Replacing One Z With Another, Lundqvist, Boeser (Aug 20)
I haven’t had a good poll question in a while, so I saw the perfect opportunity to put one in as some fantasy leagues begin to form and others are not far off.
Which platform do you use for your main fantasy hockey league?
— Ian Gooding (@Ian_Gooding) August 16, 2017
I’m not surprised that Yahoo is the clear winner, as I’ve played in far more fantasy sports leagues on that site than any other. What surprised me a bit was the popularity of Fantrax, although I know the site has been picking up steam.
I’ve played in a couple of playoff pools over at Fantrax, and it seems fairly user-friendly. It appears as though they have plenty of options (as in a long list of them) where they have accounted for the pet peeves that people have with their fantasy sports platforms. So I think I’ll investigate further and find out whether it’s worth my while to switch over from CBS to Fantrax. There’s a lot more to think about here that just cost and this little positional issue I recently discussed, which a few other owners are now discussing with me.
When news of the Travis Zajac injury broke, a friend of mine who is a Devils’ fan texted me this: “Zacha stock just went up.” I didn’t know what happened yet, so I scurried over to Twitter and learned about the injury. His thought was that Pavel Zacha could be vaulted to the first-line center role between Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri. I know Mike suggested in his Fantasy Take that Adam Henrique would be the first-line center instead of Zacha. But both were in agreement of this: Nico Hischier wouldn’t be thrust into the top-line role just yet.
Whether or not Zacha is moved up to the top line, he stands to benefit from the Zajac injury and has the opportunity to cement himself into a top-6 role even when Zajac returns. Zajac led all Devils’ forwards in icetime with a 19:43 TOI/GP. Henrique wasn’t far behind with 18:10, so his icetime would likely receive a small boost. But Zacha at 14:18 TOI/GP should receive a huge boost there, which should be worth a few more points.
The Devils’ lack of defensive depth means that is very likely that four forwards are used on the first-unit power play. Zajac’s minutes (2:34 PP TOI/GP) indicate that he was a first-unit power-play guy. Everything else remaining equal, Zacha could move up to the first unit, but he’ll need to compete for that spot with new acquisitions Hischier and Marcus Johansson. So his power-play numbers only stand to improve if he receives a promotion here.
One area where someone like Zacha could pick up the slack is in the faceoff circle, as Zajac led the Devils with 1617 faceoffs taken last season. Zacha, by comparison, took just 457, so it’s quite likely that could play more shifts at center than he did last season. (In my previous Ramblings I discussed players at the center position who didn’t take many draws.)
Want to find out exactly how much the Zajac injury will increase Zacha’s production according to the Fantasy Hockey Guide? You’ll just have to purchase one yourself. When breaking news like the Zajac injury happens, Dobber will update the point projections (in blue, so you know where the updates are). My take is that Zacha’s value receives a big boost, although it remains to see how the Devils use him in his sophomore season.
When it’s a slow news day, we have to offer some form of entertainment. So here’s Don Cherry singing “Take me oot to the Ball Game” at the Blue Jays/Cubs game at Wrigley.
Nice suit 👍🍒 pic.twitter.com/XUoZHr0Dn8
— Sporting News NHL (@sn_nhl) August 19, 2017
Henrik Lundqvist should be in for another season of 55+ starts and 30 wins. Those aren’t numbers to complain about if King Henrik will be one of your goalies this season. The starts should be there, since Ondrej Pavelec should pose less of a threat to Lundqvist’s playing time than Antti Raanta did.
But at age 35, Lundqvist is already experiencing the inevitable decline. In 2016-17, his goals-against average increased for the second consecutive season while his save percentage also fell for the second consecutive season. Both his 2.74 goals-against average and .910 save percentage were the worst of his career. For what it’s worth, his numbers during the playoffs (2.25 GAA, .927 SV%) were much better, which should give his owners hope that his numbers could actually improve in 2017-18.
But for my money, Lundqvist is a goalie I’m willing to let someone else reach on in single-season drafts because of his brand name recognition. At this stage I’d treat him more as a G2 (second goalie) in a 12-team league than the G1 we have gotten used to throughout his career. Especially if your league counts GAA and/or SV% or penalizes for goals allowed.
A few people have asked me privately what my thoughts are about Brock Boeser for the upcoming season. As a Canucks’ fan I’m overjoyed that Boeser could be in the lineup for a full season. I say “could” because he could either basically lead the Canucks in goal scoring, or he could spend significant time in the AHL.
If you’re surprised that I would even mention the latter, consider the following: The Canucks rushed Jake Virtanen, and as a result he needed to be sent to the AHL for most of the past season so that he could play. There’s a chance that he could spend another season down there as well. They clearly don’t want to make that same mistake with Boeser. So if he’s not ready, or if another youngster has a noticeably stronger training camp (like Virtanen or Nikolay Goldobin) then there might not be a spot for Boeser.
Also keep in mind that on the right side, the Canucks also brought back Anton Rodin, while Derek Dorsett will be returning from injury. There’s also Jayson Megna, who Canucks’ fans know all too well that the previous coaching staff was enamored with for some inexplicable reason. Plus many others that can play on the right side. The long and the short of it is that the Canucks have 15 forwards signed to the roster, according to Cap Friendly. That’s more than any other team in the Western Conference, and that does not include Virtanen or Goldobin. So Boeser would be an easy player to send to the AHL.
For the record, I believe that Boeser will play for the Canucks all season. But you have to treat him as you would many rookies at this point: We don’t know with 100 percent certainty that he will make the team. But if he does, you can probably bet that he will be placed alongside Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi on what should be the Canucks’ top line. Notice that I didn’t say the Sedins, as I believe that the Horvat line should take over as the top line (once Horvat is signed, of course).
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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