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2021/22 Skater Projections are LIVE!

I am very pleased to present for your derision my 2021/22 skater projections! I have done my best to tackle all of the most fantasy-relevant skaters from each team, but if you see anyone missing that you’d like to see a projection for, feel free to DM me on Twitter or email me at applesandginos@gmail.com and it’s no big deal for me to add another player here or there. Do be warned though – if I didn’t project them it’s because I don’t believe they will be strongly fantasy-relevant (at least from a points perspective) throughout the 2021/22 season.

I want to talk a little bit about what these projections are and are not. When doing projections, you have to make broad assumptions about player usage, skill progression/regression, and team context. For example, anyone who followed my articles last year knows that I was a big Conor Garland fan and picked him up in a lot of places due to his improved time on ice and chance generation rates. This offseason, Garland was traded to the Vancouver Canucks which is a better team context but likely to be a significant reduction in opportunity. For this projection, I have assumed that Garland will skate an average of 2 minutes of PP time per game this year. That’s a far cry from the 3.5+ minutes that I’ve projected for the five players I see as most likely to comprise the PP1 unit in Vancouver: Elias Pettersson, JT Miller, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and Quinn Hughes.

This difference and others like it make a VERY significant difference in player production. It’s why we get so excited every time a player gets a PP1 opportunity mid season – this stuff matters, and it matters a lot. For Garland specifically, flipping him to 3.5 minutes in place of one of the aforementioned five players would result in nearly ten extra points over an 80-game projection. That’s a big difference! This is one of the more pronounced cases due to the high ratio of PP1 to PP2 that Vancouver employs and the dropoff in talent on the team after those top five players, but it serves to show that the assumptions you make when projecting can absolutely make or break your accuracy.

There are also cases where roster turnover, injury, or coaching change makes predicting usage incredibly difficult. Seattle is an obvious case where all I have to go on in order to create projections is coach Dave Hakstol’s previous player usage during his tenure in Philadelphia and my perception of how this team was constructed to play. This is why I have endeavoured to show all of my usage assumptions for you – if you have a player who is underperforming his projection early in the season, chances are at least a portion of the reason why is that he’s not being played the way I projected him to be. From that point you can assess the likelihood of that deployment changing or remaining the same (feel free to ask me my thoughts as well), and make your add/drop/trade decisions accordingly.   

One of the toughest parts of projections for me is for players like Jack Hughes, whose advanced stats would predict higher goal and point totals than he’s been able to actually score thus far in his career. Is he still growing as a player, or is he simply not a good finisher? Brendan Gallagher is another, more established player who comes to mind as a guy whose advanced stats have always leapt off the page, but who consistently undershoots what those advanced stats would predict for his goal and point totals. Obviously I have to tackle these players on a case-by-case basis and make some sort of call on what I believe to be the truth about that player and their potential.

Correlating to this is the unbelievable effect that star players (and particularly star centers) have on their linemates, both at even strength and on the power play. Some players seem to lack the base level of talent necessary to capitalize on this phenomenon, but it doesn’t take a genius to see what Aleksander Barkov did for Carter Verhaeghe and Anthony Duclair last year, or what Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been doing for their wingers for years. It’s one of the reasons I’m so bullish on Zach Hyman this year, and will watch carefully to see which winger replaces him on the Auston Matthews/Mitch Marner line in Toronto. Good players elevated to spots alongside great players can see their projections rise by up to 20 points, a truly mind-boggling leap. While some of this jump can and should be attributed to the accompanying increase in ice time, I want to hammer home the fact that we should definitely be targeting good players who get the call to play with elite linemates (so basically, players not named Kailer Yamamoto).

I do want to note that even I don’t draft strictly off these projections. As with everything there is certainly nuance to every one of these numbers and while I may project Tyson Barrie for a 72-point pace, there’s probably only 3-5 points worth of upside above that projection and 10-15 points worth of downside from there. I don’t project Tyson Barrie to lose PP1 duties or start skating less even strength ice time, but those things could happen; what can’t happen is for his situation to get any better than it already is. As I continuously stress to my Discord and Patreon members, the goal is to build a repeatable fantasy hockey process, not to blindly apply some projections and out-draft your leaguemates en route to an easy fantasy title.

With all that said, I hope these projections serve you well. You can find them here or by going to the Skater Projections tab off the home page. I will be doing my best to keep them updated as new information inevitably comes to us from the NHL training camps that kick off later this month. I’m also planning on having tiered season-long rankings uploaded via FantasyPros, for whom I am an “expert ranker” included in their consensus ranks. Remember to employ the #ZeroG draft strategy and apply good process when drafting your teams this year!

That’s all for this one folks! Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter, on TikTok, 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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Published by Apples & Ginos

Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey Advice

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