2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 6 Unsustainable Players

by Justin Cheng
2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 6 Unsustainable Players

This week has been a tough week for Fantasy GMs. Game postponements and a brutal off-night schedule have made for an interesting and challenging week for GMs trying to get ahead. In the midst of all of the uncertainty, sit back and buckle up as we dive headfirst into the 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 6 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.

This past week the NHL announced that they were going to postpone three Ottawa Senators games as the team deals with a COVID outbreak. Not only does this bring back awful memories from the nightmare that was last season, but it also jeopardizes the NHL’s willingness to send its players to the Olympics in February.

If you are looking for further add/drop guidance, make sure to check out Matt's most recent suggestions! Kyle also does a good job every week highlighting the trade value of different players.

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

2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 6 Unsustainable Players

Week 2 Review

Now that we have four weeks of play in the books since Week 2, most teams have played between 12 and 14 games. We are going to look back at my picks from Week 2 and see how they have performed since I covered them, four weeks ago.

Unsustainably High

Jared McCann: 5 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 9 SOG ✔
Justin Faulk: 13 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 35 SOG ✔
Chandler Stephenson: 14 GP, 3 G, 10 A, 21 SOG ❌

Unsustainably Low

Alexis Lafreniere: 12 GP, 3 G, 1 A, 17 SOG ❌
Andrei Vasilevskiy: 8 GP, 5 W, .940SV%, 7 QS ✔
Cale Makar: 7 GP, 2 G, 5 A, 11 SOG ✔

Sustainably High

Jeff Carter: 9 GP, 2 G, 1 A, 38 SOG ❌
Tony DeAngelo: 12 GP, 3 G, 9 A, 25 SOG ✔
Timo Meier: 8 GP, 5 G, 5 A, 28 SOG ✔

Sustainably Low

Patric Hornqvist: 13 GP, 2 G, 6 A, 26 SOG ✔
Joe Pavelski: 10 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 21 SOG ➖
Arizona Coyotes Players: 13 GP, 19 GF, 45 GA ✔

Season Record (Hits - Misses - Too Soon to Tell): 8-3-1

Not too shabby. Moving onto this week.

Unsustainably High

Ryan Hartman, C/RW, Minnesota Wild (43% rostered)

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The Minnesota Wild are off to a blazing start, sitting second in the competitive Central Division. The surprising thing is that they are not winning defensive games in vintage Minnesota Wild fashion. They currently sit third-last in the division with 47 goals against. The Wild have found success by outscoring their defensive issues, aided by Ryan Hartman’s depth scoring.

Over the past two weeks, Hartman has registered three goals and four assists over six games. He has improved his production over the last week with 4.9 points/60 minutes, up from 2.9 points/60 minutes in the week prior.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
6340226517:2230.4%

Two red flags stick out about Hartman’s recent hot streak.

First, the 27-year-old has not seen any deployment change to justify an increase in production. Hartman is currently skating on the third line with Rem Pitlick and Jordan Greenway. Despite a hattrick from Pitlick a couple of games ago against the Kraken, the talent level on that line is a far cry from the likes of Kirill Kaprisov or Kevin Fiala.

Hartman’s assignment as 3C involves a primarily defensive assignment. Over the past two weeks, Hartman has started only 39% of his shifts in the offensive zone. While he may be a very effective defensive player, that does not translate to value in Fantasy Hockey.

The other concern I have with Hartman is the fact that he is severely outperforming his Expected Goals. While he has three goals in six games, his Expected Goals sits at just 1.2. On the season, Hartman’s Expected Goals sits at 2.6 while his actual goals total sits at 7. This is bound to regress as the season drags on as Hartman has never outperformed his Expected Goals in his career.

Hartman remains a decent streaming option this weekend as Minnesota plays both Saturday and Sunday. I would not hesitate to drop him once he cools off.

Jordan Kyrou, C/LW/RW, St. Louis Blues (69% rostered)

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The journey to the NHL has been a long one for the 23-year-old second-round pick. After being drafted in 2016, Jordan Kyrou first tasted NHL playing time during the 2018-19 season. He continued to split time between the AHL and the NHL up until last year when he recorded 14 goals and 35 points over 55 regular-season games as an NHL regular.

This season, Kyrou has taken another step forward. He has seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points through 15 games. Over the past two weeks, Kyrou has seen both his production and ice-time jump. He has scored five goals and three assists over eight games and has been playing three-and-a-half more minutes than last year.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
8534242417:1340.7%

Kyrou has been given more opportunity this year, thrust into a top-six role as a result of the injury to Brayden Schenn. As much as I am a fan of this better deployment, I don’t expect him to continue scoring at a point-per-game pace.

During this most recent span where Kyrou has managed five goals, he has generated just 2.3 Expected Goals. On top of that, he is shooting at 20.8% over the past two weeks, nearly double his average from the previous three seasons of 12.4%. He will not continue to score at this rate.

Perhaps the more concerning statistic is Kyrou’s IPP. Last year, Kyrou managed to get a point in 76.1% of goals that occurred, while he was on the ice. This year, through 15 games, his IPP is sitting at 100%. Kyrou has managed to register a point on 100% of the goals that were scored, while he was on the ice. This is simply not sustainable. Not even Connor McDavid can register an IPP above 90% (McDavid’s IPP is currently 80.6% on the year).

While Schenn remains sidelined, Kyrou remains a good streaming option when the Blues have a favorable schedule. Once Kyrou begins to slow down, I would not be afraid to dump him.

Jordan Eberle, RW, Seattle Kraken (40% rostered)

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Following up one Jordan with another, Jordan Eberle is experiencing many of the same warning signs that I mentioned with Kyrou.

Over the past five games, Eberle has scored six goals and added two assists. He has added 14 shots and six hits, giving him some additional value in “bangers” leagues.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
5622146318:4663.6%

Much like Kyrou, Eberle has been outscoring his Expected Goals like crazy. Over the past two weeks, his six goals have come despite only registering 1.7 Expected Goals. His shooting percentage has also been out of this world, sitting at 42.3% during this stretch. Expect his goal totals to be slashed to a third of what they currently are.

The issue with Eberle is that once his goal-scoring dries up, he does not bring much else to the table. His hit pace, while up slightly from last year, is still less than a hit-per-game. He is also only on pace for 22 assists. This is right on par with last season and the past three seasons when he was on pace for 25 assists over an 82-game schedule. Unless your league is extremely deep, this is not worth a roster spot.

To put all of this into perspective, if we cut Eberle’s goal totals to his Expected Goals number, Eberle would be on pace for a 29-goal, 61-point season. If your league is deep, Eberle may still be worth holding onto as right-wing is arguably the shallowest position for fantasy. Otherwise, Eberle makes for a good streaming option, but I would not be upset if another GM chose to scoop him up.

Unsustainably Low

Philipp Grubauer, G, Seattle Kraken (77% rostered)

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I mentioned last week that goalies are voodoo. As of yet, the hockey analytics community has yet to come up with a reliable predictive measure of future goalie performance. The former Vezina finalist has disappointed fantasy owners and puzzled analysts with his slow start.

Over the past two weeks, Grubauer has no wins over three starts, including a horrendous loss to the floundering Arizona Coyotes. This is merely the most recent saga in the disappointing epic that has been the Kraken’s goaltending situation.

GPWSVGASV%SOQS
306413.83100

I am fairly confident that Grubauer can and will turn it around. Since he entered the league in 2012-13, he has never posted a save percentage below .915. Of his four most recent seasons where he has started 35+ games, he has posted a .919 save percentage. Grubauer is a good goalie who has had a tough time transitioning to a new team.

The other thing that makes me optimistic that Grubauer will find his stride sooner than later is that Seattle is not a bad defensive team. They are even better than an average defensive team. This year, Seattle has been an elite defensive team, just as many analysts predicted. They currently sit third in the league with a mere 1.96 xGA/60 minutes.

If you are a Grubauer owner, I realize you are in a conundrum. My suggestion: if your team is performing well enough with him, I would hold out and give him time to improve. If you are near the bottom of your league and need to make a change to get back in contention, I might see what it would cost to trade for an upgrade.

Tyson Barrie, D, Edmonton Oilers (96% rostered)

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Fun fact: Tyson Barrie is the only defenseman to lead the league in points and not receive any Norris Trophy votes. Luckily for fantasy owners, we don’t care about how good a player is defensively, so long as they can provide offense for our team.

After registering a league-leading 48 points over 56 games last season, Barrie has struggled early on this season. Through 15 games, he has just two goals and six assists. Over the past two weeks, he has only managed three points in seven games, putting him on pace for a 35-point season.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
7121213418:2271.7%

It is surprising that, despite playing over 71% of Edmonton’s powerplay time, Barrie has struggled to get in on the offense. And this is not some bottom-of-the-league powerplay – the Oilers sit first in the league, converting on over 42% of their powerplay chances.

Sooner or later, the points will begin to flow for Barrie. Currently, his IPP sits at just 33.3%, down from the 50% he logged last year. An increase in his IPP alone would account for a 50% increase in point production from his current levels.

The other thing that I like about Barrie’s recent stretch of play is that he has picked up his shooting. Early in the season, Barrie was struggling to shoot the puck with consistency. On the season, he only has 34 shots, 21 of which have come in the last two weeks. This puts him on pace for 246 shots on the year, actually slightly higher than the 214-shot pace he recorded last year and over the past three years.

2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 6 Unsustainable Players

And it isn't as though Barrie is being limited to shots from the perimeter. This year, Barrie is getting more of his shots off from the middle of the ice. It is just a matter of time before some of these shots start finding the back of the net either directly, or off a net-front deflection.

If you are a Barrie owner, I would not panic sell. The Oilers’ powerplay is clicking, so head coach Dave Tippet has little reason to switch up the personnel. If, however, Barrie gets replaced on the top powerplay unit, it may be time to consider moving on.

Bryan Rust, LW/RW, Pittsburgh Penguins (77% rostered)

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The Penguins have struggled early on this season, and the situation has gotten dire over the past week. Following poor showings against the Senators and the Capitals over the weekend, the Penguins failed to solve Dustin Tokarski and fell to the Sabres on Tuesday.

Despite the poor record, the Penguins haven’t actually been playing all that terribly. Bryan Rust in particular has been experiencing some bad puck luck early on this season. He has been generating shot attempts with regularity and driving play, despite the lack of scoring chances to show for it.

2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 6 Unsustainable Players

Over six games during the past two weeks, Rust has only managed four assists. This puts him on pace for just 55 points on the season – a massive disappointment for owners who drafted him in the back half of the ninth round.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
6041182218:3861.9%

The first thing that suggests to me that Rust will turn it around is the fact that his lack of goals is not due to a lack of chances. Over the past two weeks despite not scoring, Rust has clocked 2.0 Expected Goals over 18 shots. If he were to have converted as expected, that would put his shooting percentage at 11.1%, still lower than his mark from last year and the past three years (14.3% and 15.0%, respectively).

Additionally, Rust is not getting hemmed in the defensive zone or struggling to create plays. He has generated 36 shot attempts over the past two weeks, putting him on pace for an individual Corsi For just below 500. This is a remarkable increase from the 378 shot attempts he recorded a season ago.

And if that was not enough to suggest that Rust will turn it around, the return of a healthy Sidney Crosby should do wonders for Rust’s production. Just as I mentioned last week with Guentzel, as good as Jeff Carter is, he is not Sidney Crosby. Once Crosby can get up to game speed following off-season surgery and a bout with COVID, Rust should benefit immensely.

Sustainably High

Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Washington Capitals (97% rostered)

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I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong. Going into the season, I was very low on Kuznetsov. He had seen three straight seasons of decline in his production, and with all of the off-ice antics last year, I did not think Kuznetsov would have a place on this Capitals team.

However, through 15 games, Kuznetsov has me with my foot in my mouth. He has 20 points on the year and seven in his last six games.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
6162162122:0675.9%

In the absence of Nicklas Backstrom, Kuznetsov has taken over first-line center duties, playing all of his time with Alex Ovechkin. Kuznetsov has been playing over 22 minutes per game over the past couple of weeks which is a five-and-a-half-minute increase from last year.

This increased ice time alone is what has accounted for a big breakout from Kuznetsov. His points-per-60 has remained rather consistent over the past few years. Last year, he registered 2.6 points/60 minutes, down slightly from his three-year average of 2.8. Over the past two weeks, Kuznetsov’s points-per-60 sits at 3.2. This slight increase this year is most likely because he has been benefitting better linemates.

Further, none of his underlying numbers stick out as unsustainable. His shooting percentage is sitting at 13.9% on the season and 6.3% over the past couple of weeks – both of which are very sustainable. Additionally, most of his assists have been primary assists. As primary assists are much more predictable and replicable than secondary assists, I am convinced that Kuznetsov is not merely a beneficiary of good luck.

It is too early to tell how Washington’s lines will shake out once Backstrom returns, but it is hard to believe that the Ovi-Kuznetsov pairing will be broken up anytime soon. Continue to monitor the line situation in Washington – if Backstrom looks like he has taken over C1 duties when he has returned, it may be a good time to sell high on Kuznetsov.

Andrei Svechnikov, LW/RW, Carolina Hurricanes (100% rostered)

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It is not often that a player can start their career as a teenager and enjoy the level of dominance that Andrei Svechnikov has demonstrated over the past three seasons.

In his age-19 season, Svechnikov scored 0.9 points per game. He took a little bit of a step back last year, only managing 0.8 points per game. This season, the 21-year-old is on a 105-point pace, the best mark of his career thus far.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
60741414018:1568.5%

Despite being unable to find the back of the net over the past two weeks, Svechnikov has managed seven points in six games. He has also brought the peripherals, registering 14 hits and 14 shots over that span.

What has me most excited about Svechnikov is despite strong showings, there is still room for improvement. While he has no goals in six games, it is not due to a lack of chances. He has 1.7 Expected Goals during that span.

Further, his IPP has improved slightly from last year and the prior three years. Last year, Svechnikov was involved in 58% of goals that were scored while he was on the ice. This year, that mark is up to 70%. Normally I am skeptical when a player takes such a large jump in any given season as it is a tell-tale sign of good puck luck. However, his IPP this year is in and around what would be expected from elite players.

In his draft year, Svechnikov was described as a “baby Malkin”. Over the past three years, Evgeni Malkin has averaged an IPP of 79.5%. In limited games last year, Malkin’s IPP was exactly 70%. All of this leads me to believe that Svechnikov is not merely benefitting from good luck, but rather that he is developing as a player.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Svechnikov finished the year north of 95 points. It would not even surprise me if he finished with 100+ points. If you were wise enough to grab Svechnikov in your draft, enjoy the returns that he has provided.

Oliver Bjorkstrand, LW/RW, Columbus Blue Jackets (75% rostered)

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The 26-year-old Blue Jackets winger has been on the fantasy radar for a few years now. For the past couple of years, he has been a sneaky waiver wire pickup/streaming option. This year, however, GMs were much more aware of him going into the draft as he ended up being drafted in 90% of Yahoo leagues.

Through 11 games this year, Bjorkstrand has rewarded owners fancily with 15 points. Over the past two weeks, he has a goal and four assists through five games, adding 18 shots over that span.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
5141183219:4469.3%

What stands out to me about Bjorkstrand is that none of his underlying metrics suggest any negative regression is on the horizon. It appears as though the increased ice time (up two minutes from last year) and more offensive deployment have translated into more offense for the Dane.

Over the past couple of weeks, Bjorkstrand has only managed one goal while shooting at 5.6%. During that span, his Expected Goals sits at 2.8, nearly three times his current stat line. As that regresses closer to the 12.6% mark he registered last year, he will continue to fill the net.

On top of this, his IPP and oiSH% are sitting below their mark from last year. Put another way, Bjorkstrand may actually score even more than he currently is. Last year, his IPP and oiSH% sat at 80% and 10.8%, respectively. Over the past two weeks, his IPP is only 71.4%, while his oiSH% is a mere 8.5%.

2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 6 Unsustainable Players

Going forward, I would expect Bjorkstrand to continue racking up the points. He has been Columbus’ best player, and it isn’t even close. Once Laine returns from his injury, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bjorkstrand find a home on the top line, from where he will benefit from Laine’s goal-scoring prowess.

In one league I am in, I just traded Marchessault for Bjorkstrand. If you can snag Bjorkstrand from someone who believes they are selling high, I would do it ASAP.

Sustainably Low

Elias Pettersson, C, Vancouver Canucks (96% rostered)

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It is no secret that the Vancouver Canucks have had a horrendous start to the season. After reaching the Stanley Cup finals over 10 years ago, the team has been floundering through a rebuild. It hasn’t helped that a lot of their top picks have been busts (case in point: Olli Juolevi).

Elias Pettersson, while he most certainly has not been a bust, has struggled over the past couple of seasons. Vancouver has felt his struggles and sits dead last in their division with only 41 goals.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
6222171518:4772.3%

Over the past two weeks, Pettersson has only managed two goals and two assists over six games, putting him on pace for 55 points. This is a modest improvement from his season as a whole, where he is on pace for a mere 46 points.

Pettersson makes my list as Sustainably Low because I don’t see very much room for improvement on a statistical level. His IPP currently sits at 57% which is an increase from the 54% mark he finished last year with.

Further, while his on-ice shooting percentage has fallen from the 13.7% mark from last year, his 9.6% oiSH% over the past couple of weeks is not unreasonably low. Even a modest increase would not be able to save Pettersson’s season.

Finally, Pettersson is an elite sniper – there is no denying that fact. As a result, he has routinely outperformed his Expected Goals. Last year, he finished with two goals above expected. Over the past three years, he has exceeded his Expected Goals by an average of 8.5 goals. By contrast, this year he is right in line with his Expected Goals total.

I propose two possible reasons for the recent decline. Possibility A is that goalies now have a playbook on Petterson’s shot from the right circle, and have been adjusting accordingly, particularly on the powerplay. A very similar thing happened to Patrik Laine. After a couple of seasons of routinely scoring with the same shot from the left circle, he has seen the success of that shot decline significantly as goalies make the necessary adjustments.

2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 6 Unsustainable Players

Possibility B is that defenders are doing a better job of forcing Pettersson to less dangerous areas of the ice. This year, Pettersson has been unable to get to slot with the same frequency as he has in years past. This possibly explains his recent struggles.

If I were a Pettersson owner I would hold onto him until he goes through a little hot streak. Only then might you be able to get fair value by trying to sell high. I wouldn’t be surprised if Petterson finished the year with only 30 goals and 60 points, much lower than what would be expected from a player drafted in the fourth round of most fantasy drafts.

Cam Atkinson, RW, Philadelphia Flyers (55% rostered)

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All I can say about Cam Atkinson is this: I told you so.

In my Week 3 edition of Unsustainable Players, I covered Atkinson as Unsustainably High. During the past two weeks, Atkinson has only managed one goal and one assist over six games, well below the 1.25 points-per-game he had registered early on.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
6110161315:5149.7%

Just to put into perspective how crazy Atkinson’s scoring run was earlier on this season, even with the recent cold streak he has been on, Atkinson’s underlying statistics are still Unsustainably High. His shooting percentage on the year is still sitting at 17.1%, and his oiSH% is sitting at 13.5%. His PDO is still a ridiculous 110.2%.

Additionally, Atkinson has seen his ice time steadily decrease. With the return of Kevin Hayes to the lineup, Atkinson has been pushed out of the Flyers’ top-six. He has been skating on the third line with Derick Brassard and Scott Laughton. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, this simply is not a place where Atkinson is going to find success.

Further, Atkinson is seeing less than half of the Flyers’ powerplay time, playing on the second unit.

If you were holding onto Atkinson hoping that he will return to his earlier-season form, I assure you that it is safe to drop him.

Ivan Provorov, D, Philadelphia Flyers (73% rostered)

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Moving from one Flyer to another, there were high hopes for Ivan Provorov this season. On average, he was being drafted in the tenth round of fantasy drafts, ahead of guys like Brent Burns, Tony DeAngelo, and Thomas Chabot.

So far, however, Provorov has just four points through 14 games. Over the past two weeks, he has scored a goal and two assists, averaging a half-point per game during that span.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
61221831224:2542.8%

Much of the hype around Provorov going into this season was because many saw him as the guy in Philly. Many expected him to take over PP1 duties and log big minutes 5-on-5.

However, early on this season, it has become clear that Provorov is not Philadelphia’s first choice for powerplay quarterback. In fact, he isn’t even their second choice. With Ryan Ellis currently injured, Keith Yandle has taken over PP1 duties. Provorov has seen time on the second unit. Once Ellis returns, we will likely see Provorov bumped off the powerplay completely as Ellis reassumes his role on one of the units.

As if that alone is not enough bad news, Provorov’s recent improvement has been driven primarily by good luck. Over the past two weeks, Provorov’s IPP is sitting at 60%, compared to his 35% mark from last year.

Provorov will continue to put up very good block totals as he is used in a primarily defensive role. Provorov is worth holding onto if this is valuable to you. However, if your league does not value blocks highly, it may be time to move on from Provorov. I might look at guys like Shayne Gostisbehere (35% rostered), Evan Bouchard (37% rostered), or Oliver Kylington (16% rostered) as possible replacements from the wire.

Summary

There you have it - the 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 6 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 to leave a comment down below or reach out to me via Twitter @jchengWPG.


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