Fantasy Hockey

2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 2 Unsustainable Players

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Hockey season is back and in full swing, and that means it is time to kick off our new series with 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 2 Unsustainable Players.

Every Thursday over the course of the season, we will be looking at different players each week who are front of mind for Fantasy GMs. Some players may be seeing their rostership percentage increase due to a recent hot streak. Others may be being traded away or dropped across many leagues because of recent struggles.

Maybe the superstar player who was supposed to be the cornerstone of your team has been a bust. Or maybe there is a guy on the waiver wire who has strung together a few impressive performances.

In this series, we will be taking a detailed look at the hottest and coldest players to give you an idea of whether it is sustainable or not. Will Tyler Bertuzzi continue to score at a 164-goal pace or will he come back down to earth? I will be delving into some of the underlying statistics to guide you as you try to gauge whether to add, drop or trade for a certain player.

If you are looking for further add/drop guidance, click here to read Tyler’s most recent suggestions!

And as always, if you have any players that you want me to cover in future weeks, be sure leave a comment down below or reach out to me via Twitter – @jchengWPG.

2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 2 Unsustainable Players

Unsustainably High

Jared McCann, C/LW, Seattle Kraken (44% rostered)

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I was extremely high on Jared McCann going into this season. Fantasy GM’s who read my analysis last week on McCann and added him before the season started were rewarded fancily. Over three games in Week 1, McCann scored two goals and added an assist. He added another goal and assist in his following two games.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
532286217:0463.1%

I am highlighting McCann as Unsustainably High this week because some of his underlying numbers are a little bit concerning. During Week 1, McCann had a 40.0% shooting percentage, and an IPP of 100%. Both of these numbers are bound for some negative regression over the coming weeks. I would expect his shooting percentage to fall closer to his mark last year of 14.9% and his IPP to settle in somewhere around his 61.5% he put up last year.

While I wouldn’t expect McCann to put up a 55-goal, 82-point season, I still believe 30 goals is in the cards. He is being put in a great place to succeed. He is getting more powerplay time, offensive zone starts, and ice time than last year. And if McCann isn’t scoring, who else on the Kraken will?

With this increased role on the Kraken, 70-75 points over 82 games is what we can expect from McCann.

Despite making this list, I still think that McCann is in for a solid season and should be rostered in all but the shallowest of leagues. Even though his current pace is unsustainable, he will still continue to put some points on the board. He is also providing some peripheral value to managers, hitting 33% more than last year while adding a couple blocks. I have no doubt that McCann will have a solid year.

If he is still available on your waiver wire, pick him up now before everyone begins to catch on. I just would temper your expectations going forward. Don’t be disappointed when his scoring slows down from his current point-per-game pace.

Justin Faulk, D, St. Louis Blues (60% rostered)

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Justin Faulk is a poster boy for what I look for when determining if a player is unsustainable.

Over two games this year, Faulk has recorded two goals and two assists. This is an impressive resurgence for the blueliner who had an otherwise disappointing season last year with St. Louis.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
222381221:3833.9%

On the surface, it looks like he has regained the offensive prowess he displayed as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes. He is scoring more and shooting more.

While it is really good to see Faulk shooting more, his current pace is hardly sustainable. Over the past three years, no defenseman has been able to sustain a four-shots-per-game pace over a full season.

With two goals on the year, Faulk is shooting at a 25% shooting percentage. This, compared to just under 6% and 5% over last year and the past three years, respectively. Don’t expect these goals to continue for Faulk.

In terms of assists, Faulk has been the beneficiary of good puck luck in that department as well. While he is on the ice, the Blues have been shooting at 27.0%. Faulk has also registered a point in more than half (57%) of the goals that were scored while he was on the ice.

Both of these numbers are due for some negative regression. I would expect his IPP and OISH% to fall somewhere close to his mark from last year (35.2% and 11.4%, respectively).

If there weren’t already enough red flags, Faulk has seen his ice time fall by nearly three minutes compared to last year. He is also skating on the second powerplay unit, with Torey Krug quarterbacking the top unit. As such, he has only seen 33.9% of the team’s powerplay time over the first two games. With such limited time on the PP, Faulk won’t be able to maintain his current level of production.

As Faulk has a fair bit of name-value from his days in Carolina, I would try to see if any other GM would be willing to buy high. At the very least, it’s worth testing out the waters to see what you can get.

Chandler Stephenson, C/LW, Vegas Golden Knights (52% rostered)

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If there is one critique of the Vegas Golden Knights roster, it’s the fact that they lack a true No. 1 center. Hence, the rumors of a Jack Eichel trade to Vegas make a lot of sense.

In the meantime, Chandler Stephenson has been asked to step into that role. The 27-year-old Saskatoon, SK native has started the season on fire, notching two goals and an assist through two games. Perhaps he is the solution to play between Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty and propel Vegas to their first championship?

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
221033418:5930.2%

Despite the strong start, I’m not buying a ticket to board the Chandler Stephenson hype train.

Over the two games, he has only registered three shots, scoring on two of them. Needless to say, this 66.7% shooting percentage is not sustainable. I would expect his ceiling to be his 16.9% SH% from last year at the very highest. Closer to 13% is a more realistic bet.

The other issue, especially in the short to medium-term for Stephenson is the fact that both Stone and Pacioretty are out with injury. Pacioretty is week-to-week after breaking his foot against the L.A. Kings. Stone is somewhere between day-to-day and week-to-week, per Knights head coach Pete DeBoer.

Without these elite wingers to piggyback off of, Stephenson is bound to see his scoring decrease.

I think 52% rostered is way too high given Stephenson’s limited upside. If you are looking for a streaming option, I would much rather have teammates Rielly Smith (LW/RW, 16% rostered) or William Karlsson (C, 60% rostered), both of whom are on Vegas’ top line and top powerplay unit.

Unsustainably Low

Alexis Lafrenière, LW, New York Rangers (65% rostered)

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Ranger fans across the globe are anxiously waiting for the 2020 first-overall pick to breakout. Once touted the next Sidney Crosby (in part due to his time with the Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL), Alexis Lafrenière has yet to make his mark in the NHL.

During what some would argue was a disappointing rookie campaign last year, Lafrenière put up 21 points in 56 games while skating on the Rangers’ third line.

During the first four games of this year, he has been promoted to the top line skating with Chris Kreider and newly-extended Mika Zibanejad. He has seen his ice-time jump by nearly two minutes a game from last year, and his powerplay time more than double.

Despite an increased role, Lafrenière has only scored one goal over nine shots. He has registered an 11.1% shooting percentage this year, well below his 17.9% mark last year. 11.1% is also well below expected for a player that was drafted for his exceptional wrist shot and offensive abilities.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
410098015:1447.2%

I don’t expect Lafrenière’s struggles to continue much longer. He is playing with elite players and is at no risk of losing his spot. The Rangers’ first line has dominated play so far in the season, posting a CF% of 70.3% – fifth highest in the league. There are no words to describe how dominant that line has been through four games this year.

Additionally, he is shooting and hitting about three times more than last season. Some of those shots will eventually find their way in.

And if these weren’t enough reasons to suggest a bounce-back in the coming weeks, Lafrenière is currently the victim of bad puck luck. His IPP is sitting at 50.0% (down from his 65.6% last year) and his on-ice shooting percentage is a laughable 7.4%.

Adjust his numbers to more accurately reflect what we should expect from an average NHL player, and Lafrenière would be scoring at roughly a point-per-game pace.

Keep an eye on the former first-overall pick because once he starts to get a few bounces, he is due for a big breakout.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Tampa Bay Lightning (100% rostered)

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Before you read on, hear this: don’t panic.

If you drafted Vasilevskiy in the first round of your fantasy draft, you are probably feeling quite frustrated with how the season has started. I know I am.

In one keeper league that I am in, I felt very confident going into this year with Vasilevskiy and proceeded to fade goalies during the draft. I have proceeded to be punished for that decision.

GPWSVGASV%SOQS
42109130.89301

Over four games this year, Vasilevskiy has only posted one quality start. This, despite playing a depleted Penguins team, the Red Wings, and the aging Capitals team over that span. A quality start (QS) is any game in which a goalie does not allow more goals than would be expected.

Over the past three years, Vasilevskiy has averaged a 61.4% QS rate. This year, his QS rate is sitting at one out of four, or 25%. One wouldn’t expect this to continue. Vasilevskiy did not suddenly become a bad goalie during this offseason.

He also is at no risk of losing starts or his job as starter. With seven years left on an 8-year, $76 million contract, he is their guy.

Vasilevskiy is clearly in the midst of a cold spell. But I wouldn’t expect this to continue. He is still arguably the best goalie on the planet and will find his mojo sooner than later.

Don’t panic and do anything rash. I am planning on patiently holding him and waiting for him to find his superstar form.

Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche (100% rostered)

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If you are a Makar manager, you probably drafted him in the first couple rounds of your draft. Much like I discussed with Vasilevskiy earlier, you probably are expecting more than he has given.

The Avalanche haven’t had a great start to their season, in part due to Nathan MacKinnon’s COVID-related absence. Makar has been a victim of this slow start, putting up only one assist over the first three games.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
301092423:4362.8%

While the lack of production is concerning, Makar has been putting up solid peripheral numbers with nine shots and four blocks. It appears as though Makar is adding new elements to his game, making him that much more valuable to Fantasy managers.



For Makar, his shooting percentage (0.0%), IPP (25.0%), and OISH% (8.3%) are all well below last year. While it is fallible to try and extrapolate anything based on three games worth of data, if he got a bounce or two his way, one would have expected Makar to add an extra goal and assist over this stretch.

If Makar had scored three points he wouldn’t have made it onto this list. That is right where he was expected to perform going into the season.

When Makar eventually has some bounces go his way, and when MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog are both in the lineup, I would expect Makar to pick up his scoring once again.

Sustainably High

Jeff Carter, C/RW, Pittsburgh Penguins (59% rostered)

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They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Pittsburgh has demonstrated that you can, however, remind an old dog to perform tricks from his youth.

It has been ten years since the 36-year-old veteran has skated as a No. 1 center on an NHL team. With superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the sidelines to start the season, Jeff Carter is experiencing #ThrowbackThursday.

During the first four games of the campaign, Carter has scored one goal and added three assists, wildly exceeding expectations. He has found ways to score, despite losing Bryan Rust and Jake Guentzel for various portions of the week due to injury and illness.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
313196316:5263.0%

As long as Malkin is out of the Penguins lineup and Carter remains in the top six, he will continue to produce. He is shooting more and hitting almost three times more than last season. Add in the fact that his shooting percentage is lower last season (7.7% vs. 11.0% last season), Carter is showing no signs of falling off.

One statistic that is worth looking at always, is a player’s secondary assist rate. If the majority of a player’s assists are coming as secondary assists rather than primary assists, it suggests the player is benefitting from some good puck luck. Currently, only one of Carter’s three assists are secondary assists (33.3% secondary assist rate). This is lower than his rate last year and his average over the past three years (38.5% and 41.2% respectively).

If anything, we could see Carter actually score even more.

Expect Carter to continue to rack up points and hits in the absence of Pittsburgh’s superstar centers. If you have room on your roster, he is worth the pickup until Malkin returns.

Tony DeAngelo, D, Carolina Hurricanes (74% rostered)

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With the off-season departure of Dougie Hamilton, the Carolina Hurricanes were in desperate need of a powerplay quarterback. While both Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce are incredible defensemen in their own right, they both lack the offensive upside required on a powerplay.

To address this need, the Hurricanes signed Tony DeAngelo to a one-year deal to take over where Hamilton left off. While he is a defensive liability at times at 5-on-5, his offensive abilities are indisputable.

Prior to being suspended from the New York Rangers for an off-ice altercation last season, DeAngelo put up 53 points in 68 games.

This year, DeAngelo has already put up two powerplay assists playing alongside the likes of Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov. Both of these assists were primary assists as DeAngelo masterfully distributed the puck from the blueline.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
202260115:5683.8%

While it is still a small sample size and his total ice time is a little bit concerning, other factors led me to believe that DeAngelo’s production is sustainable. For starters, he is currently playing on over 83% of the Canes’ powerplay time. Through two games, this has amounted to over five minutes per game.

The other thing that I really like about DeAngelo is that he has been shooting. A lot. His three shots-per-game are nearly double his rate from two seasons ago, and are borderline-elite for a defenseman. If he can continue to shoot, he eventually will add some goals to his totals. (FWIW, Corsica’s expected goals model suggests that DeAngelo should already have two goals on the season.)

I would look at trying to acquire DeAngelo as he will be a solid source of points and powerplay points from the backend.

Timo Meier, LW/RW, San Jose Sharks (40% rostered)

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Most experts, analysts, and models were low on the Sharks going into this year. Many had them in the Shane Wright sweepstakes with the other bottom feeders. But through two games this year, the Sharks have looked impressive, albeit against struggling teams.

Part of this success has been driven by the Sharks’ big name players, including Timo Meier.

There is no doubt that last year was a disappointing year for Meier. He registered a mere 31 points over 54 games on a team that was desperate for scoring. Part of this lack of success was because he was getting really unlucky. He shot at an abysmal 7.7% while the rest of the team, while he was on the ice, shot at only 9.5%. I would expect some positive regression in both of these numbers this year. Expect both of these numbers to finish closer to the league average for top of the lineup players of 12%.

After coming back from the COVID-shortened offseason, Meier has looked like a man with his pants on fire. He has been shooting like a maniac, and hitting like a man possessed. Add in that he is finally getting some bounce his way, he looks like he is the real deal.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
2131155117:0454.0%

Over the first two games this year, Meier has been averaging seven and a half shots per game. Of those shots, he has only scored on one of them, two fewer than his xGF of three.

He has also been skating more than last year in the absence of Evander Kane. He has assumed a place on the Sharks top line with Logan Couture and rookie Jonathan Dahlen.

I am high on Timo Meier rest-of-season, and would look into picking him up if he is floating around on your waiver wire.

Sustainably Low

Patric Hornqvist, RW, Florida Panthers (56% rostered)

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We are just one year removed from Patric Hornqvist being a fantasy stud. Last season, he finished with just under three-and-a-half shots and two hits per game. He also finished just under 0.75 points-per-game, giving Fantasy managers solid value across almost all league settings.

However, through three games this season, he has yet to register a point. I have dropped him in the two leagues that I had him to pick up McCann and Lafrenière who I talked about earlier.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
300056111:0836.0%

Perhaps the best place to start with Hornqvist is his ice time and utilization. Last year, Hornqvist spent the majority of his time on a line with Alex Wennberg and Jonathan Huberdeau. He also was a reliable net-front presence on Florida’s deadly first powerplay unit which finished fifth in the league in powerplay goals.

This year, however, Hornqvist has seen his role shrivel up and die. His ice-time has decreased by over 5 minutes and he has played on about a third of Florida’s powerplay time.

As a result of this decreased ice time, he has been shooting and scoring less. While he has actually increased his hit pace slightly from last year (up about 15%), there are many better options on the waiver wire that offer more hits and greater point upside like Brandon Tanev (LW/RW, Seattle Kraken, 31% rostered).

Joe Pavelski, C/RW, Dallas Stars (90% rostered)

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Father Time catches up to everyone. For most star players, they start to notice the effects of aging sometime after their 33rd birthday. This is why many were surprised when Joe Pavelski found new life last year at age 36, posting 51 points in 56 games.

Early on this season, though, it is clear that the Dallas Stars are recognizing that last year was a statistical anomaly. Through the first four games, Pavelski has been skating under 16 minutes a night, nearly four full minutes fewer than last year. Over that span he has scored one goal on seven shots.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
410074315:5451.6%

The 37-year-old sniper is nearing retirement from fantasy teams. With the emergence of young guns Roope Hintz, Jacob Peterson, Jason Robertson, and Joel Kiviranta, Pavelski has been demoted to the third line. He has looked slower and just hasn’t looked like a threat on the ice. He is also shooting nearly 25% less than last season.

I think Fantasy managers would be lucky to get 20 goals and 45 points from Pavelski this year. This would be a major disappointment for GMs who drafted him at his ADP in the ninth round looking for 25+ goals and 60-65 points.

If I were a Pavelski manager, I would be looking around the league to see what I could get in return for Pavelski. He has a little bit too much name value still to let go for free, but there are many better options on the waiver wire. If you can’t find any takers over the next couple weeks, I would seriously consider dropping him for someone who will contribute more to your team.

Arizona Coyotes Players

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Talk about a tire fire.

The Arizona Coyotes have started off their season with three straight losses. Two of these losses came against other teams expected to be bottom feeders in the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Buffalo Sabres.

The team’s prospect pool is thin after the Taylor Hall failed experiment and the combine testing violation cost the team two firsts, a second, and a third-round pick.

And to cap it off, the team has no arena to play in next year.

Someone dropped a two-tonne nuclear warhead on a rubber factory, and out came this Coyotes team.

Over the course of three games, the Coyotes have allowed a staggering 17 goals against. Carter Hutton, the only goaltender currently on their active roster with any NHL experience, isn’t doing his team any favours. He currently sits dead last in the league in Goals Saved Above Expected and a .702 save percentage.

As for the rest of the Coyotes team?

Only one player – Jakob Chychrun – is over 20% rostered in Yahoo leagues. He currently has no points over three games while being a minus-seven. For leagues that reward shots and hits, he has been posting just under four shots and three hits a game, suggesting there is some value to be had there.

The next highest rostered player is Clayton Keller at 18% across Yahoo leagues. While he has posted two goals and an assist over the first three games, he has been benefiting from some lucky bounces.  Both his goals have come on the powerplay as a result of cross-ice feeds that fail more times than they succeed. Given Arizona’s lack of supporting cast, I can’t see how Keller can keep up his point-per game pace.

And beyond Chychrun and Keller, there is no one that is even worth considering.

I know many projections were very high on Chychrun going into the season. Experts and analysts expected him to continue where he left off last year, while taking another step forward with the departure of Oliver Ekman-Larsson. After seeing how bad Arizona really is, I would be looking to sell high on Chychrun while he still maintains some of his pre-draft value.

Summary

There you have it – the 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 2 Unsustainable Players.


Every Thursday throughout this series we will be looking at the hottest and coldest players in the league. If you have any players that you want me to cover in future weeks, be sure leave a comment down below or reach out to me via Twitter @jchengWPG.


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About Justin Cheng

Justin is an accountant by day, and a hockey fan by night. Hailing from Winnipeg, Canada, he has a knack for data, numbers, and spreadsheets. If he isn't at work you will find him out fishing, hiking, or volunteering at his local church.

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