Ramblings: Centers that Aren’t Really Centers, Vrbata in Florida (Aug 16)

by Ian Gooding on August 15, 2017 | (1 Comments)
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Centers that Aren’t Really Centers, Vrbata in Florida (Aug 16)

Centers That Are Not Really Centers, Vrbata in Florida, plus more...

First, some quick news items for the day.

Hobey Baker award winner Will Butcher is expected to make his decision in a week about which team he will sign with. The University of Denver defenseman has decided not to sign with the Colorado Avalanche, the team that drafted him in the fifth round in 2013. Butcher has some offensive upside (37 points in 43 games), so you can expect us to mention what his signing will mean fantasy-wise.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney says that David Pastrnak will not be traded, even though he remains unsigned. In the meantime, we will continue to watch when notable RFAs such as Pastrnak, Leon Draisaitl, and Bo Horvat will finally put pen to paper.

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I might be arriving later to this party than some of you. But after discovering that Max Domi was listed as a left wing in the draft guide and a center on CBS, I sent this tweet out to CBS Fantasy:
 


Correcting myself before you correct me, Domi actually won 5 faceoffs last season (he took 10). But my point still stands.

So in case CBS pulls a fast one and changes positions on teams that have already planned their rosters for the upcoming year, I decided to look up centers who are due for a positional change to wing on their system. Apologies to those who use another platform, although this information could be relevant to you as well.

So here is a list of players with at least 40 games played last season and fewer than 100 faceoffs taken that are listed as centers on the CBS fantasy game. It may not be a complete list because the CBS fantasy platform doesn’t keep track of the faceoff stat, so I had to look up players listed as centers on NHL.com (besides Domi, who I found because he is on my team).
 

Player

Faceoffs
Taken

Travis Konecny

5

Melker Karlsson

6

Max Domi

10

Jake Guentzel

17

Robby Fabbri

24

Mikael Granlund

33

Mitch Marner

37

Colin Wilson

39

Andreas Athanasiou

83


Domi is listed as a left wing on NHL.com, so I couldn’t include all center-eligible players. Domi took only 55 faceoffs in 2015-16, so don’t count on CBS actually making this change. But it’s also worth mentioning that they did make some positional changes last season. Moving David Pastrnak from LW to RW and vice-versa for Patrick Sharp are two that I specifically remember.

In summary, I don’t know what the bar is in terms of the number of faceoffs per game that a forward has to take to remain a center. But if it is less than one per game, then I would question whether that player is really a center. So the players in the above table should not be centers.

Conversely, if Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski were practically joined at the hip last season (over 80 percent of both their even-strength and power-play minutes in 2016-17 were with each other), they can both be listed as centers. Both took over 700 faceoffs, although they both finished outside of the top 50 in that category. Ideally, this is where dual eligibility should be used. Although Yahoo used multiple forward positions considerably last season, unfortunately CBS does not do this.

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As you probably know by now, this time of year is slow for fantasy news. So I’ll take the opportunity to respond to a couple of comments from my last Ramblings. Nothing mean, I promise.

Speaking about the guide and Vrbata. Why if he is going to a better team with better linemates would he drop 14 points?

To expand, Radim Vrbata posted 55 points (20g-35a) last season. The Fantasy Guide has Vrbata projected to reach just 41 points (18g-23a) in his first season in Florida. I didn’t complete the projections myself, but I’ll try to provide some insight as to why he could be in for a significant downturn in 2017-18 in spite of the fact that he never seems to slow down.

A few NHL players (Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne, to name a couple) were still solid contributors at the age of 40. Vrbata is now 36 though, and it’s fair to say that players that are still in the NHL at that age experience some sort of age-related decline. It doesn’t happen at exactly the same time for all players, but like death itself and taxes it does happen. You have to bet the under when projecting just about any 35-and-over player’s point-per-game total from the previous season, unless he had an uncharacteristically bad season.

Another reason that the point total will slide: His assist total from last season. Vrbata recorded 35 assists, which was surprisingly a career high. He has never been a huge assists guy, as his career goal and assist totals are almost the same. Vrbata seemed to click particularly well with Martin Hanzal, who scored 16 goals in just 51 games with the Coyotes before his trade to Minnesota. Without Hanzal, Vrbata scored just eight points (including just three assists) in 19 games over March and April. He will need to find another Hanzal (or the Sedins from 2014-15) if he is going to make it work in Florida.

Vrbata’s career high of 63 points happened fairly recently (2014-15), but he also followed that one up with a stinker (27 points in 2015-16). When projecting point totals, we need to go back further than one season. I’d say at least two seasons, while others that I’ve discussed the topic with say you need three for an adequate sample size. Without the age-related decline, the average over the past two seasons is… you guessed it, 41 points. But over three seasons, it is 48 points. Either way, I’d expect fewer than 50 points, even if 41 points is a bit too low.

Yes, the Panthers have two top-6 level centers (Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck) while the Coyotes didn’t seem to have any once Hanzal was traded. So his production in Florida should be better than what his production in Arizona would have been had the Coyotes kept the exact same team from the end of last season. But there are too many other immediate factors that could drive his point total down. I’d let someone else take a chance on him unless you can get him on the cheap.

A bit surprised that Suzuki wasn't picked in the top 12 (of my fantasy entry draft)...

This begs the question: Which later-round first round picks are potential sleepers in keeper formats? You can see my fantasy league’s entry draft results from my most recent Ramblings.

Nick Suzuki was very highly regarded in both the Fantasy Guide and the Prospects Report. With 96 points (45g-51a) in 65 OHL games, he has a significant fantasy hockey upside. And because he plays an effective two-way game, his chances of making the NHL are very good. I know a few guys from my league are reading this, so I’m sure someone will bid on him now. Of the players remaining, Suzuki is arguably the best.

One draft expert that I follow thought that Martin Necas should be drafted in the top 10. He is a dynamic player who like Canucks’ pick Elias Pettersen needs to fill out (6’0”, 167 lbs.) But he had a strong development camp, which should further his stock.

Even though he was the last pick in the first round, Klim Kostin could make his NHL debut before most of the other first-round picks. That is because he will play in North America this season, which narrows his options to either the NHL or AHL. There are some risks in adding Kostin, but there’s enough potential for fantasy teams to take a flier on him.

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  • Striker

    The only way Vrbata posts less than 50 points this season even at 36 is if he misses 20 plus games to injury & his play with Hanzal is inconsequential. Hanzal is a #3 C at best, can’t stay healthy to save his life even at 6’5″. His best season ever is 40 points, he’s achieved it twice. Vrbata will draw Barkov or Trocheck & see 1st unit PP time. Hitting 55 points should be decent target, draft for 50 & be happy.

    • nathan

      Healthy Hanzal is pretty much on par with Trocheck. Hanzal would be a great #2 center in this league if he could stay healthy, don’t underestimate the talent just because of his injury history. I think asking for 50 from Vrbata is a huge mistake.

      • Striker

        The only similarities between Trochek & Hanzal are they both play in the NHL. Trochek isn’t even fully developed yet. His break thru happens this coming season. 30 goals or very close to it & 65 to 70 points.

        Hanzal has been given quality icetime his entire career & can’t put up points at even a #2 C rate, even with 1st line PP time. Nor can he stay healthy to save his life. 1 of the most overrated C’s in the game.

      • nathan

        Hanzal- 39 Pts in 71 games
        Trocheck- 54 pts in 82 games
        It’s a scoring rate within .1 of each other. I agree trochek is better but Hanzal, if healthy, is a mid to low end 2C- he’s just never healthy. I don’t see how trochek is so much better as to carry a 36 year old winger to career high numbers. Hanzal would be a 50-60 point player if healthy. That’s not garbage- and that’s kinda exactly what trochek is right now- whether or not his ceiling is ultimately much higher.

      • Striker

        Again Hanzal has never posted more than 40 points in 1 season, nor is Trochek fully developed, something Hanzal was 8 years ago. Also Trocheck has never had Hanzal’s quality of icetime. He has never been deployed as a #1 C nor seen 1st line PP time.

  • Striker

    Just because a player may take faceoffs doesn’t necessarily make him a C. Pavelski played RW with Thornton all year but he & Thornton both take draws, I assume to their backhands Thornton being LH & Pavelski being RH.

    I have been trying to get our managers to approve leaving CBS for years as their player positions are brutal. It’s not a huge # of players about 17 to 20 a year, usually a winger, primarily RW’s that are listed as C’s & It creates a huge disparity in our leagues at RW. Their simply aren’t enough of them making for a significant premium to acquire 1.

    20 team league, 24 man roster, dress 12 positionally, 3 at each forward position, 4 D & a G.

    • Ian Gooding

      Right, I understand that players get waived out of the faceoff circle frequently, and that teams will use more than one center on a power play. I’m just thinking of a system that is simple to keep track of. One that is black and white and open for everyone to see and without subjectivity. I don’t watch the Sharks all the time and would assume that CBS doesn’t either.

      I’ve noticed that about RW on CBS as well. With your comments about CBS, it might be time for me to consider a move. Wouldn’t happen until at least next season so that I can plan carefully.

      • Striker

        There were 17 players out of position that mattered on CBS last season in 1 of our leagues. All wingers that were shown as C’s.

        Pavelski plays RW but isn’t just a default option should Thornton get tossed from the circle. He takes draws on a certain side of the ice, Thornton on the other. Many teams use this deployment.

        I would love to leave CBS but we run our league by democracy. A majority need to approve it.

  • Striker

    CBS, gets their positions from the Elias Sports Bureau. It’s a joke. We have been complaining about their player positions for years in our leagues run on their site. They don’t care about hockey. We once spoke the the gentlemen in Florida that runs the hockey portion of the CBS site about the situation, he made it very clear. There is him & 1 assistant for hockey, football has about 35, baseball about 30. At every planning meeting no 1 cares about hockey & they just don’t see the difference between wingers & centers for them there are forwards & Dman. He has since moved on & we can’t even get to a human now.

  • finminer

    Has DH ever done a poll on what platform people use? I’ve been in leagues on CBS and it’s far more limited and inflexible than Fantrax, which is what I use exclusively now.

    • Ian Gooding

      I’m going to do a poll on Twitter about this now. 🙂

      • Matt Bruyns

        Fantrax >>> CBS

        You can adjust player positions so all players who take X FOs per game are Cs or use a ratio with FOT and TOI to determine who should be Cs.

  • Stan Raine

    Why couldn’t Kostin play in junior hockey in North America?