The Week Ahead: Jan 5 – Jan 11
4 Game slates: CHI, MIN, SJ, WINN
3 Game slates: ARI, BOS, BUF, CAL, CAR, COL, CLB, DAL, DET, EDM, FLA, NASH, NJ, NYI, NYR, OTT, PHI, STL, VAN, WASH
2 Game slates: ANA, LA, MON, PIT, TB, TOR
Back to Back games: BOS, BUF, CAL, CHI, CLB, DET, FLA, MIN, NJ, NYI, NYR, SJ, WASH, WINN
By Lane Myer
As we foreshadowed two weeks ago, here is our maiden entry in the keeper or dynasty league sphere. We’ve ranked the top 50 players 25 years old or younger to perhaps use as a guide for those of you in keeper or dynasty leagues that will be undergoing a rebuild, or continuing to rebuild your roster for the forthcoming seasons.
If you’re a hardcore fantasy baseball player, you may be aware of the 500 inning plateau for young starting pitchers. Meaning that around 500 innings banked at the major league level, you begin to see what a starter is capable of…on average. Data fluctuates a bit more wildly for hockey, but among NHL level defensemen, you start to see a similar maturation around their third to fourth and into their fifth professional season. This can be seen in Hawkland with Duncan Keith who was a 30 point player in his third year. He then jumped to a 44 point player in his fourth season and then soared to an elite level in his fifth year when he recorded 69 points en route to his first Norris Trophy. It was also true for Brian Campbell who rose to a 62 point season in his fifth full season.
With forwards the data is a little trickier. Some data suggests a forward peaks at 25, while some believe it’s anywhere from age 22 to 25. This is primarily why we’re keeping our requirements at age 25. Obviously this will vary wildly in terms of age range. Max Pacioretty broke out in his fourth year, but in those previous three seasons, he accrued essentially a season and a half’s worth of games. Then you look at a guy like Joe Pavelski who spent his first seven seasons becoming a prototypical second line center only to break out as an elite level first line scorer at age 29.
Since this is for fantasy hockey purposes, some names will seem too high or too low. That shouldn’t be a surprise. For players that were deemed pretty even, I gave a bump in a tie-breaker scenario to forwards who will be more likely to maintain or acquire multi-positional eligibility. It’s an underrated aspect of fantasy sports especially in hockey when the drunkard schedule makers trot out a 3 game schedule on a given Tuesday night and follow that up with a 12 game schedule the next day. Being able to move players around your lineup is an added advantage for heavier schedule nights. This is especially true for those of you who play in leagues where you only start two players at each forward position.
|Rk||PLAYER||POS||AGE||2014-15 Pts Per Gm / SV%|
|13||James van Riemsdyk||LW||25||0.91|
* Yep, we’re light on goalies. As we’ve seen with even the elite like Rask and Lundquist this season, their numbers fluctuate like baseball relief pitchers, so it’s tough to pin them down. I’m not sure there’s enough clear playing time, or recorded production to go on for the Jake Allen, Lehner, Hutchinson, and Martin Jones types. Even with a save% that’s barely above league average, a guy like Frederik Andersen probably deserves to be on this list. However, with a contract that only pays him $1.15 million through 2016, I’m not sure he becomes either trade bait or the backup when the Ducks deem Gibson the starter. After all, before Gibson’s injury, it looked like he was going to get the opportunity to take the starting job early this season. Viktor Fasth was also impressive with Anaheim last year, and now in Edmonton he’s a train wreck. I’m not so sure Andersen wouldn’t be at best a league average goalie on a lesser team.
* Seguin over Stamkos largely because Seguin is two years younger. Also of note is Tampa’s growing arsenal of scoring forwards. There might be fewer pucks to go around.
* Had this list been compiled a month ago, Darcy Kuemper probably would have slotted in around #40. He’s struggled badly since then and has seen his ratios plummet well under league average despite having a pretty sound defense in front of him. If Ben Bishop weren’t locked in to nearly $6 million per year through 2017, Andrey Vasilevskiy would also have a spot on this list as I have him the number two goalie prospect behind only Gibson. As it is, he’s buried, for a starter’s role, unless Bishop is injured, or suffers severe drop-off in performance.
* A player like Logan Couture will see his value take a bit of hit in leagues where PIMs comprise at least 1/6 of scoring categories due to his lack of recording penalty minutes. Should your league use penalty minutes among its 5 or 6 categories, a player such as Chris Kreider would receive a bump given his career 1.1 PIMs per game average.
* Similarly, I’ll rate a player such as Brandon Saad above Tomas Tatar for the simple factor that of Saad’s 23 points, 22 of them have come at even strength. Conversely, Tatar has recorded 11 of his 25 points via the man advantage. It’s great for current fantasy leagues, but with similar player profiles (.062-0.68-ish points per game) Saad’s production at even strength indicates there may be greater upside when he’s awarded more time on the power play.
* On a related note, I gave a late bump to Ryan Strome as 23 of his 28 points have been recorded at even strength which ranks Strome fourth in the NHL in even strength points per 60 minutes at 3.33. One slight cause for concern with Strome is his shooting% is 8.5% which follows up last season’s 7.9%. He’s still only a second year player, so there is time for him to become more of a finisher, but if a 8% shooter is what he is, he may become one of those players who will see his assist total become 75% of his point total each season unless he fires off 250+ shots per season.
* It would have been easy to overrate a guy like Tyler Johnson here given that in addition to being a point per game player at age 24 in his second full season, he also leads in the league in points per 60 minutes at even strength at 3.79 and centers the top scoring line in the NHL. He very well might become a Marty St Louis type of player for the Lightning which would make him an annual top 20-25 overall draft pick. We’re playing it a bit safer with him, for now, but that may change by the end of the season.
* I’m probably higher on John Carlson than most, but you can’t deny his 25% increase in production this season, and the upside that still remains given that the incumbent PP QB in Mike Green will likely depart via free agency in the off-season. Thus even if his numbers fail to increase from the current 0.75 points per game that he checks in with right now, there at least remains the possibility that he can stay closer to a 0.60-0.75 PPG range given that Washington’s PP% is always right near the top of the league every year.
* Ondrej Palat at #50 is probably too low as well. I’m not sure how to rate Palat given the talent of his linemates in Johnson and Kucherov as well as where Palat will slot in the Tampa lineup once Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin among other young talents are in line for consistent top six roles. Considering Palat plays a sound two-way game, I could see Palat bumped to the third line if Namestnikov, Drouin, or even Connolly is moved up to the top six. A third line with fellow solid two-way players in Filppula and Callahan would wreak havoc on many a team.
* Arizona: Devan Dubnyk began the week in typical fashion allowing two goals to the Flyers before getting pummeled by the Stars for 6 tallies (5 at even strength) which ensured noted thespian, Mike Smith, would mind the crease in at least one start, which included a victory over the Jackets despite allowing 3 goals.
- Smith – 23 starts – 3.46 GAA, .884 SV%
- Dubnyk – 15 starts – 2.70 GAA, .918 SV%
TTMI Counsel: Mike Smith’s ratios remained essentially the same, dropping .2 points in GAA, while Dubnyk’s save% dropped 6 points with the trashing from Dallas. As of now, it’s unclear whether Dubnyk will retain the 66% of Glendale starts that he’s been given over the last 2.5 weeks. I would suspect with three games this week, Arizona will maintain the same rotation.
* Buffalo: Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth ended up splitting the four Buffalo contests last week though with Neuvirth getting pulled after 12 minutes as the result of allowing 4 goals to the Rangers, Enroth essentially ended the week with nearly three starts.
- Enroth – 25 starts – 3.14 GAA, .909 SV%
- Neuvirth – 15 starts – 3.46 GAA, .905 SV%
TTMI Counsel: It appears the solid 3 week competitive run the Sabres were on has come to an end. Enroth wasn’t particularly blameless having allowed 11 goals to Tampa and Ottawa before calming the waters in relief of Neuvirth against the Rangers giving up two goals in nearly 50 minutes of action. Apparently after Neuvirth allowed ‘only’ two goals to the Panthers, that was deemed good enough to warrant back to back starts where he was drubbed by the Blueshirts for the aforementioned 4 goals in 12 minutes before receiving the hook.
* Edmonton: Ben Scrivens was awarded all three Oiler starts for the week which ended with un-Oilers like results – allowing 7 goals in 3 games which would be Vezina-esque quality in comparison to what Edmonton has received from their goalie tandem this season.
- Scrivens – 26 starts, 3.05 GAA, .896 SV%
- Fasth – 13 starts, 3.50 GAA, .881 SV%
TTMI Counsel: Since the Todd Nelson era began, the Oilers have won two games in regulation. But they’ve also become more competitive, it seems, as in the other seven game decisions, four of them have at least gone to overtime. The Oilers are becoming the new Florida Panthers without a HOF caliber goaltender. Since Scrivens has allowed only 8 goals over his last 4 starts, he’s at least pulled his GAA under Buffalo territory (3.05 for Scrivens, 3.14 for Enroth).
* Ottawa: Robin Lehner remained stapled to the bench and has now failed to see game action since Dec. 20th. Craig Anderson once again carried Ottawa’s complete workload for the week allowing two goals each to the Bruins and Sabres earning victories in each contest.
- Anderson – 24 starts, 2.39 GAA, .927 SV%
- Lehner – 13 starts, 2.93,GAA, .909 SV%
TTMI Counsel: It was a light two game schedule for the Senators this past week so perhaps that is the reason Anderson took both of Ottawa’s starts. Should Anderson carry all three of Ottawa’s starts for the forthcoming week, not only will Ottawa drop of Goalie Watch, but you can also safely drop Lehner in all but the deeper or non-keeper leagues.
* Winnipeg: As we predicted last week, Hutchinson minded the crease in two of the three Winnipeg matchups while Pavelec coughed up another 4 goals allowed effort to the Islanders.
- Pavelec – 25 starts, 2.40 GAA, .911 SV%
- Hutchinson – 14 starts, 1.81 GAA, .937 SV%
TTMI Counsel: Michael Huthinson continued his streak of having failed to allow more than 3 goals in any start in net, while Pavelec has allowed 4 or more goals in 4 of his last 9 starts. I think it’s safe to say Hutchinson can be penciled in to receive at least two thirds of all Winnipeg starts for the foreseeable future.
Trending: The Waiver Wire
– Johnny Boychuk makes his second appearance on this list as the result of his “upper body injury” which sidelined him for 9 games. Boychuk subsequently lost his spot on the the Isles’ first PP unit upon returning, but he’s now moved back into his former position running the point along with Nick Leddy, joining Tavares, Okposo, and TTMI Fantasy Chatter favorite, Brock Nelson, on the first PP unit. With the injury, Boychuk’s ownership% took a hit dropping him from around 75% owned to just below 50%. We suspect by the time Monday rolls around, his ownership will crawl back to at least the 65-70% range.
– Sam Gagner is finally showing some life in the desert with 4 goals (2 on the PP), 6 assists, and a +4 over Arizona’s last eight games while skating on the Coyotes’ second line with Hanzal and Erat. Gagner averages over 2.2 minutes on the power play per game while checking in at nearly 49% on draws and an unexpected 33 hits in 37 games. Six of Gagner’s twenty points have come via the man advantage.
– Vincent Lecavalier is also showing some life with 5 goals across Philly’s previous 7 games despite spending the majority of those minutes skating on the fourth line. Despite largely spending his even strength minutes on the fourth line, Lecavalier is deployed on the man advantage at an average of 2.2 minutes per game. Vinny typically sees second PP unit minutes but over Philly’s last 4 games he’s jumped up to the Giroux/Voracek first unit as well.
– David Perron totaled more than 15,000 Yahoo league adds within 8 hours of the finalization of his trade to Pittsburgh where he leaves behind spending the majority of the season being centered by the also since traded Mark Arcobello, and soon-to-be demoted German, Leon Draisaitl. Perron’s average draft position was around the 140th player chosen in drafts. He subsequently saw his ownership% drop to 34% by Jan 1st. Now he’s back to being owned in over 50% of Yahoo leagues and now has the rocket strapped to his back in the way of a prime slot on the first line riding shotgun with Sid and the Captain Game Misconduct-Steve Downie. Also of note is Perron’s current shooting% for the season which is 6.8%. Not terrible, but well below what Perron has posted over the last three years (12.7%, 11.9%, and 18.7%). Moving from being centered by Arcobello and Draisaitl to Crosby or Malkin probably won’t impede the chances of raising his slumping shooting% for the season considering Perron scored on his first Pittsburgh shot attempt on a sweet dish from Sid on Saturday night. I wouldn’t read too much into the 32 seconds of PP TOI Perron received in his first game as Montreal only took two minor penalties for the game anyway.
Deep (League) Cuts
– Daniel Briere joins the first line RW roundabout in Denver sliding up with Duchene and Landeskog for at least a few games until Patrick Roy fires up the Joel Quennville model line blender again. The move paid off in the first offering with Briere recording a goal on two shots while skating 17.5 minutes. Briere has averaged about 1.4 minutes of PP TOI per game this season, but the Avs heavily jumble/rotate their PP lines with Duchene, MacKinnon, Iginla, Landeskog, o”reilly, Tanguay, even John Mitchell, and Briere being rotated at various times on the second unit. When Briere is bumped off of the first line he becomes immediately droppable.
– Seth Griffith, he of the Family Guy character sounding name, has regained his spot flanking Krejci and Lucic on the Boston’s underachieving first line. Though with Krejci beginning to show some production with 4 points in 4 games, perhaps Griffith can continue to piggyback with some secondary production like his current 3 points over the last 4 games portend. Griffith, known more as a playmaker in the OHL and AHL, has only taken 32 shots in 29 games but holds an 18.8 shooting%. He’s also averaging 1.45 minutes on the PP while skating on the second unit with Krejci and Marchand.
– Anders Lee, noted Domer, checks in for the second time this season having recorded 4 goals, 2 assists, and a +3 over the Isles’ last seven contests. Lee currently skates on the second line with Strome and Nielsen which also happens to be the threesome that comprises the Islanders’ second PP unit. The Isles’ top 9 rotates pretty heavily given their depth at forward, but thus far, Lee has averaged right around 1.4 minutes per game on the man advantage and weighs in with nearly a 2 hits per game average with 58 hits in 32 games.
– Jordan Staal, back from a season long injury, has recorded two assists over his first three games, though he’s only taken four shots. Perhaps that’s the result of rust or being moved up to center his puck-hog brother, Eric, on the first line. Regardless, it has translated to first PP unit minutes with his brother at an average of two minutes per game thus far. Staal has also started off strong at the dot accruing 54.8% faceoffs won ratio and has been credited with 4 hits in those 3 games.
Fantasy Hawk Factor
Second Line Heroes Watch (for the week)
- Kane – 1 goal, 2 assists, 11 shots
- Sharp – 2 (1 PP) goals, 2 assists, 20(!) shots, +2
- Richards – 2 goals, 1 assist, 10 shots, +1
- Versteeg – 1 assist, 6 shots, -1
Oh, you work here too?
- Toews – 2 assists, 5 shots, +1
- Hossa – 1 goal, 3 assists, 6 shots, +2
- Saad – 2 goals, 7 shots, +2
– Marian Hossa, famously of the Buy Low list earlier this season, checked in with a then un-Hossa like 4.8 shooting%. That rate actually sunk further down to an even 4% by the end of November. Since the calendar rolled over to December, Hossa tallied 5 goals over the holiday month while recording a 12.1 shooting% which just happens to be right about in line with his 12.6% career rate. Market correction, eh?
– Teuvo Koivu: Future second line hero, Teuvo Teravainen will begin his second NHL run slumming it on the fourth line. In Sunday’s foray, Teravainen was held scoreless on 3 shots. In perhaps a minor surprise, Teuvo spent nearly a minute of his 10.5 minute total on the man advantage.
– Kris Versteeg is expected to miss about a month of competitive ice hockey action with the dinged paw suffered in the highly forgettable Winter Classic.