Fantasy Hockey

2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 7 Unsustainable Players

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Happy U.S. Thanksgiving to my American readers! As you are digesting that extra piece of pumpkin pie, sit back and buckle up because we are diving headfirst into the 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 7 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 is the point in the season where we get a good idea of who is for real. For individual players, we now have a sample size of around 20 games to give us a good measuring stick of what we can expect going forward. For teams, we get an early snapshot of which teams are playoff teams, and which are not. Since 2005-06, 76% of teams in a playoff spot on U.S. Thanksgiving have gone on to make the playoffs.

If you are looking for further add/drop guidance, make sure to check out Kyle’s most recent suggestions! He 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 7 Unsustainable Players

Week 3 Review

Now that we have four weeks of play in the books since Week 3, most teams have played between 12 and 14 games. We are going to look back at my picks from Week 3 and see how they have performed since I covered them, four weeks ago. When trying to determine if a player is a hit or a miss, I look beyond their raw production. To decide, I compare the player’s actual performance to what I predicted in my article four weeks ago.

Unsustainably High

Erik Karlsson: 6 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 12 SOG* ✔
Cam Atkinson: 12 GP, 3 G, 2 A, 34 SOG ✔
Kyle Connor: 12 GP, 6 G, 6 A, 59 SOG ✔

Unsustainably Low

Nikolaj Ehlers: 12 GP, 4 G, 5 A, 43 SOG ➖
Jonathan Toews: 12 GP, 0 G, 6 A, 22 SOG ➖
Mitch Marner: 13 GP, 6 G, 10 A, 38 SOG ✔

Sustainably High

Zach Hyman: 12 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 36 SOG ✔
Shayne Gostisbehere: 13 GP, 2 G, 8 A, 29 SOG ✔
Dylan Larkin: 11 GP, 7 G, 2 A, 43 SOG ✔

Sustainably Low

Cole Caufield: 5 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 8 SOG** ✔
Artemi Panarin: 11 GP, 3 G, 12 A, 31 SOG ❌
Ryan Pulock: 6 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 9 SOG* ✔

*Missed time due to injury/COVID protocol
**Demoted to AHL

Season Record (Hits – Misses – Too Soon to Tell): 17-4-3

I’m pleased. Moving on to this week.

Unsustainably High

Nazem Kadri, C, Colorado Avalance (76% rostered)

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It seems like every year, Nazem Kadri puts together a stretch of play that boosts his ownership percentage, only to drop off a couple of weeks later. This year, his hot stretch has reached new heights, as he has recorded 13 points in the past two weeks, and 19 points over the past 30 days.

During the last five games during which Kadri has seen his ownership percentage skyrocket, he has scored three goals and added a whopping 10 assists.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
53107187018:3162.2%

There are a few alarming signs that suggest to me that Kadri’s production is going to dry up eventually.

First, Kadri has been benefiting from an elevated shooting percentage. As a high-shot-volume guy, Kadri has typically relied on creating offense by taking a lot of low-danger shots. As a result, his shooting percentage is often a fair bit lower than other forwards. Last year (which was abnormally low), Kadri finished the year with a 6.5% shooting percentage. Over the past three years, his shooting percentage has averaged 9.5%. Over the past two weeks, Kadri has scored on 16.7% of shots that he has taken. Expect his goal totals to come down 35-40% as his shooting percentage begins to regress.

Secondly, the injury to Nathan MacKinnon has thrust Kadri onto Colorado’s first powerplay unit. This elevated deployment has paid dividends to Kadri owners, as he has registered seven powerplay points over the past five games playing with the likes of Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar, and company. Once MacKinnon returns in early December, expect Kadri to be bumped back down to the second unit and his production to come down.

As a by-product of this elevated deployment, Kadri is seeing a jump in his underlying statistics inconsistent with the past couple of seasons in Colorado. Over the past week, his IPP is sitting at 76.5% with an oiSH% just below 24%. When aggregated, this represents a nearly 200% increase from his average performance over the past three seasons, when he registered a 57.1% IPP and an oisH% of 10.1%.

My suggestion: trade Kadri away while his value is high and before MacKinnon returns. With his ownership percentage quickly climbing (up 12% in the last day!), you may be able to convince someone to part with a slumping star. Once MacKinnon returns, expect Kadri to score at a 50- to 55-point pace for the rest of the season.

Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buffalo Sabres (58% rostered)

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Buffalo, NY. Where top prospects go to die.

Of course, I don’t mean this literally, but the former 2018 first-overall pick has had a rough start to his NHL career. Through 215 games, Dahlin has managed 119 points and is a mind-boggling -56. While plus-minus is not the be-all and end-all of a player’s performance, it does speak to how horrid the team surrounding him has been.

Over the past two weeks, the 21-year-old Sweden-native has been on fire, notching a couple of goals and adding four assists over six games.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
6242151623:2159.4%

Over these six games, Dahlin has been massively outperforming his Expected Goals. While he has found the back of the net twice, he has only managed 0.3 xG. His shooting percentage is also sitting at 13.3% over the past couple of weeks, compared to 4.3% last year and 4.7% over the past three years.

Additionally, the Sabres have somehow been finding ways to score while Dahlin has been on the ice. Though the lineup is devoid of talent (currently ranked 31st by Dom Luszczyszyn’s GSVA model), the team has scored on 14.7% of shots taken while Dahlin is on the ice. By comparison, Cale Makar finished last year with an 11.9% oiSH% on a much better Colorado team.

Going forward, expect Dahlin to score at a 40-45-point pace while adding very few peripherals. While this may be valuable in deep leagues where powerplay defensemen are hard to come by, I would not expect Dahlin to continue to score at his current 55-point pace.

Dawson Mercer, C, New Jersey Devils (14% rostered)

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Every year, there are top prospects who shine when they get the call up to the NHL, only to have their production fall off a couple of weeks later. The result in fantasy is that these players end up getting held way longer than they should, eating up a valuable roster spot while a GM waits for them to turn it around.

This year, that player is 2020 first-round pick, Dawson Mercer. Over the past two weeks, Mercer has gone point-per-game, scoring three goals and adding a couple of assists. On top of that, he is on a 31-goal, 62-point pace on the season.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
5320132117:4862.4%

The biggest concern I have with Mercer is his deployment.

Currently, Mercer is skating on the second line with wingers Andreas Johnsson and Jesper Bratt. While these players are fine in their own right, they are hardly what you would call offensive juggernauts.

Additionally, once Jack Hughes returns from injury in the next week or so, Mercer will likely be pushed further down the lineup to play in the Devils’ bottom-six.

Even with Hughes currently sidelined, Mercer has been bumped off of the first powerplay unit due to his lack of production with the extra man. Once Hughes returns, that will only put one more barrier between Mercer and optimal powerplay deployment.

I do not doubt that Mercer will end up being a valuable fantasy forward in a few years but now is not his time. While I wouldn’t hold Mercer once Hughes returns, the Devils do play this Sunday, making Mercer a good streaming option for the rest of this week.

Unsustainably Low

Brock Boeser, RW, Vancouver Canucks (83% rostered)

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It is no secret that Jim Benning is on the hot seat after the Vancouver Canucks early struggles. While I am no Benning apologist, I think it would be unfair to lay all the blame this year on the Canucks’ GM.

Last week, I covered the slumping Elias Pettersson as Sustainably Low. This week, I cover Vancouver’s other underperforming star – Brock Boeser.

Through six games over the past two weeks, Boeser has not registered a single point. In categories leagues, he has been a drag as well, as he is a -4 and has only managed four hits and six blocks during that span.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
6000154618:1766.7%

I do believe that Boeser has more to give when it comes to fantasy. Over the past two weeks, despite not getting onto the scoresheet, Boeser has generated 2.2 xG. Replace Boeser’s goose-egg with the 2.2 goals he would have been expected to score, and it puts him on pace for 30.0 goals over 82 games. This is right on par with each of the last three seasons.

This alone tells me that Boeser’s lack of production during this cold spell is not a result of a lack of chances. Boeser is generating the chances and getting to the dangerous areas. The recent lack of scoring is more attributable to a few bad bounces and Boeser getting “goalied”  than poor play.

Additionally, the Canucks as a whole have been struggling to finish on their chances with Boeser on the ice. Over the past two weeks, Boeser’s oiSH% sits at only 3.6%, well below the 12.0% average over the past three seasons. Scoring has been hard to come by for the Canucks, severely limiting Boeser’s opportunity to get on the scoresheet.

Once the Canucks start to get a few bounces, I would expect Boeser to finish somewhere in the 60–65-point range with 25-30 goals. In shallower leagues, this may not be worth holding out for and you may be better off streaming in other players.

Sean Couturier, C, Philadelphia Flyers (79% rostered)

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After starting the season on a tear, the Philadelphia Flyers have slowed right down to a crawl. Going 4-4-2 in their last 10, the Flyers find themselves outside of the playoff picture. Part of the Flyers’ struggles has been linked to the lackluster performance of the team’s top line.

Over the past seven games, Couturier has only managed to register a single assist after putting up 12 points in his first 10 games. Over the past two weeks, he has also only managed 16 shots and 6 hits, providing very little peripheral value during this slump.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
7010166119:4253.7%

I am optimistic that Couturier can turn it around. Just like Boeser, despite struggling to find the back of the net, Couturier has generated 2.2 xG. This puts Couturier on pace for 30 expected goals over a full season. As you can see below, there isn’t anything noticeably different about the quality of Couturier’s shots relative to last when he was on pace for 33 goals and 75 points. If anything, his chances this year are more dangerous.

2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 7 Unsustainable Players

It is almost as though I could copy-and-paste my analysis of Boeser over to Couturier. Over the past week, Couturier’s oiSH% is sitting at 2.4%, even lower than Boeser’s. Once this returns to “normal”, Couturier will start to rack up more assists.

The one thing that makes me more optimistic about Couturier is that he is getting very good deployment. Over the past couple of weeks, he is playing nearly 20 minutes per game. Over the whole season, he is averaging nearly 21 minutes. Additionally, Couturier is enjoying an average of 3:17 on the powerplay over the past two weeks, up from 2:36 the year prior.

With this monster deployment, Couturier won’t be held off the scoresheet much longer. I would expect Couturier to return to 70+ point form sooner than later. This is worth rostering in all but the shallowest of leagues. Couturier is a good buy-low candidate this week. If he hits your waiver wire, I would not hesitate to pick him up.

Mathew Barzal, C, New York Islanders (87% rostered)

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This season, there was a lot of hype surrounding the New York Islanders. Following back-to-back playoff exits at the hands of the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Islanders were widely seen as the team to beat in the Metro.

However, a quarter of the way through the season, the reality couldn’t be harsher. The Islanders sit dead last in the Metro. The team is struggling to ice a full team with their multitude of injury and COVID-related absences. And their most dynamic player, Mathew Barzal, has been slumping early on.


Over the past two weeks, the speedy center has only managed to pot one goal through five games.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
5100127016:5752.9%

What is really hurting Barzal is the Islanders’ lack of scoring. Over the past two weeks, Barzal has logged an oiSH% of 1.75%. No, that is not a typo.

Even though the Islanders are widely seen as a defense-first team, this is exceptionally low. Last year, Barzal’s oiSH% finished at 10.1%, nearly six times higher than its current mark. If we adjust this closer to what we might expect in the long run, it would put Barzal right on a point-per-game pace.

What excites me about Barzal is that he is shooting more this year. Over the past three seasons, he has averaged 7.5 shots/60 minutes. This rose last year to 7.8 shots/60. Barzal has taken another big step forward this year, registering 10.1 shots/60 on the year. This will inevitably lead to more goals, even in leagues where the shot volume alone is not valuable.

Once Barzal finds his groove again, I would expect him to finish the season on a 70+ point pace, worth a roster spot in nearly all leagues.

Sustainably High

Johnny Gaudreau, LW/RW, Calgary Flames (98% rostered)

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The 2022 UFA class is set to be stacked. In addition to future Hall-of-Famers Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury, there are many stars in the middle of their prime. One of these such players is Flames’ winger Johnny Gaudreau. Currently making $6.75 million, he is in for a big raise this summer.

His stock has only risen this season, as he currently has 23 points through 20 games. Over the past two weeks, he has continued his success, registering five goals and four assists through eight games.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
8542342116:4760.2%

Despite scoring at over a point-per-game pace, none of Gaudreau’s underlying statistics stick out as unsustainable.

With five goals on 34 shots, Gaudreau’s shooting percentage sits at 14.7% over the past two weeks. While undoubtedly higher than league average, this is lower than the 17.0% shooting percentage he finished with last year. It also isn’t much higher than his three-year average shooting percentage of 12.9%. Nothing alarming on this front.

Further, despite his oiSH% being a touch high at 13.2%, this does not stick out to me as a cause of concern. Any additional points he is racking up as a result of this inflated on-ice shooting percentage are offset by an uncharacteristically low IPP. Over the past two weeks, Gaudreau’s IPP sits at 64.3%. Last year, Gaudreau’s IPP finished at 74.2%.

If you are a Gaudreau owner, I would hold tight. Gaudreau is providing exceptional value compared to where he was drafted in the middle of the fifth round. If he can stay healthy, expect Gaudreau to finish the season right around the 85-point mark.

Zach Werenski, D, Columbus Blue Jackets (92% rostered)

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With the lack of star power on the Columbus Blue Jackets, I was low on Werenski going into this year. However you want to slice it, Cole Sillinger is not a first-line center yet at the NHL level, and Boone Jenner is better suited as a 3C.

Despite the lack of talent up front (including a long-term injury to Patrik Laine), Werenski has been a monster on the back end. Over the past two weeks, Werenski has scored two goals and added five assists over six games. Of these points, only two have come on the powerplay.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
62522031327:2370.6%

Somehow, despite being over point-per-game as a defenseman, Werenski’s IPP is only sitting at 46.7%. This is significantly lower than last year’s mark of 60.6%. Seeing an IPP so low for Werenski excites me. There is the potential for even more point production.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Werenski were to finish the year with a 60% IPP. Even though this would be exceptionally high for a defenseman, much of Columbus’ offense runs through his hands due to the lack of talent elsewhere on the roster.

Further, Werenski has been a beast in categories leagues, racking up shots and blocks in addition to his points. His exceptional peripheral production is primarily because Werenski has been playing north of 27 minutes per game, putting him in the top echelon of players in terms of time on ice. With limited other options on the back end in Columbus, I don’t see anyone stealing time away from Werenski for the rest of the year.

The final thing that makes me think Werenski can sustain his production as the year drags on is the fact that Patrik Laine is set to return at some point next month. With Laine shooting laser beams from the left circle, Werenski will rack up powerplay assists.

I deeply regret not drafting Werenski in any of my leagues and have been trying to trade for him with little success. I think Werenski could put up a 70-point season, finishing in a tier with the other elite fantasy defensemen.

Alex DeBrincat, LW/RW, Chicago Blackhawks (99% rostered)

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Early on in the season Alex DeBrincat nearly made my list as sustainably low. Truth be told, I left him off completely as I was on the fence as to whether he could turn it around. I am glad I stayed clear of covering him earlier on this season.

Over the past couple of weeks, DeBrincat has turned it up to 11. Through the past five games, he has scored five goals and added an assist. None of these points have come on the powerplay.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
5410124320:4976.3%

I am neither surprised nor concerned that DeBrincat is outscoring the Expected Goals model. As one of the league’s formidable snipers, DeBrincat has historically broken the xG model. Last year, despite only putting up 16.6 xG, DeBrincat found the back of the net 32 times. This year, he has 11 goals compared to seven expected goals.

DeBrincat also has room to improve on the powerplay. Last year, despite only playing 63% of the team’s powerplay time, he was on pace for 28 powerplay points. Over the past two weeks, he is playing over 76% of the team’s powerplay time and has not recorded a point. I would expect him to add a couple of points to his totals once he can get things going on Chicago’s deadly powerplay.

I will always be somewhat skeptical of any player that depends so heavily on outperforming the xG model. For that reason, I am hesitant to call DeBrincat Sustainably High. However, with such a long history of outperforming the model, I think DeBrincat deserves the benefit of the doubt. Expect 40+ goals and 65 points out of DeBrincat by the time the season wraps up.

Sustainably Low

Tyler Seguin, C, Dallas Stars (87% rostered)

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In case you were wondering, no, the Dallas Stars are not “my team”. I do not follow the team all that closely, despite this being the fourth week that I am including a Stars player on one of my lists.

This season has not been kind to Seguin as he has only managed to score nine points in 17 games. Over the past two weeks, the slump has become even more desperate as Seguin has only managed one goal and one assist through six games.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
6110126017:2146.2%

There is only one red flag when it comes to Seguin’s performance. That red flag, however, is not just any old red flag. It is a 60-foot-wide, hot-red tarp that has blaring emergency sirens sewed right into the fabric.

Over the past few seasons, Seguin has been valuable in fantasy leagues primarily due to his shot volume. Even with a down year last year due to injury, Seguin has averaged a 313-shot pace over 82 games. Often in the past, Seguin could win your shots category single-handedly.

Even with a sub-10% shooting percentage, Seguin has always been a consistent 30+ goal scorer. 10% of 300+ shots is still 30+ goals.

This year, however, Seguin has not been shooting with the same volume. And it isn’t a result of Seguin choosing to wait for more dangerous shots – his expected shooting percentage (xG/shots) is the same as in years previous.

Whether it is a result of a decrease in ice time, the lingering effects of his injury last season, or natural regression due to age, Seguin is not worth holding onto. He is on pace for 24 goals and 43 points on the season, and that simply does not cut it. There are better options on the waiver wire.

Unless he can turn his shooting around, I wouldn’t expect Seguin to finish with more than 50 points.

Blake Wheeler, C/RW, Winnipeg Jets (75% rostered)

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While I am not confident enough to assert that Seguin’s struggles are due to aging, I am much more confident in that assessment when it comes to Blake Wheeler.

Even with COVID limiting Wheeler to just 13 games so far this season, he has not been noticeable when he has been in the lineup. Over the past two weeks, Wheeler only has two assists through six games. He has yet to find the back of the net so far this season.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
6020126219:0862.9%

To be clear, I don’t think Wheeler is completely washed. I think he still has some good hockey left in him. If I had to guess, lingering effects from his bout with COVID are affecting his play.

However, I think the real concern is his recent shift in deployment. Wheeler was placed on the Jets’ third line with Adam Lowry when he first returned from his COVID-related absence. In an attempt to get him going, head coach Paul Maurice elevated Wheeler to the Kyle Connor-Pierre Luc-Dubois line, with little success.

Following three straight losses, Wheeler has been dropped back down to the third line, where I expect him to stick for the foreseeable future. All due respect to Adam Lowry, but he is not of the same offensive ilk as Mark Scheifele and PLD.

Going forward, I would monitor Wheeler’s deployment closely. If you are currently winning with Wheeler eating a roster spot, I would be inclined to hold onto him slightly longer, simply due to the potential upside. However, I also think he would go unclaimed on waivers in shallower leagues.

Barring a bump up in the lineup, I can’t see Wheeler finishing the year with more than 45 points. If, however, he does find his way back onto one of the Jets’ top two lines, I think Wheeler could finish the year on a 70-point pace. I think grabbing Wheeler is a high-risk, high-reward move.

Taylor Hall, LW, Boston Bruins (75% rostered)

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It is only fitting that I cover the 2010 first-overall pick in the same breath as Seguin who was drafted one spot later.

Following a superb performance with Boston last year, many were expecting Taylor Hall’s success to continue this year. However, over the past two weeks, Hall has only managed a goal and an assist through five games.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
5110151015:2034.4%

I delayed covering Taylor Hall in hopes that he could turn things around. However, with his recent demotion to the second powerplay unit, there is not much left to hold out for.

The biggest issue with Hall from a fantasy perspective is that Boston lacks high-end talent beyond its first line. Hall is currently playing on the second line with Charlie Coyle and Nick Foligno. While that is a great shutdown line, neither player has the offensive upside that is required to make Hall an elite fantasy asset.

The one hope for Hall this season was that he would find a spot on the Bruins’ top powerplay with David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. However, with the Bruins opting to play Foligno on the top unit as a net-front presence, the little bit of Hall’s value that remained has evaporated.

Further, Hall is playing two-and-a-half minutes less than last year, and nearly four minutes less than his past three years. This is primarily due to Marchand playing a large majority of the game as Boston’s best left-winger. Barring a long-term injury to Marchand, this is not going to change.

If you drafted Hall at his ADP in the eighth round hoping for a 70-point player, that is not what you are going to get. Hall is currently on pace for 49 points. If Hall finished the year with more than 55 points given his current situation, I would be shocked.

Summary

There you have it – the 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 7 Unsustainable Players.

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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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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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