John Klingberg had surgery on his hand on Friday and will be out four weeks. That’s a huge blow to owners as the 26-year-old was clicking along at nearly a 70-point pace.
This opens up a massive opportunity for Miro Heiskanen who will eat up those top power play minutes. The 19-year-old is a freak. If you haven’t watched him play yet, you need to. He makes the right decision on almost every play. He’s confident, creative, and loves to use his wheels. If it wasn’t for Elias Pettersson, he’d be getting a lot more chatter about the Calder.
This four-week run should boost his point totals and his league-wide scope. If he’s on the wire, grab him now.
The Maple Leafs took the boots to the Devils on Friday evening. It included a four-goal second period that saw four different Toronto players find the back of the net.
Morgan Rielly continued his torrid pace with a goal and an assist. The 24-year-old is up to seven goals and 20 points in 16 games. That pushes him two points back of Thomas Chabot for the league lead amongst defenders. (more on Chabot later).
Freddie Andersen kept the door shut for most of the evening and continued his early-season success. His inability to show up in October and November has become routine in past seasons, but he appears to have shaken that habit in 2018-19. Andersen shares the league lead in wins with nine and is sporting a 0.933 save percentage – good for second best amongst starters.
Roll him out without hesitation.
Nazem Kadri has seen his production take a nice jump with Auston Matthews out. The former 30-goal man has four goals and six points in those six games. Five of those points have come at even-strength as he’s gotten comfortable with Kasperi Kapanen and Patty Marleau.
Expect him to return to grind time when Matthews returns. Ride the hot streak while you can.
The Jets have been out of the limelight for a little while. They had a long break to travel to Finland for the Global Series where they quickly played two games that ran during the day in the middle of the week. They’ve now been off another six days to travel home and reacclimatize. This hasn’t slowed Blake Wheeler down one iota
A five-point night on Friday highlighted Winnipeg’s 5-2 victory over Colorado. Wheeler has had a hand in 10 straight Jets' goals including his fourth assist of the evening which was extra saucy.
It was the first five-point game of Wheeler’s career. He also hit (and surpassed the 400 career assists) in the process. After setting career-highs last season, the 32-year-old appeared poised for a hefty regression.
Outside of tonight, he hasn’t even been playing his best hockey. That’s pretty scary.
It was a quiet night for the Avs big line. Mikko Rantanen has gone pointless in his last two games, and three of the last four. His perch atop the NHL scoring leaderboard may be slipping away.
Sergei Bobrovsky seems to be waking up. He made 33 of 34 stops on Friday night to beat the defending Cup champion Capitals 2-1.
Bob has allowed a single goal in four of his last five starts and his save percentage is inching closer to league average. He sits at .909 on the season but he has a 0.952 mark stretching back to October 30th.
The Blue Jackets need him to be the backbone if they plan on making any noise this year. Bob’s wallet needs it too. We all know he’s looking for big-time money this summer. A down year won’t play out well for him.
The Blues shutout out the Sharks 4-0 on home ice. They received balanced scoring as four different players found the back of the net.
Chad Johnson won for the second consecutive start and has allowed just one goal on 72 shots over that span. With Jake Allen being made of cheese this season, it’s likely Mike Yeo will turn to Johnson as long as he’s winning.
Another streamer to ride.
For those looking to the future, Jack Hughes and his USNTDP mates are in the Czech Republic this week for the under-18 Five Nations Tournament. Here’s what he’s done thus far:
Game 1 – Two goals, two assists
Game 2 – Three goals, two assists
Game 3 – One goal, FIVE assists
The consensus number one selection in the upcoming draft has 15 points in three contests and has been dominating all over the ice. He sits firmly in the pole position for my recently updated 2019 NHL Draft Rankings
Don’t let anyone tell you that a point is a point. While that may be true in the moment and even more so on the fantasy scoreboard, there is a marked difference between the type of points a player produces in his quest to replicate and sustain production over the long term.
Primary points – especially those at even-strength are one of the great beacons of evaluation. These points are often indicative of a driver of play. You directly led to a goal, or you found the back of the net yourself.
This isn’t to say that a secondary assist can’t have had a direct link to a goal. Nor is it saying that a tap-in from the doorstep or a point shot glancing off a player’s ass represents a driven play. But when compiling and breaking down statistics, the general rule holds water.
Most players have around 15 games under their belts this season. That represents 18 percent of the campaign. Enough to start considering rates as potential themes.
The top players on this list have something in common – They either get carded at American pubs or aren’t even allowed through the front door. The average age of the top five is 21 years 11 months.
Even-strength Primary Points (*Stats as of Friday morning)
Mitch Marner – 4 goals, 9 assists in 15 games
Brayden Point – 7 goals, 5 assists in 15 games
Nathan MacKinnon – 9 goals, 3 assists in 15 games
Kasperi Kapanen – 6 goals, 5 assists in 15 games
Elias Pettersson – 7 goals, 3 assists in 10 games
You may have noticed that the youngest player on this list may sit fifth overall, but is clicking at the highest per-game rate. Overall, Pettersson has 17 points in 11 games. 15 of those points have been primary. 94 percent of his even-strength production has been primary. It’s an insane metric that will not be sustained. But it is indicative of his play-driving ability and the likelihood of big numbers to come.
Connor McDavid has led the league in five-on-five primary points the last two seasons. In 2016-17 he racked up 50 in 82 games. Sidney Crosby was his closest competitor with 43 in 75 games. Last season McDavid accrued 51 in 82 games, while second place was MacKinnon with 45 in 74. Their primary-points-per-60 rate was around 2.3-2.45.
Pettersson is currently producing at a 4.67 P1/60 at five-on-five.
Marner and Point are two players who have been producing at a near-elite pace at even-strength since last season but hadn’t elevated their man-advantage numbers to the same levels. I dug into Point last week. Marner is on pace for 33 power plays this season which would represent a six-point increase from last season.
Nate MacKinnon is the second-best fantasy asset in the world. This underscores it.
Kapanen is interesting. He’s seen time next to Matthews and that’s surely helped with his six goals at evens. Since Matthews went down with the shoulder injury, Kapanen has two points in five games. One primary. The deployment will be key for him, but his early returns have been positive.
As important it is to recognize players who are driving play, it also behoves you to differentiate them from the passengers. Passengers are players who tend to come along for the ride. They can compliment. They can chip in. But they are usually reliant on their mates versus the other way around.
Players who generate a bunch of secondary points aren't necessarily passengers but they are more likely to see that area of production dry up sooner rather than later. If it’s a superstar than their totals will be fine regardless. But here are a couple of guys who are clicking at a high rate because of their secondary points.
At the top of the heap sits, Thomas Chabot. The second-year defenseman has been out of his mind this season. He currently occupies third spot on the NHL point leaderboard with 22 points in 16 games.
Of those 22 points, 13 are secondary assists.
Now I don’t need to tell you that Chabot won’t be playing at a 113-point pace for the remainder of the season, but many are climbing on him as a player capable of 75-plus. He’s banked enough points now to clear 50 if he stays healthy, but anything more than 55 should be considered huge value.
I’d definitely be shopping him around in one-year leagues and taking swings at some whales in keepers with him as a key piece heading out of the door.
Another defender to watch out for is Mark Giordano. He looks rejuvenated in Calgary early on, but watch out for the slowing train. Of his 13 assists, eight are secondary.
Sean Tierney, aka @ChartingHockey as some terrific stuff out there for free to the public. One of the things I enjoy looking into his Expected versus Goals charts. He released an updated look on Friday morning and the results paint a vivid picture.
For those who don’t know, here’s Sean giving a little synopsis.
“I’d put it like this: Each shot a player takes has a value based on the likelihood that similar shots from similar locations have been goals in the past. xGF is the sum of all these weighted shot values. Those values themselves are based on historical averages.
Which is partly why a critique of xGF is that some shooters (Stamkos, Ovechkin, etc..) who convert more often than we expect from the lesser valuable spots. But players who truly outperform expectations over a multi-year sample are so rare that they can be treated as exceptional, then as cases that undermine the value of the xG stat.”
Look for the exceptional on that list. Expect those who don’t fit the bill to see a reduction forthcoming.
That's all for this week. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson
- Ramblings: Updates on Mantha and Demko; Kravtsov to return; Christmas wish list - December 13
- Ramblings: #OskarStrong, Saturday Goalie Starts, Hall Trade Imminent?
- Looking Ahead: Holiday edition
- Frozen Tools Forensics: Analyzing rookies this year
- Daily Fantasy Saturday: Load Up On Habs
- The Journey: Projecting WJC Outcomes
- Saturday's NHL Picks: Penguin Parlay
- Ramblings: Kucherov, Barkov, Barrie Injured; Hall Continues to Wait; Duclair Stings Jackets (Dec 15)