Fantasy Hockey: Changing on the Fly, Volume 12
Public service announcement: due to the All-Star break, most head-to-head fantasy hockey leagues are running a two-week week. Regular season matchups are on hold from Thursday-Monday as the league prepares for this year’s festivities in Columbus. Make sure you check your league settings on how your week will be scored and if you get extra transactions or not. There's nothing worse than using all your moves mid-week in the first half of a double week and then being stuck with injuries later on.
In case you are new here and missed earlier volumes, this is a weekly article based on JJ Zachariason's "15 Transactions for Week X" and Russell Peddle's "Dozen Dimes," which focus on football and basketball, respectively.
Add Steve Downie, LW/RW – Pittsburgh Penguins (48% owned)
With the double week due to the All-Star break, it behooves fantasy owners to take a close look at the upcoming schedule and make sure they are targeting players with a lot of upcoming games. The Pittsburgh Penguins happen to be the team to target for this fantasy cycle; they play at Philadelphia (January 20th) and at home against Chicago (January 21st) this week. They then host Winnipeg (January 27th) and Nashville (February 1) with a road trip to Washington (January 28th) and New Jersey (January 30th) in between.
Steve Downie has been a fantasy stud this year, mainly because of penalty minutes, but he is an offensive contributor as well. His point-per-game rate is tied for third among the top-10 most penalized players but he has spent so much time in the penalty box (or dressing room) that he has trumped pretty much all their value (although a case could be made for Dustin Byfuglien and Dion Phaneuf because defensemen's being a rarer commodity).
Somehow, Downie is owned in fewer than half of Yahoo! leagues. With his ability to win a category on his own, that shouldn’t be. If your league counts penalty minutes and Downie is sitting on your waiver wire, grab him. With six games this week he is sure to contribute.
Drop Tyler Ennis, C/LW – Buffalo Sabres (12%)
Conversely to the Penguins, the Buffalo Sabres barely play over the next two weeks and only have three games over that time. There really aren’t many Sabres worth owning these days; Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson (more on him next) are their only players in double-digit ownership.
Ennis has been the most productive Sabre this year but has gone cold since December and has only scored two goals in his last 18 games.
With no games from now until the break, Buffalo only has three games for this “week.” Ennis has been ice cold and should be dropped for another player that can get on the ice and contribute.
Hold Matt Moulson, LW - Buffalo Sabres (32%)Matt Moulson was the higher touted Sabre at the beginning of the season, but he has been a shell of his former self, and his minus-15 plus/minus has rendered whatever offense he has produced this year to be almost useless.
The reason Moulson has been so ineffective is that he is getting fewer opportunities in the offensive zone, which is a byproduct of being on a terrible Sabres team and that has led to less shot attempts and a low iCorsi.
|Season||5-on-5 Shots/60||5-on-5 iCorsi/60||5-on-5 Shooting %||OZFO%|
The other thing that is working against Moulson he not has any luck at all shooting on the power play.
|Season||5-on-4 Shots/60||5-on-4 iCorsi/60||5-on-4 Shooting %|
So count Moulson as a second half sleeper. If he can starting finding the back of the net with the man-advantage he may yet prove to useful to fantasy hockey owners. Chances are if you held on to him for this long, you either are in very deep league or have a lot of patience; with these numbers, Moulson is bound to regress toward the mean soon and we could be in for a productive second half.
Add David Pastrnak, RW – Boston Bruins (19%)
David Pastrnak just played his 10th game of the season on Saturday which means the first year of his rookie contract is in full effect and the Boston Bruins no longer have incentive to send him to the minors. Now that he is here to stay, Pastrnak is a good sleeper to have for the rest of the season. Through those first 10 games, Pastrnak has four goals and an assist and while the sample size is small, his advanced statics (Zone Adjusted Corsi) show that the Bruins are controlling the play with Pastrnak on the ice.
|Player||CF60||CF%||CF60 RelTM||CF% RelTM|
To explain, I chose Zone Adjusted Corsi to demonstrate my point because the Bruins have protected Pastrnak quite a bit by having him start over 50% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Zone Adjusted Corsi attempts to negate that fact by ignoring the first 10 seconds after a face off in either the offensive or defensive zone. It is done because it has been shown that the benefit of a zone start is almost completely negated after 10 seconds of play.
So regardless of the Bruins’ "protecting" Pastrnak, he is helping his line control play and they are getting a lot of scoring opportunites while he is on the ice. Pastrnak is currently skating with Milan Lucic and David Krejci as well as getting time on the Bruins power play. He’ll be a good play for the remainder of the season.
Add Devan Dubnyk, G – Minnesota Wild (35%)
This isn’t Devan Dubnyk’s first mention in this column. He has been notable this season for wrestling the starting job away from Mike Smith in Arizona while resurrecting his career. Now the Coyotes have dealt him to Minnesota, and he has the same opportunity to create mayhem for Darcy Kuemper when he returns from his lower-body injury.
Dubnyk has impressed in his first two games in Minnesota, posting a 0.50 goals against average and .977 save percentage. Those numbers are grossly unsustainable, but if Dubnyk is able to post similar numbers than those he had in Arizona, he should be able to steal the starting role from Kuemper.
The Wild (-0.08 nERD) are a stronger team than the Coyotes (-0.91 nERD) because of the strong offensive presence of Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, and Thomas Vanek. Dubnyk should a beneficiary in the tune of more wins per start, and if the Wild are able to turn things around with him in net, that could spell trouble for Kumper and his owners.
Buy Mike Smith, G – Arizona Coyotes (56%)
Dubnyk’s departure from the desert can only be good news for Mike Smith and the owners who showed patience through this treacherous season. Smith has struggled to a 3.45 goals against average and .887 save percentage in 29 games while losing starts to Dubnyk over the Coyotes first 44 games.
|Season||Starts||% of Starts|
Smith may not be the most attractive option, but he is now the undisputed starter, as Mike Lee does not pose a threat to start any more than back-to-back games. In leagues where saves are counted, quantity can almost be better than quality; Smith’s value has never been lower, so the window is large to grab him has a high-risk, high-reward option in net.
Hold Mathieu Perreault, C – Winnipeg Jets (30%)
Setting up this article this week, my intention was to advise owner to “Sell Mathieu Perreault,” then Friday night Perreault got crosschecked by Daniel Carcillo, and first fear was that Perreault suffered a broken arm. That has proven to be a an overreaction and while Perreault is out until at least the All-Star Game. His injury does not seem to be as serious as first though.
So news on #nhljets Perreault: Maurice calls it an UBI and says likely out until after all-star. So no extensive damage like a break or tear— gary lawless (@garylawless) January 18, 2015
If you can stash Perreault on your bench or injury reserve until he gets back, he could be a valuable trade chip if you find a manager who values what he has done in the past two months rather than the year as a whole.
Some would think that Perreault would pick up where he left off when he comes back form his arm injury, but it is important to note that when Evander Kane returned from an absence he was inserted in the lineup on the third line. He has since taken Perreault’s spot with Michael Frolik and Mark Scheifele. Kane is unlikely to slip further down the Jets’ depth chart whenever Perrault gets back, a spot in the top-6 may not be readily available.
To further my case, Perrault’s advanced statistics show that he is receiving fewer shooting opportunities and producing less than when he was in Anaheim or Washington.
This means that, while being red hot as of late, he is not necessarily a huge part of the Jets offense. Over the year Perrault’s actual value probably lies somewhere in the 0.50-0.60 point-per-game range rather that the 1-plus rate he has posted over the past month and a half. If I were a Perrault owner, I’d try to wait out this current injury and then move him and a “sell high” window.
Add Patrick Maroon, LW – Anaheim Ducks (3%)
There has somewhat of a carrousel on the left wing of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry’s line. Matt Beleskey has spent the majority of the season in the slot but was recently a healthy scratch. Rene Bourque has also played a bit with the All-Star duo as has Devante Smith-Pelly. Right now that honor goes to Patrick Maroon and he has benefited with four points in his last two games.
While the Ducks don’t generate many more shot attempts when Maroon is playing with Getzlaf and Perry than when he is on the ice with other teammates, Maroon sees the majority of his production while on that line.
|Maroon 5-on-5||Goals for/20||Corsi for/20|
To add to the enticement of Maroon, he is currently holding a shooting percentage of 4.1%, which is well below his career mark of 8.5%. Maroon is a candidate to regress towards the mean and whoever is playing with Getzlaf and Perry is worth looking at in most leagues, right now it is Maroon, grab him until the Ducks make a change.
Sell Kevin Shattenkirk, D – St. Louis Blues (97%)
Kevin Shattenkirk has been a pleasant surprise this season and is currently tied for the league in points by a defenseman with 39 points in 45 games for an impressive 0.87 points per game. This is precisely the reason it is the perfect “sell high” time for Shattenkirk. Prior to this year, Shattenkirk has shown a tendency to fall-off in the second half.
|Pre All-Star Game||142||85||0.60|
|Post All-Star Game||140||69||0.49|
In the past five seasons, there have only been five incidences of defensemen producing more than 0.80 points per game for an entire year.
Add Mark Arcobello, C – Pittsburgh Penguins (1%)
Mark Arcobello has had a whirlwind month. December 29th he was trade from the Edmonton Oilers to the Nashville Predators. He lasted only four games in Nashville before they place him on waivers with the intention of sending him to the minors. The Penguins claimed Arcobello January 14th and have added him to bolster their injured forwards corps. Sunday, Arcobello skated with Evgeni Malkin and Beau Bennett. While he failed to score or even register a shot on goal, playing with Malkin makes Arcobello fantasy relevant.
Today's #Pens lines: Kunitz-Crosby-Perron Bennett-Malkin-Arcobello Spaling-Sutter-Downie Sill-Goc-Adams— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 18, 2015
Arcobello has only eight goals in and five assists through 42 games with Edmonton, Nashville and Pittsburgh this year for an unimpressive 0.32 points per game. But as I mentioned earlier in the article, the Penguins play a league-leading six games during the “double week,” so Arcobello will have plenty of time to acclimatize himself to his new surroundings and linemates.