Hello and welcome in for the second installment in a series in which I will detail three players at each position that I am higher on than the majority of fantasy players for the upcoming season. If you missed my article on three centers I’m higher on than you, you can find it here. Today, we’re taking a look at a trio of right wingers who I believe will return big time value on their draft position for you in 2020/21.
Brendan Gallagher is the first right winger I’ll be targeting earlier than most in 2020 drafts. Gallagher has found great chemistry with linemates Tomas Tatar and Phillip Danault and puts up points despite criminal underuse by coach Claude Julien. Let’s dig in:
Gallagher is in some elite company with his shot production, ranking in the top 3 league wide in shots/60, iCF/60, iSCF/60 and iHDCF/60. He has minor positive regression likely to come his way in 2020/21 in terms of his IPP and S%, but this is the profile of a consistent scoring chance generator. The big problem? That incredibly low usage. Not only does Gallagher see less than 17 minutes of ice time per game, he only gets about two minutes per game on the power play. Unfortunately Julien has clearly not caught up to the rest of the league in terms of playing your best players on the PP1 as much as possible and letting them score goals.
The good news is that Gallagher doesn’t need a tremendous amount of ice time to be an effective point producer with that insane chance generation ability. I anticipate Gallagher will produce assists at the improved rate he displayed in 2019/20 due to his chemistry with his linemates, and get a slight rebound in goal-scoring back to the 30+ area. Combining that with approximately 300 shots on goal and close to triple digit hits, and it’s easy to see how you can bank on Gally to fill up some peripheral categories for your fantasy team as well. And just imagine if the Canadiens get off to a slow start in 2020/21 (which is frankly a likely scenario) and Julien gets canned: Gallagher could finally be in line for the 19+ minutes and PP1 time he deserves and could take a huge leap. While I wouldn’t project a coach firing for any player, it’s nice to think that Gallagher can provide value at his floor with upside if that change were to occur.
Anthony Mantha is the second name on my list, and represents a population of players you should always pay attention to when heading into your drafts: good players on bad teams. Mantha and his center Dylan Larkin were pretty much the lone bright spots on a historically terrible Detroit team, and as such their point production flew largely under the radar within the fantasy community. Let’s check out the profile:
Mantha is a unique player in that I’m not overly concerned in the IPP growth given how horrible the players around him were. It’s worth noting that Mantha carries an injury risk tag, having missed significant time in three of his first four full seasons. But you can see there’s a lot to like with Mantha, starting with those consistently increasing shot and iCF rates along with a consistent S%. I will be very interested to see who Detroit selects in the early portions of the NHL draft – if they managed to land Alexis Lafreniere, for example, I would be very excited about the possibility of a Mantha/Larkin/Lafreniere top line and PP1 unit.
Mantha is deployed like the top-line talent he is, so there’s no worry that he won’t get the opportunity to take another step in 2020/21. I think that it will be nearly impossible for the Red Wings to be as bad as they were in 2019/20 again; even a modest improvement in team scoring could provide a nice boost to Mantha’s production. Regardless of all that, Mantha’s production has clearly risen on a per/game and per/60 basis in each of the past three years and if he can stay relatively healthy I have no issue projecting him in the 65ish point range, outproducing names like Brock Boeser and Travis Konecny who will almost certainly be selected before him in 2020/21 drafts.
Ah yes, the man crush. I’ve vociferated my love for Svech in the past and I will continue to lead the fan club as long as necessary. Svechnikov took a big step forward in his sophomore season, posting a 0.9 PPG mark in 68 games as a teenager including a pair of lacrosse-style goals that took the league by storm. That puts him squarely on the track to stardom, and I’m not betting against him. Let’s get into it:
First we can see that Svechnikov achieved that 0.9 PPG despite seeing just 16:44 of average time on ice. When he was on the ice though, oh my. As per http://www.hockeyviz.com, Carolina had an expected goals for/60 of 3.45 while Svechnikov was on the ice, a number that cratered to 2.59 when Svechnikov was on the bench. In case you’re wondering, that blows Sebastian Aho’s numbers out of the water (3.11 and 2.71, respectively). It’s important to note that Svechnikov spent half the season with Jordan Staal and Warren Foegele as linemates; neither known for their offensive prowess. Svechnikov did see PP1 usage pretty much all season, getting 3+ minutes/game with the man advantage.
Let’s take a look at those astronomical CF/60 numbers. Svechnikov led the entire league in xGF/60, SCF/60, and HDCF/60, and was second only to Gallagher in overall CF/60. Sure, those rates aren’t likely to be sustainable as Svechnikov gets more ice time, but let’s not forget that this kid led the league in those categories at 19 years of age. When a #2 overall draft pick leads the league in any meaningful category as a teenager, you absolutely must take notice as a fantasy player. I’ve projected Svechnikov rather modestly in my opinion, getting about a minute more ice time per game and coming in just under a point per game in 2020/21, but mark my words: there is not a single player in the league more likely to bust out to superstar status with a little more usage. This kid’s ceiling is the 100 point range, and a full season on the top line alongside Aho and Teuvo Teravainen could catapult Svechnikov into that stratosphere as early as 2020/21. If you’re in a dynasty league, this is your last chance to buy before his price goes through the roof. Remember to tweet me when he’s winning you boats next year.
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