Who is the better fantasy hockey own  Jeff Skinner or Nazem Kadri?
This week’s Cage Match looks at two forwards (Jeff Skinner and Nazem Kadri) who have achieved success during their young careers, but also encountered some bumpy roads along the way. Which one will best help your fantasy team? Cage Match is here with the answer!
Career Path and Contract Status
Even though Skinner and Kadri have a combined age of just 44 (Kadri 23, Skinner 21) and under 300 games of NHL experience entering this season (Skinner 188, Kadri 99), there has been quite a lot written and discussed about both players. And most of it should be well known to poolies, from Skinner’s Calder winning 201011 season followed by his battles with concussions and drop in performance, to Kadri’s hype after being drafted 7th overall in 2009 (where Skinner was also selected just one year later) followed by his trips back and forth between the NHL and AHL until finally landing in the Toronto lineup full time last season and finishing in the top 25 in NHL scoring. What’s interesting is their different paths have led them to a similar place beyond just their draft position, in that Skinner’s career point per game average coming into this season was 0.696 while Kadri’s wasn’t far behind at 0.606.
One area of differentiation is contract status, as Kadri was an RFA and didn’t sign a deal until September, getting $5.8M for this year ($2.7M) and next ($3.1M). Skinner’s payday came in the summer of 2012, when he inked a six year deal that will pay him $4.35M this season and then $6M for each of the next five campaigns. Skinner’s big contract gives him the slight edge.
Ice Time – Past Seasons and Early Indications for 201314
As usual, I’m including Ice Time data for this season so far, plus the previous three seasons; however, keep in mind that Kadri only played 29 games in 201011 and 21 games in 201112, so we should take his numbers for those seasons with a grain of salt. Also, I didn’t include shorthanded Ice Time, since neither player has averaged more than 22 seconds per game in a season.
Season 
Total Ice Time 
Rank among team’s forwards 
PP Ice Time 
Rank among team’s forwards 
201314 
16:05 (J.S) 16:38 (N.K.) 
5th (J.S.) 8th (N.K.) 
2:54 (J.S.) 2:43 (N.K.) 
3rd (J.S.) 4th (N.K.) 
201213 
18:27 (J.S.) 16:03 (N.K.) 
4th (J.S.) 6th (N.K.) 
2:47 (J.S.) 2:12 (N.K.) 
3rd (J.S.) 5th (N.K.) 
201112 
18:37 (J.S.) 14:09 (N.K.) 
2nd (J.S.) 8th (N.K.) 
3:21 (J.S) 1:36 (N.K.) 
2nd (J.S.) 7th (N.K.) 
201011 
16:43 (J.S.) 15:46 (N.K.) 
7th (J.S.) 10th (N.K.) 
3:10 (J.S.) 2:35 (N.K.) 
4th (J.S.) 9th (N.K.) 
These are very interesting numbers for both players. As we can see so far for 201314 (through October 28th), Skinner’s overall Ice Time is more than two minutes below his average for each of the past two seasons; but his point scoring pace (0.9 points per game) is higher than even his outstanding rookie campaign, when he last also had less than 17 minutes of Ice Time per game. Coincidence? Also, although his overall Ice Time has fluctuated year to year, Skinner’s PP Ice Time has remained fairly consistent; and what’s especially impressive about his 2:54 on the PP so far this season is it comprises a very healthy 18% of his 16:05 total Ice Time.
I was surprised to see Kadri’s data, as during 201213 he received barely more overall Ice Time (and actually less PP Ice Time) per game than he had during his brief first taste of the NHL in 201011. Beyond that, even after finishing in the top 25 in scoring in 201213 plus signing a new contract, Kadri’s overall Ice Time for 201314 is only slightly above what he had last season and his PP Ice Time thus far is a mere eight seconds per game above his 201011 number. What’s more, while Kadri’s 2:43 of PP Ice Time per game now represents the fourth highest total among Maple Leaf forwards, his 16:38 of overall Ice Time ranks just eighth, below the likes of Mason Raymond and even Dave Bolland.
Despite Kadri’s apparent shortcomings in this area, I actually don’t give an edge to either player, since their 201314 sidebyside numbers are comparable. Plus, both players seem to be well equipped to produce despite receiving less Ice Time than most of the NHL’s higher scoring forwards.
Injuries
Skinner is currently out with an unspecified injury, but apparently could return to action this week. The real worry for Skinner and his fantasy owners is his recurring concussions, which not only pose a risk of longterm injury but also might’ve already had indirect consequences. For example, when Skinner’s stats took a nosedive in 201112 and 201213 despite  as shown above  him receiving even more Ice Time per game than during his productive rookie campaign, you had to wonder if he was being tentative or otherwise not playing his usual style due to fear of suffering yet another concussion.
In contrast, Kadri has been healthy for his entire young pro career, so he holds a big advantage here.
Secondary Categories
Since cumulative stats and trends matter most when examining Secondary Categories data, and given Kadri’s limited NHL experience prior to 201213, we’ll only look at last season plus this year so far.
Season 
Plus/Minus 
Hits 
Blocked Shots 
PIMs 
Shots 
201314 J.S. = 10 games N.K. = 12 games 
+5 (J.S.) 2 (N.K) 
6 (J.S.) 19 (N.K.) 
0 (J.S.) 4 (N.K.) 
8 (J.S.) 12 (N.K.) 
36 (J.S.) 19 (N.K.) 
201213 J.S. = 42 games N.K. = 48 games 
21 (J.S.) +15 (N.K.)

21 (J.S.) 62 (N.K.) 
11 (J.S.) 22 (N.K.) 
26 (J.S.) 23 (N.Z.) 
159 (J.S.) 107 (N.K.) 
Overall, their Secondary Categories numbers are pretty even. Just as Skinner holds a healthy advantage in Shots, Kadri outhits Skinner by a wide margin. Both players have experienced ups and downs in plus minus, and PIMs are a wash. And while Skinner is especially bad in Blocked Shots, you’re not going to do much better with Kadri.
In addition to this data, another thing worth mentioning is faceoffs. Skinner has averaged less than one per game, so his numbers are insignificant. But Kadri has fared poorly in the faceoff circle, winning only 44.2% last season. This is made all the worse because he takes a lot of draws (52nd most in the NHL last season, 45th this season as of October 28th). But the good news is he’s trending in the right direction, having risen from an abysmal 40.5% in 201011 and starting this season at 46.0%.
Windexiness
Season 
Total Points Scored 
Stretches of four or more games with zero points in each game 
Stretches of four or more games with at least one point in each game 
Total number of two point games 
Total number of three or more point games 
201213 
24 (J.S.) 44 (N.K.) 
2 (J.S.) – 5, 6 0 (N.K.) 
2 (J.S.) – 4, 5 3 (N.K.) – 4, 5, 7 
3 (J.S.) 7 (N.K.) 
1 (J.S.)  3 4 (N.K.) – 3, 3, 3, 4 
201112 
44 (J.S) 7 (N.K.) 
1 (J.S)  4 2 (N.K.) – 4, 5 
0 (J.S.) 0 (N.K.) 
4 (J.S.) 0 (N.K.) 
3 (J.S.) – each 3 0 (N.K.) 
201011 
63 (J.S.) 12 (N.K.) 
1 (J.S.)  4 2 (N.K.) – 4, 8 
1 (J.S.)  5 0 (N.K.) 
9 (J.S.) 3 (N.K.) 
5 (J.S.) – each 3 0 (N.K.) 
This data was eye opening in several ways. First, it was surprising to see that Skinner had put together a point scoring streak of four or more games just three separate times in his career prior to this season (with a career long of just five games) and that he’s had more stretches of at least four games with no points than he did with points. Also, nearly 40% of Skinner’s 25 career multipoint games were three point games, which is a pretty high percentage.
For Kadri, 27 of his 44 points in 201213 came in just 11 games. Yet despite this clustered scoring, he still never went more than three games in 201213 without recording a point. And although his data from 201112 and 201011 is hard to rely upon due to the number of games (50 total) and low point totals, even then he did a pretty good job of avoiding stretches without points.
In the end, neither player is exceptionally windexy or nonwindexy compared to the other.
Relative Value of Points
Points are more valuable for a fantasy team when they’re not shared by other players owned in your league, since those are the kinds of points that can cause actual movement in the standings. In looking at this area, it’s a good opportunity to examine the Frozen Pool data for each player in 201213 plus this season thus far.
201213
15.84% 
EV 
43 KADRI,NAZEM  47 KOMAROV,LEO  16 MACARTHUR,CLARKE 
13.46% 
EV 
43 KADRI,NAZEM  41 KULEMIN,NIKOLAI  19 LUPUL,JOFFREY 
9.39% 
EV 
39 FRATTIN,MATT  43 KADRI,NAZEM  47 KOMAROV,LEO 
30.32% 
PP 
84 GRABOVSKI,MIKHAIL  43 KADRI,NAZEM  16 MACARTHUR,CLARKE 
13.41% 
PP 
84 GRABOVSKI,MIKHAIL  43 KADRI,NAZEM  41 KULEMIN,NIKOLAI 
22.28% 
EV 
39 DWYER,PATRICK  53 SKINNER,JEFF  11 STAAL,JORDAN 
11.96% 
EV 
22 DALPE,ZAC  53 SKINNER,JEFF  11 STAAL,JORDAN 
10.05% 
EV 
15 RUUTU,TUOMO  53 SKINNER,JEFF  11 STAAL,JORDAN 
9.13% 
EV 
59 LAROSE,CHAD  53 SKINNER,JEFF  11 STAAL,JORDAN 
19.52% 
PP 
28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER  53 SKINNER,JEFF  12 STAAL,ERIC  11 STAAL,JORDAN 
19.04% 
PP 
28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER  53 SKINNER,JEFF  12 STAAL,ERIC  19 TLUSTY,JIRI 
12.29% 
PP 
36 JOKINEN,JUSSI  53 SKINNER,JEFF  11 STAAL,JORDAN 
201314 (games through October 28th)
21.44% 
EV 
46 BROLL,DAVID  43 KADRI,NAZEM  19 LUPUL,JOFFREY 
16.08% 
EV 
43 KADRI,NAZEM  19 LUPUL,JOFFREY  12 RAYMOND,MASON 
9.74% 
EV 
43 KADRI,NAZEM  81 KESSEL,PHIL  21 VAN RIEMSDYK,JAMES 
75.86% 
PP 
43 KADRI,NAZEM  19 LUPUL,JOFFREY  12 RAYMOND,MASON 
11.21% 
PP 
71 CLARKSON,DAVID  43 KADRI,NAZEM  12 RAYMOND,MASON 
42.21% 
EV 
18 DVORAK,RADEK  20 NASH,RILEY  53 SKINNER,JEFF 
11.21% 
EV 
39 DWYER,PATRICK  20 NASH,RILEY  53 SKINNER,JEFF 
9.98% 
EV 
20 NASH,RILEY  15 RUUTU,TUOMO  53 SKINNER,JEFF 
66.67% 
PP 
14 GERBE,NATHAN  53 SKINNER,JEFF  11 STAAL,JORDAN 
7.21% 
PP 
28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER  53 SKINNER,JEFF  12 STAAL,ERIC 
This data shows just how impressive Kadri’s 201213 season was, since most of his regular linemates were far from household names. But not only could the same be said about Skinner for 201213 at even strength, if we look at 201314 so far, he’s managed to put up nine points in ten games playing predominantly with Radek Dvorak and Riley Nash at even strength and Nathan Gerbe and Jordan Staal on the PP.
Skinner gets the narrow edge here, since Kadri has played regularly with highly owned Joffrey Lupul in 201314, and is slated to fill injured Tyler Bozak’s spot on Toronto’s potent top line between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk (more on this below). In contrast, the most widely owned played Skinner is lining up with these days is Jordan Staal, who might still be a recognized name but has dropped down to only 48% owned in Yahoo leagues, compared to Lupul’s 95%, JVR’s 88%, and Kessel’s 100%.
Value vs. Cost
As of October 28th, Skinner was 87% owned (ranked 109th) compared to Kadri’s 82% (108^{th}). With Kadri being slotted on the Kessel JVR line for now and Skinner battling an injury, I’d expect Kadri’s position to improve and Skinners to slide. But unless either of these developments stretch into the longterm, we’re looking at players who are just about as even as could be in this area.
So Who Wins?
I think that Kadri’s move to first line center in place of the injured Tyler Bozak could have potential longlasting implications. After all, despite being rewarded with a five year $21M deal this offseason and having played alongside Kessel for several seasons, Bozak has never scored more than 47 points in a full season and last season scored at just a 50 point pace. It’s possible that Kadri might step in and find a permanent home on that top line. If that happens, then he wins this contest in a landslide.
But for purposes of ruling on the match we need to give most weight to the data we already have at our fingertips; and with the players being fairly close when factoring in things like Ice Time, Secondary Categories, and Windexiness, Skinner’s injury history is ultimately the deciding factor. With him being one hit away from missing a huge chunk of time, plus him knowing this and perhaps having his play suffer because of it even when healthy, that tilts the scales to Kadri.
And beyond just that, I don’t put too much stock in Skinner’s fast start to 201314 since he’s done this before and ended up disappointing, first in 201011 (when he finished with only 44 points in 64 games despite starting with 11 points in his first nine) and then again in 201213 (when he ended up with 24 points in 42 games after starting with 12 points in his first 11 games). We’ll need to see him put together another solid season before we can truly say he’s back to his old self let alone truly rival Kadri.
Recent cage matches:
David Desharnais vs. Tyler Ennis  
Dan Boyle vs. Kimmo Timonen  
Daniel Alfredsson vs. Ray Whitney 


Mike Richards or Joe Pavelski 

RizzeeDizzee said:
RizzeeDizzee said:
And beyond just that, I don’t put too much stock in Skinner’s fast start to 201314 since he’s done this before and ended up disappointing, first in 201112 (when he finished with only 44 points in 64 games despite starting with 11 points in his first nine) and then again in 201213 (when he ended up with 24 points in 42 games after starting with 12 points in his first 11 games). We’ll need to see him put together another solid season before we can truly say he’s back to his old self let alone truly rival Kadri.