Hello everyone and welcome in for another article, this time looking into potential buys and sells after the second week of NHL action. First I want to take a second to invite you to join the Apples & Ginos Discord server where you can ask questions and chat with other like-minded fantasy managers on anything fantasy or hockey-related. With that said, let’s get into the buys and sells of the week.
Guys you should put on your watch list:
Nils Hoglander, RW – VAN (13% rostered on Yahoo)
Hoglander has shown up on a lot of people’s radars already, but he remains available in most leagues due to low usage. He seems to have stapled himself to the second line RW role and has excelled thus far. He’s rocking a 4.11 xGF/60 but just 3.45 actual GF/60 thus far, while keeping pace at a very sustainable 67% IPP. The shot quantity isn’t elite, but the quality is very good – he ranked 43rd in the league this past week in individual scoring chances for/60. Vancouver just got embarrassed by Montreal and may need to find ways to get a player of Hoglander’s capabilities on the ice even more. If the ice time begins to tick up into the 16 minute range, Hoglander will be a very viable point scoring option.
Carter Verhaeghe, LW – FLA (18% rostered on Yahoo)
The sample size is big enough now. Sure, Verhaeghe isn’t going to shoot 38% or maintain an 88% IPP throughout the season. But he’s also 31st in the league in individual scoring chances for/60, and he’s playing 18 minutes a night alongside Aleksander Barkov. That plays in any format. Toss in a decent little hit rate to boot, and Verhaeghe should be regarded as a 55-60 point player until further notice. Weirder things have happened than Verhaeghe turning into a legitimate top-six winger in the league overnight, and it’s time to believe.
Early Stars to Believe In:
Joe Pavelski, C – DAL
Pavelski has roared out to a hot start as have several Dallas players. On first glance you’ll see the inflated 36% shooting percentage and might be tempted to write Pavelski off as unsustainable. Now, he’s certainly not going to shoot 36% or anything close to it. But if Pavelski continues to receive 20 minutes of ice time a night, he doesn’t need to shoot for a high percentage to be extremely relevant. I entered some relatively conservative estimates for Pavelski’s shot rates, IPP, and xGF/60 into my player scoring projection tool and came out with a 22-goal, 71-point 82-game pace for as long as he holds down 20 minutes a game. That’ll work for me, and it’s enough to make me want to hold him rather than try to “sell high”.
Jordan Kyrou, RW – STL
Kyrou has been one of the revelations of the early season, and with good reason. We’re talking about a guy who is tied for 15th in league scoring despite skating an average of 13:02 per game thus far. Kyrou comes with an inflated 21.7% shooting percentage and a ridiculous 16.4% on-ice team shooting percentage. But Kyrou is third in the league in individual scoring chances for/60 thus far, sandwiched in between Patrice Bergeron and Brady Tkachuk, ahead of names like Nathan Mackinnon and Auston Matthews. How long before the Blues realize that Zach Sanford doesn’t add much to the PP1 unit and Kyrou is a legitimate shot and chance producing monster? Kyrou’s floor for me is a 40-point, 200-shot pace. And that’s if he doesn’t see improved deployment. But frankly it would be incompetence of the highest order to not let Kyrou run this train out and see where it goes. The ceiling? 35-goal, 75 point pace. It’s worth being a game or a week early on the deployment bump here – it’s coming. He’s still just 46% owned which also makes him a nice little trade target as he’s undoubtedly on the back end of a lot of rosters.
Early Stars to Fade:
Brock Boeser, RW – VAN
Boeser is the clearest fade I could find. His shot rates and scoring chance generation are down, and are especially worse at 5v5. He’s being buoyed by a Vancouver PP that had a week to beat up on Ottawa. The Canucks’ upcoming schedule? Two games back to back against Montreal, three in a row versus the Toronto, and four in a row versus Calgary. Unless Boeser starts putting in some heavy 5v5 work, his numbers are primed for a swan dive off a steep cliff. Right now he’s nothing more than a PP specialist; a good one, but these guys are often inconsistent and Boeser has more than his fair share of regression coming.
Nicklas Backstrom, C – WSH
I’m just gonna hit you with the stats on Backstrom:
So he’s involved in 21% more of his team’s goals than before, he’s shooting more than twice as efficiently despite seeing just a small increase in shot and chance generation, his on-ice team chances for rates have cratered, and the team is shooting 18% while he’s on the ice which is an absolutely unconscious lights out performance. If Backstrom doesn’t find ways to help his teammates create more, he’s going to be completely irrelevant for fantasy in very short order.
Early Slumps that Won’t Last:
Roman Josi, D – NSH
Josi’s case is pretty straightforward: he’s shooting just as much as last year, albeit generating less dangerous chances thus far, but he’s shooting just 3.3% and only getting in on 33% of the goals he’s been on the ice for when the last two years he’s averaged in the high fifties there. Remarkably, his on-ice xGF/60 has actually increased in the early going over last year, going from 3.37 to 3.63, while his actual goals for/60 has dropped more than a goal/60 from 3.78 last year to 2.73 this year. Nashville isn’t an offensive powerhouse by anyone’s standards, but they will shoot more than 6.5% with Josi on the ice by season’s end and that is absolutely bankable. I’d put Josi at a 60-point pace the rest of the season pretty comfortably. Definitely a buy-low candidate if your league’s owner is panicking.
Mika Zibanejad, C – NYR
I was down on Zibanejad relative to most this offseason, but things have gone too far here. Zibanejad is replicating the shot and scoring chance rates that made him a fantasy league-winner last year, but he’s got just two points to show for it in eight games thus far. That 28.6% IPP and 7.4% on-ice shooting percentage are not going to last, either. Talk about a one year dropoff – despite an on-ice xGF/60 that is within a hundredth of a goal of where it was last year, Zibanejad’s actual GF/60 has gone from 4.53 last year to just 2.55 this year. I like Zibanejad to rebound comfortably and put up the point-per-game pace I projected him at for the rest of the season.
Early Slumps that Will Last:
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW – FLA
Putting Huberdeau in this category is less an indictment of his talent and more his deployment. It’s not surprising to anyone that there’s a difference between playing with Aleksander Barkov and playing with Alexander Wennberg. But it’s pretty shocking that Huberdeau has dropped 2 minutes of ice time per game so far this year after spending each of the last three years in the 19 minute/game range. Huberdeau’s shot rates and particularly scoring chances for rates have disintegrated away from Barkov, and it’s valid to wonder if he has the juice to drive a line on his own away from his longtime center. Huberdeau’s on-ice actual goals for/60 is at an unsustainable 5.98 thus far, but that’s resulted in a bland 5 points for him thus far and the vast majority of it has come on the power play. Huberdeau’s 5v5 rates are shockingly bad, so he becomes a PP specialist with little upside away from Barkov. Given Florida’s success with Verhaeghe and Duclair flanking Barkov thus far, I don’t see any immediate reason for Huberdeau to get back on the top line and start producing the way we’ve come to expect.
Erik Karlsson, D – SJ
I’ll admit, I was among those who thought Karlsson would turn it around this year and get back to being a star defenseman with great counting stats. The early returns have been nothing short of horrific. Name an advanced stat and Karlsson is performing worse than his “bad” season last year. The shots/60 rate has dropped from 7.81 in 18/19 to 5.29 in 19/20 to just 3.36 thus far in 20/21. The individual scoring chances for rate has followed a similar decline. There’s no positives in Karlsson’s advanced rate profile – he’s seeing a tremendous 26:48 of ice per night and getting absolutely hammered night after night. I don’t know what it would take to turn this ship around at this point, but I’m not sticking around to find out – I’m a full sell on Karlsson at this point.
Thanks for reading, you are much appreciated!