Week 8 in Review: The Big 1/3 Season Lookback

by Johnny Fantasy

With week 8 now behind us, most teams have played about 1/3 of  their season.  At such an important point in the season (even if it is mathematically unheralded), now is a good time to look back on this year’s draft to see how things have played out.   In every round, we can now see there have been disappointments, pleasant surprises and other noteworthy curiosities.  Today, we’ll be going through each round (based on Yahoo’s average draft round results) to take a look at some of those results and second guessing ourselves for not having been able to predict the future.

First round (Yahoo average round 1.1 – 1.5): Ovechkin, Crosby, Stamkos, Seguin, Tavares, Benn, Price, Giroux, Malkin, Kessel

Best pick: Jamie Benn (Avg. pick: 7.1)

There wasn’t anything terribly unexpected in the first round results.  The game’s top stars populate this list (and Phil Kessel, who everyone was convinced was going to score 50 goals since he lost all that weight), but at this point only two of those ten are in the top ten in scoring.   Those two would be Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, who have not missed a beat, picking up right where they left off last year.   The best pick could probably be either of them, but I will give it to Benn, since he has more hits and a ridiculous 4 shorthanded points so far this season (the most in the league).   If your league counts that, he is the hands-down best pick.

Biggest disappointment: Sidney Crosby (Avg. pick: 2.2)

If I would have tried to predict the biggest disappointment from this group on the first day of the regular season, I would have chosen Kessel without hesitation.  Sure, he is a proven goal scorer and he’s just moved to a team with some of the best playmakers in the game, but Pittsburgh has been inconsistent in recent years, and there was too much of an X-factor there.  What I would have not guessed, though, was that Kessel would have as many points as Crosby.  Crosby is on the lowest scoring pace of his career.  But, he and the rest from this round were first rounders for a reason.  They have the potential and proven talent, and that means fantasy owners need to ride them out until they hit their groove.

The bad luck award: Carey Price (Avg. pick: 6.7)

The bad luck award for this round goes to Carey Price by a mile.  Price has been excellent this year when he’s played, but he’s been limited to only 12 games due to injury, and he is still expected to be out for another several weeks.  Assuming he is 100% when he does return, his number of games played over the course of the season will still be far below expectations and that is a big blow for any team’s first round pick.

 

Second round (Yahoo average round 1.5 – 2.5): Perry, Lundqvist, Kane, Karlsson, Tarasenko, Toews, Subban, Nash, Voracek, Pavelski, Quick, Getzlaf, Rinne

Best pick: Patrick Kane (Avg. pick: 14.7)

The best pick of this round is really no contest.  Patrick Kane is running away with the scoring race, setting records and making us all wonder how it was he slipped into the second round.  Oh, right.  Going into this year’s draft, we weren’t sure if Kane was going to be behind bars by the end of it, so picking him was actually a pretty risky move.  It has paid off big time for those who took that risk.

Biggest disappointment: Corey Perry (Avg. pick: 13.0)

Our biggest disappointment of this round is kind of the opposite case from Kane.  Corey Perry has been a fairly consistent point-producer for nearly a decade, adding along a lot of shots and penalty minutes (if your league counts those).   The Ducks started the season in complete trainwreck mode, and Perry was basically a waste of a roster spot through those first ten games.   The Ducks have somewhat gotten their act together and Perry has picked up his production as well.  The next 2/3rds of the season will certainly be better overall than the first third was, but fantasy owners are nonetheless justified in their disappointment here.  Many might have picked Voracek here, but Perry’s track record and higher draft position puts him ahead on the disappointment scale.

The smart pick of the round: Joe Pavelski (Avg. pick: 21.5)

Looking at all of the names in this round, Pavelski strikes me as the most out of place.  Not because he doesn’t deserve to be there (because he absolutely does), but rather because Pavelski has quietly been ascending the fantasy ranks over the past few years.  He’s the smart pick of this round because, while his name or reputation doesn’t have the hype that a Jonathan Toews or Jonathan Quick has, he is a better pick than both of them (as well as Perry, Nash, and Voracek, based solely on the season played so far).

 

Third round (Yahoo average round 2.5 – 3.5): Holtby, Couture, Bishop, Parise, Kopitar, Fleury, Rask, Dubnyk, Johansen

Best pick: Ben Bishop (Avg. pick: 27.7)

Goalie run!  Picking the best of this round is actually kind of a toss-up.  Holtby, Fleury and Bishop have all been great, but let’s give it to Bishop who boasts the highest save percentage so far (0.929) and had the lowest of those three goalies last year (0.916).  Nice bounce-back, Ben.

Biggest disappointment: Tuukka Rask (Avg. pick: 30.5)

Biggest disappointment is also a toss-up.  Johansen has not produced like a third round pick, Couture’s injury (although not his fault) is a huge disappointment and Parise and Kopitar are much closer to 0.5 points per game than 1.0 (and the third round is still a little early for that).  But, I think we have to go with Tuukka as the biggest letdown here, really because he’s done such a fantastic job over the years that we have come to take his elite play for granted.  Even the best go through rough patches.  Rask was unfortunate to start the season on one and he’s dug himself quite a hole to get out of – even though he’s been much better lately, his save percentage over the season is still only 0.903.

The ‘we should have known better’ award: Devan Dubnyk (Avg. pick: 32.2)

Devan Dubnyk is actually in a fairly similar position to Rask.  The main difference being that Dubnyk has conditioned us over the years to be disappointed and so maybe that has made his rough start this year easier to take (and to his credit, he has been performing better than Rask, with a 0.916 save percentage so far).  Plus, we all knew that we shouldn’t reasonably expect him to keep up his ridiculous pace from the second half of last year.  I think Dubnyk was more of a risky pick for a goalie that could be excellent.  But all risky picks can’t be Patrick Kanes.

 

Fourth round (Yahoo average round 3.5 – 4.5): MacKinnon, Zetterberg, McDavid, Byfuglien, Pacioretty, Giordano, Johnson, Shattenkirk, Eberle, Crawford, Hall

Best pick: Taylor Hall (Avg. pick: 44.0)

Injury run! It’s kind of an amazing coincidence how many of these players (4 of the 11) have missed significant time due to injury.  Oddly, not among them is Taylor Hall,[1] who has put up nearly a point per game, combined with a ton of shots to be the best pick of this round.  He’s actually been quite cold lately (2 points in his past 7 games), but that will pass and by the end of the season Hall will have been an absolute steal as a fourth round pick.

Biggest disappointment: Mark Giordano (Avg. pick: 30.5)

…and at the other end… Mark Giordano’s point total has once again been suppressed due to injury this ye…what’s that?  He’s played in every game?!?  But how does he only have…?  Wow.  Even though he’s on a Calgary team that everyone expected to regress, Giordano had always been one of the bright spots, with possession numbers that have historically been quite good.  As such, it’s been very surprising to see him scoring so little, especially given his production over the last couple of seasons.  He is currently riding a bit of a hot streak (3 points in his last 4 games), but even if he is beginning to turn it around, I’m not sure he’ll be able to beat his career high of 48 points from last year.[2]

The ‘shattered dreams of the NHL marketing department’ award: Connor McDavid (Avg. pick: 37.7)

And what was shaping up to be a risky-pick-that-turned-out-well ended up being a big blow to the NHL hype machine.  McDavid has been the most promising and biggest name prospect since Sidney Crosby, and right as he was beginning to find his NHL groove and show us he was ready to impress at the NHL level, he breaks his collarbone and gets sidelined for months.  A big disappointment for him of course as well as all of those who drafted him.  At least the media seemed to have found a workaround – talking about the games he’s not playing.

 

Fifth round (Yahoo average round 4.5 – 5.5): Foligno, Burns, Keith, Weber, van Riemsdyk, Landeskog, Doughty, Kucherov, Backes, Hedman

Best pick: Brent Burns (Avg. pick: 45.4)

With big name defencemen such as Keith, Weber, Doughty and Hedman in this round, it really says something about Brent Burns that he’s the top picl.  The most obvious draw about Burns from a fantasy perspective is his rare RW/defence dual position eligibility.  Theoretically, that means forward-like point production from a defenceman’s slot, which is outstanding.  Burns is doing that and more – he’s currently on pace for 69 points (better than many forwards and ranking as elite for a fantasy defenceman) – and as far as I can tell[3] he’s doing it while actually playing as a defenceman.  Add to that his shot totals which are close to the top of the league, and you’ve got an extremely valuable fantasy asset (although that +/- is a drawback).   Those other all-star defencemen may be more valuable from a real-life hockey perspective, but Burns wins in fantasy.

Biggest disappointment: Nick Foligno (Avg. pick: 44.8)

Nick Foligno surprised everyone with his production last season.  I’m not sure that many people thought it would last, but Foligno’s measly 14 points so far this season is tragic collapse especially considering that, on average, he was drafted ahead of Burns and those other defencemen I mentioned above (all of whom have at least as many points if not more, other than Duncan Keith who is only 2 behind and had missed time due to injury).

Most curious result: James van Riemsdyk (Avg. pick: 50.2)

The most surprising thing to be about this round is the presence of James van Riemsdyk.   Nothing against JVR himself, but we did all get the news that the Maple Leafs traded their best player and JVR linemate, Phil Kessel, right?  And also the news that the Leafs are terrible?[4]  Given that, I don’t know how anyone could justify taking JVR this high.  But, those were my expectations, and based on those he actually isn’t doing that bad.  Despite passing on some truly great names below him, JVR drafters can take solace and say “at least I didn’t draft Nick Foligno.”[5]

 

Sixth round (Yahoo average round 5.5 – 6.5): Schneider, Letang, Backstrom, Bobrovsky, Yandle, Pietrangelo, Forsberg, Josi, Wheeler, Luongo, Steen, D. Sedin

Best pick: Daniel Sedin (Avg. pick: 65.0)

Just when you think a star player has gone past his fantasy prime, Daniel Sedin shows up and proves all us doubters wrong- he’s still got it!  At 29 points in 28 games, with over 100 shots on goal so far, Daniel Sedin has been a steal for going in the sixth round, especially as a left wing.

Biggest disappointment: Filip Forsberg (Avg. pick: 61.6)

After an excellent rookie season, Predators fans and fantasy owners were getting very excited (while Washington Capitals fans were lamenting) that Forsberg was going to live up to his hype.  Perhaps it’s just the old ‘sophomore slump’, but Forsberg hasn’t taken the next step this season yet and is on pace for only 57 points, 6 less than last year.

The ‘how long did you think he was going to be out?’ award: Nicklas Backstrom (Avg. pick: 55.6)

It’s always tricky when a player starts the season on the IR.  You’ve got to pro-rate his production based on the current reports about his recovery.  What I can’t really understand is that most reports said that Backstrom would only end up missing the first few games of the regular season.  Not first few months or first few weeks, but first few games.  I don’t know how that results in him slipping this low in the draft.  The grand total ended up being 3 games missed, and Backstrom has 22 points in 22 games since.  The only reason I gave this round to Daniel Sedin was because he currently is on pace to do just as well in points, and has far more shots and goals than Backstrom.  I’m not convinced that I’ll be coming to the same conclusion after another third season or two, however.

 

We’re now getting into the middle rounds of most drafts.  The results of these rounds can vary greatly on the needs of the team picking and on the whims of the managers.   Let’s tackle these rounds in larger groups.

Seventh-Tenth rounds (Yahoo average round 6.5 – 10.5): Carlson, Halak, Gaudreau, Bergeron, Neal, Ladd, Tatar, Varlamov, Datsyuk, Duchene, Miller, Oshie, Ekman-Larsson, Turris, Sharp, Marleau, Mason, Barrie, H. Sedin, Ekblad, McDonagh, Hudler, Simmonds, Hiller, Kreider, Saad, Nugent-Hopkins, Hossa, Little, Green, Andersen, Okposo, Elliott, E. Kane, Monahan, Faulk, Nyquist, Allen, Hamilton, Vatanen, Schwartz

Best picks: Johnny Gaudreau (Avg. pick: 70.5), Jake Allen (Avg. pick: 105.8)

Johnny Hockey has not disappointed us with any sophomore slump and is showing why he had nearly double the votes for the Calder Trophy last season than Filip Forsberg did.  Despite being on an awful Calgary team, he’s got 26 points in 26 games.  As for Jake Allen, everyone expected him to continue his timeshare with Brian Elliott, as he had yet to really shine and make his case to be an undisputed starter…until this season started.  Allen has grabbed onto the starter’s job and has been excellent.  He’s certainly has his fair share of sub-par games, but he seems to have earned the trust of the Blues coaching staff such that it doesn’t seem that he’ll lose playing time after a rough night.  A starting goaltender out of the tenth round is certainly a steal.

Biggest disappointments: Semyon Varlamov (Avg. pick: 73.9), Dougie Hamilton (Avg. pick: 104.4)

Varlamov is only two seasons removed from Vezina Trophy talk and now he hasn’t even cracked a 0.900 save percentage on the season.  We all know that Varly is a risk given that Colorado is not a particularly stalwart defensive team, but even this is worse than expected (and worse than most available free agent goalies). If we were to do a complete fantasy redraft at this point in the season, I think the thought on the mind of anyone looking at Varlamov (in any round, much less the seventh) would be: “Is Tuukka Rask still available?”  As for Hamilton, when Dennis Wideman is leading your team’s defenceman scoring, you have missed the mark.

The ‘most likely to be dropped’ award: Wayne Simmonds (Avg. pick: 90.4)

I don’t know what it is about Simmonds.  He’s a player that I always draft and then almost immediately drop.  By the end of each season, he always seems to have stats that make it seem like a good idea to draft him.  And I fall for it, every year.  But then he has a bad or mediocre start and is always the victim when I want to grab someone else that seems to be having a breakout season.  Maybe the fact that his upside isn’t terribly high is what keeps him at the bottom  of my depth chart.  Or maybe I’m just bitter because he’s always ranked just high enough to make me really regret overpaying for him with my draft pick when I do inevitably drop him.

 

Eleventh-Fourteenth rounds (Yahoo average round 10.5 – 14.5): Carter, Wideman, Krug, Markov, Palat, Pavelec, Iginla, Eichel, Kesler, Streit, Kronwall, Seabrook, Kunitz, Hornqvist, Brodie, Toffoli, Klingberg, Howard, Jones, Leddy, Spezza, Ryan, Vrbata, Suter, Boychuk, E. Staal, Maatta, Marchand, Anderson, Stone, Niskanen, Muzzin, Thornton, Sekera, Trouba, Parayko, Zidlicky, Krejci, Lindholm, Phaneuf, Neuvirth, Panarin, Skinner, Larkin, D. Boyle, Duclair, Huberdeau, Lucic, Reimer, Stepan, Hartnell, Hjalmarsson, Gaborik, Scandella, Abdelkader, Vermette, Klein, Ward, Shaw, Lehtonen, Girardi, Ristolainen, Anisimov, Darling

Ah, now we are getting into the depths of the draft.  We have a mix of aging stars, long shots and pipe dreams.  I feel disappointment at this stage isn’t even really an applicable concept – at worst these are picks that you had hoped would have worked out, but didn’t.  If anything, we are more in lottery territory – you either struck it big or have already replaced this player (or you have a depth guy that you wouldn’t think twice about dropping or trading).

Big wins: John Klingberg (Avg. pick: 123.4), Artemi Panarin (Avg. pick: 151.6)

Well done Klingberg and Panarin drafters, well done.

Great values: Jeff Carter (Avg. pick: 112.1), Andrei Markov (Avg. pick: 112.1), Martin Jones (Avg. pick: 127.0), Ryan Suter (Avg. pick: 128.3), Craig Anderson (Avg. pick: 135.9), Mark Stone (Avg. pick: 138.7), David Krejci (Avg. pick: 153.3), Dylan Larkin (Avg. pick: 155.5), Rasmus Ristolainen (Avg. pick: 164.6),

These guys may not continue their current production all season, but they have more than earned their spot and the pick you used for them.

Wistful sighs: Patric Hornqvist (Avg. pick: 123.1), Chris Kunitz (Avg. pick: 124.1), Jacob Trouba (Avg. pick: 142.7), Jeff Skinner (Avg. pick: 146.6)

I’m sorry Mario, but your princess is in another castle.

 

Fifteenth round through undrafted (Yahoo average round 14.5+)

We are now down to the portion of the draft that, looking back, seems to be just the remaining names thrown in a list randomly.

Final drops of value: Alex Galchenyuk (Avg. pick: 153.4), Brendan Gallagher (Avg. pick: 159.7), Ryan O’Reilly (Avg. pick: 160.4), Mike Cammalleri (Avg. pick: 166.2), Tomas Plekanec (Avg. pick: 166.3), Loui Eriksson (Avg. pick: 170)

Looking back at things, these guys probably shouldn’t have fallen this low in the drafts.

Suspicious Steals: Max Domi (Avg. pick: 164.8), Joel Ward (Avg. pick: 167.1), Evgeni Kuznetsov (Avg. pick: 169.1), Petr Mrazek (Avg. pick: 170.4), Mike Hoffman (Avg. pick: 178.4), Mats Zuccarello (Avg. pick: 171.5), Leon Draisaitl (Avg. pick: undrafted)

To the people who drafted these guys: after you use your time machine to go back to the future and collect your winnings, please remember to get bent.

Final thought: Alexander Semin (Avg. pick: 167.9)

My, we are getting desperate now, aren’t we?

 

[1] Who has only played more than 65 games once in his 5 NHL seasons.

[2] Accomplished in only 61 games!

[3] Admittedly, I haven’t had that chance to watch many Sharks games, but all of the line combination records for this season suggests that he’s been on defence the whole time.

[4] You may have to check the archives on that one – it’s been quite a while since it was breaking news.

[5] JVR has 2 more points, 8 more shots and is +6 more.

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