Frozen Pool Forensics: A Rookie Class for the Ages – Part 2

by Cam Robinson on April 14, 2017 | (0 Comments)

Mitch Marner - USA TODAY Sports Images

 

In our continuing look at one of the most dominant freshman classes in recent memory, it seemed criminal to squeeze all this goodness into just two parts. As such, we’ll have a third and final instalment come out where Frozen Pool Forensics will focus in on our final two standing for the coveted Calder Memorial Trophy.

This week, we hone in on those players battling it out for a likely third place honour (as well as a couple others). These players have produced staggeringly well for both their real life and fantasy squads and likely propelled more than a few teams to the ultimate goal of a championship and bragging rights over their ramshackle group of friends.

 

Mitch Marner

 

Remember back in September when Mitch Marner’s name was brought up and almost all the questions focused around whether this skinny, junior-high looking kid could handle the physicality of the NHL? Boy does that seem like a lifetime ago.

There have been the expected ebbs and flows of a rookie season with the ultra-talented, 19-year-old freshman, but taking the overall picture painted through 2016-17 must be considered a near masterpiece.

Marner blistered onto the scene recording 18 points through his first 21 contests and looked right at home on the Leafs second line and second power-play unit alongside James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak. That trio saw virtually all their ice time together throughout the entire season.

 

Even Strength Line Combinations

Freq

Line Combination

87.2%

BOZAK,TYLER - MARNER,MITCHELL - VAN RIEMSDYK,JAMES

4.4%

KADRI,NAZEM - MARNER,MITCHELL - VAN RIEMSDYK,JAMES

3.9%

HYMAN,ZACH - MARNER,MITCHELL - MATTHEWS,AUSTON

2.3%

KADRI,NAZEM - KOMAROV,LEO - MARNER,MITCHELL

2.1%

BOZAK,TYLER - MARNER,MITCHELL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Power Play Line Combinations

Freq

Line Combination

53%

BOZAK,TYLER - KADRI,NAZEM - MARNER,MITCHELL - VAN RIEMSDYK,JAMES

26.6%

BOZAK,TYLER - MARNER,MITCHELL - VAN RIEMSDYK,JAMES

16.3%

BOZAK,TYLER - MARNER,MITCHELL - SOSHNIKOV,NIKITA - VAN RIEMSDYK,JAMES

2.2%

MARNER,MITCHELL - SOSHNIKOV,NIKITA - VAN RIEMSDYK,JAMES

2%

MARNER,MITCHELL - MATTHEWS,AUSTON - NYLANDER,WILLIAM - VAN RIEMSDYK,JAMES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The silky playmaker had his full arsenal on display by leading all first-year players in assists with 42 in 77 games. His supreme edgework and pace allows him to create separation, while his ability see the play unfold ahead of most players is reminiscent of some of the great playmakers of past generations.

 

Mitch Marner led all rookies in assists w 42. That was good for 30th in the league. It's hard to imagine him not being in the top 10 next yr — /Cam Robinson/ (@CrazyJoeDavola3) April 12, 2017

 

Marner’s 0.79 point-per-game output ended up as the fourth most amongst freshman with at least 40 games played and his five game winning goals matched Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, trailing only teammate, Auston Matthews.

Marner also managed to do quite a bit of damage with the man-advantage, piling up 21 points while seeing a shade under 50 percent of the available ice (49.2).

Needless to say, there’s plenty of room for offensive growth here. 

 

NHL Stats

SEASON

GP

G

A

P

PntPG

+/-

PIM

Shots

SH%

HITS

PPG

PPP

SHG

BLKS

FOW

FO%

PPTOI

%PP

%SH

TOI/G

%TOI

2016-2017

77

19

42

61

0.79

0

38

176

10.8

41

4

21

0

39

14

37.8

02:23

49.2

2.6

16:49

27.6

Average

82

20

45

65

0.79

0

40

187

10.8

44

4

22

0

42

15

37.8

02:23

49.2

2.6

16:49

27.6

 

Marner has produced a campaign that would normally be a true contender for the Calder trophy. He pushed into the top 35 scorers league wide as a teenager and flashed the dynamic skill that has so many comparing him to Patrick Kane. Unfortunately for him, he’s not even the top rookie on his team and will likely be an afterthought for the true challengers for the award

Don’t be fooled, though, his season has been tantalizing and it is just the tip of the iceberg moving forward. Marner has the skills and surroundings to be a legitimate fantasy stud for years to come.

Buy now or forever hold your peace.

 

Zach Werenski

 

Throughout the history of the league, there aren’t many teenaged defenseman who have acclimatized to the NHL as quickly as the former University of Michigan standout has, let alone thrive like he has.

Werenski flew out of the gate as a 19-year-old raw rookie in Columbus, taking on the responsibility of a first-pairing player at five-on-five and on the man advantage. His 16 points during the first 20 games were right at the top of the scoring leaderboard for all defenders, young and old, and his complete play at both ends of the rink quickly earned him respect and admiration from his coaches and peers. 

 

First Quarter Summary

GP

G

A

P

PntPG

Pace

+/-

PIM

Shots

HITS

PPG

PPP

SHG

BLKS

PPTOI

%PP

%PK

TOI/G

%TOI

20

5

11

16

0.80

66

3

4

56

14

3

8

0

22

.7500

64.5

19.3

.8000

36.6

 

He finished the season with a healthy 47 points in 78 games, with 21 of those points coming on the man-advantage – good for a share of second most amongst first-year players.

He is just the 10th teenaged defenseman to record 40 or more points in NHL history and sits sixth on the overall list.

Teenaged defensemen who have recorded 40+ pts: Murphy 66 Bourque 65 Berard 48 Myers 48 Werenski 47 Babych 44 Orr 41 Fowler 40 Niedermayer 40 — /Cam Robinson/ (@CrazyJoeDavola3) April 14, 2017

Werenski led all first-year defensemen in: Points, power-play points, assists (36) shots on goal (188) and plus/minus (+17). His presence was a central cog in vaulting the Blue Jackets power play to the league lead for more than half the season before it stalled out down the stretch and finished 12th overall. Still, it was a nice improvement from the 21st position it held in 2015-16.

The cerebral youngster produced these numbers on the back of some very sustainable outputs. His 5.9 shooting percentage and eight percent five-on-five conversion rate are right in line with comparable players, and could even be considered slightly low for a player of his calibre playing on a CBJ team that scored the sixth most goals in the league with 247.

 

Even Strength Line Combinations

Freq

Line Combination

86.3%

JONES,SETH - WERENSKI,ZACH

9.1%

SAVARD,DAVID - WERENSKI,ZACH

1.6%

NUTIVAARA,MARKUS - WERENSKI,ZACH

1.5%

WERENSKI,ZACH

1.5%

JOHNSON,JACK - WERENSKI,ZACH

 

 

Seeing nearly all of his even-strength ice next to burgeoning star Seth Jones bodes well for Werenski, and the Blue Jackets moving forward, as it’s easy to imagine those two dominating the scoresheet and their own end for many years to come.

Werenski will surely get plenty of love on the Calder ballots this June, likely receiving even a handful of first-place nods. His dominance at an extremely difficult position is not lost with those voting and should not be mistaken in the fantasy world either.

A third-place finish is likely his destination, but here sits a prime asset on the backend - one that looks capable of pushing for 50 points on a consistent basis.

 

Quick Hits

 

Ivan Provorov

  • Provorov may not get the recognition he deserves this season, but as a first-year player on a weak Flyers team, he was consistently their best defender. The 20-year-old averaged 22 minutes a night with just 1:42 coming on the man-advantage while seeing well over half of his team’s shorthanded ice. His 30 points was good for fourth most amongst rookie blue liners and you can just smell the talent that emanates off him. Battling his way to more prime ice will be key to harnessing his fantasy potential, but he had a terrific -- and underrated -- freshman campaign.

 

Brayden Point

  • The diminutive centre was a surprise to even make the Lightning squad out of training camp, as the expectation was he’d need some time in the AHL to adjust to the professional game. Turns out he adjusted just fine in the top league. His 40 points in 68 games represented the eighth-best mark for freshman, but it was his second half surge that really put him on the map. 25 points in the final 32 games as Tampa Bay left it all out there in their quest for the last playoff spot. He looks like a prime candidate to take Tyler Johnson’s spot if the Bolts end up moving him this summer.

 

Nikita Zaitsev

  • The third-highest scoring defender in the rookie class, the 25-year-old Russian made the most of his opportunities in Toronto. Skating over 22 minutes a night and handling most of the tough defensive assignments, the smooth-skating defenseman was a key cog in the Leafs return to post-season action. He’ll need to sign a contract first, but pencilling him in for 40 points next season seems reasonable.

 

***

 

Thanks for reading and check back for Part 3 where we’ll dig into the final candidates.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I often give unsolicited fantasy advice that I’m sure at least someone is listening to.

 

 

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