Real or Imagined – Forwards (2014)

by Doran Libin on December 8, 2014 | (0 Comments)

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Buy, sell or hold? A look at the forwards in the Western Conference...

 

Real or Imagined: Forwards Part 1

Shots are the most repeatable statistic in hockey thus we have seen that players who shoot a lot tend to be the top producers in hockey. This makes the ability to generate shots one of the most factors in point production for forwards. When shooting percentage is added into the equation it becomes easier to judge the sustainability of a player’s production. Thus if a player bumps their shot production they can sustain drops in shooting percentage such that the ability to generate shots can be seen as a buffer against the variability of shooting percentage. Even though the drop in total production would be greater the general perception of the player as a whole would take less of a hit. For example Tyler Seguin is averaging over 4 shots per game this game and his on pace to take close to 350 shots this year. If he finishes with a 20% hooting percentage he will score 70 goals, however if he finishes the year at a more sustainable star’s shooting percentage of 12% he will finish with around 40 goals. A similar but less pronounced effect can be seen in Beleskey going from two to three shots per game.

As always the following recommendations are for this season only.

 

Anaheim

 

 

Position

Games

Points

Time on Ice (TOI)

Power Play TOI

Shots on Goal (SOG)

Status

Beleskey

LW

27

14

15:05

1:37

74

Sell-High

Cogliano

C

27

7

15:43

0:05

50

Sell

Etem

RW

21

4

11:23

0:22

39

Waive

Getzlaf

C

26

25

20:41

3:15

72

Stand

Heatley

LW

4

0

11:50

0:55

6

Waive

Jackman

RW

23

1

8:42

0:04

29

Waive

Karlsson

C

16

3

12:26

2:24

24

Waive

Kesler

C

27

18

19:59

2:42

77

Stand

Maroon

LW

19

12

14:36

2:40

31

Stand/Sell

Palmieri

C

9

3

13:01

1:38

16

Gamble

Perry

RW

22

22

18:03

3:24

68

Stand

Rakell

RW

17

3

10:19

0:55

20

Waive

Silfverberg

RW

27

12

16:05

1:02

72

Buy

Smith-Pelly

RW

24

10

15:28

1:43

46

Stand/Sell

Thompson

C

27

5

13:41

0:15

29

Waive

 

The Ducks are so deep that players who would be legitimate top six forwards either do not play or play so sparingly that they are not worth owning. Throw in a lot of line juggling and the Ducks can be a tough team to get a read on. There is a prized spot on this team as the third wheel to the Perry/Getzlaf bromance. This year that has spot has gone to Maroon when both he and Perry are healthy. Maroon also gets power play time with the dynamic duo making him an intriguing option. The problem with Maroon is that when Perry gets injured he finds himself playing with Nate Thompson and Tim Jackman, which is akin to being the jockey for Secretariat but riding Mr. Ed instead when Secretariat is not healthy. Maroon will not be worth owning if he spends much time on the fourth line. The consolation prize on Anaheim is playing with Kesler and a rotating cast of productive wingers. One of those wingers, Matt Beleskey, is scoring on 15% of his shots at even strength and getting just over one and a half minutes of power play time a game. The result of this astronomical shooting percentage, combined with Beleskey shooting more, means than he is scoring at an unsustainable 36 goal pace. Beleskey is also often injured, something that has cost him a regular spot on the top line, all together these factors make him the perfect sell-high candidate.

 

A contrast is Jakob Silfverberg with a 1.75% even strength (ES) shooting percentage on 58 shots. Expect Sifverberg to bump his shooting percentage to a more reasonable level. Any winger playing on one of the first two lines should produce well whereas those spending a lot of time alongside Cogliano on the third line will be borderline owns in most leagues. So far the lucky wingers spending the most time on the first two lines have been Maroon, Beleskey and Silfverberg. There are two wildcards that need discussing in the form of the newly acquired Rene Bourque (not in the above table) and the returning Kyle Palmieri. Bourque has seen time on the top line, making him a good buy-low gamble, whereas Palmieri has seen time primarily with Kesler. Should Bourque stick with Perry and Getzlaf this will bump other wingers down the depth chart, most likely negating Maroon’s value.

 

Arizona

 

 

Position

Games

Points

Time on Ice (TOI)

Power Play TOI

Shots on Goal (SOG)

Status

Boedker

LW

28

18

17:51

2:55

63

Stand

Chipchura

C

15

4

10:23

0:02

7

Waive

Crombeen

RW

21

2

7:27

0:02

15

Waive

Doan

RW

26

15

18:48

2:52

66

Stand

Erat

RW

26

13

16:09

2:04

32

Sell

Gagner

C

26

10

16:51

2:16

64

Buy

Hanzal

C

19

14

17:19

2:05

42

Sell

Korpikoski

LW

26

10

16:06

0:51

31

Stand

McMIllan

C

25

2

10:48

0:01

20

Waive

Moss

RW

6

1

11:51

0:00

6

Waive

Rieder

C

16

9

15:21

0:02

49

Buy

Vermette

C

26

17

19:27

2:56

40

Stand

Vitale

C

26

2

11:08

0:02

23

Waive

 

Arizona should be a much better team but Mike Smith has cost them two goals every three games with his horrendous goaltending thus far. This makes everyone’s numbers on the Coyotes look worse.  A promising trend though has been the emergence of Tobias Rieder playing with Gagner and Doan, as both Rieder and Doan have averaged around 3 shots a game this year. Gagner’s peripherals suggest that he will improve on his 30 point pace as he has an ES on-ice shooting percentage of 6.55% and an ES shooting percentage of 6.82%. The Doan/Gagner/Rieder line also benefits from the most offensive zone starts and weakest competition, so expect increased production from at the very least Gagner and Rieder.

 

Boedker has the hot stick for the Coyotes with an unsustainable ES shooting percentage of 15%. Boedker, however is a good hold as he is averaging an extra shot per game this year which should provide the necessary buffer when his shooting percentage drops. Boedker’s linemates Vermette and Korpikoski will maintain their current levels of production as long as they remain a unit. Koprikoski is not worth owning because he sees next to no power play time. The big loser in Arizona is not the former winner of the TV show John Rhode but Martin Erat who has been relegated to shutdown duty with possession beast Martin Hanzal and offensive blackhole Brandon McMillan. While this has not seemed to effect Hanzal’s point production is should even out when his ES on-ice shooting percentage of 11.02% and his shooting percentage of 16% return to normal levels.

 

Calgary

 

 

Position

Games

Points

Time on Ice (TOI)

Power Play TOI

Shots on Goal (SOG)

Status

Backlund

C

11

4

17:50

0:59

18

Buy if healthy

Baertschi

LW

13

3

8:55

0:11

11

Waive

Bollig

LW

24

2

9:10

0:06

25

Waive

Bouma

LW

25

9

12:27

0:02

26

Waive

Byron

LW

26

10

15:36

0:43

38

Sell

Colborne

C

11

8

16:21

1:53

6

Sell-High

Ferland

LW

7

1

11:20

1:14

14

Waive

Gaudreau

LW

25

19

16:15

2:25

50

Sell-High

Glencross

LW

26

16

18:09

2:42

48

Sell

Granlund

C

15

9

15:26

0:25

26

Sell

Hudler

RW

25

25

18:03

2:51

47

Sell-High

Jones

RW

13

6

15:37

1:14

26

Sell

Jooris

RW

19

12

15:25

0:44

29

Sell

Monahan

C

26

17

19:29

2:50

76

Stand

Raymond

LW

10

7

17:28

2:16

24

Sell-High

Setoguchi

RW

12

0

12:08

1:24

12

Waive

Stajan

C

11

2

11:52

0:11

9

Stand

 

The Flames seem to be doing their damnedest to prove that regression does not exist. The only significant forwards for the Flames who have scored a goal this season with an ES shooting percentage under 10% are Gaudreau and Glencross. Similarly Glencross, Backlund and Stajan are the only forwards with ES on-ice shooting percentages under 10%. These numbers are not sustainable and the Flames will return to earth at some point this season. The only Flame with sustainable production is Curtis Glencross and we are all just waiting for him to go on his annual injury run. Hudler, Raymond and Jooris are in for the biggest falls as all have ES shooting percentages over 20%. Mikael Backlund is the only Flame worth buying if he ever returns from the abdominal issues he is currently battling. Sean Monahan is the outlier for the Flames as he has a reasonable ES on-ice shooting percentage and his linemates Jones and Glencross have relatively sustainable numbers on a team using elder wands as hockey sticks.

 

Chicago

 

 

Position

Games

Points

Time on Ice (TOI)

Power Play TOI

Shots on Goal (SOG)

Status

Bickell

LW

25

9

11:32

1:20

37

Waive

Carcillo

LW

15

5

8:34

0:06

28

Waive

Hossa

RW

25

17

18:00

2:32

84

Stand/Buy

Kane

RW

25

25

19:57

3:51

84

Stand

Kruger

C

25

7

13:26

0:03

58

Waive

Morin

LW

15

0

7:44

0:05

28

Gamble

Richards

C

25

17

13:57

2:21

72

Sell-High

Saad

LW

25

16

16:34

2:25

60

Stand

Sharp

LW

13

9

18:30

4:05

56

Stand/Buy

Shaw

C

22

9

15:59

3:36

39

Stand

Smith

RW

25

2

14:27

0:15

36

Waive

Toews

C

25

20

20:04

3:52

68

Stand

Versteeg

RW

21

21

15:33

1:57

54

Sell-High

 

Chicago is a team in a flux. As Patrick Sharp nears his return the hockey world wonders will they go to back to the future with the lines that started the season or will they maintain the status quo. The argument for the status quo is that Kane/Versteeg/Richards are on one of the hottest lines in the NHL. Those numbers, for Versteeg and Richards are built upon ES on-ice shooting percentages of 12.21% and 11.98% respectively. Richards and Versteeg are also both scoring on more than 10% of their shots at even strength. These numbers are not sustainable for either player and any drop off could see the very able Andrew Shaw or Patrick Sharp steal a spot alongside Kane. There is precedence for this as Richards and Versteeg are both behind Toews, Kane, Sharp, Shaw, Saad and Hossa in the line for power play time. The members of the other big Chicago line, Toews/Hossa/Saad, have all produced well with very sustainable numbers. Andrew Shaw’s numbers this season would be an abject disaster if he were not receiving a ton of power play time. The difference for this team is that when Patrick Sharp was healthy he had Saad’s spot alongside Toews and Hossa while Saad and Shaw played with Kane. As Saad, Shaw and Sharp can all be relied upon more in a defensive role two of the three may find themselves on the outside. Jeremy Morin is interesting as a player who generates close to 2 shots per game while playing a paltry eight minutes per game. Rumours have him trying to force his way out of Chicago to play him or trade him. If these rumours come to fruition Morin becomes a good gamble.

 

Colorado

 

 

Position

Games

Points

Time on Ice (TOI)

Power Play TOI

Shots on Goal (SOG)

Status

Briere

C

18

7

13:33

1:19

35

Waive

Cliché

RW

23

3

10:25

0:03

19

Waive

Duchene

C

25

17

19:16

2:40

77

Stand

Everberg

RW

13

4

10:49

0:05

16

Waive

Iginla

RW

25

15

17:37

2:40

51

Buy

Landeskog

RW

25

14

18:00

2:33

83

Buy

Mackinnon

C

25

18

16:47

2:33

77

Buy

McGinn

LW

19

6

14:46

1:55

36

Stand

McLeod

LW

25

4

9:30

0:04

18

Waive

Mitchell

C

17

6

13:15

0:18

20

Waive

O’Reilly

C

25

13

19:21

2:36

66

Stand

Talbot

C

25

6

13:06

0:08

31

Waive

Tanguay

LW

23

16

17:38

2:30

39

Sell

 

In a weird quirk because of how bad they are at the puck possession game the Avs have a preponderance of ‘shutdown’ players because they play so much of the game in their own end. That will have a negative effect on the offensive numbers for many of their players. For example Nathan Mackinnon and Gabe Landeskog are both putting up decent numbers this year with horrible peripheral numbers. Both have ES on-ice shooting percentages around 6.25% while Mackinnon has an ES shooting percentage of 3.57%. Expect both of these two to receive a bump to their current rates of production as those numbers regress. Jarome Iginla as their most common even strength linemate should get a contact high as well. Even with the rising tide until the Avs find some way to turn the possession tide the numbers may be underwhelming.

 

One player set up for quite the fall is Alex Tanguay with an ES shooting percentage over 30% thus far with 8 goals on 25 shots. Tanguay has a career shooting percentage of 15% so expect a higher than average shooting percentage but his current pace is wholly unsustainable and partially responsible for his ES on-ice shooting percentage of 11.72%. Jamie McGinn throws the lines a little out of whack when he is healthy as Colorado has seven useful offensive players and Briere’s rotting corpse, which is really going to help in the playoffs in which they will not be playing. McGinn should remain fantasy relevant as the one constant is that he sees time consistent time with Iginla. O’Reilly and Duchene bounce a round a bit but both should be fine as long as they are seeing time Tanguay or McGinn as opposed to Briere. Duchene’s peripherals are not quite as high as O’Reilly’s are low. This will even out for both largely in the form of O’Reilly’s rate of production rising to meet his shot rate of 2.5 per game

 

Dallas

 

 

Position

Games

Points

Time on Ice (TOI)

Power Play TOI

Shots on Goal (SOG)

Status

Benn

LW

25

23

19:35

3:14

85

Stand

Cole

LW

24

9

13:13

1:23

43

Sell

Eakin

C

22

10

17:06

1:26

51

Buy

Eaves

RW

19

8

11:09

0:30

26

Sell

Fiddler

LW

25

7

12:54

0:09

32

Waive

Garbutt

C

20

9

13:39

0:07

44

Stand

Hemsky

RW

24

7

14:04

2:07

46

Gamble

Horcoff

C

25

9

12:12

1:20

32

Sell

Moen

LW

18

0

8:29

0:00

13

Waive

Roussel

LW

25

12

15:37

1:21

42

Stand

Sceviour

C

20

3

12:53

1:06

30

Waive

Seguin

C

25

31

19:50

3:30

107

Stand

Spezza

C

25

20

17:40

3:26

58

Sell-High

 

Dallas has been the epitome of a one-line team for much of the season as Seguin, Benn and Spezza carried a huge portion of the offensive load. Tyler Seguin is scoring on 20% of his shots, a pace that would only be sustainable against Andre Racicot or Anders Lindback. As it is Alex Tanguay and Steve Stamkos are the only active NHLers with career shooting percentages over 15%. As Seguin Is currently generating an extra shot per game over last season there is cushion in place for the fall that regression will bring.  Seguin will remain among top the scorers in the league so a sell-high is warranted but there are maybe two or three players that would warrant a target at the moment. Jamie Benn, Seguin’s partner in crime, is riding a point per game pace along with Seguin and brings penalties and hits to bear for more inclusive leagues.

 

Cody Eakin has recently been given Spezza’s spot on the top line and has produced seven points in nine games as a result. As Eakin does not receive power play time temper your expectations but as long as he is on the top line he is in for a nice production boost. With Spezza off the top line he has been reunited with Ales Hemsky and to no one’s surprise Hemsky has six of his seven points on the season since the reunion with Spezza. While Spezza has not been as productive since the reunion, playing with Hemsky will make for a softer landing but he will not reach the same lofty heights he was at earlier in the season. Roussel and Garbutt make for great plays in leagues with penalties and hits but they also produce points without relying on high ES on-ice shooting percentages. Of the two Roussel is the better option as he sees over a minute of power play time. Nichushkin does not appear in the table because the timeline for his return is a very late season return, with Dallas looking to be well off the playoff pace there is no need for Dallas to rush him back to the lineup.

 

Edmonton

 

 

Position

Games

Points

Time on Ice (TOI)

Power Play TOI

Shots on Goal (SOG)

Status

Arcobello

RW

26

9

15:48

1:03

43

Sell

Draisatl

C

26

6

12:44

2:16

36

Sell

Eberle

C

25

16

19:18

2:49

66

Stand/Buy

Gordon

C

26

7

13:30

0:41

33

Waive

Hall

LW

20

17

19:21

2:44

63

Stand/Buy

Hendricks

C

23

5

12:36

0:09

33

Waive

Joensuu

LW

20

4

10:37

0:12

18

Waive

Nugent-Hopkins

C

24

17

21:30

2:53

57

Stand/Buy

Perron

LW

26

13

16:44

2:40

56

Buy

Pouliot

LW

20

8

15:42

2:22

28

Stand

Purcell

RW

26

11

15:08

2:23

40

Buy

Yakupov

RW

26

7

14:36

2:14

55

Gamble

 

As bad as Edmonton is at playing defense they are not much better at producing on the power play. This is somewhat surprising for a team with a ton of offensive talent but these Oilers have shown a knack for learning that would make any learning curve as steep as Mount Everest. The other negative factor for the production of Edmonton’s forwards is they have a severe lack of centers as Draisatl does not look ready for the NHL and Arcobello is a borderline NHLer. It is a shame because the Oilers have a enough potentially productive wingers to fill three lines. There is no Oiler forward with an on-ice shooting percentage over 10% and only Eberle, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins (RNH) are over 9%. Basically the only forwards on the Oilers with decent rates of production are the three on the line featuring the Oilers’ only legitimate NHL center.

 

The positives for this team are Taylor Hall and RNH. Hall was already an elite winger and RNH is on the verge of becoming an elite center. Both Players would be scoring at a much higher level if this power play could even meet last years 27th place 17%. The rumours out of Edmonton are of a Jordan Eberle trade, a development that would help his numbers significantly. Even a trade to play on Boston’s top line would be a boost over his current 50 point pace. The Oilers have eight forwards who play between two and three minutes per game on the power play, making for a very even distribution of power play time. This also means that there are a lot of forwards who stand to benefit a lot from an improved power play. The Oiler forwards have some room to grow as their shooting percentages regress but the big area with growth potential is the much maligned power play.

 

Next week part 2 of the Western Conference forwards

 

Real or Imagined - Defensemen (2014)      
Real or Imagined - Goaltenders (2014)      

 

 

 

 

 

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