Wednesday’s Action, The Future Price on Carey Price
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the overtime winner and added an assist in the Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Rangers. Those still competing for a fantasy title can’t be complaining about Kuznetsov, who has racked up six consecutive multipoint games. He has amassed 13 points (5g-8a) with a plus-6 rating over that six-game stretch (technically not a six-game streak, since it was interrupted by a three-game absence due to injury). He has also now vaulted over the point-per-game mark with 77 points (25g-52a) in 74 games, which has already matched his previous career high.
One key offseason move that has boosted Kuznetsov’s value in at least one category was the trading of Marcus Johansson, which resulted in Kuznetsov finally being moved to the first-unit power play. Kuznetsov has averaged over three minutes of power-play time per game, over one full minute over his previous career high. As a result, he has reached a career-high 28 power-play points. Combine that with even-strength icetime with Alex Ovechkin and we’re finally seeing Kuznetsov at his full potential.
Ryan Spooner has cooled off since the first several games following his acquisition by the Rangers. However, his goal on Wednesday gives him 15 points (3g-12a) in 15 games as a Ranger.
If you need a defenseman that’s receiving power-play time, you may want to look up Neal Pionk, who is only owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues. With Ryan McDonagh traded and Kevin Shattenkirk on IR, Pionk is logging first-unit power-play time and even racked up 26 minutes on Wednesday. Although he hasn’t found the scoresheet in his last two games, Pionk has a very respectable 14 points (1g-13a) in just 23 games.
With a goal and an assist on Wednesday, Mitch Marner is now riding a ten-game point streak in which he has posted 14 points (4g-10a). Labeled as a potential candidate for a sophomore slump, Marner has now surpassed his rookie season of 61 points. Since February 1 Marner has been scoring at over a point-per-game pace with 32 points in just 25 games.
In a losing cause, Jonathan Huberdeau scored two goals on eight shots on goal. With career highs in both goals (25), assists (42), power-play points (18), and shots (188), we are finally seeing the kind of player that we expected Huberdeau to be when he was drafted third overall in 2011.
Claude Giroux scored a goal on Wednesday. He has been held without a point in just three games since February 8. That has helped him reach the top 5 in NHL scoring in what has been an incredible bounceback season. In fact, we may be talking about Giroux’s comeback season more if not for that of Nathan MacKinnon.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 29, 2018
With his assist, Shayne Gostisbehere has now reached 60 points on the season. In the same game, Ivan Provorov scored his 15th goal, which was his second goal in as many games. I can remember a leaguemate suggesting before the season that I shouldn’t have drafted Gostisbehere as high as I did because of the presence of Provorov. I’m glad I didn’t take his advice.
This week’s installment of life coming at you fast (read from the bottom up):
Neuvirth lasted just 28 minutes before he came out of the game and was replaced by Petr Mrazek. As a Neuvirth owner in a deep keeper league (his last injury prevented me from trading him!) at least I know that I probably won’t have to activate him from IR. So more Mrazek for the time being, although Brian Elliott could return for the final week of the regular season.
Kevin Connauton scored twice on Wednesday, giving him nine goals on the season. He may not be a consistent enough option to rely upon in fantasy leagues, but he has the same number of goals as Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty and more goals than John Klingberg and Kris Letang. Not that I’m suggesting that you add him to your fantasy team, but you can impress your friends with that tidbit of information.
Clayton Keller added another assist, extending his point streak to ten games. He had recorded two points in each of his previous four games. I can’t really add much to what Mike said in yesterday’s Ramblings, aside from the fact that Keller is on track to becoming an elite scorer at some point. I’d like to see better linemates around him for that to happen, but take a look at the Coyotes’ scoring stats and you’ll see that he’s starting to carry that team offensively.
It’s been a season to forget for Price, whose fantasy value has crashed both because of injuries and his team’s sudden decline from respectability. For a player whose ADP was 5.9 in Yahoo leagues, Price’s season has been a massive letdown for those who spent a first-round pick on him. So what are his chances of bouncing back next season? And where should he be ranked next season?
It’s possible that the injuries have played a factor in Price’s subpar play, so it’s anyone’s guess as to whether he will rebound or whether this is the beginning of an age-related decline (Price will be 31 in August). It might be easier to predict Montreal’s place in the standings next season, with their struggles appearing to be real. Elite goaltenders need high win totals that result from playing for a strong team. Price likely won’t have that with the Habs, even if he stays healthy and starts most of the time as usual. That pushes him out of the top tier immediately. But how far does he fall?
Price’s track record should count for something, which is why I’ll use the comparable of Henrik Lundqvist here. King Henrik’s struggles in 2016-17 weren’t to the same extent (2.74 GAA, .910 SV%) that Price’s struggles have been in 2017-18. Lundqvist hasn’t really improved in 2017-18 (2.94 GAA, .915 SV%), but Lundqvist is also quite a bit older at age 36. The Rangers were also sellers at the draft and are beginning a rebuild. Lundqvist has had a fine career, but this seems to be the new normal for him.
Lundqvist was still able to secure an ADP of 58.9 entering this season, which was 14th among goalies. So a preliminary ranking projection would be for Price’s ADP to be approximately in that spot – just outside of the top 50. This projection isn’t exact by any means, and the Habs’ roster could change for better or for worse this offseason (if you think about it, a draft lottery win could change the mood in Montreal).
Do you think that projection should be higher, lower, or is that about right? Are you still perturbed about how your season went with Price as your goalie? Share your thoughts in the comments below. As Frasier Crane used to say, I’m listening.
For comparison in a keeper format, Price is ranked at #16 in Dobber’s Top 100 Keeper League Goaltenders. Number 17 is guess who – Lundqvist.
Finally, an interesting read about another veteran goalie in Roberto Luongo from the Toronto Star. In his last Ramblings, Dobber described the effect that having a child might have on a player. The recent Florida school shooting has had a significant emotional effect on Luongo, who lives in the area. The article mentions that he has a child who has had a particularly difficult time coming to grips with what happened.
The shooting hasn’t had a negative effect on Lu’s stats, as he returned from injury shortly after the February 14 event and posted a 2.58 GAA and .924 SV% while winning nine times in 15 games. The story dives deeper into Luongo’s earlier life with the Canucks and how he has become a mentally stronger individual since then, likely a mindset needed for him to extend his career as a productive NHL goalie to the age of 38.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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