Ramblings: Stewart and Compher sign; Chicago’s goaltending; Ellis; Green; Teuvo – July 18

by Michael Clifford on July 18, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Stewart and Compher sign; Chicago’s goaltending; Ellis; Green; Teuvo – July 18

 

A minor signing to announce as Chris Stewart signed in Philly on Wednesday morning. This is a pro tryout, something we should expect to see a lot of in this year’s training camps.

Stewart last played in the NHL in 2017-18, amassing 16 points in 54 games. He had 31 goals and 26 assists over his final three NHL seasons.

If Stewart can find a role on the team, he can probably give double-digit goals while playing to a penalty-minute-per game (and hit-per-game) pace. In deep leagues or cap leagues, this might be a decent depth option.

Of course, Stewart has to make the team first. He’ll be 32 years old in October and his last decent season – in real hockey terms – was four years ago. There is room in Philly’s bottom-6 but there are some rookies who might earn a spot, too. There is a lot of daylight between a PTO and an opening night roster spot.

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The Avs knocked another RFA off the board by signing center J.T. Compher to a four-year deal with a $3.5M average annual value. Compher had 32 points in 66 games last year.

Colorado got deeper this summer and Compher has likely been pushed down to the third line as a result. Third line usage with secondary power play minutes doesn’t bode well for a breakout season. Now that Nazem Kadri’s in the mix, it could be a couple years before we see Compher have any serious fantasy relevance, if ever.

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Not that it really required any confirmation, but fantasy owners should be ready for a timeshare in the Chicago net:

 

 

Poor Delia.

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Anyone who needs a good little 6-minute watch right now, here is Marc-Andre Fleury making a wish for young fan. Enjoy:

 

 

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My last couple of Ramblings have focused on 2019-20 projections. It’s still kind of early for these things and as mentioned in those Ramblings, there is still more refinement to come. Rookies need to be added and there are different stats that will be added to projections as well, so these are far from final.

Nevertheless, it’s fun to go through some projections to see where certain players may rank among their peers. Here are some players whose projections kind of surprised me. Keep in mind that these are likely conservative projections because they still include 2016-17 stats, which was a lower-scoring environment than the last two years.

 

Teuvo Teravainen

My projections have Teravainen finishing 15th in the league in assists. He has some pretty good company, too:

 

 

Last year, Teuvo finished tied for 18th with Leon Draisaitl and Phil Kessel in assists across the league with 55. Over the last two seasons, he’s 23rd in the league with 96 assists, one more than Anze Kopitar (in 650 fewer minutes) and four fewer than Draisaitl (in 500 fewer minutes). It’s not on the back of a bevy of second assists, either, as he’s outside the 90th percentile in 5v5 second assists/60 minutes over the last two seasons.

There are a few things at work in these projections. First, the assumption is further growth in TOI as his ice time has climbed every year in Carolina and these numbers have him pushing past 18:30 per game. The added ice time, across even strength and power play, is worth about four extra points. And second, the assumption is big minutes alongside Sebastian Aho, which would be the prime spot for production in the Carolina lineup.

Of course, if Teravainen ends up skating with Jordan Staal, as he did down the stretch last year, that will greatly alter is outlook. Right now, I have a 75/25 split for Teravainen between Aho and Staal. If we were to reverse that to Staal and Aho, my numbers have it as a six-point drop, and that’s a conservative estimate.

We see how assumptions can affect projections. My assumption is 18:33 in TOI per game with 75 percent of his five-on-five ice time with Aho. If his ice time stays similar to last year but 75 percent of his five-on-five time is with Staal, my projection for Teuvo drops from 70.6 points to 59.8.

Regardless, just beware of the type of league you’re drafting when considering Teravainen. He doesn’t put up much for peripherals and his on-ice save percentage last year was .944, something that will decline and put a dent into his sterling plus-30 rating from a year ago. I have him hitting 70 points again but it’s an empty 70 points.

 

Aleksander Barkov

My model weights the most recent season most heavily and as such, Barkov’s 96-point season weighs heavily here. I have him finishing fifth in the league in points behind Kucherov, McDavid, Kane, and Draisaitl. Last year, he finished 10th, finishing between Steven Stamkos and Mitch Marner.

It’s a projection that makes me uneasy and here’s why.

On the plus side, Barkov turns 24 in September which means he’s right in the thick of his peak for scoring. He will obviously get a lot of minutes, is guaranteed top PP slotting, and has very talented wingers to play with. All good things. Feel the flow.

On the negative side, there are two concerns.

First, the Panthers went out and added Brett Connolly and Noel Acciari to give themselves more bottom-6 depth. That indicates to me that the team both recognizes they needed to fill some gaps, and that they don’t want to have to play Barkov nearly 22:30 per game again.

Second, Barkov’s individual shot rate plummeted last year. His shots per game fell to nearly 2.5 per game, and that’s with over 22 minutes per game. That’s lower than his 2015-16 season when he was getting more than three fewer minutes per game in TOI and almost all of that is from even strength and power play time. That he’s playing facilitator to his talented wingers it to be expected but such a decline in shots is worrisome. Had he shot his career rate (13 percent) rather than a career-high (17.1 percent), he would have scored eight fewer goals. That’s a lot.

I have Barkov with 33.2 goals this year and he’s averaged 30.6 goals per 82 games over the last three seasons. There’s just this nagging voice in my head that if there is an overcorrection for his career-high shooting percentage, and his shooting rate doesn’t bounce back, we could see him in the 20-25 goal range rather than 30-35.

 

Ryan Ellis

The Nashville blueline is going to be a fascinating situation to discuss this summer. Trading P.K. Subban makes room in the top-4 for Dante Fabbro. It also frees up some more power play time that had been used at times over the last three years among four defencemen.

Last year, Filip Forsberg had Roman Josi as a defenceman on the power play for about two-thirds of his PP minutes. In those 115 minutes with the man advantage, the Predators produced 3.64 goals per 60 minutes. Nashville as a whole had the worst power play last year in terms of goals per minutes at 4.55 and they were nearly a full goal worse per 60 minutes with Josi on the top PP unit.

So, if the top unit performed poorly with Josi, and Subban is gone, and they presumably don’t give the top PP role to Fabbro, that leaves Ellis and Mattias Ekholm. Considering Ekholm was last on the depth chart for PP minutes last year, I don’t see them giving it to him. Process of elimination, then, leaves Ellis on the top PP unit.

This is another instance where assumptions have a big effect on projection. My assumption for Ellis is that he effectively gets the PP usage Josi got last year, which adds nearly a minute per game of PPTOI for the Canadian.

The additional PP time I have for Ellis helps stabilize is projection for me at 45.2 points. (Again, these are conservative by design). I think there is a decent chance he gets to 50 points this year if everything breaks right. Then again, if Josi eats all those prime PP minutes, we will probably see Ellis under 40 points. It all depends on how the deployment breaks this year.  

 

Mike Green

Last I had read about Green, he had effectively recovered from his illness that plagued him and his liver last year and ended his season early. He was just given the recommendation to rest. My assumption, then, is that he’ll be healthy for the start of the 2019-20 season. If something changes, I’ll update my projections accordingly.

Detroit’s defence situation is kind of odd. Niklas Kronwall, Detroit’s total PPTOI leader last year, is still a UFA and might not have a job again. Dennis Cholowski, who finished second in PPTOI last year, might spend another year in the AHL as the team waits for Jonathan Ericsson’s contract to run out. Assuming Cholowski doesn’t make the big club out of the gate, it effectively leaves Green and Filip Hronek to mop up all the PP minutes.

Over the last three seasons, Green has played over a 40-point/82-game pace, including his shortened 2018-19 season. Injuries are always a concern – he hasn’t played more than 74 games since 2009-10 – but when in the lineup, Green should be productive with those top PP minutes.

 

Note: the Red Wings still split their PP units to some degree so the PPTOI difference I have for Hronek and Green isn’t huge, but it’s the fact that it’ll likely be the two of them getting all the minutes that boosts projections, rather than having to split the two units with another defenceman or two.

 

I have Green, in an 82-game season, at 43.1 points, a shade over two shots per game, and over 90 hits/125 blocks. If we pro-rate that to 70 games, we’re looking at ~37 points, a little over 140 shots, and roughly 80 hits and 105 blocks. My guess is he’ll be completely overlooked in draft this year and could be had as a fourth or fifth defenceman in 12-team leagues. At that point, I think it’s probably worth the risk.