Ramblings: The Lowdown on Kase, Hinostroza, Andersson, Dubois, Heiskanen, Athanasiou and four other players of fantasy interest (Aug 12)
The Fantasy Guide is out! Already a couple of updates have been put in place, last update was August 7. Typos (not many, but some) fixed, Kevin Shattenkirk now on Tampa, and oh I added player ages to the draft list.
In the Fantasy Guide I have a “Lowdown” in each team section, giving my thoughts on a player and going a little deeper. For these players, I turned to the members of the Forum for help. They voted on the player for each team. Well. If there’s a winner, then there is also a runner-up, right? And that means that a lot of people voted for said runner-up. Which tells me that many of you want my thoughts on those players too. So why not present them here? It’s the dog days of the offseason, topics are hard to come by – it only makes sense!
Okay, consider it done. Here are “Lowdowns” for some of the players who finished second in the voting…
The Lowdown on Ondrej Kase: The 23-year-old has surprised me in that he has shown a lot more offensive talent that I thought he had in him. Then again, as a seventh-round draft pick he’s made a habit of surprising people. With 31 goals in his last 96 games, it’s natural to want to take a look at his S% to determine if he’s overstating himself. But at 12%, that seems to be in line (or close enough to it) with what he’s been doing at other levels. And at 149 games played, he hits that sweet breakout threshold (BT) in about 51 games – which is down the stretch of this coming season (and right in that sweet spot for fantasy playoffs). It will be 2020-21 when he really has that breakout. However, Kase is a fragile player. Just two-plus NHL seasons and he’s already had two concussions, a shoulder injury, and an upper-body injury. Until he proves otherwise, you have to treat him like a 65-game player. But he has 35-goal talent and he’s seeing increasing power-play time, which is pretty valuable for leagues that have an IR.
The Lowdown on Vinnie Hinostroza: This could end up being an unfortunate case of being too good in other areas, which may act as a drag on his eventual offensive production. Unless Vinnie can bring his offense up to the level of a Sean Couturier or a Patrice Bergeron – guys who put up big numbers despite being rolled out in defensive situations – we may not see him ever hit his potential. But it’s still early and I’m not yet ready to completely paint him with that brush. Quite the contrary. I haven’t ruled out that he can’t be like those two guys. Obviously lesser versions of those elite studs, but I’m talking about the ‘idea’ that Hinostroza can put up offense despite only defensive situations (just 39.61% Off. Zone Starts). He tallied 27 points in the second half last year, which is a 54-point pace on a team that didn’t have any 54-point players. His 5on5 S% (6.92%) indicates that he had some bad puck luck. As with Kase, Hinostroza will hit the BT of 200 games this season. He is at 177, meaning he hits the mark in November. How the dust settles in terms of Phil Kessel’s role and the resulting power-play time will determine how quickly Hinostroza comes into his own.
The Lowdown on Charlie Coyle: Usually a very steady producer in that 42- to 56-point range, Coyle fell off last season and ended up with 34 points. But he had 22 in the first half, which was right in that range, prior to being traded to the Bruins where his numbers fell off a cliff. However, his 16 points in 24 playoff games not only showed us that he can still get it done even on his new team – but it showed this to Coach Bruce Cassidy as well. This was with similar ice time and PP usage as in the regular season, he just found his comfort zone. He will rebound this year. The biggest drawback for him is the loss of his playoffs linemate Marcus Johansson. The two of them really clicked. But Coyle does still have Danton Heinen on his line, and Heinen is in that breakout threshold range (162 career games). As a bigger player, Coyle is expected to take longer to reach his BT. But he already passed the 400-game mark. However, he did that during an injury-marred season and followed that up with a trade the following year to a new team. So don’t completely write him off just yet. His ceiling is limited, so don’t expect miracles, but a breakout to 60 points is feasible (if it doesn’t happen this year, it will never happen though). The smart play is to treat him like a player who will post in the low-40s, with long-shot upside. In the Guide I had projected him for 38 points, but this deeper analysis had me tweak it to 43 (in 76 games) for the next update later this week.
The Lowdown on Brandon Montour: Upon arriving in Buffalo, Montour was very strong possession-wise. He was originally partnered up with Rasmus Dahlin, but it wasn’t working – Montour took risks that Dahlin had to cover for, which cost Dahlin his offense. As a right-handed shot, Montour’s presence is a contributing factor to the Sabres’ likely future trade of Rasmus Ristolainen. The Sabres have 11 defensemen and something is going to give. Montour is steadily improving his offense year-over-year, and I wouldn’t expect more than another small step forward unless the Sabres trade Ristolainen. This would mean the difference between Montour getting 37 points… and 45 points (thanks to the added PP time). I am banking on the latter. As for long-term, he’s a top offensive defenseman with 60-point upside and I still don’t see any reason why he won’t get there in two to three years. Especially with the talented forwards that Buffalo has on the roster and in the pipeline.
The Lowdown on Rasmus Andersson: I know Andersson wasn’t overly impressive in the fantasy hockey world as a rookie last season, but I’m quite bullish on this guy. Patience is required, don’t expect miracles this year or next, but at the same time I think he’ll be suprisingly helpful in fantasy leagues even as we wait for that breakout. The 22-year-old had a strong second half (15 points in 39 games) despite having sub-optimal partners. He saw a marked increase in ice time and PP time – all of it he earned. He’s being used in a defensive capacity and that should change over time. What is his main advantage is the fact that he’s a right-shot. Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Noah Hanifin, Oliver Kylington and Juuso Valimaki are each left-handed shots. In keeper leagues I would draft and hold.
The Lowdown on Warren Foegele: I’ve been a fan of Foegele for over a year now because he keeps exceeding expectations. He was expected to be another year before making the jump, but he made the club out of camp and promptly posted five points in his first seven games. The problem is – he only had 10 in 70 games after that. But then in the playoffs he stepped it up (nine points in 15 games). That’s what he does. When it matters most, he gets the points. In the long run, that should ensure that he succeeds as a second/third-line tweener type. He’ll have some years where he hits in the low 50s, but for the most part I think he’ll settle in as a 45-point guy. I do have his upside in the mid-60s, but that is dependent on his possibly clicking with a young star player. I actually see him as a good fit with Erik Haula. In 2019-20 I have him for 28 points with sleeper potential to hit 40.
The Lowdown on Erik Gustafsson: The only question with Gustafsson, from the typical fantasy owner, has to be: “Is he for real?” After all, he went from being a nobody…to a defenseman who posted 52 points in the last 57 games of the season. All we can do is look at the numbers. He was somewhat sheltered in terms of offensive-zone minutes and facing weaker competition. But he did well in terms of driving possession, he led the Blackhawks in ice time down the stretch, and he finished with seven points in the last six games. So he didn’t slow, and Coach Jeremy Colliton really leaned on him. Will he see tougher ice time and will other teams key in on him a little better? Yes and yes. But the club seriously mitigated that by acquiring Olli Maatta and Calvin De Haan. Those two will handle all the key defensive-zone minutes, with Connor Murphy and Carl Dahlstrom handling secondary tough minutes. Colliton will now shelter Gustafsson even more. He can help Gustafsson avoid those match-ups and seriously free him up to create. He’s for real, and at 27 years of age (a lot of fantasy owners may not have know this) he is in his prime.
The Lowdown on Tyson Jost: A lot of fantasy owners are discouraged by Jost’s minimal progress offensively. Two seasons in and his high is just 26 points. He’s progressing steadily as an NHL player, handling tougher minutes. It’s difficult to tell at this point which of the top three lines he will max out at. My hunch is he will be a second liner, but the organization still treats him as though he will be a first-line player (so there’s hope yet). He’s only 21 years old and expectations were too high for him when he was a rookie. Now that the team has some depth, and more options for offensive usage, Jost can play in anonymity. The pressure is off. His PP ice time will get chopped, but I think he will be much more effective on the third line this year. And it will set him up for a stronger 2020-21, possibly (probably) forcing his way back into the top six. Don’t write him off until after you see how he does after that season.
The Lowdown on Pierre-Luc Dubois: Here is a player I had pegged to have a ceiling of 70 points, and I had figured it would take him six or seven years to get there. Well, Artemi Panarin expedited that timeline, and at least temporarily pushed that ceiling higher. He had 61 points last year as a 20-year-old. So this can go one of two ways. Either Dubois has learned to become a star scorer in the NHL and can carry that onto his next set of wingers, or he takes his step back and falls back into the timeline I originally gave him. It’s ludicrous to think that Dubois isn’t going to be hurt by the departure of Panarin. Gustav Nyquist is no Panarin. There will be a decline. Look no further than the relative IPP for Dubois (61%) versus Panarin (79.1%) and Cam Atkinson (70.4%). Of the three, his IPP was the lowest, meaning He factored in the least out of the trio when a goal was scored. But I think the decline will be minimal because the Blue Jackets have no other offensive option at center. And my original seven-year timeline has been reduced to five.
The Lowdown on Miro Heiskanen: Odd that Heiskanen got so many votes because he’s such an elite player and this fact is obvious to everybody. He wasn’t sheltered at all – as a rookie – and he still flourished. But the main concern here is that John Klingberg is the man in Dallas, gobbling up all the PP minutes and key offensive situations. Where does that leave Heiskanen? Well, the cream always rises to the top. Klingberg may shave a few PPPts off of Heiskanen’s total over the next couple of years, but the youngster will still do well. He is so good that he will earn his way onto the top PP unit by Christmas, knocking the declining Corey Perry and/or Joe Pavelski to the second unit. Klingberg will always be the offensive stud who could get 70 points from the blue line, but Heiskanen will be the two-way star who gets over 60.
The Lowdown on Andreas Athanasiou: Thirty games (or so) into last season, Athanasiou crossed the BT. True to form, he improved with every quarter when he went from 12 points to 13 to 14 and then, you guessed it – 15 in the final quarter (19 games). He won’t crack the first line because that line is in stone. But he’s a key guy on the top PP unit (eight PPPts in the second half). I have him matching last season’s point total (not improving), due to Detroit’s lack of second-line help for him. But because of the BT factor he is a good sleeper pick as he has a chance of topping 60 points. There is nothing in the underlying numbers that would indicate a decline, the 25-year-old is still on the way up.
Inside the Fantasy Guide on page 28 are instructions on how you can win a FREE Google Home. Unfortunately, international readers, I’m only shipping this within North America because I don’t want to pay a million bucks to get it to you overseas if you win (ha ha, I only exaggerate a little). On page 28 I noted the odds of winning as one in 1000, but that was based on the number of entries. So far there are about 20 entries, which means the odds of winning are one in…20?
See you next Monday
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