Ramblings: Updates on Monahan, Palmieri, and Pageau; Zucker; Toffoli; Radulov – March 22

by Michael Clifford on March 22, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Updates on Monahan, Palmieri, and Pageau; Zucker; Toffoli; Radulov – March 22

 

Kyle Palmieri did not play on Thursday night following an injury suffered in Tuesday’s game. It has been an excellent fantasy season for the 27-year old with 27 goals, 50 points, over 200 shots, 40 penalty minutes, and a good chance at reaching both 20 power-play points and 100 hits should he be able to return to the ice in short order. That’s with missing Taylor Hall for over half the season, and the team running half an AHL lineup for the last few weeks.

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Sean Monahan, after missing a pair of games with an injury, was back in the lineup on Thursday night. Breathe easy, Flames fans. Or as easy as you can, I suppose.

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Buffalo had a pretty big shakeup to their lines in practice on Thursday:

 

 

We see big shakeups like this all the team when a team is top-heavy so I wonder how long this will last. To me, it always made sense to have Eichel play with Sheary and have Skinner on a separate line (Skinner proved long ago he can be very productive with, let’s say, less-than-skilled line mates). Maybe this is some sort of showcase for next year, particularly for Nylander.

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Jean-Gabriel Pageau was suspended for one game for his boarding play on Wednesday night, and that suspension was served Thursday night in Calgary.

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The 2019 Dobber Hockey Playoff Draft List is available now for pre-order in the Dobber Shop! It will be released on April 5th which gives fantasy owners plenty of time to get ready for their playoff pools.

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Jordan Staal took a hit to the head which resulted in five and a game for Yanni Gourde on Thursday night. It was an awkward play as Staal was falling as Gourde was going to hit him but all the same, it was a clear shot to the head and Gourde was in full control. Given Staal’s concussion history – he’s already missed significant time this year alone – it’s obviously a worry. He got checked out at the first intermission and returned for the start of the second and finished the game (even scoring a goal). Let’s hope nothing comes of this on Staal’s end.

Steven Stamkos had his second three-point game in as many nights in the 6-3 win, marking a goal and an assist in the contest. Nikita Kucherov only had one assist on the six goals, but it does give him 120 points on the season. Just an incredible performance.

Ryan McDonagh had a monster fantasy night with one goal, one assist, a plus-1 rating, four shots, three blocks, and a hit. He now has 40 points on the year to go along with over 120 shots, over 140 blocks, 90 hits, and a huge plus/minus rating. There hasn’t been much PP production given his usage, but it’s been a very good multi-category year.

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Florida’s top line did the damage in a 4-2 win over Arizona, as Aleksander Barkov had two goals, Jonathan Huberdeau had three assists, and Evgenii Dadonov had a pair of helpers. Those points push Huberdeau over 80 points, joining Barkov, with Dadonov pushing past 60. Just a wonderful season for that entire top trio.

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Carey Price saved all 28 shots he faced in a 4-0 blanking of the New York Islanders. That is Price’s fourth shutout of the year, a four-year high for him. He now sits with a .917 save percentage on the season and a .930 save percentage since Christmas.

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Ivan Barbashev managed a hat trick in St. Louis’s 5-2 win over Detroit, the first of his career. In fact, it was just the second multi-goal game of his career, let alone hat trick. I’m sure he’s not rostered in most fantasy leagues but fantasy owners have been waiting for him to hit his offensive stride for years. He’s 23 years old now and has 12 goals in 72 games while playing less than 11:30 per game. His shooting percentage is over 20 percent this year, but it’s also over 20 percent for his 155 career games. Maybe he’ll work himself up the lineup for next year? I’m skeptical, but we’ve seen stranger things happen.

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The Vegas top line of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith is starting to heat up. Respectively, they had two goals and one assist, one assist, and two goals in the team’s 5-0 blanking of Winnipeg. Over the team’s last team games, it makes 12 points for Karlsson, 12 points for Marchessault, and 14 points for Smith. If that line starts scoring like they were last year, this is a terrifying playoff team.

Malcolm Subban only faced 20 shots but he saved them all for his first career shutout.

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Logan Couture was a late scratch for the Sharks and the Kings took a 4-2 win against San Jose on Thursday night. Dustin Brown had a big fantasy night with one goal, one assist, a plus-2 rating and seven shots on goal. That pushed Brown to the 20-goal mark for the second straight season. His production has predictably dropped from last year but he’s still been solid in multi-cat leagues aside from his plus/minus.

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There is a quartet of wingers I want to discuss today, most of whom are enduring what may be considered down years, with one guy sneaking in because of a lower-than-expected total due to injury. One of these guys is a pending UFA, one of these guys is trade bait, and two of them are on teams that have had Cup aspirations for years but are now seeing their respective team’s window slowly close.

The first name is Alexander Radulov.

That Radulov is a disappointment this year is mainly because of injury. He’s nearly at a point-per-game pace with 60 in 61 contests but he’ll fall around the 70-game mark. With the top-end talent that Dallas possesses and a new coach in town, I’m sure a lot of people were hoping for an 80-point season from the 32-year old Russian. That hasn’t quite come to pass.

Radulov hasn’t really had anything spectacular about his season to lead to his near-point-per-game mark: his secondary assist rate is around the 70th-percentile at five-on-five, which is not extreme in the least; his Individual Points Percentage (IPP), or the rate at which he garners a point when a goal is scored with him on the ice at five-on-five, is actually a career-low at 64.8 percent; the team’s shooting percentage with him on the ice is under 10 percent, which is perfectly normal; he’s shooting 11.7 percent personally at five-on-five, which is high, but again not extreme. In other words, at least at five-on-five, Radulov is having a perfectly normal season.

There aren’t any problems on the power play, either. He’s earning about 15 seconds less per game but his production per minute has gone up. The difference was 0.28 PPPs per game last year and 0.26 this year, which works out to 1-2 fewer PPPs compared to a season ago. The difference is negligible.

Including peripherals like shots and blocked shots, it’s been a good year for Radulov. But can we expect this to continue? He’ll be 33 for next season and the forward core of that team is all getting older as well. If this team doesn’t improve offensively, can we expect him to produce around the same numbers in 2019-20? It’s a question I’m sure many fantasy hockey owners will wrestle with over the summer and there’s no good answer right now. 

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Coming off a year with 33 goals and 64 points, there were high hopes for Jason Zucker heading into 2018-18. With 21 goals and 39 points to this point this season, he hasn’t quite lived up to those expectations.

The biggest problem is that he’s shooting 7.2 percent at five-on-five, a career-low. Over the previous three seasons, he shot 10.4 percent on aggregate. With 166 shots on goal at 5v5 so far this year, that dip in shooting percentage means five fewer goals compared to what we’d expect if he was shooting his three-year average. If he were to shoot roughly his average from the last two years alone (12 percent), he’d have an extra eight goals and would be one shy of another 30-goal season. It’s easy to see why there’s been such a dip in goal production.

According to Evolving Hockey, Zucker’s individual expected goals rate at five-on-five is the exact same as it was last year. That would indicate to me that there’s at least a fair amount of bad luck involved here and not something that’s changed drastically in his play. Given that he’s shooting more with more ice time, we’d expect somewhere close to his level of production from last year, which he hasn’t reached because of that shooting percentage dip.

Zucker is still just 27 years old and though the Wild are kind of re-tooling, they should still have a strong core for next season with rising young players. If I had to make a bet today, I would wager that Zucker will be an easy buy when fantasy drafts roll around in six months.

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I know 14 goals and 31 points is a letdown fantasy-wise, but let’s be clear about the Islanders here: they’re one of the worst scoring environments in the NHL. They’re 21st in goals/60 minutes at all strengths in the NHL, worse than the Oilers and just ahead of the Devils. Mathew Barzal leads the team with 58 points, and they have precisely two 20-goal scorers in Anders Lee (27) and Brock Nelson (22). Barry Trotz realized this team needed to tighten defensively and goals have been sacrificed at the altar of defensive hockey, much to the team’s success.

There is a lot more to the story than just his scoring environment, though.

Eberle’s IPP is currently 54.3 percent, which is by far the lowest of his career. Among 255 forwards with 700 minutes at five-on-five this year, Eberle is 234th in IPP. He had never been below 70 percent in any season until this year and that has cost him in point production dearly. If his IPP were an even 70 percent, which would still be the lowest mark of his career, he’d have an extra six points in addition to the 31 he has now. Here’s a hint: his IPP won’t be 54.3 percent next year.

We’ve also seen a drop in shooting percentage at five-on-five, which is also currently a career-low at 8.3 percent (his lowest was 9 percent two years ago). Unlike Zucker, Eberle has seen his expected goals drop quite a bit (0.65) compared to 2017-18 (0.84). It should be mentioned at this point that Eberle has only played about one-quarter of his five-on-five time with Barzal this year. After Barzal’s line, there isn’t much fantasy-wise on this team, even if Nelson is having a decent year.

Eberle is a free agent after the year and this season has definitely hurt his value. Where he lands will play a big factor in his bounce back ability, but I’ll be a buyer, though in points-only leagues. He just doesn’t provide enough in multi-cat leagues.

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On the topic of guys with low shooting percentages, Tyler Toffoli is shooting 5.9 percent this year. He’s the only forward in the NHL with 200 shots on goal shooting under nine percent, let alone under six percent. Had he been shooting his three-year average (11.3 percent) all year, he’d have 23 goals by now.

Toffoli’s expected goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five is 0.94. Last year, when he scored 14 goals at 5v5, his expected goals was 0.99. Back in 2015-16, when he scored 20 goals at 5v5, it was 0.92. In other words, he’s been expected to score about as much as we’re accustomed to from Toffoli, and yet he hasn’t. It’s an abysmally-low scoring environment but Toffoli has still been pretty good.

I won’t dig in too much further here. I’ll have to take a wait-and-see approach. Toffoli’s name has popped up in trade discussions, which makes sense when you see the Kings in need of a rebuild. Maybe he lands somewhere like Montreal, Carolina, or Calgary, and then we’ll have a lot of interest. If he’s back with the Kings next year, well, I’m not so sure he’ll be worth buying. I just can’t see that team improving much, if at all, in 2019-20.