Hello everyone and welcome in for another article, the seventh 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:
John Gibson, G – ANA
Gibson has been a huge disappointment on the season, ranking 44th in 5v5 goals saved above average/60 (GSAA/60) and 38th in 5v5 high danger save percentage (HDSV%). The goals saved above expected is negative as well, which is more bad news. He’s not even seeing the crazy shot volume to provide those save stats he gave us in previous seasons, ranking just 41st out of 65 in shots against/60. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t get any better of late: Gibson ranks 43rd in 5v5 GSAA/60 and 54th in 5v5 HDSV% over his last seven starts. I think Gibson is nothing more than a streaming option at this point. If you feel like you’re better off dropping him, you’re probably right.
Verdict: Drop if you need to
Kevin Lankinen, G – CHI
Lankinen has somewhat become what Gibson was supposed to be: a good goalie on a team that allows a ton of shots and helps your fantasy team with volume and good rates. Lankinen ranks second to only Thatcher Demko among all starters in shots against/60 and has posted a .916 save percentage in 20 games on the season. Under the hood things look good too: Lankinen ranks 3rd behind only Andrei Vasilevskiy and Alex Nedeljkovic (who has only played in 9 games) in GSAA/60, with a significantly positive goals saved above expected. The HDSV% is a little less impressive, ranking 17th with a .849 mark, but overall Lankinen has been a revelation both for fantasy and for the Blackhawks. Of late some troubles have crept in, with Lankinen giving up 6, 2, 4, and 4 goals in his last four starts. That stretch is accompanied by a .794 HDSV% and a -0.07 GSAA/60, which rank 34th and 26th in the league over that time period. One has to wonder if Lankinen is starting to crack under the full time starter workload the ‘Hawks are largely forced to put upon him. Chicago has a tough stretch ahead with two games against Tampa Bay and then Florida. I’ll be making a decision on whether to hold or drop Lankinen based on the results of his two starts in that time span.
Verdict: Let’s give the miracle man two more bullets
Taylor Hall, LW – BUF
Taylor Hall has been a hot topic for the better part of a month as the Sabres’ tailspin has continued and Hall’s struggles have become more and more of an eyesore for a team that was counting on him to provide a second legitimate top tier goal scoring talent alongside Jack Eichel. Now Eichel is injured with rumours that it could be up to eight weeks before he returns, and coach Ralph Krueger seems determined to ride this ship fully into the ground. No further evidence is needed than the horrendous 15:14 of ice time Hall is seeing over his last five games despite good (if not great) shot generation numbers. We’ve seen this story with Krueger and erstwhile star Jeff Skinner before (who by the way still puts up good rate stats in the scraps of ice Krueger feeds him), which should terrify Hall owners even more than the fact that the team without Eichel has a distinct inability to put anything in the opposition net. Hall has certainly sustained far more than his fair share of bad luck to only have two goals on the season, but as I write this he’s being played along Riley Sheahan and Tage Thompson at 5v5. Some will say hold Hall in the event that he’s traded, but if he is he will likely have to undergo two weeks of quarantine before joining a new team; I’m not interested in holding Hall through two weeks of zero production in the hopes that he’s instantly a star on his new squad.
Verdict: Time to cut him loose
Eeli Tolvanen, RW – NSH
Tolvanen has been a nice little revelation on the resurgent Predator power play, scoring three of the five points he’s registered in his last six games with the man advantage. He’s also reclaimed a spot on the top line with Filip Forsberg and scored a goal there in his last game, which bodes well for his potential to stick. Unfortunately Tolvanen’s luck is likely to run out shortly. Over those six games he’s shooting 37.5% with a 100% IPP. Nashville still doesn’t generate a lot of expected goals when he’s on the ice (294th in on-ice xGF/60 over his last five games), and unless Tolvanen starts to produce more shots and generate more chances it seems likely he’s more a 40-45 point player with some bonus hits than a 60-70 point breakout star over the rest of the season.
Verdict: Likely to be a streamer only ROS
Kiefer Bellows, LW – NYI
Bellows raised some eyebrows in fantasy hockey circles by getting the coveted Anders Lee spot on Mathew Barzal’s wing and promptly scoring three goals in two games. His shot rate isn’t bad across those two games (8.0 shots/60), but he’s still shooting 75% with a 100% IPP in those two games. He’s on PP2 but the Islanders have started to go heavier on the top unit, giving 80+ percent of the PP time to the top unit in their last game. As a result Bellows is skating a pedestrian 15:01 per game despite the deployment. Bellows does offer some value in the hits column if you’re in a bangers league, but overall I’m more interested in teammate Anthony Beauvillier who has been firing on all cylinders for the better part of two weeks but has yet to hit the scoresheet. I’d take a points bet on Beauvillier vs Bellows for any period of time you could name right now.
Verdict: Nothing to see here unless you’re desperate
Rasmus Ristolainen, D – BUF
Ristolainen has looked pretty good at different points on the season, and Eichel’s injury has at least opened the door for him to get back on the top power play unit. Unfortunately, that hasn’t translated to anything material for Risto; remarkably he ranks 18th on his own team in on-ice xGF/60 over the past five games, and he’s not shooting either. He’s supplying a lot of hits but unless you’re streaming him for hits (and you’re not in Yahoo standard cats with +/-) he doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near your fantasy roster.
Verdict: Pretty trashy tbh
Paul Stastny, C – WPG
Stastny has probably been the biggest benefactor of the Laine/Dubois trade, getting bumped up to the top line and top PP unit and frankly doing better than anyone expected with the opportunity. He’s currently riding a nice little three-game point streak, and his on-ice shooting percentage is in line with what you’d expect over his last five. The IPP over those five games looks a touch low at 50% with an offsetting personal shooting percentage that’s probably 5% too high at 18%. Most exciting for Stastny is the 19:36 he’s being entrusted with every night in these five games; at that level of deployment he can put up valuable fantasy production even at a low IPP. He’s finding scoring opportunities at a high rate despite the big minutes, ranking 51st in individual scoring chances for per 60 minutes over these five games. I’m conservatively excited about Stastny’s outlook rest of season if coach Paul Maurice keeps putting him out there in prime positions to put points on the board.
Verdict: That’s a buy
Thanks for reading, you are appreciated!
Advanced stats credit: Natural Stat Trick
Title photo credit: Getty Images