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The Truth #3

Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the second installment of a weekly article I’ll be writing all season long in which I’ll try to determine the truth about puzzling players. I pull suggestions for who to write about for these articles from the Apples & Ginos community on Discord and the Apples & Ginos Patreon members. Be sure you check out those spots to catch up with me where I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about Drake Batherson, Alexis Bledel, or any other baby-faces you know.

Drake Batherson, RW – OTT

Batherson is a lowkey favourite of mine, so allow me a second to take my personal biases out of the way before analyzing his performance.

*deep breath*

SVECHNIKOV-LITE

It’s frankly hard not to be bullish about Batherson after he just dropped back to back multi-point outings including a hat trick against Washington. Over his last five games he’s put up a very respectable 9.9 shots/60 and 9.2 individual scoring chances for/60 (iSCF/60) while skating a tremendous 19:28 a night. It’s that ice time that raises the ceiling so much for Batherson, a full three minutes per game above the 16:28 he averaged last year. If Batherson scored at a 50-point pace with that ice time, imagine what he could do with the equivalent of 15 more games of ice time given that he’s actually improved his chance generation work over last season? Batherson is running a little hot in the categories we usually track (individiual points percentage or IPP, shooting percentage or S%, and on-ice shooting percentage or oiSH%), so I can’t say he’s likely to score a point per game. But if you don’t have room for a guy who looks like a 65-70 point player with tons of hits to boot, I suggest you re-evaluate your roster decisions. If there’s any caveat here, it’s that Batherson went through some very hot and very cold stretches last season and that’s certainly within the realm of possibility for this year as well.

Verdict: Banger-league monster with 70-point upside this year

Shea Theodore, D – VGK

To say Shea Theodore’s season hasn’t gotten off on the right foot would be a massive understatement. After posting a 53-point pace in 2019-20 and a 65-point pace in the COVID-shortened 2021 season, Theodore has mustered a meagre three points in eight games thus far as the Vegas Golden Knights have been beset by injuries to arguably their best three forwards in Max Paciorretty, Mark Stone, and William Karlsson. The ice time is there (25:25 in his last five games), but the shot rates and chance generation numbers are down and Theodore is averaging a minute less on the power play than last season. I won’t fault you for moving Theodore if you can get full sticker price on him, but I do think that overall he’s a relatively stable offensively defenseman suffering from some bad variance (-11% IPP compared to 2021, -4.5% oiSH% compared to 2021) that is undoubtedly related to the absence of the aforementioned goal-scoring forwards. If you’ve got the patience to wait for Pacioretty and Co. to return, I’m confident Theodore’s abilities haven’t just completely vanished.

Verdict: If you can afford to do so it’s best to ride this one out

Roope Hintz, C – DAL

Hintz has pulled one of the great disappearing acts of the season thus far, scoring a single assist in eight games after putting up over a point per game in 41 games last year. There are some obvious explanations here, though. The first and most obvious is that Hintz has lost a metric ton of ice time with the return of Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov to the top-six. After averaging 18:13 a night in 2021, Hintz has been allotted a mere 15:37 through eight games this year. That number has been on the climb of late so there is some hope, but we have to take into account the very real possibility that Hintz is more a 16-17 minute player this year than an 18+ minute one. Dallas is also shooting a league-worst 5.7%, a number that is sure to rebound. Hintz sits at a horrific 3.3% oiSH% himself which is impossibly low. In his last five games, Hintz has shown his worth again by ranking first in the entire NHL in even-strength on-ice scoring chances for/60 (SCF/60) and posting a 12th-best 15.1 iSCF/60 mark. The talent is still here, but Hintz may be a 60-65 point guy rather than a point-per-game guy just based on less usage. That’s still very valuable and Hintz is for me a clear buy-low target.

Verdict: Adjust your expectations, but Hintz is a screaming buy

Pavel Buchnevich, RW – STL

Buchnevich got off to a quick start with the Blues, notching points in each of his first two games before picking up a two-game suspension and losing all momentum on the season. His ATOI has varied wildly from 18:18 to 12:56 since his return. The latest practice lines I’ve seen had Buchnevich on PP2 and skating with James Neal and Tyler Bozak on the third line. That’s… not ideal. Buchnevich’s underlying rates have been relatively steady but it seems doubtful right now that he’ll carve out a massive role on a Blues squad that is performing quite well without Buchnevich playing a huge part in their success.

Verdict: He’s a drop for me until his deployment changes

Timo Meier, RW – SJS

Meier is another shot producing hitting machine from the right wing, a mold I will always be interested in. He’s undoubtedly running hot right now with an 86% IPP and 21% S%, but he also ranks 15th in the league in even-strength SCF/60 and 25th in shots/60 while skating over 18 minutes a game. I was vocal about Meier this off-season, going so far as to call out coach Bob Boughner on a June Five Hole Fantasy Hockey podcast guest appearance for his under-utilization of Meier. I wasn’t convinced that Meier would get these minutes, but now that he is I am all about Meier as a 70ish point player who will help you dominate hits at the same time. Now, if someone wants to give you an underperforming Mitch Marner for Meier and you can replace his hits I’d definitely make that trade, but if no one is overpaying you’re set up for success holding Meier and riding him all season long.

Verdict: Kick up your feet and enjoy the ride

That’s all for this one folks, I hope you had as much fun reading it as I had writing it! Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter, on TikTok, and 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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