Q&A: Holtby, Weber, Marchand, and more…
With the hockey world at a rather slow point, I figured it was time for another Q&A. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. So let’s see what we have in the ol’ Twitter mailbag…
Why can't I shake this feeling that Braden Holtby is going to implode next season?
— Stephen Laidlaw (@SteveLaidlaw) July 15, 2017
Oh hello Steve. Hope your summer is going well and that this isn’t giving you nightmares.
Barring injury, let me reassure you that Braden Holtby should again be a top-5 goalie heading into preseason drafts. He’s led the league in wins for two consecutive seasons and posted at least 40 wins in each of his last three seasons. Over those three seasons, Holtby has never posted a goals-against average above 2.22 or a save percentage below .922. He’s as much of a sure thing as you’re going to find between the pipes in fantasy.
That nervous twinge in your stomach might have to do with the offseason losses in Washington. The offseason losses in Washington (Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner) could affect the Capitals in the standings, which could ultimately affect Holtby’s win total. Remember that other teams added during the offseason while the Capitals had to subtract for salary cap reasons.
In particular, the loss of Alzner cuts into the Capitals’ defensive depth. Alzner blocked a team-high 162 shots last season while blocking over 200 the season before, so that will be difficult to replace.
Overall, Holtby shouldn’t be affected too much. But don’t be surprised if there’s a very slight drop in his fantasy value.
Is Saros the guy in Nash before the end of next season?
— Robert Gibson (@RobertGibsonIII) July 15, 2017
If you include the playoffs, Pekka Rinne played 83 games last season. So at 34 years of age, can he possibly continue playing 60+ games, as he has over the past three regular seasons? Limited to just 19 starts last season, Juuse Saros impressed with a 2.35 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in his first NHL season. At the very least, he will be one of the better backups to own in 2017-18.
Having said that, this Nashville team is expected to be a serious Stanley Cup contender after a somewhat surprising run through the Western Conference. Critical to that run was Rinne, who posted a 1.96 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage through the playoffs. If not for the playoff run, I’d be more inclined to suggest that Saros might be ready for the starting role. But for now, he’ll probably have to continue buying time.
Will Stevens open things up more in LA? Feel like Doughty, Kopitar, Toffoli will be undervalued in drafts. Could they be in for big seasons?
— Ian Leslie (@ileslie23) July 15, 2017
Yes, I think John Stevens will make offense more of a priority in Los Angeles. In fact, that was noted with the hiring of Pierre Turgeon as the new offensive coordinator assistant coach. So at least the plan is to open things up for the likes of Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, and Tyler Toffoli.
For these three players, I’m thinking they will all have comeback seasons to a degree, but it would be a stretch to say that they will have big seasons. Kopitar posted his first sub-60 point season of his career (not including lockout), while Toffoli recorded barely over half a point per game in an injury-shortened season. Yet both shot below their career averages in 2016-17 (Kopitar 6 percent below, Toffoli 2 percent below). Given their career numbers, I’d be willing to bet on an improvement for both for 2017-18.
I’m not bullish on the Kings as a whole, though. They were a team that handed out the big contracts after their Stanley Cup wins, handcuffing their ability to improve their offense. Right now the Kings are on a downward path that they are hoping Stevens can reverse or at least hold off. But it will be interesting to see how much of an impact that the football-style “offensive coordinator” will have on an NHL team, even if it is a new concept in name only.
1yr. Std. H2H w/ weekly lock. Cats.=G,A,Pts,TOI,Blks,Hits,PPG,PPP. Any D-men more valuable than S. Weber? Any signs pointing to regression?
— Ian Leslie (@ileslie23) July 15, 2017
Is Shea Weber the most valuable fantasy defenseman out there when it comes to leagues with hits and blocked shots? After the first month and a half of last season, Weber was the top-ranked player in a similar league format, according to this November 27 Geek of the Week article. P.K. who?
But after October and November (18 points in 23 games), Weber cooled down significantly with 24 points over his last 55 games – not even a 0.5 point/game pace. If you needed a sign pointing to regression, that was one right there.
Sure, Weber is especially valuable in the kind of league that you are in. But an alternative strategy would be to target a higher-scoring defenseman instead (he finished 18th among blueliners with 42 points last season), then target your hits and blocked shots later. In fact, Erik Karlsson finished with more blocked shots last season (201) than Weber (157).
To me, it’s a no-brainer. Weber only exceeded Karlsson in two of your league categories (hits, PPG) and tied him in another (goals). Even with your league weighted toward the physical categories, I’d still take Karlsson over Weber.
In a standard keeper league: should I keep brad Marchand or trade high now? What's his projection for next year?
— Ivan (@ihlai99) July 15, 2017
After settling in as a 50-60 point player with a heavy concentration of goals, Marchand saw his career take off following his experience with Sidney Crosby at the World Cup of Hockey. One factor was more critical to that success than anything else: power-play time.
In 2016-17, Marchand recorded 24 power-play points, easily a career high considering that he never had more than eight power-play points in a season. Power-play time drove that, as he averaged 2:41 of power-play time on the first power-play unit in 2016-17, but just 1:28 in 2015-16 and just 0:59 (15th on the Bruins!) in 2014-15. Needless to say, he should remain on the Bruins’ first power-play unit after inexplicably having to wait for several years.
Marchand jumped from 61 points in 2015-16 to 85 points in 2016-17, so not all of that increase is accounted for by power-play points. His goal total increased by two last season, but he managed to do so by taking 24 fewer shots. His shooting percentage increased from 14.8% in 2015-16 to 17.3% in 2016-17, but it’s also worth mentioning that Marchand averaged 17% earlier in his career.
I own Marchand in one of my keeper leagues right now, and I fully intend to keep him. If you can obtain elite-level talent for him, then it doesn’t hurt to offer him in a trade. Reaching 85 points again probably won’t happen, but something in the 70-80 point range for Marchand seems reasonable to me.
@Ian_Gooding what are your projections for Coyotes forwards Keller, Perlini, Strome, Domi, and D man Chychrun
— Jimmy S. 🇨🇦 (@doublejspencer) July 15, 2017
Lots of young talent on the Coyotes. Can we call them the Paw Patrol instead of the Desert Dogs for the foreseeable future?
These are very preliminary projections and of course subject to change:
Clayton Keller: 20 goals, 25 assists, 45 points
Brendan Perlini: 15 goals, 15 assists, 30 points
Dylan Strome: 10 goals, 30 assists, 40 points
Max Domi: 20 goals, 35 assists, 55 points
Jakob Chychrun: 10 goals, 20 assists, 30 points
@Ian_Gooding who will have the better season Arizona or Carolina?
— Jimmy S. 🇨🇦 (@doublejspencer) July 15, 2017
Carolina posted 87 points last season while Arizona posted 70. While I could see the Coyotes being the better team long-term with more high-end offensive talent in their prospect pool, the Hurricanes seem to be farther along in their rebuild.
Both teams acquired new starters that were both top-notch backups (Scott Darling and Antti Raanta). Yet Carolina seems to have the stronger defense at this time. The addition of Niklas Hjalmarsson should help Arizona, but remember that Arizona finished 28th in goals allowed per game last season (3.15 GAA). An even greater contrast when it comes to the two defenses: Carolina finished 5th last season with 28.3 shots allowed per game, while Arizona finished 29th with 34.1 shots allowed per game.
I’d say Carolina has the better season in 2017-18.
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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