Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the umpteenth installment of a weekly article I’ve been writing all season long in which I deep dive some hot and cold players and determine if they’re worth trying to acquire or sell off. Before we dive in, be sure to check out the Apples & Ginos community on Discord and the Apples & Ginos Patreon for even more content including a weekly waiver wire article detailing all the best streamers and pickups for the upcoming week. I’m in the Discord every day and would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about Cole Caufield, my 8-year-old nephew, or any other literal children playing hockey. Let’s get it!
Too Hot to Touch
Patrik Laine, LW – CBJ
Laine’s return to fantasy relevance has been a welcome relief to his fantasy managers. Over his last seven games Laine has put up thirteen points, including six goals. However Laine’s lack of individual scoring chance for (iSCF) generation has me questioning how long this can keep up. Laine has just a single game above 3 iSCF in this stretch, making me question how long he can keep up his 17.6% shooting percentage (S%). On the season everything looks a little hot for Laine – the 76% individual points percentage (IPP) and 13% on-ice shooting percentage (oiSH%) should probably both be a little lower. I can’t say I feel much differently about Laine than I did in my “The Truth” article from last week where I said I’m cautiously optimistic that Laine is a 65-point guy ROS. That could make Laine a nice sell right now if you can find someone to buy in on his recent scoring surge.
Mats Zuccarello, RW – MIN
I’m not here to take away from Zuccarello’s tremendous season. But we should be expecting some regression from his 18% S% and 14.3% oiSH%. Certainly there’s a lot of good in Zuccarello’s profile, skating 19 minutes a night with the best CF/60 and SCF/60 numbers of his career (thanks in large part to linemates Kirill Kaprizov and Ryan Hartman). But while the points are still there for Zuccarello, the underlying numbers have started to trend in the wrong direction. Zuccarello has taken more than a single shot on goal in just one of his last six games, and you have to go back eight games to find a game in which he generated more than two iSCF. These numbers don’t mean that Zuccarello won’t be useful for fantasy, but you have to at least consider that (a) we’re expecting some regression and (b) Zuccarello isn’t doing himself any favours with his play currently.
Honourable Mentions: Mason Marchment, LW – FLA // Johnny Gaudreau, LW – CGY // Yegor Sharangovich, LW – NJD // Anton Lundell, C – FLA // Andrew Mangiapane, LW – CGY // Troy Terry, RW – ANA // Tyler Seguin, C – DAL // Damon Severson, D – NJD // Jaccob Slavin, D – CAR
The Right Amount of Hot
Alex Tuch, RW – BUF
You simply can’t deny what Alex Tuch has been doing of late: seven straight games of 4 or more shots, resulting in nine points during that span. He’s found nearly immediate chemistry with Jeff Skinner and Tage Thompson on the Buffalo top line, averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time a night in the process. I was initially reserved about Tuch as he didn’t have the underlying stats to back up his early production, but this is a case where the underlying stats caught up to the production rather than vice versa and I’d comfortably put Tuch at a 60-65 point pace ROS. I’d like to have Tuch on my rosters for the fantasy playoffs where the Sabres have a terrific schedule. If you can catch someone trying to “sell high” on Tuch, I’d be willing to make a deal for him at this point in the season and lock down those key games.
Rasmus Andersson, D – CGY
It’s not often you’ll catch me touting a defenseman who has scored all of 2 goals in 47 games this year, but Andersson has a unique position as the PP1 quarterback in Calgary and I’m starting to get comfortable with his production as a 4th defenseman on my fantasy team. Andersson has started shooting the puck a little more of late as well, adding an element to his game that was missing previously. His CF/60 and SCF/60 on the season far eclipse his previous career best, and I feel confident that Andersson is at minimum a 45-point defenseman ROS as long as he holds PP1 deployment.
Honourable Mentions: Viktor Arvidsson, LW – LAK // John Tavares, C – TOR // Mitch Marner, RW – TOR // Vladimir Tarasenko, RW – STL // Jack Hughes, C – NJD // Sam Reinhart, RW – FLA // Trevor Moore, RW – LAK // Andrei Svechnikov, LW – CAR // Jeff Skinner, LW – BUF // Ville Heinola, D – WPG // Aaron Ekblad, D – FLA //
Colder than Ice
Charlie McAvoy, D – BOS
McAvoy has gone ice cold, going pointless in six straight going into Thursday’s games. McAvoy’s season-long numbers don’t seem out of line in any respect – his current 52-point pace seems about right. There was hope that McAvoy’s ascension to the PP1 role would result in a 60-point breakout for the 24-year-old linchpin, but the additional usage has not resulted in a significant production increase. Some of this can be blamed on McAvoy’s 7.4% oiSH% at even strength where his previous season low was 9.4%, so perhaps once Brad Marchand returns and the Bruins have the lineup back to full strength McAvoy will start to trend up once more. But McAvoy isn’t an above-average shot generator on his own, and it seems more and more likely that Boston just isn’t the same team at even strength that they were in years past and we can’t realistically expect McAvoy to take the jump we all want to see for fantasy purposes.
Seth Jones, D – CHI
There’s not a lot to get excited about with Jones of late. Erik Gustafsson has been stealing PP1 minutes and Jones hasn’t scored since December 2nd. I was excited about Jones in Chicago because I saw the ‘Hawks as a better offensive environment than the Blue Jackets had been for the previous two seasons. Jones’ on-ice numbers have improved, but despite a 58% IPP Jones is still pacing for 55 points – good, but not great. Chicago’s season has gone sideways and Jones has been dragged down with it. I can’t recommend Jones as more than a 50-point defenseman ROS, and if Gustafsson continues to take PP1 time from him Jones could suffer even more.
Honourable Mentions: Seth Jarvis, RW – CAR // Ivan Barbashev, C – STL // Shayne Gostisbehere, D – ARI // Alex Kerfoot, LW – TOR // Alex Pietrangelo, D – VGK // Shea Theodore, D – VGK // Tomas Hertl, C – SJS // Mike Hoffman, LW – MTL //
Frozen but Thawing
Cole Caufield, RW – MTL
Caufield is trending sharply upward for me, generating shots and iSCF at a much improved rate over his last five games heading into Thursday’s game against the Blues. His ice time jumped significantly in his last game against Buffalo to 18:16 as new coach Martin St. Louis took notice of Caufield’s work of late. I think Caufield could very well be in line for a great finish to the season as the Canadiens seem likely to focus the remainder of the season on getting lots of playing time for their young players. This is a player who was a pre-season Calder Trophy favourite, and the skills that put him in that conversation didn’t evaporate. I’m willing to swing on Caufield and see if he can go on a run over the back half of the season here.
Evgenii Dadonov, RW – VGK
It has not been a memorable campaign for Dadonov to date, with just 21 points in 47 games on the season. But Mark Stone’s injury has opened the door for Dadonov to jump up on the top line alongside stars Max Pacioretty and Jack Eichel, an enticing assignment to say the least. Dadonov is also seeing usage on the top PP unit, and to top it all off he’s been generating his own chances lately too. Dadonov ranks 33rd in the league in iSCF/60 over his past five games, and I think he’s due for some serious positive regression. Adding up the solid individual play, great deployment, and potential positive regression, I think there’s potential here for Dadonov to return value on a pickup in the next week or so.
Honourable Mentions: Rasmus Asplund, C – BUF // Jesse Puljujarvi, RW – EDM // Adam Lowry, C – WPG // Mikhail Sergachev, D – TB // Brandon Montour, D – FLA // Darnell Nurse, D – EDM // Brendan Gallagher, RW – MTL // Timo Meier, RW – SJS
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: damn. by Kendrick Lamar & Dreamland by COIN
Advanced stats credit: Natural Stat Trick