It's go-time. We are 10 days away from the start of the playoffs in most leagues. The trade deadline has passed, now all that is left to do is to carefully monitor your weekly adds and drops. Sit back and buckle up because we are diving headfirst into the 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 21 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 rostered percentage increase due to a recent hot streak. Others are 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.
From here on out, my approach to Unsustainable Players will be slightly different. At this point in the season, you don't have time to wait for a slumping player to turn it around. There will be a heavier focus on players who have favourable matchups as the classic unsustainable statistics are running out of time to regress to the mean!
And as always, if you have any players that you want me to cover after the 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 21 Unsustainable Players, be sure to leave a comment down below or reach out to me via Twitter - @jchengWPG.
2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 21 Unsustainable Players
Matt Duchene, C/RW, Nashville Predators (84% rostered)
If you have been following along all season, you know that I have been high on players from the Predators all season. However, as I alluded to last week, it may be time to start cutting ties with some of these players heading into the playoffs.
One player that has been making a strong case to stay rostered over the past few weeks has been Matt Duchene. The eight million dollar man has been lighting it up, putting up eight goals and six assists over his past seven games. This is impressive, considering he is coming off a 2020-21 campaign where he put up just 13 points over the course of the season.
For starters, from a statistical standpoint, Duchene has been wildly outperforming expectations. His recent stretch is bordering on historic. During this hot streak, Duchene is shooting at a whopping 50%. Add to that an IPP of 74.5% - over 30 percentage points higher than last season - and a 23.0% oiSH%, and you have a recipe for regression.
MATT DUCHENE pic.twitter.com/gTQ0KEDJof
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) March 12, 2022
However, as I mentioned, we are running out of time for players to experience regression. At this point of the season, it is prudent to ride the hot hand, rather than try to sell off an overvalued asset.
Looking in the near term, I think there are better short-term options to ride than Duchene. With just two games during the quarterfinals (while most teams have four), having Duchene take up a roster spot might be a losing endeavour. Plus, given the glut of games on Tuesday night that week, Duchene may not even crack your lineup meaning you only get one game of value out of him. Unfortunately, four games of almost any waiver-wire addition will bring more to your team than a single game from Duchene.
Connor Hellebyuck, G, Winnipeg Jets (98% rostered)
Trying to predict goalie performance is more variable than playing the roulette table. This is why I have always shied away from drafting elite goalies early. There are inevitably going to be solid options later in the draft that will provide equal or greater value.
After four all-star calibre seasons where he posted no lower than a .913 SV% behind a defensive mess, Connor Hellebuyck has struggled as the season has dragged on. He was very solid out of the gate, posting a .918 SV% through his first 12 games. As of late, he has been on a bit of a skid, posting just a .878 SV% over his past eight games and registering just eight wins over his past 24 games.
The thing to remember with goalies is that volume is king. 60-70 games from an average goaltender is almost certainly more valuable than 40-45 games from an elite goaltender. With fewer games, you are required to run an additional goalie to hit your start minimums, taking away a valuable roster spot from your skaters.
This is where we sit with Hellebuyck. I don't expect him to continue posting a sub-.900 save percentage. For context, the Jets' goaltender has never posted a sub-.900 save percentage over a 10-game stretch. I have no reason to believe this will start now.
Connor Hellebuyck’s save % in his last 4 GP:
.818, .882, .886, .857 #NHLJets
— Spinorama 🔄 Hockey (@spinohockey) March 7, 2022
Additionally, the Jets' are fighting for their playoff lives. As solid as backup Eric Comrie has been in his limited action, the Jets will continue to lean heavily on the former Vezina winner. Their playoff chances live and die with Hellebuyck's success.
If you are an impatient Hellebuyck owner - don't consider dropping him just yet. A time may come for that if he cannot turn it around. For now, I would trust his track record.
Kyle Connor, LW, Winnipeg Jets (99% rostered)
From one Winnipeg Connor to another Winnipeg Connor.
How this man is not 100% rostered at this point? The season that the forward out of Winnipeg is having has far outpaced the performance of players like Brad Marchand and Steven Stamkos. While the latter two can boast a superior name value, Kyle Connor has had the superior season. And both are sitting at 100% rostered.
Three-quarters of the way through the NHL regular season, Connor leads all skaters with 263 shots on goal. He has also been on a heater as of late. Over his past seven games, Connor has scored six goals and added eight assists.
Despite sitting fourth in the league in goals, Connor is only shooting at 14.1%. This is a percentage point and a half lower than his average over the past three seasons. Extrapolated over 300 shots, that translates to an additional four or five goals.
— Spinorama 🔄 Hockey (@spinohockey) March 16, 2022
Additionally, the Jets have one of the more favourable fantasy playoff schedules. During the quarterfinals, they play both Buffalo and Los Angeles. During the semis, the team plays three off-nights, including games against the Detroit Red Wings and the Ottawa Senators.
In almost all leagues the trade deadline has passed, and Connor isn't the type of player to be floating around on your waiver wire. If you are in a league that can still swap players, Connor is a worthy acquisition.
Nick Schmaltz, C/RW, Arizona Coyotes (52% rostered)
As I mentioned in the introduction, with the season so close to wrapping up, conventional stats go out the window. 36.5% shooting percentage? Pfft...no problem.
This is where we sit with Nick Schmaltz. The 26-year-old has been on fire ever since putting up seven points against the Ottawa Senators two weeks ago. He has registered at least one point in every game since.
Normally, I would not suggest that a player with a 28% oiSH% is going to maintain their production. To be clear, I don't think it is realistic to expect Schmaltz to continue the 200-point pace that he has been on over the past two weeks. Still, there are many things that I really like about Schmaltz.
For starters, Schmaltz has been playing more. Last season, Schmaltz averaged just over 17 minutes per game. Over the first half of this season, that 17-minute mark seemed to be par for the course for the Coyotes' forward. Since early February, Schmaltz has seen his time on ice steadily increase. During this hot stretch, Schmaltz has been averaging nearly 20 minutes a game. At just over 50% rostered, this is the type of late-season addition that could push your team over the top.
The Nick Schmaltz Show, now airing in Ottawa. 📺 pic.twitter.com/9CZRK37oOO
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 15, 2022
Additionally, the Coyotes have what I think is the best quarterfinals schedule in the league. The team plays four off-nights against some very leaky teams. They play the Oilers, Ducks, Sharks, and Blackhawks. All four sit in the bottom half of the league in terms of their team save percentage. If you have a playoff spot locked up, I wouldn't hesitate to jump the gun and pick up Schmaltz a week early.
Nicklas Backstrom, C, Washington Capitals (69% rostered)
I can't remember the last time that Nicklas Backstrom has not been a fantasy stalwart. For years, it would have been unthinkable to even consider dropping Alex Ovechkin's right-hand man going into the fantasy playoffs.
However, after missing the start of this season due to off-season surgery, Backstrom has not been as dynamic as we have come to expect. Through 27 games, Backstrom has scored just five goals and added a measly 15 assists. Over the past 10 games, the situation is not any prettier. The former All-Star has managed just one goal and five assists, putting him on pace for 49 points.
I think several factors are playing into Backstrom's struggles this season. For starters, he is getting older. Father Time eventually catches up to everyone, and Backstrom is no spring chicken. The veteran of 15 NHL seasons has played over 1,000 games in the league. An impressive feat, but those miles take their toll on a body.
Also, with missing time early in the season, Evgeny Kuznetsov seems to have taken over the role as the Capitals' 1C alongside superstar Alex Ovechkin. Unfortunately for Backstrom, Anthony Mantha and T.J. Oshie do not pack the same punch as the Great Eight.
Nicklas Backstrom honored with a video tribute and standing ovation for recently tallying his 1,000th point pic.twitter.com/duOUFwgFhq
— Andrew Gillis (@Andrew_Gillis70) March 15, 2022
I think Backstrom is a safe player to drop. I would much rather have the roster spot open to stream in players, especially going into the playoffs. Further, Washington only plays two games on the week of the quarterfinals - Monday and Sunday. If you are a lock for the playoffs, it may be valuable to hold on to Backstrom until the game on Monday wraps up, as that is only one of five games on the schedule for that day. However, after that, I would not burn a roster spot so a sub-par player can sit on your bench.
Ivan Provorov, D, Philadelphia Flyers (57% rostered)
I have no idea why Ivan Provorov is still owned in nearly 60% of leagues. Especially when you consider there are guys like Colton Parayko, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Damon Severson all sitting below 40% ownership. Granted, none of those guys are superstars, but all have had seasons far superior to Provorov.
Through 56 games, Provorov has managed just twenty points. Over the past month, he has only found the scoresheet twice, notching two assists through eleven games. He also is not doing a ton on the peripheral side of things, averaging just one hit and less than two blocks per game.
I cannot understand what people see in Provorov. He is a stay-at-home defenseman who does not play on either of the Flyers' powerplay units. Unfortunately for a defenseman, no powerplay time renders them almost useless in fantasy.
It's not even as though Provorov had a breakout season last year that he has failed to replicate. Through 56 games last season, Provorov put up 26 points - modestly better than this year, but nothing to write home about.
On the peripheral side of things, Provorov is on pace for fewer than 150 shots and blocks, and fewer than 70 hits. If you are looking for a minute-munching peripheral-heavy defenseman, you can do a lot better. Someone like Radko Gudas is just 55% rostered and is on pace to nearly double Provorov's hit and block totals.
The Flyers may suck, but Ivan Provorov making TikToks of his dog is adorable. pic.twitter.com/MSN0ZEAolI
— Julie (@missjuliek) March 11, 2022
Finally, Philadelphia plays three "heavy" nights during the quarterfinals. All three games come against some pretty good teams in the Wild, the Maple Leafs, and the Rangers. If you are still holding onto Provorov, it is time to cut him loose.
At least he can still make TikToks.
And with that, we wrap up our coverage of the 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 21 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, be sure to leave a comment down below or reach out to me via Twitter @jchengWPG.
Advanced stats and analytics are taken from Natural Stat Trick.
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