James Neal feature

A regular piece where you guys do all the work. And an excuse for us to watch endless old Seinfeld clips. If you’ve got a question for next week’s mailbag you can shoot it in to darren.kennedy@mckeenshockey.com

 

Our very first Monday Mailbag at Mckeen’s. If all goes well (and you guys send countless emails to the editor championing the article) this will be a regular piece. At least once a month during the summer and then we’ll aim for bi-weekly during the 2014-15 season.

I’m pretty much open to anything content-wise. If you want to talk about the new Spiderman movie and how Hollywood may have finally oversaturated our senses with unnecessary superhero flicks – that’s fine. If you’re frustrated by Zdeno Chara while playing NHL 14 for XBOX then heck, I want to hear from you (I’ve spent main nights cursing his cheat-code of a poke check myself)

Or, if you want to stick to fantasy hockey questions, well, that’s good too.

On to today’s mailbag…

Do you see Rick Nash bouncing back next season? Why/Why Not? Also, are any of the player profiles updated for next year yet?

Rick Nash Player PageI had a chance to connect with the team and basically said “people are getting excited for the player profiles, when are they coming out?” Everyone has been knee deep in preparing for the NHL Draft Guide that’s coming out June 1st. With that nearing completion the player profiles should be coming out soon. I realize “soon” is relatively vague BUT can assure you that it’s priority one.

As for Rick Nash, I’ve tried to remain as balanced as possible through what has been a pretty incredible season. It’s a roller coaster worthy of Six Flags. He begins the year as a guy coming off of 42 points and 176 shots in only 44 games. Then, a concussion. Some serious symptoms ensue. He returns eventually, but is plagued by poor play for an extended time. Everyone starts asking “Why did the Rangers even bring him in!?” Then he scores 11 goals in 11 games through January and we proudly pronounce he’s BACK. Of course he followed that up with a playoff slump and was actually BOOO’d at home. More recently he posted two goals and two games and as you might guess is a fan favourite again.

Being a fan is exhausting.

Long story short. Nash is 29 years old. He’s an incredible talent and is (still) generating shots at an elite rate. I imagine he’ll be back to his old ways of posting around 35 goals, 30 to 35 assists, and north of 300 shots in 2014-15. If you can draft him expecting that and resist the temptation to jump ship at the first sign of a four game slump, you should be satisfied.

With changes already happening in Pittsburgh, what do I do with James Neal in a full keeper deep Dynasty league of 16 teams?

James Neal

I remember mentioning to a buddy (who ironically owned James Neal at the time) that of all the elite, top 10 guys in fantasy he scared me the most. My rationale was that his value is tied so intrinsically to Malkin.

Today, those fears are probably greater than they were then. In 13 games this post-season (some in which he DIDN’T skate with Evgeni) he posted only four points. Granted, he was saddled with an insanely low shooting percentage (4.1%) and we’re dealing with an exceedingly small sample size. Nonetheless, it troubles me.

With new rumors surfacing that he could be dealt this summer it might be time to explore trade options. I by no means advocate taking a discount. When Neal is performing there are maybe five guys capable of putting up similar numbers (40 goals, 300 shots…etc).

Just make sure you aren’t left holding the proverbial hot potato when said potato ends up shipped to the Predators.

What kind of number (G/A) are you expecting for the following players in the next 3 years?

1-J.Gaudreau

2-A.Lee

3-B.Nelson

4-E.Etem

5-B.Connolly

Oh geez, you’re making me do some research today! *turns metaphorical hat backwards, gets to work*

I think I’ll get myself into trouble putting projections to each of these guys. They’re all relatively young and have very little NHL experience. Trying to guess exact goals and assists totals is kind of like me tossing darts in a pitch black room. I’ll hit the board every once and while, but more than likely we’ll end up with holes in the wall.

I can, however, talk about my thoughts on each guy.

Anders Lee is an exciting option for a couple of reasons. He’s six foot three, can skate, and posted decent numbers in limited action last year (14 points in 22 games). Most impressively he had 68 shots (over three per game) which is really uncommon for a young player. There is the added bonus of playing for the Islanders – they don’t exactly scream DEPTH. If he performs well this coming year there is a chance he sees regular top six time. If that happens I don’t see why he couldn’t challenge 50 points and close to 200 shots.

Brett Connolly has been zigzagged around multiple teams the last few years. He probably was called up too early in 2011, then played in the World Juniors, then the AHL, then 11 games with Tampa in 2013-14. The good news is he had quality totals in the AHL last year (31 goals, 32 assists, in 71 contests). The bad news is he has probably been passed on the depth chart by a number of guys. My guess is that he ends up as a hybrid third/second liner in coming years who might see a bit of limited time on the second power play unit. He has a pedigree (drafted sixth overall) so that could change. But for now, his fantasy prospects are bleak.

Emerson Etem is a bit of a wild card. I say that because a lot of his production will be tied into where he plays. According to Dobber’s Frozen Pool he only skated four percent of his shifts (in the playoffs) with Perry and Getzlaf, while taking nearly half with Smith-Pelly and Bonino. That’s not BAD per se, but he’ll need to see more shifts with the big guys and increased power play time (only had 39 seconds a game in the regular season) if he’s going to have sustained production.

Last year Nelson pretty much did everything you hoped he would. Stuck in the NHL for a full season (72 games) and produced strong rookie numbers (26 points, 132 shots). Much like Lee I’d be watching reports out of training camp closely. If he’s in their top six then I’d add 15 or 20 percent to his projections. Otherwise, it’s likely another year of development where he hopefully takes a step towards 40 points and decent shot totals.  

And finally, Mr. Gaudreau. Well, he has played one game in the NHL. Not exactly a HUGE sample but I’ll opine about his future regardless. His seven goals in seven games for the United States at the 2103 Word Juniors speaks to his offensive upside. He’s a bit undersized, although that’s becoming less and less of a consideration for me with each passing year. Calgary will be wide open next year (and for a few years, if we’re being honest) so he’ll have a chance to land significant playing time.

Somehow you tricked me into making actual projections. I can already see the hate tweets when Anders Lee ends up on Tavares’ line and posts 70 points… HAHAH, LOOK AT THIS ARTICLE FROM DARREN KENNEDY IN MAY, WHAT AN IDIOT!

Sigh, such is life as a hockey writer.

I’ve got two keeper spots left on my team and three players to decide between – Sharp, E.Staal, and Zetterberg. Who should I keep?

Situations like this always force me to think about who has the most “perceived” value in your pool. In terms of actual production, it’s Sharp. Chicago has their entire core coming back next year, meaning he’ll once again be posting strong point totals, a great plus minus, and terrific shots. However, Sharp is perhaps the most underrated superstar calibre asset in fantasy. 

Staal and Zetterberg almost certainly carry greater name recognition and could probably fetch more via trade. Henrik is nearing 34 years old (which always scares poolies away), not young, but not exactly ancient either.

If it’s me, I’d gamble on the fact that both Sharp and Zetterberg have at least two or three solid years left and trade Staal, knowing that he’ll allow me to best address needs elsewhere.

Just a short one: which 2014 pick do you think will have the most immediate offensive impact?

The guy I’m most excited about is Leon Draisaitl. He’s got a bit of a bigger frame and a lot of offensive ability (105 points in 64 games for Prince Albert in the WHL last year). If he can somehow end up in Edmonton with their third pick it could be a nice fit. That said, I’d temper expectations for year one since he may not even be in the NHL.

Here is a compilation of Draisaitl highlights. Yeah, he’s alright. 

First of all these are the players I’ve considering keeping in my 14 team, 14 keepers league, I just joined, made a lot of trades already and grabbed some young prospects before we declare keepers, to start a rebuild. Feeling pretty good and looking at contending 2 years from now. (K) next to my thoughts.

4C, 4LW, 4RW, 6D, 2G, 1UTIL, 3 BENCH, 2IR

G:5 A:3 +/-:1 PIM: -0.2 PPG: 2 PPA: 1 SHG: 2 SHA: 1 HIT:0.2 BLK:0.2

I know, no shots, and PIM are negative. Strange.

C: Toews(K), Turris(K), E. Staal(K), Barkov

LW: E. Kane(K), Landeskog(K), Teravainen

RW: Simmonds(K), Voracek(K), Eberle(K), Doan

D: Hedman(K), Letang(K), Trouba(K)

G: Rinne(K), Howard(K), Elliott(K), Neuvirth

1. There seems to have been very few goalies that can consistently maintain solid numbers (à la Lundqvist), and there also seems to be a few goalies each season that come from nowhere and surprise everyone (Bishop, Varlamov). With that being said, I have Elliott, Howard, Rinne, Neuvirth, in a 14 team keeper, keeping 14 players. Wondering if I should bother keeping Neuvirth since it is a 14 team league and goalies are hot commodities, or trade him as part of a package saying how he has a good chance to start in BUF. Elliott I’m also not 100% on with the emergence of Allen but for now I like him. I don’t really have room to try get Allen and do the time share thing with the forward depth I want to keep.

2. A guy like Barkov, I really like him and think he will be a stud. But he has really nothing for linemates and don’t know if he worth keeping at this point or revisiting the possibility next year, or drafting him late if I can.

3. I tried my best to attain a solid couple guys in each position aged 23-26 that will be great for the foreseeable future. Do you think with these keepers I’m setting myself up for success in the future or are there any specific areas I should address or players you think I should target?

4. No one really wants to trade for Doan, but in our league he has been one if the more decent RW on a per game basis. I don’t exactly have room to keep him but should I try make a 2 for 1 for an elite guy and keep him or just let him go since he doesn’t match up with my time frame at all?

You win this week’s award for the longest email and I blame you for the fact my word count is out of control (almost 2700!). Although who am I kidding, I always love the detailed notes that show you poolies have been putting a ton of thought into making decisions strategically.

In a 14 team league your tenders are actually pretty good. Normally I wouldn’t recommend keeping Elliot or Neuvirth. That said, in a pool such as this, they’ll carry massive value if they can somehow land regular playing time. Worth the risk.

If your objective is to win in two years, which is reasonable, then you likely need to keep Barkov. Florida’s core could be something special in two years if their key pieces keep developing. Barkov has a pretty open laneway to their first line center position, which will come with loads of cushy power play time.

Overall you’ve done a great job acquiring guys with overlapping prime years, which is the key to a rebuild. Everyone doesn’t necessarily have to be in their mid-twenties though. My advice is don’t be afraid to add another guy like Staal (or even a Spezza, Marleau, Thornton-type) who may be on the decline, but will still be a consistent option in two years’ time. If you can keep this group together, with a couple of small adjustments, there is no reason you won’t be contending in 18 to 24 months.

Oh Shane Doan. He seems to have spent his entire career being perpetually underrated. Sadly, at age 37 (soon to be 38), there isn’t really a next chapter to his career. He had a nice season in 2013-14 (47 points in 69 games) and you should probably move to send him out while there is still some residual value left.

What are new stats like corsi, pdo, ipp etc? Where do I go to get the best info to help me understand these stats and if my team is going to be any good with these new stats.

Just want to learn how to take in all this new information for stats. Is there a site to generate these for entire NHL league or do you have to manually do it?

This is a great question and one that comes up a lot. It’s something I’ve been wrestling with the past few years. A two-step process – making sure I actually understand each new “fancy” statistic and then working to layer it into my fantasy evaluations.

Here are some helpful resources.

There are a few other resources you could use. But for now, as a starter package, that should suffice (plus it forces you to send me a follow up question for our next mailbag…. Muhaha)

 

We made it. The inaugural Mckeen’s mailbag. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions and comments this week. A free tip for future iterations. If your question contains anything relating to, or POSSIBLY relating to Valeri Nichushkin you will almost certainly be published. He’s my fantasy hockey kryptonite. Heck I’d do a weekly post on just him if the editors would let me (they probably won’t let me).

Make sure to check us out on Facebook where we’ll be posting regular content.

Cheers,

dk

 

Darren is a fantasy hockey writer for McKeen’s and Dobber Hockey. You can find on twitter @fantasyhockeydk or on his couch watching old reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm. 

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