Geek of the Week: Kris Letang

by Scott Maran on November 19, 2017 | (3 Comments)

If you took a chance on Kris Letang staying healthy, so far you've been rewarded.

Going into the season, most predicted that the Pittsburgh Penguins would once again be at the top of the league. Though they lost good players in Nick Bonino and Trevor Daley over the offseason, this was still a team that looked very similar to the one that had just won their second Stanley Cup in two years. Through the first 21 games of the regular season, the Penguins have largely continued their success. While their goal scoring hasn’t been as dominant as you’d expect (15th best), their 11 wins and 25 points put them seventh overall in the league standings. And behind this success has been Kris Letang, who has been providing plenty of value in both the NHL and fantasy hockey world.

Kris Letang has always been known as an incredible offensive defensemen, as for the past few years he’s recorded some of the highest points-per-game rates out of all defensemen. In the 2015-2016 season he managed to rack up 67 points while only playing in 71 games and just last year he tallied 34 points in 41 games (a 68-point pace). His only problem as been staying healthy, considering he hasn’t played in at least 80 games in a season since 2010 and has only played in over 75 games once in his entire career. Not to mention when he’s been hurt he’s been out a while, missing 41 games last year, 45 games in 2014, and 47 games in 2013.

This inability to stay healthy has caused many to underrate Letang and even forget about the value he can provide when in the lineup. At the start of the season, despite Letang being arguably one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, he was only drafted on average 50th overall in Fantrax leagues and 62nd overall in ESPN formats. But according to our trusty Fantasy Hockey Geek tool, Letang has significantly outperformed those draft positions, providing immense value this early in the season (using an average 12-team H2H Yahoo league measuring G, A, SOG, Hits, and PPP).
 

 

Rank

FHG Value

GP

G

A

SOG

PPP

HITS

Nikita Kucherov

2

114

19

17

16

74

13

10

Alex Ovechkin

3

95

20

13

6

92

6

42

Kris Letang

4

88

21

1

14

65

8

31

Brayden Schenn

5

83

20

7

18

54

7

36

Phil Kessel

6

83

21

8

16

81

12

2


Out of all skaters, Letang provides the fourth most value, right behind Nikita Kucherov and Alex Ovechkin. While his 15 points are only tied for the eighth most out of all defenders, Letang has been contributing in plenty of other categories for his fantasy owners. His 65 shots are the third most by any defender and 17th most out of all skaters, while his eight power play points are the fourth most by any defenseman. His 31 hits aren’t as amazing but he’s one of only eight defenders to register more than 10 points and 30 hits. And to top it off, Letang’s been providing this kind of value with only one goal on the season. Eventually he’ll start putting pucks in the net (as his 1.4 shooting percentage is bound to go up) so when it does, expect a nice bump in points too.

As long as Letang can stay healthy, he’s once again showing how good of a fantasy asset he can be. His strength lies in his point totals, but he also provides value in many other categories too.

 

  • srpst23

    Curious as to why you didn’t bother to use the very common categories of +/- or PIM? While it’s obvious why you didn’t include +/-, since it doesn’t fit your story’s narrative. The reality is though that his -12 really, really hurts. Surprised you didn’t include PIM, since he has 22 penalty minutes, good for 17th overall among Dmen. There are really only 3 or 4 rosterable Dmen with more.

    • starz31

      I would argue +/- isn’t as common as it used to be. I haven’t used it for a few years but I’m just one individual. His PIM are a strength, when you look at his overall value. Only three players ahead of him with at least 10 points and 20 PIM.

      I would be interested to hear just how many leagues still use +/- when compared to without.

      • srpst23

        I can’t obviously speak to all formats, but +/- is still in the default settings for yahoo and ESPN, and in my anecdotal experience, both PIM and +/- are more widely used categories than Hits. I would think in newer dynasty/keeper leagues and re-draft leagues Hits and some of the other newer categories would be more common. I know in my longtime keeper league, I’ve tried to add hits in the past, but no one wants their keepers to be potentially devalued, or their opponents players potentially more valued.

        I also agreed that his PIM is a strength for him, which is why I was curious as to why it wasn’t covered in the original article.