeper. Nico was drafted 6 picks later.

  3. Striker says:

    Well if that’s Julien’s plan, coupled with the brutal D Bergevin has created behind Weber, Alzner & Petry it’s going to be a long year in Montreal & not a good long year.