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 deep dive some hot and cold players and determine if they’re worth trying to acquire or sell off. It’s a little stripped down this week because frankly we don’t have a lot of recent data to go off and I didn’t want to draw a lot of conclusions on players based on little data since the Christmas break, or go too far in the opposite direction and try to lump data from three weeks ago before the break in alongside the last week’s worth of game. Before we dive in, be sure to check out the Apples & Ginos community on Discord and the Apples & Ginos Patreon for even more content. I’m in there every day and would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about Alexis Lafreniere, Nail Yakupov, or any other former #1 overall draft picks. Let’s get it!
Too Hot to Touch
Alexis Lafreniere, LW – NYR
Lafreniere has stepped into Artemi Panarin’s role on the Ryan Strome line with Panarin out currently and potted a goal and an assist in Monday’s win over the Edmonton Oilers. It seems like every time Lafreniere has a couple points we all jump up and ask “is this the breakout?” Unfortunately, my answer is still the same: not yet. In four games since the break, Lafreniere is averaging a meagre 5.4 shots/60 and his point production is getting carried by a 40% shooting percentage (S%). I have said that sometimes points generate confidence for players and the shots and chances for catch up, but Lafreniere would have to essentially double his shot output for me to be really interested and excited about him as a consistent fantasy option, even in a second line role.
The Right Amount of Hot
Filip Forsberg, LW – NSH
Forsberg has undoubtedly had some good luck of late en route to scoring five points in his four games since the break. But Forsberg is doing all the things that the great point producers do in this stretch and one has to wonder is this the point where he finally puts the pieces together and becomes a consistent fantasy threat all season long. On the season he’s sporting an unreasonable 23% S% compounded by a 13.1% on-ice shooting percentage (oiSH%), but he’s also found consistency with linemates Mikael Granlund and Matt Duchene which one has to believe is a positive step. Forsberg has come out firing in 2022 with shot and chance generation rates above his season-long numbers and I’m excited to see if Forsberg can now sustain a higher level of production given the best situation he’s ever had in Nashville.
Colder than Ice
Rickard Rakell, LW – ANA
I’ve always liked Rakell as he usually stuffs the stat sheet with shots and ranks highly in individual scoring chances for/60 (iSCF/60), which is a metric I love to track for goal scoring potential. But despite a healthy 18:49 average time on ice in four games since the break, Rakell has just a single assist and his advanced numbers are in the gutter. Rakell’s iSCF/60 during this stretch ranks a putrid 380th in the league, shockingly low for a player more commonly found in the top 50. Now certainly Rakell is missing young star Trevor Zegras as his center, but he didn’t benefit from Zegras’ sublime playmaking ability last season when he ranked 32nd in the league in the category. Suffice it to say Rakell is in a slump to open 2022 and only time will tell if Zegras’ return is enough to break that dry spell. For a player with Rakell’s track record of shot and chance production I think they’ll come back, but I’m certainly not rostering him in the meantime and I’ll wait to see the numbers bounce back a bit before testing the waters once again.
Frozen but Thawing
Nick Suzuki, C – MTL
Suzuki has gone pointless in three games to start the new year, and has just 19 points in 34 games on the season, not exactly what the Canadiens had in mind when they gave him an eight year deal with an AAV just under $8 million this past offseason. But I’m happy to report that at least in the early going Suzuki has started pulling his weight once again. Suzuki has put up 8.95 shots/60 and 9.76 iSCF/60 in these three games while skating an ungodly 24:35 a night. Those numbers are well above his career averages so hopefully he can sustain that level of play a little longer as Montreal’s troops make their way back from the COVID list and various other ailments. I’m not here to call an incoming hot streak for Suzuki, but these three games have given me some hope where I didn’t have much previously.
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. 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: + by Ed Sheeran and Homework by Sam Fischer
Advanced stats credit: Natural Stat Trick