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The Truth #2

Hello everyone and welcome in for another article, the second part of a series in which I try to determine the truth about puzzling players. First I want to take a second to invite you to join the Apples & Ginos Discord server which is where I gathered ideas from the members on which players to investigate. With that said, let’s discover the truth:

Barrett Hayton, C – ARI

Barrett Hayton was a surprise 5th overall selection in 2018 and hasn’t done much to live up to that draft status since. I recently noted Hayton on an #arbitrarylist tweet for having a good game; however Hayton’s good games have been few and far between thus far this season. He’s gotten looks throughout the lineup, including a recent game centering Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel, but is averaging just 12:15 of ice a night including less than 10 minutes/game at even strength. I was asked in the Discord to see what Hayton’s upside might be if he got more TOI including PP1. Arizona’s PP is clicking at 18.8% which is just under league average for this season so far. Hayton has been stuck on the second unit alongside the Tyler Pitlicks and Derick Brassards of the team. Elevating to Christian Dvorak’s spot and getting more exposure to Keller, Kessel, and Conor Garland would certainly help Hayton’s point scoring opportunities. However, even elevating Hayton’s minutes to 17 minutes/game and boosting what have been some truly awful shot rates thus far results in a best case scenario of a 16-goal, 47-point pace the rest of the way. Unfortunately, Hayton right now is not rosterable in a redraft league.

Verdict: Highly unlikely to be a fantasy contributor in 2021

Joel Farabee, RW – PHI

Farabee has almost become a meme early in the NHL season, with a 4-point opening night and a hat trick on Sunday night and not a whole heck of a lot of anything anytime else. Farabee has been stuck on the third line without any power play time whatsoever, lost in the shuffle amidst a deep group of Philadelphia wingers. Farabee’s underlying stats are pretty nice; he’s jumped up from 6.63 shots/60 in 2019/20 to 9.35 shots/60 so far this season. Unfortunately he’s sporting some pretty unsustainable numbers to go with that, including a 22.7% shooting percentage, an 80% IPP, and a 15.6% on-ice team shooting percentage. In fact, his on-ice xGF/60 has actually decreased slightly from last year (2.25 versus 2.47) while his actual GF/60 has skyrocketed from 3.19 to 4.25. So what can we determine from this? Farabee’s individual contributions have improved but his deployment has not – until he is a lock in the top six and on at least PP2, he’s not going to provide much of anything to fantasy managers. With 16 minutes a night including PP2 time, I project him at a 20-goal, 45-point pace. That’s nice enough I guess, but until I see evidence to suggest that Alain Vigneault is actually going to give those kind of minutes to Farabee I’ll wait.

Verdict: Unlikely to help you in 2021 but has shown individual improvement

Ty Smith, D – NJD

I could hit you with a lot of stats for Smith, but this one jumped out at me: in the last three games played for any player, Smith leads the entire league in 5v5 xGF/60. He’s fifth in 5v5 xGF/60 among all defensemen on the year. Unfortunately, Damon Severson is the latest PP1 QB Lindy Ruff has used in his infinite wisdom. I find it hard to believe that Smith won’t force his way onto the top unit for the rest of the season at some point, and an Adam Fox-like gradual time on ice increase throughout the rest of the campaign seems like a good bet. Smith’s IPP is unsustainably high at 80% and his S% is as well at 13.3%; that doesn’t mean he’s going to hit a wall it just means that he’s not going to score a point per game for the whole season. I’m projecting him at an 8-goal, 44-point pace for the rest of the season.

Verdict: Kid is legit and will likely be available on waiver wires when NJ comes back from COVID

Aaron Ekblad, D – FLA

Ekblad got on a lot of people’s radars in a hurry this year by getting top PP deployment, something that Keith Yandle had kept a tight grip on for years to this point. Unfortunately for Ekblad owners, Anthony Duclair got more minutes than Ekblad as the 5th man on the top PP unit in the Panthers’ latest game versus the Red Wings. Whether that was a blip or a sign of something to come is yet to be determined, but therein lies the rub: Ekblad’s value is heavily tied to that PP1 unit. Ekblad has never been an elite offensive defenseman, and despite the early returns nothing appears to have changed under the hood. In fact Ekblad’s 5v5 rates have declined somewhat; that decline has been offset by Ekblad’s extra power play involvement plus some. Ekblad’s early fortunes have been largely fueled by what would be a career high 55.6% IPP and 12.5% shooting percentage. If I was putting my own money on it, my bet would be that Ekblad ends up playing most of the year on PP2 and not providing any more fantasy value than he has the past three years.

Verdict: Sell high

Drake Batherson, RW – OTT

Drake Batherson and Josh Norris have been pretty interchangeable as very useful players playing with Brady Tkachuk on the Senators’ top line. However, Sunday’s game against the Oilers saw Norris demoted to PP2 while Batherson remained up top with the big boys. I’m still very interested in both players, but Batherson is now the clear top choice between the two. Batherson has taken a clear step forward this year, jumping from a 5.36 shots/60 mark in 23 games last year to a 9.82 this season. Interestingly, Batherson has been more effective at generating chances 5v5 than on the power play thus far, which I think is a great sign. The biggest stat I can’t get past with Batherson is the monstrous on-ice xGF/60 of 4.87 he’s currently sporting – compare that with his actual GF/60 of 2.36 and you can expect better counting stats in his very near future. Projecting Batherson forward at 17 minutes/game, 9.25 shots/60, a 10% shooting percentage, a 60% IPP, and a 4.2 xGF/60 yields a 21-goal, 67-point pace. You can argue the validity of any of those stats but it is very clear to me that Batherson is a valuable asset in just about every league. The coup de grâce? Batherson hits, too – a 146-hit pace (82 game) so far this year.

Verdict: Buy/pick up immediately

That’s all for this one folks! Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter or join the Apples & Ginos Discord server for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have.

Thanks for reading, you are appreciated!

Nate

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Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey Advice

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