ello everyone and welcome in for another article, the tenth 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:
Jack Hughes, C – NJD
Hughes has cratered after a strong start, registering a meager five points in his last twenty games. He’s currently mired in a six-game pointless skid that has seen his average ice time come down to just 15 minutes a game. His shot and chance rates are underwhelming and consistent with his rookie season, which is even more disappointing – Hughes has failed to take a step in his sophomore season despite a promising start. If he’s going to continue at this low individual chance generation rate with low ice time, it would take a significant step up from his teammates to turn Hughes into a genuine fantasy contributor. If you’ve been holding onto Hughes, it’s time to let him go.
Verdict: Not even streamable right now
Brayden Schenn, C – STL
Schenn is another guy who has absolutely disappeared off the face of the earth after starting the season strong. He’s in the midst of a eight-game pointless streak despite spending almost all of that time on the top line and top power play alongside Vladimir Tarasenko. The Blues as a team have been extremely lackluster during that span with just two wins and scoring more than two goals only once. Unfortunately Schenn has been more part of the problem than part of the solution: in his last five games he’s 325th in shots/60, 362nd in individual chances for/60 (iCF/60), 216th in individual scoring chances for/60 (iSCF/60), and 128th in on-ice expected goals for/60 (xGF/60). The on-ice shooting percentage won’t stay at 3.5% but Schenn’s individual numbers look more like his defenseman brother Luke’s than his own. Perhaps there’s a lingering hand or wrist injury affecting his ability to shoot? Hard to say but he’s officially in drop watch territory.
Verdict: On the hot seat now, we need to see more shots to be comfortable that the points will come back
Roope Hintz, C – DAL
Hintz has been a headache for fantasy managers with his constant will-he-won’t-he game time decisions. When he’s been on the ice, however, he’s been absolute dynamite with 12 points in his last 9 games. He’s certainly benefiting from Jason Robertson’s ascension but is generating a decent amount of his own chances, ranking 70th in the league in xGF/60 and 41st in iSCF/60 since his hot streak started. No, he’s not a locked and loaded point per game player from here on out – he’s got a 92% IPP, 25% shooting percentage, and 13% on-ice shooting percentage that say otherwise – but Hintz has played himself into a spot where you can’t drop him even if he’s going to toy with your heart at game time every day. Rest of season I don’t see why he can’t sustain a 65ish-point pace.
Brock Nelson, C – NYI
Brock Nelson has been an under the radar fantasy contributor for some time now, but he has struggled to find the same scoring pace this season, on pace for just 45 points. I can’t say I’m too thrilled about his immediate prospects for a bounceback, either. Nelson ranks 384th in shots/60 and 358th in xGF/60 over his last five games despite seeing his typical second line and second power play deployment. He’s got a 75% IPP in those five games so it’s not like he’s missing out on goals being scored either: his team isn’t scoring and he’s not pushing the envelope himself either. On the season Nelson’s advanced numbers look to be right in line with his career averages, but relying on him to provide much fantasy upside for what’s left of the fantasy season may be beyond him at this point.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C – NYI
Pageau is one of those guys who always seems to score points in bunches, which happened again recently as he scored six points in three games before going pointless in his last two. He’s a staple on the Isles’ third line and second power play unit, but his wingers have rotated in and out for much of the year. Oliver Wahlstrom has been a nice linemate for him of late, but I don’t see much reason to hold a candle for JGP. He hasn’t fired more than two shots in a game in his last thirteen and over his last five games has a 100% IPP, 25% shooting percentage, and an outlandish 17.7% on-ice shooting percentage. Nothing to see here.
Verdict: Not worth playing in all but the deepest of leagues
Mathew Barzal, C – NYI
Let’s make it a perfect trifecta and get the third fantasy relevant Islanders center, shall we? Barzal has 28 points in 36 games on the season for a 64-point pace, which honestly sounds about right for him. His rates in his last five games match up decently well outside of a puzzling drop in iCF/60, but as long as he keeps shooting at the same rate I’m not too concerned about someone who has been as reliable as Barzal has in four seasons in the league. The Anders Lee injury definitely took a bit of the ceiling off of Barzal, but I would say I’m still more concerned with Barzal’s parents’ decision to only use a single “T” in their spelling of his first name than with Barzal’s ability to put up a 65ish point pace the rest of the season.
Verdict: Steady as she goes
Thanks for reading, you are appreciated!
Advanced stats credit: Natural Stat Trick
Title photo credit: Getty Images