I published the Fantasy Guide on Thursday, that’s right – a day earlier. Fixed a couple of typos on Friday, updated some RFA signatures, and a few more typos on Sunday. So already updated twice. I don’t like having a single thing wrong with this guide. The best person to create and update a guide is someone as obsessed as me. You’ve seen it for 17 years. Get the Fantasy guide here and immediately download the PDF and worksheet.
Also added Sunday – an update to the schedule article, adding a table comparing teams playing on clear days. Fantasy owners have found this one invaluable and now we have it in this year’s Guide.
Fantasy Hockey Geek also has this year’s projections in the system, so go ahead!
One player who caught my eye while doing the Fantasy Guide was Damon Severson. Yes, I knew he had a good year. And yes, I knew he picked it up after Hamilton was sidelined. But after Hamilton returned, Severson was still seeing 2:50 in PPTOI per game (as of Feb. 24) and had 19 points in 32 games overall – that’s a 49-point pace. That’s a big number with Hamilton in the lineup. In all, Severson has 42 points over the last 60 games (a 63-point pace) after starting slow. He played mostly with Ty Smith in that first quarter of the season and it lowered his point total. Sometimes playing with a young player who is not good in his own side will lower the veteran’s totals, as was the case here.
I’ve always been a fan of the underdog Mason Appleton. Not as the first potential star understudy retained, but as the potential second understudy from the mid-60s. Drafted 168e overall, he was a high-scoring college player, despite never really scoring points per game. He quickly transitioned into professional hockey, posting 66 points in 76 games as an AHL rookie for Manitoba. And that’s what jumped out at me. I also liked how he – a former sixth-round pick, mind you – would be called up to the Jets and make it so hard to get fired. However, he is now 26 and has been unable to make the top six with Seattle across all teams. He’s used almost strictly defensively in Winnipeg, playing the tough minutes in his own end and doing pretty well. That tells me he’s found his niche as a third line controller who can attack deep, but probably not much more. I won’t 100% rank him / rule him out until he plays his BT season (and that’s the one coming up), but it doesn’t look promising. He has played 206 career NHL games, which means it will be his theoretical breakthrough if he were to have one. The Jets just signed him to a three-year deal, buying two of his UFA seasons, for a cap of $2.167 million. I screened it in the Guide for 29 points and didn’t give it sleeper status for much more.
And as Ian talked about over the weekend, Vegas also accepted an RFA – Keegan Kolesar. This guy has been a hit machine since entering the league a year and a half ago. In fact, his visitation rate continues to increase. Since January 2, he has been credited with 161 Hits in 43 games, a pace of 82 games of 307! That would put him third in the NHL behind Radko Gudas and Tanner Jeannot, if he had made the same pace in the first half. In fact, he still finished 10e with 246. But the 25-year-old also had 24 points and his shooting volume reached 1.2 per game. He’s a sleeper in the Hits department to do even more than most projections will show, and he’s also a sleeper for 10 goals and 30 points (I have him for seven and 21). Kolesar signed for three years at $1.4M AAV.
On Saturday I posted my top 300 goalie league players and I love getting comments about them. Sometimes I use them to make adjustments, especially on lead rankings, because we’re all a community, so the more opinions on these guys, the better. This is called “groupthink” and it helps. Either I adapt, or I explain myself. Since we’re struggling for topics, I thought I’d explain myself to an excellent comment from user Steve.
He asked me how Jonathan Huberdeau could be transferred to a worse offensive team with worse teammates, ranking ahead of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Kirill Kaprizov, when they are each at least three to five years younger.
That’s a good question, I’m sure many of you have asked the same question over the years. I responded briefly to the comment, but I can expand on it here. There are thousands of different leagues with slight rule variations. Rankings are geared towards points-only Dynasty leagues (keep all players every year) and no injury pools. You get what you get.
First of all, in the intro to these rankings, I note that players within +/- 5.0 ranking points of each other should be considered of equal value, so I’m not going to discuss Matthews because the two are equal in this type of league. It depends on the needs of your team or your personal biases.
Second, this Calgary formation is the same – minus Matthew Tkachuk – on which Johnny Gaudreau just got 115 points. Instead of playing with Elias Lindholm and Tkachuk, Huberdeau will have Lindholm and Toffoli. It’s a big step forward. But Huberdeau has just obtained 115 points with Sam Bennett and Owen Tippett or Anthony Duclair. So Lindholm and Toffoli are pretty tall. On the power play, he loses Aleksander Barkov, who was on the ice for 33 of his PPPts. Barkov’s PP IPP was just 57.8%, meaning he probably assisted or scored a Huberdeau-related power-play goal around 17 or 18 times. How much will Huberdeau miss? Some, but it’s a standing man and it’s Huberdeau. I can’t see him losing more than two or three points on the power play, more than offset by his upgraded teammates.
Third, he doesn’t hurt himself. We have established that its production will be safe. And now we can say it’s as risk-free as it gets. This pretty much excludes Marner from the discussion. So does Nathan MacKinnon, having missed at least eight games in each of the past two seasons.
Fourth and last, let’s address the issue of youth. Kaprizov should do as well as Huberdeau, within five points. His production increased last season, what if it increased again? Well… Huberdeau’s production has also increased. Huberdeau has missed three games over the past five seasons. His points per game were 1.12, 1.13. 1.11 and 1.44. Silver! As close to a guaranteed (lower end) 90 points as a player gets. Kaprizov is 25 and Huberdeau is 29. In a typical dynasty or deep keeper, a player stays on a fantasy team’s roster for about two years. For an elite player, that average is probably closer to three. Will Huberdeau decline this year? No. Next year ? No. What about in 2024-25? I’m pretty confident it’s still – no. So if he keeps producing those big dots for the entire length of time you own him, and he never gets hurt, then you have that security, is age an issue here? It would be one thing if he was 31. Then, okay, I would wonder about his season at 33. But I’m not there at 29. Of course, all things being equal, I’d rather trade 29 for 24. But when looking to fight, owning Huberdeau is a bit better than owning Kaprizov for reliability.
See you next Monday.