Despite contributing to the DobberHockey Fantasy Guide, completing many of my own projections, and posting other content including league standings, salary projections, and other fantasy strategy thoughts, being able to reading Dobber’s fantastic guide is always something I look forward to every summer. There’s so much thought and time that goes into it, and for us fantasy junkies, it gets your brain thinking in a way that talking around the water cooler at work never seems to handle.
Starting with the schedule, the guide goes over the fact that the season starts with Nashville and San Jose games in Prague, and I’ve noted in previous Ramblings that players from those two teams are good targets right from the start. the start, as they are the only two teams that play twice in this first week of fantasy hockey. A lot of fantasy GMs like to pick sleepers in the later rounds, and while I also swing later in the draft, the last round or two are players who are often quickly dropped anyway, so plan for that. Draft your last player(s) based on someone you know you’re going to broadcast anyway, and choose the best remaining broadcast option in the stack. These Nashville and San Jose players, especially those who will give you a good peripheral production floor, make excellent last picks in the draft.
Another planning objective is to know which teams have the most and least consecutive games (B2B), and to understand how this could (and will) affect your goalkeeper. Knowing how to plan which saves to own, when you should consider owning the handcuffs, and which saves to avoid because fewer B2Bs force them to play less, can be the difference between targeting Eric Comrie last year versus to Semyon Varlamov (both teams having been profiled for these reasons in last year’s guide).
Then we come to dormant peaks. These are separated by conference and include players in the top 50 and outside of the top 250, as they cover different league sizes and formats while trying to find value in underrated or underrated players. Whatever your league or setup, there are some great names to find.
For the guide, I write the one-way contracts section, and recent breakout seasons of Elvis Merzlikins, Andrew Mangiapane, Mason Marchment, and Michael Bunting have been discovered by me in this section over the past few years. To be honest, these were players that weren’t on my radar to be listed in fantasy before they were profiled, but I’ve listed a few of my own picks over the years, and it bears its fruits. When I see the names in the breakout sections that match the names in my one-way section, I know we’re onto something.
One of the players I have profiled who has not been discussed as an escape possibility elsewhere in the guide is Alex Barre-Boulet (ABB). Although he has scored more than a point per game at the AHL level over the past two years, he hasn’t had the opportunity to show off at the NHL level. He played mostly fourth line in Tampa, and mostly third line in Seattle (which is actually worse than fourth line at TB). That being said, within minutes last season, ABB put together a PPI of 66.7%, which is close to the 70% mark we like to see for star players (players who can drive their own line and produce numbers worthy of fancy). He managed that without sheltering too much in an attacking role and without any lucky secondary assists. The Lightning don’t have top-six roles set in stone at this time, and of the players set to make the opening-day roster, most can play in the bottom-six, but ABB will have to. play on a score line to maximize its effectiveness. There’s a lot that could go wrong, and the floor for him this year is zero points, but there’s also a clear card for a 60-point season from him.
Then we have the rookie categories, both 2022 rookies and those likely to be in contention for the 2023 Calder Trophy. Add to that the one-way contract and free agents to watch, stock drops, guards from goals to watch, some multi-category names and long-term players, there is no shortage of lists to go. I reread them every week or two and a new name pops up every time.
On top of all that, there’s also the Outliers article by Rick Roos, and from those of you who’ve read Rick’s work, you know that no one delves deeper into these things. Between that and Dobber’s take on some of the numbers that should regress towards the mean (with an astronomical success rate), you know exactly where all the important players stand with their relative value for next season.
These are the first 50 pages. Then you get to the meat of the guide, with the team-by-team analysis. My favorite part of this is the visual on the depth chart and the look at advanced metrics with individual player roles and how it all plays out in a big picture. You get an idea of how players like Erik Gustafsson and Justin Schultz can factor in secondary power play time, with a bit more ice time than their roles in their previous situations. There are players like Owen Tippett who show up in the advanced section and clearly seem like they can handle more minutes and thrive in those kinds of situations. These are the kind of nuanced notes that are backed up by reasoning that is far more worth following on draft day.
For example, looking at the Carolina Hurricanes chart, there is a name on the top line RW slot that some may not get with their first guess or two. Although I can hear Michael Clifford yelling at me through the keyboard everyone should know it’s Seth Jarvis. While Jarvis may not see the best power-play minutes, his first-line deployment as part of a deep right-wing group should see him build on his 48-point pace from his rookie year. . The Great Escape won’t happen until Christmas 2023 at the earliest.
If you haven’t purchased it already, you can get the guide here.
On that note, Martin Necas signed a two-year bridge deal at a $3 million AAV. My contract projections had him a little lower than that, but that’s only because his reduced minutes reduced his tally stats. He’s a talented player, and with room in the roster this year (especially with Max Pacioretty out for at least six months), he and Jarvis should be able to play without hurting each other’s production.
Look at all that blue:
While we’re talking about new contracts, I like to anticipate at this time what extensions we might see coming from star players. Johnny Huberdeau was recently locked into an eight-year contract for $10.5 million ($10.4 million projected), which helps define the latest trend in the market, especially in light of the arrival of Johnny Gaudreau in the market and getting a cap of $9.75 million ($10.5 million projected), plus Matthew Tkachuk’s cap of $9.5 million (projected at 9.6 millions of dollars).
Nathan MacKinnon is the big name to note, and he’s actually slated for a whopping $13 million cap on his next contract. He’s worth it, and he can get it. There were rumors last year that MacK was ready to take a pay cut again to keep the band together and help the team win, but that may have already changed with a cut in his name, and having been underpaid in recent years on one of the most team-friendly contracts of all time, he earned his big ticket. My bet is that it ends up between $11 and $12 million, but $13 million should come as no surprise.
Other notable projections for players now eligible to sign expansions (likely all near term):
JT Miller: $8.8 million
Mathew Barzal: $8.6 million
David Pastrnak: $8.4 million
Timo Meier: $7.7 million
Alex De Brincat: $7.3 million
Jordan Kyrou: $6.8 million (although he can and should use Robert Thomas’ contract as a comparable)
Dylan Larkin: $6.3 million
And the list continues. Lots of cool expansions to come, and with revenue increasing, the cap possibly jumping drastically over the next few years, and trade prices getting more and more expensive for star players, smart GMs will try to lock in these players sooner rather than later. The more long-term contracts you can secure in capped leagues, the better you’ll likely be looking in the next few years.
To send today’s Ramblings, I wanted to make a quick note that today is my third wedding anniversary, and I just wanted to say thank you to my awesome wife who supports me writing about fantasy hockey every Tuesday night , and thinking about my fantastic teams the other six days of the week. I couldn’t do this without you! I will be back tomorrow on Twitter@alexdmaclean if you have any questions or comments about fantasy hockey. See you next Wednesday!