2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 9 Unsustainable Players

by Justin Cheng
2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 9 Unsustainable Players

We are inching ever closer to the halfway mark of the Fantasy Hockey regular season. Now is the time when teams at the bottom of the standings need to start getting desperate. Some juicy trades are waiting to happen, so sit back and buckle up because we are diving headfirst into the 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 9 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 week was the week of the streaks. The Flyers lost big, stretching their losing streak to nine games. The Rangers downed the Blackhawks to pick up their seventh straight win. And the Islanders finally put an end to their 11-game losing streak with their win over Ottawa. Oh, and that slow start for Auston Matthews? That’s a long way in the rear-view. With two goals over the Blue Jackets on Monday, he is now on a seven-game goal-scoring streak.

If you are looking for further add/drop guidance, make sure to check out my 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 9 Unsustainable Players

Week 5 Review

Now that we have four weeks of play in the books since Week 5, most teams have played between 12 and 14 games. We are going to look back at my picks from Week 5 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

Nick Suzuki: 14 GP, 3 G, 3 A, 28 SOG ✔ (Down from his 76-pt pace)
Tyler Bertuzzi: 10 GP, 0 G, 3 A, 24 SOG ✔
Brock Nelson*: 6 GP, 2 G, 0 A, 11 SOG ✔ (Down from his 137-goal pace)

Unsustainably Low

Jake Guentzel: 15 GP, 12 G, 9 A, 62 SOG ✔
Thomas Chabot: 12 GP, 0 G, 8 A, 29 SOG ✔ (On a 55-pt pace despite his SH% is still 0%)
Roope Hintz: 11 GP, 11 G, 3 A, 32 SOG ✔

Sustainably High

Jared Spurgeon*: 4 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 2 SOG ➖ (Too soon to tell; went down with an injury and hasn't played since)
Brent Burns: 14 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 22 SOG ❌
Jacob Markstrom: 8 GP, 5 QS, 1 SO, .939 SV% ✔

Sustainably Low

Pavel Buchnevich: 14 GP, 7 G, 8 A, 49 SOG ❌
Alexander Radulov: 11 GP, 0 G, 6 A, 21 SOG ✔ (Still on pace for less than 45 points)
Spencer Knight: 4 GP, 0 QS, 0 SO, .902 SV% ✔ (He has been relegated to the back-up role)

*Missed time due to injury/COVID protocol

Season Record (Hits - Misses - Too Soon to Tell): 34-8-6

I am quite pleased. Moving on to this week.

Unsustainably High

Sonny Milano, LW/RW, Anaheim Ducks (32% rostered)

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The thing with good teams is that when one player cools off, another steps up and goes on a heater of his own. And to the surprise of many, the Anaheim Ducks are a good team. They currently sit in second place in the Pacific Division behind the Calgary Flames with a 14-8-5 record.

The Ducks initially found success being carried by Troy Terry and his red-hot start to the season. Since he has slowed down, Sonny Milano has stepped up in a big way. Over the past two weeks, he has been on a bender, racking up 10 points through eight games.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
8552213316:0256.4%

I will preface my explanation by saying that Milano is a great streaming option for the rest of this week. In fact, I think Milano is worth rostering until captain Ryan Getzlaf returns to reclaim first-line center duties.

However, even with playing on the first line with Rickard Rakell and Trevor Zegras, Milano's production is highly unsustainable.

Over these past two weeks, Milano has found the back of the net five times. This, despite registering just over two Expected Goals. As a result, Milano's shooting percentage is through the roof. Over the past two weeks, his shooting percentage sits at 23.8%, well above the 9.1% he has registered over the past three years.

Beyond just his personal shooting percentage, Milano is benefitting from unsustainable performances by his linemates. Milano's on-ice shooting percentage has surged to 17.0% over the past week. This young Ducks squad has some exciting talent on it, but a 17% oiSH% is unrealistic, even for the best lines in hockey.

Plus, Milano will not have the luxury of Goal-of-the-Year-type feeds from Zegras every night.

As long as Getzlaf remains out, Milano is a great streaming option. I wouldn't be surprised if he managed to maintain a 75-point pace while playing on the first line. If Milano finds his way back down the Ducks' lineup, I would expect Milano to return the 50-point pace he started the season on.

Valeri Nichushkin, LW/RW, Colorado Avalanche (29% rostered)

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Last week, Nazem Kadri headlined the Unsustainably High list. This week, one of his linemates has found their way onto the list, most certainly benefiting from Kadri's incredible puck luck that has managed to continue for another week.

Over the past two weeks, the 10th-overall pick in the 2013 draft has seen a bump in his production. Through seven games, Valeri Nichushkin has scored four goals and added a couple of assists. This puts the Russian winger on pace for 70 points over 82 games, more than double the 31-point pace Nichushkin finished with last year.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
74201715417:5225.1%

I am often skeptical when an "older" player has a breakout season. More often than not, this breakout is due to some other factor than natural growth. It is exceptionally rare for a consistent 30-point player to double their production at the age of 26.

This skepticism is justified when it comes to Nichushkin, who is currently benefiting from a 23.5% shooting percentage. Despite scoring at a 50-goal pace over the past two weeks, Nichushkin has barely registered 2.5 shots/game. To put this into perspective, every single player that scored on a 35+ goal pace last year averaged at least three shots per game.

It is also concerning that Nichushkin may be bumped from Colorado's second line. Nichushkin found himself thrust up the lineup when Nathan MacKinnon was injured. Once J.T. Compher returns from injury, there will be a lot of competition for the second-line left-wing position. When Nichushkin cools off, I would expect one of Colorado's youngsters to get a shot on the second line.

Going forward, I would expect Nichushkin to score at a 40-45-point pace. Barring another injury in the Avs' top six, Nichushkin will likely be demoted down the lineup. There are many players on the waiver wire with much better upside than a third- or fourth-line winger.

Michael Bunting, LW, Toronto Maple Leafs (41% rostered)

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I struggle to understand why Michael Bunting is so highly owned. I suspect that many Fantasy GMs on Yahoo are Toronto fans, resulting in a very heavy "Bay Street bias".

Over the past two weeks, these Bunting-owners have been rewarded handsomely as the 26-year old winger has racked up 10 points over seven games.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
7371164315:3127.0%

I can already hear the criticisms Toronto fans will hurl at me for calling Bunting Unsustainably High.

"But, Justin, he is playing on the first line with Auston Matthews!"

Yes, this is true. And yes, this does make Bunting more valuable than he would be otherwise. But that still does not justify the 117-point pace he is currently on.

Historically, Bunting has not been a great play-driver. Despite being one of the more talented players on the Coyotes' roster, he only managed an IPP of 59.1%. On a Toronto team with immeasurably more talent, Bunting will inevitably play more of a supporting role. With this, he will almost certainly struggle to top the IPP mark he registered as a member of the Coyotes.

However, this year, Bunting's IPP currently sits at 83.3%. This puts him in the company of the league's best play drivers. As a benchmark, Connor McDavid has an IPP of 81.1% on the season.

I do not doubt that this mark will fall off a cliff as the season drags on, even if he manages to keep his spot as LW1. When this does, I would expect Bunting to establish himself as a solid 55-point player while playing alongside Matthews and/or John Tavares.

In deeper leagues, a 55-point winger is worth holding onto. However, in most standard leagues, this level of production would make Bunting a good streaming option rather than a season-long hold.

Unsustainably Low

Travis Konecny, RW, Philadelphia Flyers (31% rostered)

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After a couple of really great seasons, Travis Konecny struggled last year. Many, including myself, wrote off last year as a fluke in part because of the impact COVID had on the season. However, a quarter of the way through this season, Konecny has yet to find his magic from seasons past. This has to have Flyers fans concerned, as Konecny still has three more seasons after this one at a cap hit of $5.5 million.

Over the past two weeks, Konecny's production has hit a new low. Through six games, Konecny has managed just three assists. He has added 11 hits, bringing some peripheral value in leagues where this is relevant. For a player drafted in the 14th-round, most GMs were hoping for more.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
60311411217:4045.6%

Despite his lack of production, it has not been due to a lack of chances. Konecny has been averaging just under three shots per game, which has translated to 1.5 Expected Goals over the past two weeks. While this would only put Konecny on pace for 20 Expected Goals, it would be the highest mark of Konecny's career.

Over the previous three seasons, Konecny has averaged a 24-goal pace despite only averaging a 17-Expected Goal pace over that span. Once Konecny starts to finish on some of his chances, he could reach a new career-high goal total.

The other thing hurting Konecny is his oiSH% of just 6.0%. I would expect this to increase closer to the 10.1% mark he finished last year with. Some positive regression would nearly double Konecny's point totals. This would bump his production closer to the 65-point pace many expected from him going into this season.

I recently picked up Konecny in one of my leagues. The Flyers have a really good schedule for the rest of this week, and he was one of the best options floating on waivers. I am confident that he will find his groove, and would be looking to buy low on him while his struggles continue.

Lucas Raymond, LW/RW, Detroit Red Wings (75% rostered)

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Just a few weeks removed from being named Rookie of the Month and making my list as Sustainably High, the 19-year old Swede has gone ice cold.

Over the past two weeks, Lucas Raymond has managed just three goals through six games. He has been providing a small semblance of value in leagues that count peripherals with 2.5 shots/game and just over a hit per game.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
6300157419:0769.4%

I am confident that Raymond will begin to pick things up again simply due to the long leash he has in Detroit. He has spent the entire season stapled to Dylan Larkin's right-wing, and there is not anyone competing for that spot.

It is no secret that Detroit's lineup lacks skilled forwards. And with the COVID-related absence of Tyler Bertuzzi, this fact is made even more obvious. Even if Raymond were to struggle miserably, it is unlikely that he gets pushed down the lineup in favor of veterans like Sam Gagne or Adam Erne.

Further, once Bertuzzi does return, Raymond will almost certainly begin to rack up the assists once again. Since Bertuzzi has exited the lineup, Raymond's oiSH% has fallen nearly three percentage points. Add an extra assist or two to Raymond's point totals over the past week, and that puts him on the 70-point pace he was on earlier in the season.

I think Raymond is a really good buy-low candidate right now. Many GMs may think that Raymond's early-season production was a fluke and be close to dropping the young winger. If you can get him thrown in as part of a bigger trade, you will be laughing later in the season.

Sam Bennett, C/LW, Florida Panthers (88% rostered)

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After starting the season on a heater, Sam Bennett has cooled right off. What is puzzling is that his production has evaporated despite being elevated in the lineup due to an injury to Aleksander Barkov.

Over the past two weeks, Bennett has managed just two goals and one assist through seven games. Despite the lack of production, he has been muscling his way around the ice, averaging over two hits per game.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
72123016319:3270.9%

For readers who are in "bangers" leagues, my choice to classify Bennett as Unsustainable Low might seem a bit odd. He has been a monster in all categories except the scoring-related ones. If your league only counts goals and assists, Bennett has struggled over the past couple of weeks.

Through seven games, Bennett has managed to put up 30 shots. Yes, 30 shots. That is an average of 4.3 shots/game. Despite shooting the puck with the frequency of a human-machine gun, he has scored just twice. As a result, Bennett's shooting percentage is sitting at just 6.7%, down nearly 40% from the 10.3% he has averaged over the past three years. Once he starts to finish on more of his chances, the floodgates will open.

https://twitter.com/HockeyHoundShow/status/1445550610187620357?s=20

The other thing that has hurt Bennett's production is his exceptionally low IPP. Of all the goals scored while he was on the ice, Bennett registered a point on just 27.3% of them. As a point of comparison, Bennett put up an IPP of 73.0% last year and averaged 64.7% over the previous three seasons.

With Barkov's return to the lineup, it is tough to say how that will affect Bennett's deployment and ice time. In my opinion, this makes trading for the Florida winger a high-risk high-reward play. If he continues to play as he has over the past few weeks, Bennett could easily be a point-per-game player with excellent peripherals.

Sustainably High

Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins (99% rostered)

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After struggling during his first three outings, many armchair experts were writing Sidney Crosby off as washed.

His early struggles are but a distant memory, as the generational centerman has put up three goals and eight assists through seven games.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
7384221419:4368.1%

While it may seem obvious to some that this is vintage Crosby production, it is worth reiterating this fact for the doubters and haters out there.

Despite being on a 129-point pace over the past two weeks, none of Crosby's underlying metrics suggests any degree of unsustainability. With three goals on 22 shots, Crosby's shooting percentage over the past two weeks is just 13.6%. For a player of Crosby's caliber, this is not at all unsustainably high. If anything, this is a touch low. Last year, Crosby finished the season with a 15.1% shooting percentage. This was down slightly from the 15.4% mark he had averaged during the previous three seasons.

Further, his IPP and oiSH% are right in line with previous years. Over the past two weeks, his IPP is sitting at 78.6%, ever so slightly higher than the 72.9% he finished with last year. His oiSH% on the other hand is a touch low, sitting at 11.5% compared to the 12.9% he finished last year with.

With Evgeni Malkin nearing his return, the Penguins' powerplay is bound to improve in the coming weeks. This will only further add to Crosby's production.

While it may be too late, it would be worth your while to make a call to the Crosby owner and see what it would cost you to acquire him. It is no secret that Crosby and Company are in their twilight years, but for now, No. 87 remains an elite Fantasy centerman.

Mathew Barzal, C, New York Islanders (82% rostered)

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Just two weeks ago, Mathew Barzal made my list as Unsustainably Low. Despite the Islanders' continuing struggles, Barzal has turned it on just as I suspected.

Over the past six games, the 24-year-old speedy centerman has scored a goal and added five assists. This was a long-overdue reward for GMs who patiently held Barzal through his struggles.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
6153102320:4956.5%

The irony is not lost on me that I lauded Barzal for his high shot volume. Yet, as his production has picked up, it is exactly that shot volume that has fallen off a cliff.

In my Week 7 article, I noted the following about Barzal's shooting this season:

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.

Since I wrote that Barzal has only managed 4.8 shots/60. The thing about shot volume is that while there may a fair bit of variability week-to-week, it is fairly consistent over longer horizons. Typically, a player will see their shot volume increase year-over-year as they enter their prime. It then drops off very sharply as a player begins to experience age-related regression.

The fact that Barzal has managed to put up a point-per-game pace despite struggling to shoot the puck makes me optimistic that this level of production will continue. Barzal will inevitably begin to shoot with more regularity sooner than later. And as I mentioned two weeks ago, this will inevitably lead to more goals.

I maintain my original assessment of a 70+ point campaign for Barzal. To finish the season with 70 points, Barzal would need to score at a 75-point pace rest-of-season. Nothing about that strikes me as unrealistic for the young centerman who is just entering his prime.

Sustainably Low

Oliver Kylington, D, Calgary Flames (29% rostered)

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After bouncing around waivers early on in his career, Oliver Kylington has found a home in the Flames' top four. Playing over 20 minutes per night alongside veteran Chris Tanev, Kylington experienced early success, notching 12 points in his first 19 games.

Since then, Kylington (pronounced SHIL-ing-ton) has cooled off, notching just three assists over his past six games. While a 41-point pace for a defenseman is valuable in many deeper leagues, there are better options available in more standard leagues.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
603193620:5232.9%

The most concerning part about Kylington's recent cold streak is that it has been driven by a lack of shooting. Earlier in the season, the young defenseman seemed to have taken a step forward, notching just under six shots/60 minutes. Over the past few weeks, this has regressed closer to the 4.1 shots/60 that he put up last year.

If Kylington cannot generate more shots going forward, he will have a tough time getting on the scoresheet. Fewer shots translate to fewer goals, fewer opportunities for net-front tips, and fewer rebounds.

Furthermore, despite only being on a 41-point pace, Kylington's IPP is exceptionally high. On the season, Kylington has factored in on 57.8% of goals scored when he was on the ice. Over the past two weeks, this figure is sitting at an even 50%, well above the 33.3% he registered last year.

To put this in perspective, one of the best play-driving defensemen, Roman Josi, has an IPP of 55.9% on the season. And Kylington is nowhere near the caliber of Josi.

Going forward, I think Kylington remains a viable option in deeper leagues, particularly where scoring defensemen are hard to come by. I would expect Kylington to finish the season somewhere near the 35-40-point mark and provide limited peripherals. I, personally, would find a high-peripheral defenseman like Radko Gudas (53% rostered) or Mario Ferraro (25% rostered) more valuable than Kylington.

Jack Hughes, C/LW, New Jersey Devils (74% rostered)

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When Devils' GM Tom Fitzgerald signed Jack Hughes to an 8-year, $64 million contract extension, it was immediately clear that he was paying for potential. In the four games since signing that contract, it seems as though Hughes has some work to do to earn his massive pay raise.

The 20-year-old first-overall pick started the season on a tear. Through his first two games, Hughes racked up two goals and an assist before going down with a dislocated shoulder. Since returning, the Devils' centerman has notched just one goal on five shots through four games.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
410050216:5735.1%

I realize that I very well might find myself eating crow in a couple of weeks. I will concede that it is still really early to be drawing conclusions about Hughes' play. Give him a couple of weeks to get back up to NHL speed, and we may be having a very different discussion.

I do have some serious concerns with Hughes' play since returning from injury.

Hughes has never been a high-volume shooter. Last year, Hughes registered just 8.0 shots/60 minutes. This year, even before his injury, this number has taken a step back. On the season, Hughes is averaging just 1.5 shots/game. Since returning from injury, he is barely managing to break one shot per game.

As a result, Hughes has not been generating a ton of scoring chances. On the season, Hughes has put up just 0.85 Expected Goals. Despite this, he has found the back of the net three times.

I don't expect this to continue. Hughes has never been lauded for his shot or finishing abilities. If I were a betting man, I would bet on Hughes continuing to struggle to finish on his opportunities.

2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 9 Unsustainable Players

Furthermore, the Devils simply lack talented wingers to help Hughes out. Right now, he is playing on the second line with Andreas Johnsson and youngster Yegor Sharangovich. Unfortunately for Fantasy owners, this simply is not a recipe for success.

I think Jack Hughes will be an exciting player for the Devils for a long time. While it may take a year or two, I think he will eventually live up to his contract and produce at a first-line level. However, this year is not that year.

With time on the first powerplay unit quarterbacked by Dougie Hamilton, I think it is realistic to expect Hughes to finish the season on a 55-point pace. If he can find a way to shoot more, his ceiling this year is a 60-point player with an average shot volume. In deep keeper leagues and dynasty leagues, Hughes is definitely worth holding onto for future years. In shallower re-draft leagues, I think there will be better options floating around on waivers.

Summary

There you have it - the 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 9 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.

Advanced stats and analytics are taken from Natural Stat Trick.


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1 comment

2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 10 Planner - Fantasy Six Pack December 12, 2021 - 3:31 pm

[…] I saw Justin added him to his unsustainably low list I debated looking for another pick-up to have a bit more variety in the article. However, I still […]

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