Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the eleventh 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 which players 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 James Reimer or any other goalies you’re worried about. No seriously, I do answer questions about goalies. Let’s get it!
Jack Hughes, C – NJD
Hughes has come out of the Christmas break on fire, registering eight points in three games including 14 shots while averaging 19:16. Now no one not named Connor McDavid is likely to sustain anything remotely close to a 2+ point per game pace, but Hughes’ numbers under the hood are very solid during this short stretch, with terrific individual and on-ice numbers. My hesitations with Hughes in the past have been whether Hughes was a good enough “finisher” to put up the points his advanced stats suggested he should be able to. With Jesper Bratt taking a big step this season and last season’s linemate Yegor Sharangovich providing a top-notch foil to Hughes’ offensive flourish, I’m cautiously optimistic that Hughes could finally be turning the corner into the offensive dynamo he was considered to be coming into the league. I would still hesitate to assume Hughes will put up a point per game or more for the rest of the season, but it’s certainly not outside his range of outcomes. If you can sell Hughes based on this three-game explosion for a better established commodity producing at a PPG level, I would do that just to “lock in” the production, but I won’t fault anyone for riding this thing out with Hughes because it certainly looks like the opportunity, talent, and situation are all finally lining up for him.
Verdict: Risk-averse play is to trade for a PPG player where possible, but Hughes may have finally taken the step we’ve all been waiting for
Noah Dobson, D – NYI
I’ve been on Dobson for quite some time now. I don’t see how even Barry Trotz can pull Dobson from the Islanders’ PP1 unit given the work he’s been putting in. He’s up to 10 points in his last 10 games, and has averaged 22:36 while ranking 17th among all NHL defensemen in shots/60 during that stretch. There is certainly regression coming – if you thought an Isles defender was going to put up a point per game for the rest of the season I don’t know what to tell you – but Dobson is also 40th among NHL defensemen in on-ice scoring chances for/60 (SCF/60) during this run. That number doesn’t sound terrific but consider that in real numbers Dobson is 22nd in actual number of SCF while on the ice. That’s impressive work for a defenseman in the defense-first New York system and I’m extremely bullish on Dobson’s future. I estimate Dobson as a 45-50 point pace defenseman from here on out, but if your league counts banger stats Dobson will also contribute there, particularly in the blocks department. Barring more postponements or injuries that force my hand, I’m holding Dobson through this dreadful zero-game week on any team that can afford to do so.
Verdict: This is a legitimate fantasy asset not a streamer
David Pastrnak, RW – BOS
You’re going to want to tune in to the Apples and Ginos Fantasy Hockey Podcast to get more on Pastrnak, but the gist of it is this: Pastrnak is experiencing some unbelievably bad luck in terms of point production. He’s performing at or above expectation in every single advanced metric that I monitor, and the three key regression metrics (individual points percentage, shooting percentage, and on-ice shooting percentage) all scream positive regression for Pasta. This is an open and shut case for me: Pastrnak will come alive at some point and should be a 90-100 point pace player from here on out. If you can make an offer to the current Pastrnak manager (maybe if you’ve got Jack Hughes and they’ve got big eyes for him) to get him on the cheap, I am all about that sort of buy-low opportunity.
Verdict: Absolute stud experiencing some horrifically bad variance that WILL rebound
Adam Boqvist, D – CLB
Boqvist is an odd case. His shooting percentage jumps off the page at an ungodly 28%. The IPP looks a little hot at 52% but he hit 50% last year in Chicago so we’ll give a little grace there. The on-ice shooting percentage is also probably a point or two high at 12%. Add it up and Boqvist should be a sell/drop. But today we got news that Zach Werenski had a positive COVID test and will have to re-test. If Werenski is out for any length of time Boqvist is almost assuredly the new PP1 quarterback in Columbus and could get a solid run of action. I don’t view Boqvist as more than a streaming option even with this deployment, but I’d definitely give him a look if Werenski is indeed confirmed out.
Verdict: Streamer option if Werenski is out
James Reimer, G – SJS
Reimer has been a godsend for those of us running the #ZeroG strategy, but he’s hit a couple of road bumps lately, bookending a solid start against Philadelphia with two 6+ GA stinkers against Pittsburgh and Arizona. As you know if you follow my work, I’m not interested in trying to predict goalie performance because I’ve never been able to find any metrics that beat complete randomness by more than a few percentage points. But I am very concerned that the Sharks rank 29th in the league in scoring chances allowed per 60 at 5v5 since the break, with a 19th best SCF%. It’s a small sample size to be sure, but I’m always on at least yellow alert with all of my goalies and Reimer is approaching red alert status. He’s been announced as Tuesday’s starter versus the Red Wings tomorrow and I’ll be watching his results here intently as well as the Sharks’ ability as a team to defend against a relatively non-threatening Detroit squad. However given that Adin Hill has not exactly inspired confidence, it feels like Reimer is still a relatively safe volume play unless he truly goes off the deep end; depending on your league settings he may still be viable even if the rate stats go away.
Verdict: Watch Tuesday’s game closely and go from there
Before you go, I want to make sure you’re aware of the Apples and Ginos Fantasy Hockey Podcast and I would be much obliged if you were to give it a listen. 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. I’ve already had terrific guests like TJ Branson from Five Hole Fantasy Hockey and Elan Dubrofsky from Keeping Karlsson on the show and I believe the content is top notch.
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 free Apples & Ginos Discord server for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have. If you want to learn more about any of the advanced stats I mentioned in this article, be sure to check out my article on applying advanced stats to fantasy hockey, or check out Natural Stat Trick’s advanced stats glossary.
Thanks for reading, you are appreciated!
Soundtrack to my writing: Spotify Indie Mix
Advanced stats credit: Natural Stat Trick