When facing decisions, poolies sometimes forget to consider team statistics in addition to individual numbers. Here are two examples where what’s happening to a player’s team should be considered as part of his big picture.
In leagues where power-play points (PPP) are counted, certainly it’s important to target players who get regular shifts with the man advantage. But don’t forget to also consider how often their teams get PP chances. Take the Washington Capitals and Los Angeles Kings, for examlpe: although they’re the top two teams in terms of converting on the PP, they only stand 21st and 25th in the number of PP opportunities they’ve received, respectively.
Also, although overall league scoring is down in 2015-16 despite the introduction of 3-on-3 overtime, the new OT format is providing more opportunities for the biggest fantasy stars – those who tend to play most in OT – to score. What’s interesting is that just one team (Chicago Blackhawks) in the top nine for overall scoring is also in the top nine in overtime goals, while the Philadelphia Flyers have the second most OT goals but is in the bottom five NHL teams in total goals scored, and the New Jersey Devils, despite being in the bottom three for team scoring, stand tied for fifth in OT goals.
In short, when making roster decisions, in addition to factoring in numbers for the players involved, you should give some consideration to their team’s stats as well.
Let’s turn to this weeks’ buy low and sell high recommendations.
FOUR BUY-LOW PLAYERS:
Nikita Kucherov: Top scorers can be buy-lows, if the circumstances are right. It turns out that despite still not having point per game season-long numbers, Kucherov has posted an elite 34 points in his last 29 games. And that was happening for a Tampa Bay Lightning squad which, until recently, had a tough time scoring and still sits in the middle of the NHL pack in goals. This might be the last time for many years we’ll see Kucherov under the point-per-game threshold, so try and land him on your keeper team now, or even on a one-year squad provided the price isn’t outrageous.
Mats Zuccarello: Back when Zuccarello had 21 points in his first 20 games, few expected things to continue, which is why he didn’t appear as a sell-high. But he’s seen his numbers drop enough to qualify as a buy-low, especially since he’s a great producer over the last month or two of the season with the Rangers (23 points in his last 26 games in 2014-15; 14 in his final 13 contests in 2013-14). But hurry – he’s already starting to heat back up.
Justin Faulk: Like Zuccarello, Faulk over-performed early, but has slumped for long enough (four points in his last 18 games) to create an opportunity to buy low from a skeptical GM. Faulk might be a more enticing buy-low than Zuccarello, as he’s clearly the only viable option for offence from the Carolina Hurricanes' blue-line and his GMs might have added worry due to Faulk missing time a couple of recent games.
Devan Dubnyk: In fantasy hockey, the adage “a rising tide lifts all boats” means that when a team does well, the individual stats of all its players should improve. But the opposite also applies — especially to goalies. In this case, Dubnyk has been victimized by the Minnesota Wild squad in front of him. But due to his big contract, he’ll keep playing long enough for the team to hopefully sort things out under new coach John Torchetti. For now, you might be able to steal Dubnyk from an owner who’s dwelling on his journeyman past and unrealistically fears Dubnyk might lose his starting job.
FOUR SELL-HIGH PLAYERS:
Taylor Hall: Lost amid the hype surrounding Connor McDavid’s return to the Edmonton Oilers' lineup is the negative effect it’s had on Taylor Hall, who has seen less than 16 minutes of ice time in more than half the contests since McDavid came back. This could just be a temporary blip, but in one-year leagues, you might want to follow the “better safe than sorry” mantra and dish Hall for what still should be a very nice return.
Dustin Byfuglien: Big Buff dominated the fantasy news last week after signing a five-year extension with the Winnipeg Jets. But a quick check of his stats shows he’s producing at a 50-point pace, which would be his lowest for any full season since he arrived in Atlanta/Winnipeg. Beyond that, if you own Byfuglien there’s justification for being concerned that with a huge check in his pocket, his effort level and fitness could suffer. It’s a good time to at least shop Byfuglien around, to see if someone makes you an enticing enough offer for you to sell.
Joonas Donskoi: Before thinking that Donskoi is enjoying a sustainable breakout, consider this list of young Sharks forwards who’ve had temporary periods of good production over the past few years: Matthew Nieto, Melker Karlsson, Tommy Wingels. You should play the odds and use Donskoi’s current stretch of 13 points in 16 games to sell high before he too is added to this undistinguished list.
Jussi Jokinen: Florida has proven to be a great fit for Jokinen, but poolies can’t let his recent hot streak fool them into thinking he’ll hit the 50-point milestone this season. Even after 12 points in ten games (some without young phenom Aleksander Barkov in the lineup) he still sits at a 55-point full-season pace. And keep in mind that last season he had a six-points-in-four-games stretch, on his way to just 44 points. Don’t mistake a burst of points for a new normal — make sure to sell high on Jokinen.