Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the fifth 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 and I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Ovechkin, or any other ELITE Russian wingers you can name. Let’s get it!
Mark Scheifele, C – WPG
Mark Scheifele has not gotten off to the start he wanted this year, missing five games in COVID protocol and only managing one goal and four points through eight games. Scheifele certainly isn’t performing well thus far, with a shot rate that would be the lowest of his career and his lowest on-ice scoring chances for/60 (SCF/60) mark since 2013/14. But while his on-ice shooting percentage (oiSH%) is right in line with his career averages, his individual points percentage (IPP) has dropped to a mere 44% where I would typically expect him to fall in the 60-70% range. Combine that with a 6.3% shooting percentage (S%) that is one-third of his normal mark and Scheifele could very easily have three goals and three assists in eight games at this point and we wouldn’t even be discussing him. My only lasting concern with Scheifele is that we saw Mika Zibanejad take a long time to get back up to speed after dealing with COVID early in the 2021 season – it’s not unreasonable to think that there’s at least a possibility Scheifele’s point production doesn’t come all the way back for another month or even two. But I’m betting on the years of consistent production we have with Scheifele that he’ll turn this ship around sooner rather than later and I would absolutely buy low on him if I could, even if I have to wait a month to reap the full rewards.
Verdict: Looks like a buy low, but the old Mark Scheifele may take a minute to return
Shayne Gostisbehere, D – ARI
What, you’re not buying that 66-point pace GhostBear is putting up on the worst offensive team the league has seen in the last decade? (I would have gone further but honestly I got bored looking back year by year; it’s truly impressive how badly the Coyotes stack up next to some of those horrendous Buffalo and Detroit teams so far though.) Gostisbehere is rocking an 80% IPP which is stratospheric for a forward much less a defenseman and somehow has a 9.9% oiSH% on a team that overall is shooting 6.1% without much hope for better given the dearth of talent on the roster. Even if you buy the idea that Gostisbehere is simply by far the best offensive talent on the team, those numbers should drop to something like 55% and 7.5%, respectively. I don’t see a world in which Gostisbehere is more than a 50-point pace defenseman rest of season unless Arizona circumvents NHL rules to get Shane Wright on the roster a year early.
Verdict: If it seems too good to be true, it’s because it is
Sam Reinhart, RW – FLA
Reinhart hasn’t exactly disappointed but he hasn’t crushed it in Florida either, netting 3 goals and 11 points in 15 games so far, good for a 60-point pace. I had high hopes for Reinhart as a fixture on the Barkov line and PP1 but those have not come to fruition (yet, anyways). Still, I see nothing in Reinhart’s advanced stats that gives me pause as he’s matching his shot rates and at or beneath last year’s marks in IPP and S%. The oiSH% is a healthy but not overweight 10.5% and Reinhart’s career-best SCF/60 mark is even more impressive when you consider he’s spent most of the season on Florida’s third line and PP2 unit. The Panthers shuffled their lines in their last game and appear set to move forward for the time being with a Verhaeghe-Bennett-Reinhart second line, which would be the best linemates Reinhart has played with in a hot minute. I think you can bank on Reinhart as a 60-point guy with upside up to a point-per-game if he ever does claim a spot on the Barkov line and on PP1.
Verdict: Safe floor with upside; what’s not to love?
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW – STL
I’ll save you some time here if you want to skip down: Tarasenko is a stud and should be treated as a point-per-game player for the rest of the season. This is a guy who ranks 19th in the league in SCF/60, 13th in individual scoring chances for/60 (iSCF/60), and 4th in shots/60. That 41-goal, 82-point pace is no mirage with Tarasenko as the 82% IPP is the only thing that looks slightly overweight. His ice time has steadily increased throughout the young season and I can’t find anything negative to say about the product he’s put on the ice so far this year. St. Louis suddenly has a dangerous top-six and Tarasenko is the lead gunner of the group. If you’ve got him you’re holding on for the ride.
Verdict: Everything checks out, man is a stud
Matt Duchene, RW – NSH
Duchene has been one of the hottest players in the league recently, dropping eleven points in his last seven games. Duchene is averaging 19 minutes a night on the season, a huge jump from last year’s 15:49 mark. On top of that Duchene is firing an extra shot/60 over last year and the IPP looks very sustainable at 67%. Unfortunately there are some signs that Duchene may be soon ready to return to the realm of mortals, and it starts with the shooting percentage. Duchene is shooting over 20% on the season and over 45% in his last five games, a period during which his shot and chance generation rates have also declined. Duchene has also benefited from a very high 14.8% oiSH% on the season (21.4% in his last five). With Duchene playing only on heavy nights this week (Tue/Thu/Sat) and having the Thursday game versus Ottawa canceled due to their COVID outbreak, I’d be willing to drop Duchene as soon as Tuesday’s tilt is finished and find a new streamer to close out the week. It’s worth noting that Nashville has a terrific schedule next week though, so if you have the luxury of carrying Duchene through a slow week you may reap the benefits next week.
Verdict: The elite-level production won’t stick around, but Duchene should be a relevant player in the 55-60 point range ROS
Before you go, I want you to know I just launched the Apples and Ginos Fantasy Hockey Podcast and I would be much obliged if you were to give it the time of day. I’ll be providing weekly shows focused on the strategy elements of fantasy hockey and I’m very excited about providing more value to the fantasy hockey community in this way.
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 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!