Given their cap situation, which is fine for now but could change depending how the NHLPA’s grievance goes on behalf of Mike Richards, the Los Angeles Kings had to get a bit creative this summer. There was no chance at re-signing Andrej Sekera after acquiring him for a run at the postseason last year, so the Kings had to wait to pick their moment carefully.
Their patience worked out as well as possibly could be hoped for as they signed Christian Ehrhoff to a one year deal worth $1.5-million. This not only gives them a defenceman who can play top four minutes instantly, but gives them the ability to leave Alec Martinez on the third pairing, where he can be a very good defenceman in the neighbourhood of 17 minutes a game for them. Ehrhoff makes the defence corps for Los Angeles strong from top-to-bottom, should Slava Voynov be ready for the start of the season.
For fantasy, though, I am not sure there is a lot of relevance here. Drew Doughty will anchor the blue line on the power play, likely with Jake Muzzin. That means Ehrhoff is probably relegated to the second power play unit. Unless the Kings change their deployment, their power play remains top-heavy. Each of Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar played over 200 power play minutes last year, and Marian Gaborik would have had he been healthy for 75 games. Without a fifty-fifty split, Ehrhoff shouldn’t be counted on for more than 10 power play points. Things get a bit more precarious if the Kings go with a four forward first power play unit.
Ehrhoff is still a really good defenceman, but this seems like a better real-life signing than a fantasy signing. In all likelihood, he’ll be stuck on the second power play unit, and the Kings are not potent at five-on-five. They’re fine, but not deadly. If Ehrhoff gets to 35 points this year, that should be seen as a really good fantasy season.
As I mentioned yesterday, Twitter is kind of my soundboard. One question I posed that got seemingly unanimous responses was, “Where are you going to be drafting Connor McDavid in a one-year league?” Overwhelmingly, the response was “second round.”
This one is tough. Second round in a 12-team league means inside the top-24 picks. This is all dependent on league settings, but in a standard ESPN roto league last year, Tyler Seguin was just outside the top-20. On Yahoo, he was just inside the top-15. Not sure why the discrepancy, but I have to think it’s how goalies and defencemen are valued. Either way, what Tyler Seguin did last year is about what’s necessary for McDavid to be worth a second round pick. For a refresher, Seguin had 37 goals, 77 points, 29 power play points, a minus-1 rating, and 280 shots on goal.
That is pretty high expectations. Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin were the last rookies to crack 35 goals, and no rookie since Evgeni Malkin/Paul Stastny has cracked 75 points. Ovechkin is also the only rookie with at least 280 shots since the 2004 lockout. The important note here is that out of all those players, Crosby was the only teenager, partly because of said lockout.
Per game per team averages have gone down since that year. Goals per game have declined 11-percent, and power play opportunities have gone down nearly 50-percent. Sure he may start the year with Taylor Hall on his wing, but the game now is different from the game a decade ago.
There is no question that McDavid is a superstar in the making, the point here is not to disparage the talent. The point is that if McDavid scores 30 goals and 70 points with an even rating, making it the best rookie year in nearly a decade, he likely won’t be worth a second round pick. If I am in a points-only league, I can understand taking that risk. If I am in a roto league, though, I will take Ryan Getzlaf, Erik Karlsson, or Vladimir Tarasenko, and feel pretty good about it.
I can already hear the questions to come over the next few weeks, “Who is this year’s Tarasenko?”
One guy I am definitely going to be drafting ahead of the curve is Filip Forsberg. I know, his breakout was technically last year, but I think there is room for growth immediately.
After a scorching start last year, Forsberg put up just 28 points in his final 46 games. The team as a whole – particularly Pekka Rinne – slowed down in the second half, so it stands to reason that Forsberg would as well.
One thing Forsberg has on his side is some very good history. From 207-2012, there were four players who tallied at least 60 points and 230+ shots in their Age 20 season: John Tavares, Tyler Seguin, Patrick Kane, and Steven Stamkos. Forsberg joined this list this past season. That seems like good company to me.
I get that there are concerns about the forward group he will be playing with, but he and Mike Ribeiro showed very good chemistry last year. On the ice together at five-on-five, they generated nearly 69 shot attempts per 60 minutes. That put them in company with names like Joe Thornton, John Tavares, and Jamie Benn. With the elite defence corps Nashville boasts, I see no problem in that top line generating offence.
In a one-year league, I don’t think Forsberg is getting drafted in the top-50 picks. That means he’s available with a fifth, maybe even sixth round pick in a 12-team league. If I can draft Forsberg in the fifth round – about the same time as guys like Alex Steen or Daniel Sedin – I will do that all day. I don’t think he craters, so he should hold draft day value, and I think there is a genuine chance for him to be a 30-goal, 75-point guy with good peripherals next year. I would rather over-draft Forsberg than not have him on my team at all.
There is a general feeling that people are down on the Bruins next year, and with good reason. The team couldn’t score last year, lost one of their biggest contributors over the last 5-6 years in Milan Lucic, and of course traded Dougie Hamilton.
Over the last four 82-game seasons though, there have been just 25 players to score at least 20 goals every year, and one of them is Brad Marchand. In fact, since 2010, his goals per game mark of 0.32 is in the top-50 of the NHL, and is ahead of guys like Jason Pominville, Wayne Simmonds, and Blake Wheeler.
The Bruins probably struggle to score again next year, so expecting more than 20-25 assists from Marchand isn’t realistic. Add 20-25 goals to that, with a hefty amount of penalty minutes, and this is a good roto player. I can see him doing something similar to what Justin Abdelkader did last year but with fewer power play points. In most roto formats that don’t include real-time stats, Abdelkader was inside the top-125 players at the end of the season. Marchand is one of those options where you can probably get him in the ninth or tenth round and know you haven’t blown that pick.
I would like to hear from the readers in the comments, so I’ll pose this: Does Jonathan Drouin consistently supplant Ryan Callahan on the first line in Tampa Bay? I don’t think there is a clear-cut answer here, and I can see a lot of line juggling outside the Triplets line. It makes me nervous for Drouin’s fantasy value next year. What do you think?
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