Sunday, June 9, 2019

Revised 2019 NHL Free Agency Predictions

What can we expect NHL free agents to get paid this summer? Back during the Christmas holidays, near the half-way point of the NHL Schedule, I made several predictions for free agency outcomes in the summer of 2019. Some of those players have already signed prior to July 1, and some of those predictions were very close, two were not. The Matthews predictions was based on the likelihood of an offer sheet had he waited to sign.

Already Signed

This is all done by looking at comparable free agents over the last 10 years, looking at their statistics before free agency, and taking an average of the term and adjusted salary on the contracts they received (this database has over 4000 entries). When you are looking at the highest skilled players like Matthews, the sample size is small. The hardest predictions are for the elite tier. There is some guess-work involved depending on the individual player circumstances, RFA vs UFA, and the salary cap constraints of their teams.

Here are my revised predictions, sorted by type.

UFA Forwards

RFA Forwards

The problem with predicting RFA term is figuring out if they get a bridge deal or a long-term contract. As the term gets higher, the expected salary also tends to get higher, at least for RFAs and especially if you are buying UFA years. There's a strong case to be made that Marner and Point deserve more money than what is predicted below, but both their teams find themselves in perilous salary cap situations. The team constraints should lower their expected salary, unless someone else is brave enough to make an offer sheet.

UFA Defensemen

My Christmas prediction for Erik Karlsson (the biggest prize in this year's UFA D class)  was much higher, at $10M AAV. But after the injuries he sustained in the 2nd half and the fact that he looked "gassed" in the playoffs has to have a few teams nervous about signing him long-term at too high of a price. It could be a beneficial gamble to do a 1 year contract and prove that he's still elite and healthy, but that could backfire if he's not. This is certainly a thin crop of to choose from, so teams looking to bolster their bluelines will have to overpay to get one of the top guys.

RFA Defensemen

My prediction for Trouba is based on the assumption that he's going to arbitration. We know he's not signing long-term in Winnipeg, so he'll need to traded before inking a deal over 1 year.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Reviewing NHL 2018/19 Fantasy Hockey Sleepers

With another season of Fantasy Hockey behind us, I have ranked my top 10 sleepers for the past 82 games. Players who were widely available in September and showed the greatest improvement in output and fantasy ownership. Then below that is the actual list of who I picked as sleepers before the season started.

1) Erik Gustafsson, Chicago: I’m not sure anyone would have predicted Gustafsson was about to breakout with a 60-point season on the blueline as the Blackhawks power play quarterback. He was still only 2% owned at the end of November, finishing the season at 71%.

2) Dylan Strome, Chicago: Strome probably doesn’t finish as a 57-point player if he doesn’t get traded to the Blackhawks, after scoring 9 PTS in 21 GP last season in Arizona. Strome was only 2% owned a month into the season, and finished at 30%. Most of the people who finished with Strome had claimed him off the waiver wire.

3) Elias Lindholm, Calgary: Everyone expected James Neil to get the first line gig with Monahan and Gaudreau, allowing many people to steal Lindholm in the later rounds of drafts. He was 15% owned before the season and was at nearly 70% by the end of October. Finished with 78 PTS in 80 GP.

4) Thomas Chabot, Ottawa: Chabot was among the most added players in October, climbing from 17% to 82% in the first month, as it became clear the absence of Erik Karlsson would benefit him immensely. This is one player that I regret not targeting sooner.

5) Timo Meier, San Jose: Meier scored 36 PTS in 81 GP last year, and I was expecting a modest bump up to 44 PTS. Instead he blew that away, scoring 66 PTS. Started the season 39% owned and finished at 79%.

6) Max Domi, Montreal: Expectations for Domi weren’t very high upon his arrival in Montreal, coming off 45 PTS in 72 GP with Arizona. His ownership was 36% heading into the season, but finished at 80% after posting 72 PTS in 82 GP. Another young player with an offensive explosion after leaving the Coyotes.

7) Mika Zibanejad, Rangers: Over his first 6 seasons, Zibanejad had never scored more than 51 PTS. That’s about what people were expecting when he was 34% owned in September. He set a new career high with 74 PTS in 82 GP, which helped his ownership climb over 80%.

8) Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg: Trouba saw a huge boost in power play deployment this season, and cashed in, thanks in part to Byfuglien missing a big chunk of the schedule. He was a 30% owned player when the season started, and finished at 79%, helping me win a championship.

9) Kasperi Kapanen, Toronto: Kapanen was elevated into a bigger role with the prolonged absence of William Nylander, and climbed from 5% ownership all the way up to 60% by November. The pending RFA finished at 35% owned, scoring 44 PTS in 78 GP, up from 9 PTS in 36 GP a year ago.

10) Zach Parise, Minnesota: After missing half of last season due to injury and posting a depressing 24 PTS in 42 GP, expectations for Parise where low in September when he was 14% owned. He was 70% owned by the end of October and finished the season with 61 PTS in 74 GP.

My Preseason Sleeper List

Reviewing my sleeper list from Sept 30th, I had a few great predictions, but also some I’d rather forget. Lindholm, Hertl, and Athanasiou were all strong calls, who all ended up on my roster in an 18-team league that won the championship. I was able to reap the rewards of my own advice. Funny enough, none of my terrible sleeper picks ended up on my either of my championship rosters. The biggest mistake that I made clearly revolved around the Edmonton Oilers outstanding offensive output in the preseason, chasing possible linemates for McDavid and Draisaitl.

1) Ty Rattie, Edmonton: To be fair, I put Ty Rattie #1 on both my preseason sleeper and bust lists as a bit of a joke. At the time he was leading the NHL in preseason scoring playing with McDavid, when his Yahoo ownership had surged up to 50%. He had the potential for a monster season if he had continued playing with McDavid, but stood to lose all his value if he got bumped from the top line, which happened almost immediately. He finished with 11 PTS in 50 GP.

2) Ryan Donato, Boston: Donato had a rough start to the season and got lost in the deep Bruins line-up. This was looking like a terrible sleeper pick until Donato was traded to Minnesota and caught fire, scoring 18 PTS in his last 30 GP. His ownership climbed from 2% on Jan 1 to 23% on Feb 1. Rest assured, Donato will find himself on a few sleeper lists next season after a strong 2nd half.

3) Kailer Yamamoto, Edmonton: I did warn people that Yamamoto may not even make the Oilers roster, but that he’d be a great add if he did, having scored 9 PTS in 6 preseason games. The kid finished the regular season with just 2 PTS in 17 GP and would have been a better fit on the bust list.

4) Tomas Hertl, San Jose: Hertl scored 46 PTS in 79 GP in 2017/18, and finished with 74 PTS in 78 GP. My assessment was “of all the Sharks forwards you can get later in your draft, Hertl might have the most room for growth. He’s still young enough that his prime years should still be ahead of him. His previous career best is 46 PTS, which he should easily beat this season.”

5) Elias Lindholm, Calgary: Lindholm was only 17% owned before the schedule began, which shot up to 69% by the end of October after being placed on the top line with Monahan and Gaudreau. He scored 34 more PTS than in 2017/18. This was the best call I made in my sleeper list, and also a player I stole in the middle rounds of my deep league’s draft.

6) Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton: I would certainly love a mulligan for this prediction, as he was a candidate to possibly play on a top 2 line in Edmonton after having a good preseason. But his 9 PTS in 46 GP was a huge step backwards. He may very well become a quality NHL player some day, but don't expect him on too many sleeper lists next season.

7) Alex Tuch, Las Vegas: Tuch scored 37 PTS in 78 GP as a rookie and followed that up with 52 PTS in 74 GP, a 15-point improvement. That number could have been even higher had he not missed games with an injury early in the season. He was 18% owned when I compiled my sleeper list, and climbed up for 58% by the end of January. The addition of Mark Stone did hurt his deployment down the stretch.

8) Cam Fowler, Anaheim: Fowler’s season was derailed by a broken face in midway through the schedule and never fully recovered. Compound that with an anemic Anaheim offense, and Fowler was a fantasy disappointment. Still, I’d like to think he would have been much better without some bad luck.

9) Josh Manson, Anaheim: This was another strikeout as a preseason sleeper, a player that I liked to get 35 PTS and 180 hits. I made this pick after seeing that Yahoo standard leagues had added hits as a category, and Manson did get 184, but the PTS fell down to 16. He'll almost certainly fall in drafts next September, and may be a good value play in deep bangers leagues.

10) Andreas Athanasiou, Detroit: My last sleeper pick did pay dividends, as Athanasiou jumped from 33 PTS in 71 GP in 2017/18, up to 54 PTS in 76 GP a year later. He did help me win at least one championship.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

NHL 2018/19 Week 23 Fantasy Hockey Report

This is my week twenty-three fantasy hockey report for those competing in head to head categories or rotisserie leagues. This will be the championship week in Yahoo standard leagues, and semi finals for many others. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday will be very busy, so any extra games you can get on Monday Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday will be crucial. Any players who will be on your bench during the busy nights are droppable. The Vancouver Canucks have an incredible schedule at the start of the week, with Chicago Mon, Ottawa Wed. The Jets have a very enticing Southern California road trip.

Best Standard League Adds (20% to 60% Yahoo ownership):

1) Alex Edler, D, Van, (39% Yahoo ownership): The Canucks may have fallen out of the playoff race, but their dependence on Edler has not diminished. The team has once again run into injury problems on the blueline and need Edler to log a ton of minutes. Over his last 6 GP, he has scored 3 PTS with 18 shots, 23 hits and 21 blocks. They will play Chicago on Monday and Ottawa on Wednesday. The first half of the week is a great time to buy stock in the Canucks, who are otherwise in a nose dive.

2) Kevin Hayes, C, Wpg, (30% Yahoo ownership): Hayes scored 5 PTS in 5 GP after arriving in Winnipeg at the trade deadline, but has since gone pointless in 4 games. What I like most about Hayes this week is schedule and availability. They play LA on Mon, then Anaheim on Wed. Trips to Southern California aren’t as tough as they used to be. I’m buying stock in the Jets for those 2 games, then you can drop him. The Jets have Vegas and Nashville on Thu and Sat, which are not desirable days or opponents to start Hayes.

3) Phillip Grubauer, G, Col, (26% Yahoo ownership): This spot came down to Grubauer or Petr Mrazek, but Grubauer has a moderately better schedule. It was a terrible start to his season for the guy pegged to replace Varlamov. Now all of a sudden in his last 5 games, Grubs has posted a 0.99 GAA and .965 SV% with 2 shutouts. It doesn’t get much better than that. The Avs are currently 6 PTS back of the wildcard, making it unlikely they’ll qualify for the playoffs, but close enough that they’re going to keep trying to win. Grubauer is both the hot hand and their goalie of the future.

4) Dylan Strome, C, Chi, (30% Yahoo ownership): Check to be sure that you can actually fit Strome into your starting line-up on Thu and Sat (which can be tricky with centers), but those Mon and Sun games look great. I might add him as a Monday stream just for that Vancouver game. Over his last 13 GP, Strome has scored 13 PTS, albeit with weak peripheral production.

5) Jakub Vrana, W, Wsh, (20% Yahoo ownership): The best thing about Vrana this week is that he plays 4 games and none of them are on Thursday or Saturday. He hasn’t exactly been shooting the lights out lately, but he’ll be easy to fit into your starting line-up. Vrana has scored 8 PTS in his last 14 GP and Washington as a team has been playing great hockey.

Last Week: James Van Reimsdyk, Jason Zucker, Ivan Provorov, Mikko Koskinen, Ryan Donato

Best Deep League Adds (under 20% ownership):

1) Lawson Crouse, Ari, (12% Yahoo ownership): I added Crouse last week in a 12-team standard league and am going to let this ride for another week. The kid has been dominating the hits category over the last 30 days. He has gone pointless in his last 6 GP (after scoring 5 in his previous 6), but has also produced 62 hits in his last 12 GP. You aren’t adding him for points, only rostering if you need to win the hits category next week. The Coyotes play 4 games.

2) Dmitry Orlov, Wsh, (6% Yahoo ownership): The Caps have a good schedule this week and Orlov has scored 9 PTS in his last 10 GP. In addition to deep league appeal, you can even stream Orlov in shallower formats as he will play on Wed, Fri, and Sun. He has also produced 22 hits in his last 10 GP and was a +6. Orlov can help in multiple categories, most importantly points, and will be easy to fit into your starting line-up.

3) Brendan Perlini, Chi, (5% Yahoo ownership): Brendan Perlini is on a roll. Despite uninspiring ice time numbers (under 13 minutes per game avg), over his last 7 GP this kid has scored 10 PTS, with 8 of those being goals. He’s been playing on a line with Strome and DeBrincat, and the Hawks play 4 games this week. Great deep league streamer, especially for that Monday game against Vancouver.

4) Alex Killorn, TB, (13% Yahoo ownership): Yesterday against the Capitals, Killorn netted a hat trick, giving him 6 PTS in his last 7 GP. Tampa plays on Mon and Wed, so it should be easy to squeeze him into your line-up at the start of the week, where the Thu-Sat games will be more crowded. As the playoffs get closer, the Lightning may choose to start resting their top stars and giving the lower line players more ice time.

5) Sam Montembeault, Fla, (9% Yahoo ownership): The Florida Panthers had found themselves in a free-fall, losing six games in a row, then this rookie made his 2nd career start, and they have now won four in a row. In those 4 wins, Montembeault has posted a 2.00 GAA and .920 SV%. Neither Reimer or Luongo are currently listed as injured, but both have been banged up throughout the season. For the time being it looks like Florida will ride the hot hand, and there aren’t many better goaltending options in your really deep fantasy leagues.

Last Week: Lawson Crouse, Travis Sanheim, Alexandar Georgiev, Troy Terry, Vinnie Hinostroza

The 1% (best adds 1% owned or less):

1) Tyler Motte, W, Van: The offensive production for Motte hasn’t been good, scoring only 2 PTS in his last 12 GP, averaging 12:24 minutes of ice time on a terrible team. But in those 12 GP, he has produced 26 shots and 37 hits. The Canucks have very appealing Mon-Wed games. I was going to stream him in my 18-team league for the hits, but somebody else scooped him up today.

2) Carl Hagelin, W, Wsh: This has been a dismal season for Hagelin who has been traded twice in the last few months. That being said, his production has started to rise since being traded to Washington, scoring 5 PTS in his last 7 GP. As discussed earlier, the Caps play mostly on “off-nights” so he’ll be easy to fit into your line-up and is available in 99% of leagues.

3) Connor Murphy, D, Chi: This will be a good week to own Blackhawks, as previously discussed. Over his last 13 GP, Murphy has produced 4 PTS with 24 shots and 26 hits. The point production is nothing special, but the peripheral numbers are really good. Murphy’s streaming value does drop if you are unable to add him in time for that Monday game against Vancouver.

Last Week: Robert Thomas, Adam Pelech, Marcus Sorensen

Sunday, March 10, 2019

NHL 2018/19 Week 22 Fantasy Hockey Report

This is my week twenty-two fantasy hockey report for those competing in head to head categories or rotisserie leagues. There are both standard and deep league acquisition targets. This is more of a “waiver wire” report, looking for those who are more likely to be available in your league as opposed to the universally owned players. I also do not recommend any players who play 2 games or less over the next 7 days (Monday to Sunday), with a preference for those with 4 or more games.

Best Standard League Adds (20% to 60% Yahoo ownership):

1) James Van Reimsdyk, W, Phi, (51% Yahoo ownership): The Flyers have a good schedule this week, including a great Monday match-up against Ottawa. JVR has scored 8 PTS in his last 7 GP with 23 shots. If your league puts extra value on goals, then he becomes even more appealing. He was over 80% owned heading into the season, but injury and inconsistency has seen that fall to 50%. There is no denying the guy has upside when the stars align. I had the choice between JVR and Zucker to replace Landeskog in my 12-team standard league for the semi finals and I chose JVR because of the Ottawa game.

2) Jason Zucker, W, Min, (54% Yahoo ownership): Zucker has been a popular add over the past week on Yahoo, as he’s been hot since Ryan Donato came to town, scoring 7 PTS (mostly goals) in his last 8 GP with 22 shots. The Wild play 4 games at home in the upcoming week, and the Zucker-Donato-Staal line is on a roll. Zucker was 75% owned when the season started and that number gradually dropped as he disappointed owners. Finally, he’s starting to fulfill expectations. 

3) Ivan Provorov, D, Phi, (45% Yahoo ownership): Provorov’s production has been steadily improving over the second half of the season. Over his past 14 GP, the Russian has scored 7 PTS with 32 shots, 26 hits, and a +5. That’s the kind of production that people were expecting when they drafted him this year (myself included), it just took a while for him to get going. Good chance this kid finds himself on my sleeper list next season. At 22-years-old his best years should still be ahead of him.

4) Mikko Koskinen, G, Edm, (45% Yahoo ownership): Koskinen did miss his start on Saturday due to an illness, so hopefully that bug will be out of his system soon. Over his past 12 GP, the big guy has been surprisingly good, putting up a 2.43 GAA and .925 SV%. The Oilers have been giving him a heavy workload as they pretend to still be in playoff contention. I added him for my semi-final match coming up in a 12-team standard league.

5) Ryan Donato, W, Min, (24% Yahoo ownership): Donato was on my preseason sleeper list after scoring nearly a point per game in his audition with the Bruins last spring. The rookie was never able to get consistent deployment on Boston’s deep roster, but has exploded since being traded to Minnesota (9 PTS in his last 9 GP, with 23 shots and a +6). The kid has been producing on the power play as well, scoring 3 of those PTS with the man advantage.

Last Week: Justin Schultz, Josh Bailey, Jake DeBrusk, Anthony Mantha, Darcy Kuemper

Best Deep League Adds (under 20% ownership):

1) Lawson Crouse, W, Ari, (11% Yahoo ownership): The recommendation to add Crouse is dependent on hits counting in your league. Crouse is a hitting machine who won’t hurt you in points and shots (4 PTS, 18 shots, 34 hits, +4 in his last 7 GP). The Coyotes play on Monday and Tuesday, so I have even added him in a 12-team standard league to pad my hit total at the start of the week, then stream him out (probably for Zucker if he’s still on my waiver wire).

2) Travis Sanheim, D, Phi, (15% Yahoo ownership): The goal scoring may be unsustainable, but he’s a great deep league add for the fantasy playoffs. Over his last 6 GP, Sanheim has scored 7 PTS with a +7. The shot and hit totals have not been great, you just need to hope the point scoring hot streak lasts a little bit longer. Certainly someone I like for the Flyers Monday game against the Senators. Another 22-year-old Flyers defenseman who will be on a lot of sleeper lists next year.

3) Alexandar Georgiev, G, NYR, (7% Yahoo ownership): The young Russian has been splitting starts with Lundqvist and playing well, posting a 2.54 GAA and .924 SV% over his last 7 GP. The Rangers play 4 games next week, so Georgiev is a nice deep league sleeper. The Rangers should be tanking, but the coach has the team playing hard and trying to win.  

4) Troy Terry, W, Ana, (3% Yahoo ownership): After a dismal 30 game stretch with 5 wins and 25 losses, the Ducks appear to have stopped the bleeding, winning 3 of their last 4. Part of that success can be attributed to Terry, who has scored 7 PTS in his last 3 GP. The line of Terry, Ritchie, and Henrique has been on fire. Yet another youngster who could be a late round steal in drafts next season.

5) Vinnie Hinostroza, W, Ari, (4% Yahoo ownership): This has been a favourite deep league streaming target of mine in the 2nd half, and is a solid start of the week streamer (the Coyotes play Mon-Tue). Cousin Vinnie has scored 6 PTS in his last 7 GP with 15 shots, 14 hits, and a +6 rating. Unfortunately, I can’t stream him this week in my 18-team league because he’s been permanently added by another owner.

Last Week: Danton Heinen, Cal Clutterbuck, Johnny Boychuk, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Miller

The 1% (best adds 1% owned or less):

1) Robert Thomas, W, St. Louis: Thomas has been productive in St. Louis lately, scoring 5 PTS in his last 5 GP. He’s got strong prospect pedigree and will be a great sleeper pick for next season when he’ll turn 20 years old. In the meantime, the Blues have an enticing schedule this week, so he can help you out in a deep league if he’s available.

2) Adam Pelech, D, NYI: Pelech is not a big time point producer, but he’ll provide decent shot and hit totals on your blueline. Over his last 8 GP, he has recorded 3 PTS with 16 shots, 15 hits, and a +6 rating. Also, a good pick-up for the weekend, when the Islanders will play a weak Red Wings team.

3) Marcus Sorensen, W, SJ: The Sharks play 4 games, including 2 on Mon-Tue. I’m going to be streaming some Sharks myself at the start of the week.  Sorensen has scored 5 PTS in his last 4 GP playing on a productive line with Joe Thornton and Kevin Labanc.

Last Week: Valteri Filppula, Jared McCann, Filip Hronek

Sunday, March 3, 2019

NHL 2018/19 Week 21 Fantasy Hockey Report

This is my week twenty one fantasy hockey report for those competing in head to head categories or rotisserie leagues. There are both standard and deep league acquisition targets. This is more of a “waiver wire” report, looking for those who are more likely to be available in your league as opposed to the universally owned players. I also do not recommend any players who play 2 games or less over the next 7 days (Monday to Sunday), with a preference for those with 4 or more games.

Best Standard League Adds (20% to 60% Yahoo ownership):

1) Justin Schultz, D, Pit, (37% Yahoo ownership): Schultz was over 50% owned before an injury cost him a few months of the season. He’s back, and over the last 2 weeks has been logging big minutes for the Penguins, scoring 6 PTS in his last 8 GP. He’s worth adding and holding in standard leagues as he continues to play on one of the best power play units in the NHL. Schultz could lose power play time when Letang returns from injury, so keep an eye on that.

2) Josh Bailey, W, NYI, (36% Yahoo ownership): The Islanders are going to be playing against the Ottawa Senators twice this week, which gives the whole team a big value boost. Anyone from that team who you can plug into your roster is good bet, and my favourite of the widely available options is Bailey, who has scored 11 PTS in his last 15 GP. His shot and hit totals are disappointing, but he’s got the potential to put up some big point totals this week. Brock Nelson is another player I'd consider.

3) Jake DeBrusk, W, Bos, (46% Yahoo ownership): DeBrusk’s ownership had dropped to the 20% zone in December and January, but he’s been surging down the stretch, scoring 13 PTS in his last 9 GP (with 27 shots). The Bruins play 4 games this week, including one against the Ottawa Senators. DeBrusk has been one of the most added players in fantasy in the last 14 days. The red flag for Jake is his ice time lacks consistency. The Bruins have been playing great and in their last game DeBrusk was 7th in forward ice time.

4) Anthony Mantha, W, Det, (31% Yahoo ownership): The last 2 weeks have seen Mantha catch fire with 12 PTS in his last 9 GP (including 34 shots and 11 hits). The Red Wings play 4 games this week with a few shaky goaltenders on the itinerary. He had been questionable for Saturday’s game with the flu, but still managed to play, recording an assist. Hopefully Mantha will be fully healthy by Tuesday.

5) Darcy Kuemper, G, Ari, (51% Yahoo ownership): If Kuemper is still on your waiver wire, he’s a must add in nearly all formats. He’s playing almost every game for the Coyotes and has won 9 of his last 10 starts. Over the last month Kuemps has posted a 2.35 GAA and a .925 SV% while his team has been red hot driving for the playoffs. Arizona plays Ana, Cgy, and LA. The Calgary game will be tough, but the others are not.

Last Week: Frank Vatrano, Reilly Smith, Brian Elliot, Shea Theodore, Vincent Trocheck

Best Deep League Adds (under 20% ownership):

1) Danton Heinen, W, Bos, (11% Yahoo ownership): Daily Faceoff still has him listed on the top line with Bergeron and Marchand, the Bruins are rolling, play Ottawa Saturday, and Heinen has scored 11 PTS in his last 12 GP. I’m definitely buying Heinen stock this week.

2) Cal Clutterbuck, W, NYI, (2% Yahoo ownership): Over his last 6 GP, Clutterbuck has scored 4 PTS with 19 hits. With the Senators coming up twice this week, the guy with the cool name is a nice streaming target if your league counts hits, or if your league still even counts games Ottawa…

3) Johnny Boychuk, D, NYI, (10% Yahoo ownership): This is probably the best deep league defense streaming option with the Senators coming up twice. I’m not big on JB as a long-term add. Over his last 15 GP he has scored 4 PTS with 26 shots and 20 hits. This is 100% a short-term play given his team’s schedule.

4) Jordan Eberle, W, NYI, (20% Yahoo ownership): Have I mentioned that the Islanders play Ottawa twice? That team is in a free fall. Eberle’s ownership is right around where it belongs, but he’s worth a stream in shallower leagues for Tuesday Thursday.

5) Ryan Miller, G, Ana, (9% Yahoo ownership): It may be foolish of me to recommend a Ducks goalie for the Fantasy Hockey playoffs, but in 4 GP since returning from injury, Miller has been good (2.02 GAA and .933 SV%). If you are in a deep league with limited options, Anaheim plays 4 games and it should not be a terribly difficult schedule.

Last Week: Carl Soderberg, Alex Killorn, James Reimer, Nikita Zadorov, J.T Compher

The 1% (best adds 1% owned or less):

1) Valteri Filppula, C, NYI: Blah blah blah Ottawa twice blah blah blah.

2) Jared McCann, C, Pit: Over his last 7 GP, McCann has scored 4 PTS, with 13 shots, 10 hits, and a +6. His play has improved since going to Pittsburgh, and the Pens have a good schedule coming up.

3) Filip Hronek, D, Det: The Red Wings look to be going all in on Hronek to close out the schedule, as he’s been up over 22 minutes for the last 3 games and has scored 4 PTS in his last 6 GP. The Wings play 4 games this week. Hronek is worth a stream in really deep formats.

Last Week: Troy Stecher, Matt Calvert, Riley Sheahan

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Artemi Panarin Contract Comparables

Over the Christmas holiday I completed preliminary predictions for the future contracts of pending NHL free agents. My initial projection for Artemi Panarin was 7 years at an Average Annual Value of $7.2M, which in retrospect is too low. It can be difficult predicting free agent contracts for the elite tier of players due to a much smaller sample size. If you widen the parameter search to get a larger sample size to compare to your elite production player, you will reduce the expected salary. 

This season Panarin has scored 69 PTS in 59 GP, which works out to 96 PTS per 82 GP. The number of forwards in the salary cap era who have signed UFA contracts at age 26, 27, or 28 after scoring more than 80 PTS per 82 GP (with at least 40 GP) is very small, and most of those players signed well in advance of July 1. It's extremely rare for a player of Panarin's skill level to reach the open market at his age. This has the potential to create a bidding war and drive up his price tag. 

Below is a list of comparables with their scoring the year before their new contracts began and what those contracts would be.

We can probably scratch off Tim Connolly as a comparable because he had too many injury issues in the seasons before free agency that teams weren't willing to give him significant term. Marchand signed his contract extension in September after coming off a 61-point season, then exploded up to 85 PTS and missed an opportunity to cash in on it. Kovalchuk signed a contract that is now illegal by CBA rules, so his cap number was shrunk down artificially with superfluous term.

The cautionary tale on the comparables list above is obviously Alex Semin. Washington had repeatedly given him 1-year contracts for most of his RFA years, never willing to give him a long-term extension. They were probably concerned that his effort level would plunge if he ever got extended wage certainty, and always wanted that carrot at the end of a short stick. When Rutherford finally gave him a 5-year deal, he immediately fell off the map. By year two he scored 19 PTS in 57 GP and was bought out.

With all that in consideration, the floor for Panarin's upcoming salary looks to be around $9M. An AAV over $11M would put him in the Malkin-zone, and I don't think that anyone would argue he's on that level. I'm sure most teams would feel more comfortable giving him a 5-year term at age 27, but he'll have enough suitors offering him a 7-year contract that 5 years won't be enough to land the big fish. It's hard to argue that he's worth more than Mark Stone, who just agreed to a max term contract at around $9M AAV. Had Stone gone to July 1st, he could have gotten a higher salary, but wouldn't have gotten that 8th year (9x8 > 10x7).

Any team who wants to sign Panarin this summer will probably need to offer at least 7 years $9.5M just to play ball. If your city is one of the places where Artemi desires to live, he may take a slightly smaller offer if he really loves the destination. That's the best-case scenario. Teams should be warned that he's also going to turn 30-years-old three years into this deal, at which point he is at much higher risk of a decline in productivity. This could become an albatross on the back half. Your window of competing for a championship should ideally be in the next 3 years. After that, this Panarin contract could become more of a hindrance than an asset.

My revised prediction for Artemi Panarin is now 7 years $70M, with a $10M AAV. That's where I'd set the over/under for AAV, and I would probably bet the over.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

NHL 2018/19 Week 20 Fantasy Hockey Report

This is my week twenty fantasy hockey report for those competing in head to head categories or rotisserie leagues. Yahoo standard league playoffs are a week away. There are both standard and deep league acquisition targets to help your playoff seeding. This is more of a “waiver wire” report, looking for those who are more likely to be available in your league as opposed to the universally owned players. I also do not recommend any players who play 2 games or less over the next 7 days (Monday to Sunday), with a preference for those with 4 or more games.

Best Standard League Adds (20% to 60% Yahoo ownership):

1) Frank Vatrano, W, Fla, (29% Yahoo ownership): The Panthers are going to be playing 5 games this week, some of them against weak opponents. Over his 12 GP Vatrano has scored 7 PTS with 23 shots and 27 hits while averaging 15:45 of ice time. The team also plays 4 games in the first week of the Yahoo standard league playoffs, so there’s value in hanging on to him beyond just the upcoming match-up.

2) Reilly Smith, W, LV, (43% Yahoo ownership): Vegas is going to be playing 4 games next week, none of them against strong defensive teams. Smith has scored 5 PTS in his last 6 GP, with 17 shots while averaging 18:15 of ice time, playing on a line with Marchessault and Karlsson. He’s been heating up, getting great deployment, with a really good schedule. Stream him where available.

3) Brian Elliot, G, Phi, (22% Yahoo ownership): Carter Hart has been injured and is expected to miss a week. In 3 games since returning from injury himself, Elliot has posted a 2.28 GAA and .938 SV%. This is not a goalie that I trust long-term, but the Flyers play 4 games next week, all against average to below average offensive teams. He’s a sneaky sleeper if you desperately need goalie starts to make the playoffs.

4) Shea Theodore, D, LV, (36% Yahoo ownership): As stated above, Vegas has a great schedule coming up. The kid has scored 5 PTS in his last 12 GP, with 30 shots on goal, on pace for a 35-point season. There aren’t many better streaming options who are widely available, especially for the Friday Sunday games against Anaheim and Vancouver. Also plays Thursday, so I love him as a Wednesday night addition.

5) Vincent Trocheck, C, Fla, (60% Yahoo ownership): Trocheck has only scored 4 PTS in his last 12 GP (with 32 shots and 23 hits), so people have started dropping him. If he was dropped in your league, Trocheck is a great streaming target, especially for that Sunday game against Ottawa. Last season he was a 75-point player, so the offensive upside is there even if the scoring pace has slowed down lately.

Last Week: Erik Gustafsson, Josh Anderson, Mats Zuccarello, Jason Zucker, Darcy Kuemper

Best Deep League Adds (under 20% ownership):

1) Carl Soderberg, C, Col, (17% Yahoo ownership): The Avalanche have a fantastic schedule next week, playing Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun against Fla, Van, SJ, and Ana. Soderberg is on pace for a 54-point season (which would be a career high) and has scored 7 PTS in his last 8 GP with 29 shots and a +7 while average 18:48 of ice time. He’ll probably be on my bust list next season, but in the meantime strike while the iron is hot.

2) Alex Killorn, W, TB, (13% Yahoo ownership): There are a few blowout candidates coming up for the Lightning. Killorn may be playing on the 3rd line with Cirelli and Gourde, but has still scored 5 PTS in his last 8 GP, with 19 shots. He has good upside this week and can help you out in a deep league. Not worth consideration in shallow leagues.

3) James Reimer, G, Fla, (16% Yahoo ownership): The Panthers play 5 games next week, so Reimer will see 2-3 starts guaranteed. He’s had some rough patches this season, but has calmed down over the last 30 days with a 2.70 GAA and .916 SV%. There is some risk to picking up this guy, so you’ll need to be desperate for starts and saves to make this add.

4) Nikita Zadorov, D, Col, (14% Yahoo ownership): If your league does not count hits, you can scratch this recommendation (instead take a look at Severson or Sanheim). Over his last 12 GP, Zadorov has recorded 52 hits (with 4 PTS and only 14 shots). You can almost add him in a 12-team standard league if you need to win that category to make the playoffs.

5) J.T Compher, W, Col, (5% Yahoo ownership): We have already established that the Avalanche have a very appealing schedule, and Compher is another guy who has been productive lately, scoring 6 PTS in his last 8 GP. He’s only owned in 5% of leagues, so he’ll be widely available for deep league streaming.

Last Week: Dominik Kahun, Brandon Saad, Anders Nilsson, Jordan Oesterle, Pavel Buchnevich

The 1% (best adds 1% owned or less):

1) Troy Stecher, D, Van: The Canucks have continued playing Stecher big minutes (averaging 27:05 over last 6 GP) with Edler and Tanev injured, and the team has a stacked schedule at the start of next week (Ari, Col, Ana) with 3 games in the first 4 days. Stecher is a great deep league streamer.

2) Matt Calvert, W, Col: Over his last 12 GP, Calvert has scored 6 PTS with 11 PIMs, 26 shots, and 20 hits while averaging 15:16 of ice time. Has more value in a categories league than a straight up PTS league, but even his scoring production has been decent. I just added him as a streamer in my 18-team league.

3) Riley Sheahan, C/W, Fla: Sheahan is a good volume play next week, with the Panthers having a 5-game schedule. He’s got limited offensive upside, scoring 2 PTS in his last 7 GP, but he’s got LW eligibility and will probably give you around 25 faceoff wins and 8 shots next week. You need to count FW in your league for Sheahan to be relevant.

Last Week: Derek Ryan, Vinnie Hinostroza, Cody Ceci