I started writing this before “the fight”, so I sarcastically penned that Connor McDavid had a terrible week, with his points per game dropping below three. Lo and behold, he ended up fracturing his hand and is out for around six weeks. Really though, this means next to nothing in terms of his fantasy value. If it were a hip injury, or something else that could end up nagging or reoccruing, then that becomes a worry. Him missing a few weeks against competition that is obviously two steps slower than him, mentally and physically, will not alter his long-term potential. Hopefully he doesn’t miss the World Juniors, and not just because I can’t wait to see him tear up the competition.
McDavid’s costar, Jack Eichel, is now below two points per game, which obviously puts him a tier below Johnny Hockey! And yes, despite McDavid’s injury, Eichel is still the clear number two pick. Don’t let that deter you, Eichel has elite potential. He is the most scruitinized player for a reason. He is one point away from the NCAA scoring lead, and leading the league in plus-minus. Honestly, I would trade McDavid before Eichel. The prices being thrown around for McDavid are ridiculous; they only make sense if he is an assured Crosby 2.0. Even the best prospects can get injured, not mature physically, or or or. While it sure looks like McDavid will be a superduperstar prospect, it isn’t assured. I personally think he will have an amazing career and provide tons of value immediately, but if you can trade him for a bonafide star (Seguin, Koptiar, etc), I would do it. It has been a while since a superstar prospect busted in hockey, hopefully he won’t bust that trend.
Is it just me, or are there a ton of prospects and young players with blazing starts this season?
I can’t think of a rational reason that younger players would be that much more streaky, but this season we have seen some extended streaks of unusual intensity and length. In general, the scoring leaderboard is a bit strange. If I told you in June that the top 15 scorers in mid-November would include Voracek being in second place, Tarasenko, Forsberg, Giordano, Hornqvist, Johnson, Toffoli and Burns, you would have called me crazy! In a one year league, you could have conceivably drafted all of them.
Filip Forsberg 20 points in 16 games.
Tarasenko, 21 points in 16 games.
Toffoli, 17 points in 17 games.
Ekblad, leading the Panthers in scoring.
If you projected those totals for 2017-2018, you would still be crazy, just less so.
For Forsberg especially, I think most will agree that he has more potential than he was given credit for. That being said, there needs to be some bubble bursting here. There are a couple of other stats that these guys are leading in, and they aren’t particularily positive.
Well, that is actually part of the problem… They are overwhelmingly positive.
Forsberg and Tarasenko lead the NHL in plus-minus at +19 and +14 respectively. Corey Perry is the first star on the plus-minus leaderboard, at plus-11. Even without any knowledge of advanced stats, Forsberg obviously isn’t that much better of a two-way player than Perry, and his team isn’t better either.
Forsberg also leads the league in PDO. Baaaaadd sign. People argue over the worthwhileness of PDO, and it may measure things other than luck, but leading the league in PDO with a 113 5v5 PDO is not a good sign for the future. When he is on the ice at 5v5, his goalies have saved 98% of the shots they have faced and the opposing goalie has saved only 84.7%.
In second place is Joe Colberne, whose opposing goalies have saved a QMJHL third-stringeresque 83.3% of shots faced. I know beer league goalies that do better.
Also in the top 10 of the PDO leaderboard:
Pearson (4th): 110.7
Toffoli (4th): 110.7 (It’s like they’re on the same line)
Gaudreau (6th): 110.3
Lehtera (7th): 110.1
Tarasenko (8th): 110.0
I don’t understand why all of these rookies are getting lucky, but they are. I would be willing to bet someone $10 that every single one of the players I just listed will have lower points per game by the end of the year than they do now. Every single one.
Just in case you need more evidence, here are the players who figure into the most of their team’s goals. Not the goals that they are on the ice for, all the goals scored by that team (from @AGretz):
The only player on that list I could see keeping up that pace is Bryan Little. He is figuring into a bunch of Winnipeg’s goals because no-one else is scoring; he should stay the same as everyone else around him gets a bit better. I’ll put out the same bet to everyone, with your terms. If two or fewer players here play more than 60 games and their points per game doesn’t go down, you win. Otherwise, I win. Someone has to bite!
I am not knocking what these guys have done, it doesn’t take away from their skill or accomplishments. Lucky doesn’t mean easy. I’m just hoping to pump the breaks a little here on some of the projections and valuations being thrown around for these guys. Forsberg getting 22 minutes (along with his excellent Corsi numbers and offensive zone starts), Tarasenko getting opportunities, these things all mean there will be sustained success. Just not at this level.
The first overall pick this past June is leading his team in scoring! Again, in May, the smart guess would have been Bennett or Reinhart. Nope! Both are back in junior, while Ekblad leads the lowly Panthers with eight points in 13 games while skating over 22 minutes. Great for him, terrible for the Panthers.
These crazy performances from Tarasenko, Forsberg and others have taken the spotlight off of Johnny Hockey a little bit. Given his huge stature in the media, that is a bit suprising to me. He has been excellent with 12 points in 17 games, six of which have come on the PP, and he has taken zero penalties! Great for the coaches, and if you expected Gaudreau to goon it up, you are doing it wrong. I know that, still, “all it takes is one hit”, but he has proven that he belongs, even if his production is percentage driven.
The one prospect I would pick up in all leagues with farm teams, if he isn’t picked up already, is David Pastranak. He is the youngest player in the AHL, at just 18 because of some interesting eligibility rules, and has 13 points in 12 games. The coaches rave about his IQ and work ethic. Having that type of dedicated player getting quality minutes against much better competition than the CHL or NCAA, at such a young age, can only be good for his development. The worry for young players in the AHL is that they get buried if they can’t compete physically right away. Pastranak obviously doesn’t have that problem, and is receiving the right coaching, trational as well as strength and nutritional, to really accelerate his development. I have higher confidence in him working out in the NHL than almost any 18 year old in the CHL.
Before this season, Chris Wideman was known as a defensive defenseman who did well under pressure and had some passing ability. He doesn’t really score goals. Well, didn’t. He went from the ECHL to 18 AHL points to 50 last year and this year he is second in the entire league with 17 points in 13 games. He is the only defenseman in the top 10, and is second in the league with eight goals. The next defenseman on the goal-scoring leaderboard is, uh, still scrolling, John Klingberg at 47th with four. I don’t need to tell you that scoring twice as many goals as the second best defenseman is Unsustainable, but he could be worth a speculative add in deeper leagues. He is a 2009 draft pick, and at 24 is still on the cusp of prospectdom for a defenseman.
Max Domi is tearing up the minors with a C on his chest, and some hustle in his skates. After some murmurs of one-dimensionality, lack of effort, and the usual for any extremely talented player, Domi got sent down to London and has set the Knights ablaze to the tune of 31 points in 16 games. By all accounts, he is the best player on this ice every night, and is back-checking ferociously and consistently. If Bo Horvat is sent down from the Canucks, he and Domi could go on a season-long tear to remember.
Bo Horvat, for his part, is playing relatively sound hockey for the Canucks, but it is looking likely that he will be sent down to the OHL. He tried a very junior-style “deke through three guys” move, and it failed with the aplomb you would expect. Horvat would do well in the AHL, but one last OHL stint shouldn’t hurt the 2013 top-10 pick.
Domi’s teammate Mitchell Marner has 29 points in 18 games and is living up to his billing as a 2015 first rounder. I am sure Ross and I will be talking about him more and more once the draft draws nearer.
Some quick hits:
Defenceman Roman Hrabarenka has 11points through 11 games with Albany. Seriously, where do these guys come from?
Pulkkinen is scoring at a point per game in the AHL. Again, different team, where do these guys come from?
Another Detroit prospect, Adam Almqvist, is out for the season.
Riley Nash, not a prospect anymore really, is scoring at a .8 points per game clip. What? This may just be a product of Carolina being terrible and someone needing to score, but it is worth watching.
Jiri Sekac has four points in four games since being benched for seven. He has been playing fundamentally sound hockey and making the safe skilled plays that Montreal needs on its third line. I doubt he is benched again this season.
Anthony Mantha is back from his broken leg, and should score a bunch in the AHL. I expect he will make a quick transition, though the leg may complicate that.
William Nylander is dominating in the SHL. Second on his team in points, played 10 less games than everyone else.
McDavid scoring and assisting like a McMonster.
Another clip from March, courtesy again of Connor McDekes (or insert any soon to be overused crappy nickname here).
Here is what I have been spending a lot of my time on recently. It is a full contact sport with a lot of passing. For my position, I chase around a dude dressed in who has a tennis ball in a glorified sock attached to his back pocket. He can throw me around, so that’s fun. For those of you that don’t believe it, yes, this IS quidditch!
I’m number 76, and you see me mostly at the 3:50 mark.
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