DanBoyle

 

Who is the better fantasy hockey own - Dan Boyle or Kimmo Timonen?

 

 

(Editor's note: This column was submitted mere minutes before the Boyle injury. We have a theory that the writer Rick Roos is dabbling in witchcraft or perhaps the Voodoo arts, likely the latter)

 

 

This week’s Cage Match looks at two defensemen – Dan Boyle and Kimmo Timonen – who have been fantasy assets for many years but are now on the back end of their careers. Who’ll be better for poolies this season? You’ve come to the right place to find out – Cage Match starts now!

 

Remarkable Consistency, until Last Season

Boyle and Timonen have been among the more consistent fantasy defensemen over the past decade. Basically, you’d draft these guys expecting them to give you a certain level of output, and not only were you never left disappointed but each one also managed to sprinkle in a few above average seasons along the way.

With Boyle, you’d have to go all the way back to 2003-04 to find his last 70+ game season where he finished with fewer than 48 points; and during this ten year period he also tallied 57+ points in three different seasons. Timonen has been a less prolific scorer but just as consistent, finishing with 37-44 points in every full season since 2001-02, except for two seasons (2005-06 and 2006-07) where he spiked to 50 and 55 points.

Not surprisingly, going into last season Boyle had been ranked in a tier above Timonen. But then a funny thing happened in the lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign – Timonen put up stats (29 points in 45 games; a 53 point full season pace) above what we’d come to expect from Boyle, while Boyle‘s output dropped dramatically (20 points in 46 games; a 36 point full season pace) to a level below anything from Timonen since 2000-01.

The biggest question going into this season is what to expect from each player after such a radical departure in 2012-13 from any of their recent seasons. Is Timonen on a late career upswing? Is the magic gone with Boyle? Should we expect them to duplicate what they did last season, or go back to their usual output from previous seasons, or end up with something in between? Let’s see if we can dig deep enough to figure this out so you can benefit from knowing the answer and take appropriate action before things really begin to unfold for the 2013-14 season.

 

Contract Status and Possible Retirement

Both players are under contract only through this season. And while each will earn roughly $6M this campaign, their contract circumstances are different in that Timonen signed a one year deal during the offseason while Boyle is finishing the final season of a six year, $40M contract.

Some were surprised that Timonen returned to play in the NHL for 2013-14, after there had been rumors he might retire (or play in Europe). And already there are whispers of his retirement after this season. In truth, it might just be that Timonen is on the road to becoming another Teemu Selanne, where he’ll toy with the idea of retirement every year but ultimately decide the lure of the NHL is too much to resist.

With Boyle, there have been no hints at impending retirement; all indications are that he’s playing to earn another contract.

Not that either player is likely to factor prominently in your keeper league plans, but all things being otherwise equal in that area I’d give Boyle the edge because he’s more likely to push for (and receive) a mutli-year deal once he becomes a UFA, while Timonen could leave you guessing as to whether he’ll even return to the NHL after this season.

 

Ice Time – Past Seasons and Early Indications for 2013-14

Given the drastic point differences that both players experienced last season compared to their recent outputs, it’s important to take a close look at Ice Time numbers to see if they’re consistent with the drop in Boyle’s tally and the spike in Timonen’s during 2012-13.

 

Season

Total Ice Time

PP Ice Time

SH Ice Time

2013-14

22:39 (Boyle)

21:26 (Timonen)

4:20 (Boyle)

4:38 (Timonen)

0:44 (Boyle)

3:39 (Timonen)

2012-13

22:47 (Boyle)

21:46 (Timonen)

3:28 (Boyle)

3:48 (Timonen)

1:07 (Boyle)

2:55 (Timonen)

2011-12

25:34 (Boyle)

21:14 (Timonen)

3:56 (Boyle)

3:47 (Timonen)

1:30 (Boyle)

3:28 (Timonen)

2010-11

26:14 (Boyle)

22:28 (Timonen)

4:17 (Boyle)

3:19 (Timonen)

2:15 (Boyle)

3:25 (Timonen)

 

Based on this data, it might have been reasonable to expect a bit of a dip in Boyle’s numbers last season, what with his decreased Ice Time overall (down by 11%) and on the PP (down by 12%). But those changes in Ice Time should not have translated to Boyle’s 25% drop in point production (from 48 in 2011-12 to a 36 point pace in 2012-13). Plus, Boyle’s 12% drop in PP Ice Time was offset somewhat by a beneficial 26% drop in SH IceTime. What’s more, in 2012-13 Boyle’s PP Ice Time represented 15.2% of his overall Ice Time, which was comparable to the 15.3% from 2011-12 when he scored 48 points. Clearly this is not fully adding up, at least not yet.

And just as Boyle’s points drop is difficult to explain based solely on Ice Time, so too is Timonen’s jump. After all, we can see that Timonen’s Ice Time in 2012-13 was essentially consistent with his previous two seasons (which saw him score only 43 and 37 points).

And in terms of this season thus far (though Monday October 14th), although both players have similar overall Ice Times as last season each is enjoying nearly a minute more of PP Ice Time, with Timonen also being deployed more shorthanded. But this is a very small sample size, and I’d expect their PP numbers (and Timonen’s SH number) to come back to normal levels as the season progresses.


Injuries and Olympics

Neither of these guys is even close to being a band-aid boy, with Timonen not having missed more than six games in a season since 1999-2000 and Boyle having done so only once since 2002-03. Both also were among the invitees to their country’s Olympic camp – Boyle for Canada and Timonen for Finland. But while Timonen is essentially a lock to make the Finnish team, Boyle might just find himself on the outside looking in for Canada, what with that country having many younger and arguably as capable (if not more capable) d-men to choose from.

With guys this age (Boyle is 37, Timonen 38), playing in the Olympics could negatively impact their overall regular season performance, particularly after the Olympic break. This is because it would mean more total games, plus no rest during the break while the more than 75% of NHL players who are not representing their country in Sochi will be recharging their engines.

Beyond that, the condensed schedule to accommodate the Olympics will take a toll if either player ends up in Sochi. Fortunately for Boyle, San Jose plays a league low 10 back-to-back games, while the Flyers play 14, which is about average. Very slight overall edge here goes to Boyle.

 

Secondary Categories


Season

Plus/Minus

Hits

Blocked Shots

PIMs

Shots

2012-13

+3 (Boyle)

+3 (Timonen)

29 (Boyle)

31 (Timonen)

81 (Boyle)

79 (Timonen)

27 (Boyle)

36 (Timonen)

97 (Boyle)

78 (Timonen)

2011-12

+10 (Boyle)

+8 (Timonen)

58 (Boyle)

68 (Timonen)

137 (Boyle)

129 (Timonen)

57 (Boyle)

46 (Timonen)

252 (Boyle)

130 (Timonen)

2010-11

+2 (Boyle)

+11 (Timonen)

55 (Boyle)

96 (Timonen)

139 (Boyle)

175 (Timonen)

67 (Boyle)

36 (Timonen)

199 (Boyle)

147 (Timonen)

 

These numbers were somewhat of a surprise to me, since I had thought that Boyle, as the higher scorer in the past, would’ve had poorer stats in areas like Hits and Blocked Shots. However, as we can see, Boyle was on a par with Timonen in these categories, particularly in the last two seasons.

But what we really need to key on is the change in Boyle’s Shots total, as he was down a full Shot per game in 2012-13 (2.11 Shots per game) compared to 2011-12 (3.11 Shots per game). Although it’s true that he managed to get 50 points in 2010-11 while averaging 2.61 Shots per game and shooting only 4.5% (compared to 7.2% last season), the “one two punch” of falling all the way down to 2.11 Shots in 2012-13 plus his 11-12% drop in overall and PP Ice time paints a clearer picture as to why his points scoring pace dropped 25% from 2011-12 to 2012-13. And not surprisingly, Boyle PDO from last season was also somewhat low. For what it’s worth, Boyle has 21 Shots in five games this season, which is a very good sign despite only managing two points in those games.

Timonen’s Shots total was 1.73 per game in 2012-13, which was on a par with his 1.71 total for 2011-12. Interestingly, his shooting percentage not only more than doubled (from 3.1% to 6.4%), but it was the highest percentage he’s had in several years. While that singlehandedly doesn’t explain his big points jump, it is consistent with an atypical points increase.

 

Value vs. Cost

Now that nearly all leagues have drafted, we can get a true representation of what value has been assigned to each player by fantasy hockey GMs. In Yahoo leagues, Boyle is 91% owned and ranked 116th while Timonen is a bit lower at 83% and 137th. These numbers aren’t surprising, as although it shows the gap between Boyle and Timonen has shrunk, it also indicates that poolies feel last year’s stats are not entirely representative of what to expect for this season. Small edge to Timonen here.

 

So Who Wins?

Determining a winner of this match boils (Boyle's?) down to answering the big question posed earlier, namely should we expect both players to repeat their “switcheroo” performances of last season, which saw Timonen score at a pace above an average year for Boyle but Boyle drop to a pace below even a poor season for Timonen.

While we’re not even 10% into this campaign, early returns suggest that Boyle’s Ice Time once again projects to be down but that his Shots total is on track to rebound. Since one of the two apparent issues that led to his scoring output dipping 25% to a 36 points pace looks to be fixed, we probably can figure that he’ll be able to make up about half of that 25% drop, to finish around 42 points this season.

That would put Boyle’s total within Timonen’s usual average range, so now we have to tackle the second part of the question, which is whether Timonen is poised to repeat his 53 point pace from last season. And while his overall Ice Time number is tracking similar to 2012-13 thus far, we have to factor in that Timonen is now a year older and more than seven seasons removed from his last full campaign that saw him finish with more than 44 points. Plus, there’s the added presence of Mark Streit to possibly syphon points away from Timonen, who hasn’t contended with an elite offensive defenseman teammate since Chris Pronger was still healthy. In reality, I see a return to 37-44 point territory for TImonen this season, perhaps more toward the lower end of that range.

So does this mean the match is essentially a draw, what with the players having similar points projections and being close in terms of value versus cost? Maybe yes, maybe no; it actually depends on the pulse of your league.

Timonen’s value is artificially low right now. And if you have a Timonen owner in your league who’s panicking at his zero points in six games, then now is the time to swoop in and try to pry Timonen away, especially considering that he had a seven game stretch last season where he scored no points.

Meanwhile, Boyle has two points in five games so far, which actually puts him (only) tied for third among Sharks d-men in scoring. But whether you should buy or sell on Boyle depends on your leaguemates, since a GM might be worried about Boyle’s comparatively meager output in view of the hot start from the other Shark players (making this a good time for you to buy low - Editor's update: had he not been injured) or someone in your league might be eager to get Boyle from you in hopes of riding the wave of the Sharks offense (making this a good time for you to sell somewhat high). Whatever you do, be sure to keep in mind the blazing hot start that San Jose had last year, followed by a big time offensive slump for the remainder of the year.

 

Recent Cage Matches:

 

Daniel Alfredsson vs. Ray Whitney 
Mike Richards or Joe Pavelski 
Tomas Plekanec vs. Cody Hodgson 

 


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Comments (4)add comment

RizzeeDizzee said:

RizzeeDizzee
... @rack55 - thanks, and very good suggestion to pit Ennis against Desharnais. You might even see them face off next week, although I also could save them for a bit later, to see more of how things are shaping up for them this season.

@Savvy1982 - much appreciated! I think if I was going to include a rookie in Cage Match I'd probably wait until later in the season to get more of a sample size. But I'll definitely keep those two in mind and you might end up seeing one or both in the column in the coming weeks or months.
October 16, 2013
Votes: +1

Savvy1982 said:

Savvy1982
... I'd personally love to see a MacKinnon vs. Galchenyuk Cage match.

Great work as always!
October 16, 2013
Votes: +1

rack55 said:

rack55
... Great column Rick,
I have a request for next week that you look at Tyler Ennis vs David Desharnais. Both are small centermen off to slow starts in their 4th seasons, with higher end potential and lower end likelihood of reaching it. Are either of these guys primed to break out? Was Desharnais' 60pts season 2 years ago an anomaly? Can Ennis play his way into top line minutes on a terrible team?
Thanks!
October 16, 2013
Votes: +1

RizzeeDizzee said:

RizzeeDizzee
... Thanks for the Editor's note Dobber.

I aim to write the column in a way that not only tells readers who wins the match itself, but also arms them with approaches to effectively compare any two close players. In other words, I think there will be useful takeaways from this even if Boyle ends up being hurt for long enough that it makes the match itself a lopsided contest.

Oh, and I'm taking requests for next week's column from anyone who needs me to work my voodoo on a player from an opposing team in your league.
October 16, 2013
Votes: +0
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