Ramblings: Anaheim’s Season, Thornton’s Injury, Nylander’s Signing (April 3)

by Michael Clifford on April 2, 2017 | (4 Comments)

Reviewing Anaheim's season, injured Ducks, Thornton limping, and more. 

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Hello to all you fantasy hockey fanatics. I am back for another summer here at Dobber Hockey, filling in, along with Neil Parker, for Mr. Laidlaw. They are big shoes to fill, to be sure.

For those unfamiliar with me, this would be my third summer (well, spring, and a little fall, too) at Dobber. I have been writing about fantasy hockey for over five years now, starting with a personal blog and grown from there.

As for my approach to fantasy hockey, most of what I do is numbers-based. There is absolutely a place for scouting and personal evaluation, particularly with prospects, but the foundation of fantasy sports should be an analytical approach. The goal of any fantasy sport is to have the best numbers, after all.

I am very much looking forward to another offseason here at Dobber, hopefully we can all learn a little bit over the coming months.

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As part of my Ramblings through the summer, I’m going to go team by team and list a few things we learned this year about the team and its players. It only makes sense to go in alphabetical order and start with Anaheim.

The obvious disappointment is Corey Perry. There is a chance that he doesn’t crack the 20-goal mark for the first time in an 82-game season in a decade, and his streak of consecutive 30-goal campaigns is obviously over. He had averaged 14 percent shooting over his previous nine seasons, with none of them coming in under 10 percent. He won’t reach that mark this year. What went wrong?

When a shooting percentage plummets, the first thing I check is the power play. Sometimes, we see conversion rates crater because of small sample issues on the power play, like Jakub Voracek last year. This has indeed been a problem for Perry, who is shooting 8.3 percent with the man advantage, compared to 15.5 percent over the three seasons prior. That 15.5 percent on his power play shots, however, only adds an additional three goals, so that far from explains his entire season.

The bigger problem is his individual scoring chances generated at five-on-five, per Corsica Hockey, as of Sunday afternoon:

His individual scoring chances per minute have been trending down every year since 2014. As a power forward turning 32 years old next month, this is not an unexpected development, but a problem for fantasy owners nonetheless.

All this isn’t to say that he’ll fall off the map, but our expectations need to be adjusted. Where there was once a guy who could be in the 35-goal neighbourhood, threaten 40 on an annual basis, with solid peripherals, we likely now have to look at him as a 25-goal guy that can threaten 30 with solid peripherals. That pushes him from a second or third round pick to a fourth or fifth round pick.

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Rickard Rakell is a bad, bad man. He’s also a man shooting nearly 20 percent at five-on-five. It’s 19.53 to be exact. That is among the league leaders. The three league leaders last year were Jaromir JagrJannik Hansen, and Joe Pavelski, and their shooting percentages dropped over 13 percent, six percent, and six and a half percent, respectively. We can safely assume Rakell won’t shoot close to 20 percent next year.

That doesn’t mean he’ll fall off the face of the planet. He missed all of October, so he doesn’t have a full season’s worth of games played. He only has five power play goals as well, so there can certainly be improvement there next season as he becomes more of a focal point of this offence.

With additional games played, and a larger role on the power play, it’s not hard to think that Rakell’s impending goal drop next year will be mitigated in other ways. He could lose 10 goals at five-on-five, but gain five or six from the man advantage. Just be wary of his ranking going into next season. Drafting him as if he’s some sort of lock to finish with 30-35 goals is misguided. He should be looked at more in the 25-30 goal range, but with an uptick in power play points.

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I was skeptical about John Gibson’s fantasy value this year, and he’s done nothing to justify my position. His five-on-five save percentage is .933 (among the best in the league), his high-danger save percentage is .813 (mid-pack), and has looked every bit the part of a future star in goal. His career five-on-five save percentage is .927, which is just fine.

My one issue is his penalty kill save percentage. When down a man (or two), his save percentage over the last two years is .915, which is by far the best in the league. The next-closest is Ben Bishop at .897. There’s a similar gap between Gibson and Bishop than Bishop and the tenth-ranked goalie in that category.

The reason why his PKSV% is an issue is that a big decrease in that stat can have severe consequences in fantasy categories. Take Carey Price for example. Remember when he was awful in December and January? His five-on-five save percentage was about average at .926. Not typical Price numbers, but far from poor. His save percentage at four-on-five? It was .837. His previous three years were .894, .891, and .901. That .837 for two months dragged his overall save percentage down to .903, and that was a headache for fantasy owners.

We see how a downturn in PKSV% can destroy a goalie’s fantasy value, and that can happen with Gibson. The Anaheim penalty kill has typically been good these last two seasons, but if that slips, it could crush the young netminder’s fantasy value. Caveat emptor.

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There is a lot more to talk about with Anaheim, and there’s lots of summer to talk about it all. Those were just a few of the major stories from the season.

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While on the topic of the Ducks, they were without both Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen last night. That’ll mean a lot more ice time for Cam Fowler, but Shea Theodore was also recalled. He was slotted on the second power-play unit, too. It’s a wait-and-see with Vatanen and Lindholm, but Theodore should be available in most leagues that aren’t incredibly deep, or dynasties. The immediate beneficiary would be Fowler owners, as he’ll play (and has played) heavy minutes with either, or both, of those guys out of the lineup.

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John Tavares is done for the season. Hopefully it’s not serious, and he’s be back at full speed when next season rolls around.

Many head-to-head fantasy seasons are over, but there may still be a few out there, and certainly roto leagues are coming down to the wire. It’s worth noting in Sunday’s win against Buffalo, it was Anthony Beauvillier was the fourth forward on the top power-play unit in addition to Anders LeeJosh Bailey, and Josh Ho-Sang. There is no telling how long it lasts, and New York has three road games over the next six nights, but Beauvillier could be a source of power-play points for those in dire straits.

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Alex Nylander is apparently going to make his NHL debut on Monday night against Toronto. Dynasty owners are going to get their first look at the top-10 pick from the 2016 draft.

I am a little skeptical right now. He is obviously still very young and very early in his pro career, but nine goals and 27 points in 62 AHL games doesn’t really inspire a lot of confidence. I mean, that’s four more points in 33 more games than defenseman and teammate Taylor Fedun.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. It’s not like I watch a lot of AHL. Read up on Nylander here from fellow Dobber writer Max Marko.

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For those that may have missed it last night, Joe Thornton left the Sharks game with an apparent left knee injury. It didn’t look good at the time:

We’ll see what the word is. Obviously we might not know for a day or two, but he was seen walking out of the rink under his own power. In the immediate aftermath, Patrick Marleau jumped to the top line with Melker Karlsson and Joe Pavelski. It’s obvious that Pavelski and Thornton had incredible chemistry together, so we’ll see how Marleau fares. I’m not optimistic, and this definitely hurts the value of Pavelski over the final week if Thornton misses time.

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To add to the injury list, Zach Werenski left yesterday’s game with an injury after a hit from Alex Ovechkin. I’m not here to debate the merits of the hit, but this would be a huge fantasy boost for Seth Jones if Werenski were to miss some time. Keep an eye out for more news as the day wears on. 

 

  • Ben

    Great stuff!

  • wholi

    Welcome back Michael! Looking forward to reading your column during the summer to give us our fantasy fix. 🙂
    What about Brandon Montour benefiting from Lindholm and Vatanen being out?

  • Dikoi

    Good to have you back Michael!

  • Scrub

    Great first column back, Michael! Really appreciate what you do (and Steve, Ian, Dobber, and all the writers here of course) and look forward to reading throughout the summer.