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Jason Garrison, defenseman and fantasy sleeper, is paying huge early season dividends.

 

We are almost at the 10% mark of the NHL season, which is a time that I always love as a Fantasy Hockey GM. It’s is a great time for shrewd, opportunistic GMs to take advantage of small sample sizes to either buy-low or sell-high on the early season numbers. The key to being successful in this regard though, is figuring out which trends will continue and which players will fizzle out.

Last season when Teddy Purcell had 9 points in 7 games, you would have been smart to sell high on him (or avoid overpaying for him). Luckily I advised you to do just that and Purcell went on to amass only 25 in his next 41 games. Being too quick to sell high can be dangerous though because if the trend is sustainable, as it was for Alex Semin last season then you want to be sure to hold on to/acquire that player (which I also suggested at the time). Now that the shameless self-promotion portion of the article is out of the way, I will get to this week’s piece on a player whose hot start I think will translate into a big season: Jason Garrison.

 

Garrison has had fantasy relevance for a couple of years now, depending on your league format. He has a booming shot and he takes a fair amount of them, which nets him a solid goal total as a result. In the past two seasons he was 3rd & 8th in the entire NHL terms of goals by a defenseman, while he shot the 17th and 19th most times from the back end. Garrison is also strong defensively though and because of this, he managed to amass these numbers despite only seeing the 7th most PP time on his team each season. Running last season through FHG you can see the value Garrison was already providing:

 

(Dobber Experts’ League: 16 team roto league: G, A, +/-, SOG, PPP, Hits)

 

FHG RankNameGA+/-ShotsPPPHits
100 Jason Garrison 8 8 18 94 6 36

 

In the Dobber Experts’ League last season, Garrison was the 100th most valuable player. In drafts this season, Garrison was going around 140 on average, so in a lot of cases there was already value in picking Garrison. In the actual Dobber Expert’s League, he was drafted late in the 15th round (239 overall) by none other than the guy who runs the FHG site (Team name: Quebec NorGeeks). Let’s take a look at how Garrison is paying off for him so far this season:

 

FHG RankNameGA+/-ShotsPPPHits
27 Jason Garrison 2 6 0 28 1

 

Garrison is currently the 27th most valuable player in this entire league! In a league filled with experts, writers and previous winners the NorGeeks managed to steal this guy more than 200 spots ahead of his current value and more than 100 spots ahead of his last year’s value!

 

So why is Garrison’s value so high this year – and more importantly can he keep it up?

 

  • • The single biggest underlying factor leading to Garrison’s success is the coaching change. Torts tends to have “his kind” of guys and he plays the hell out of them. It seems that Garrison is one of these guys. Garrison has played more minutes than any Canuck this season and he is 10th in the entire NHL. The Edler suspension helped that slightly, but he is second on the team in minutes per game, playing 23:52 - more than two minutes higher than what he was playing last season. It is prime minutes that are being added too: Garrison’s PP time is up about a minute from 2:17 last season to 3:16 so far this season and more importantly he is on the #1 unit (even when Edler is in the lineup).
  • • It can take players some time to get comfortable with their roles on their new team, and Garrison took some time to find his last year. Even before the coaching change, I had him flagged as a sleeper for the season because he has an absolute bomb from the point and that's an element the Canucks really haven't had. He had eight points in 12 April games last season. In fact if you include last April, Garrison has 16 points and 55 shots in his last 20 games overall.
  • Garrison is shooting. A lot: He currently leads all NHL defensemen with 28 shots, which is an astounding 287 shot pace. Granted, 10 of those shots came in one game but even if you assume that game was an anomaly, he has 18 shots in 7 games which is a still impressive 211 shot pace. Defensemen who can shoot and score are not easy to find and Garrison is performing as one of the best.
  • He is getting points: With eight points in eight games, my advanced math skills tell me that he is close to an 82 point pace. Will that pace keep up? No...but his production won’t likely drop right off either. His shots are going in the net at roughly the same rate they have been for his entire career (7.4% this season compared to 7.7% for his career), so it isn’t like you can argue that his goals have been lucky. Based on his shot totals and the opportunity afforded to him, 16-20 goals are very attainable for Garrison this season. The assist totals do seem high for Garrison though. He has never been an elite playmaker (his career high is 17 assists) so I don’t think that he can maintain his current 61 assist pace. The way he is being utilized though, I don’t think 30 assists is out of the question. In the fantasy guide, Dobber lists Garrison’s upside as 50 points. I would have to agree that about 20G and 30A are probably a good high-end total for him and he may have just found the situation to hit that high-end.
  • He hits: Garrison isn’t hitting like he was back in Florida, but he still manages to play the body enough to help your fantasy team. Since joining the Canucks, he has been hitting at a 62 hit pace which is a little lower than I might like but not terrible for a player who contributes in so many other ways. Looking at his split stats from his last season in Florida, you can see that Garrison was managing 2.3 hits per game at home and 1 hit per game on the road. It seems that somebody was the benefactor of a generous home stat keeper, so I think the days of 100+ hits are behind him, barring a trade back to Florida or one of the other notorious hit inflating buildings (NY, Dallas, etc).
  • Other: If your league includes PIMs then Garrison’s value will take a small hit but he has huge potential in leagues that count SHPs. I own Garrison in my keeper league and have enjoyed 3 SHPs already this season. Torts-coached teams are always aggressive on the puck in all situations, most notably the PK, and they tend to generate short-handed chances. 1 SHP can win you a category for a week in an H2H league, and make a big difference over a season in a roto league, so Garrison’s contribution here can be huge.

 

Given all of the analysis above, I thought it would be prudent to determine what kind of value Garrison could provide by year end so I am going to steal a page from Dobber’s book and lay out three scenarios that might play out with Garrison and the likelihood that I personally attach to each scenario.

 

Scenario 1: Garrison keeps up his elite scoring pace, retains his position on the top PP all season and manages to net 60 points. 10% likely

 

Scenario 2: Garrison continues his strong performance, but not quite to the current levels. He comes in with 50 points and 200 shots. 50% likely

 

Scenario 3: His early season success is all an anomaly and he reverts to his previous year’s production for the rest of the season. 40% likely

 

Now, I’ll take these three scenarios and run a what-if scenario on Fantasy Hockey Geek to see how valuable Garrison would be in each instance. Again, these values are in the Dobber Experts’ League outlined above.

 

FHG RankNameFHG ValuePOSGA+/-ShotsPPPHits
19 Scenario 1 100.5 D 22 38 8 285 20 65
63 Scenario 2 66.6 D 18 32 5 200 15 65
126 Scenario 3 126 D 15 20 0 180 10 65

 

I think we all can agree that Garrison isn’t getting 82 points, but from the above you can see that there is a very good chance that he will continue to provide some great value. If he slips all the way to last year’s production, he will finish the season as the 126th most valuable player in the Dobber Expert’s league and the NorGeek’s still would have banked great value for the 15th round pick. If he slows down to a more reasonable, but still impressive 50 points, Garrison’s value would jump all the way up to 63rd in the league. In the least likely scenario that Garrison continues to pour on the points as he has been, he would suddenly be a top 20 player. In any of those scenarios, I think that most people who drafted Garrison this season are going to be happy. I personally see him coming in somewhere between 40-50 points with upwards of 200 shots and a FHG calculate value between 60-80.

 

My advice on Garrison

 

If you were lucky (or smart) enough to get Garrison in your draft then you are a very happy camper right now. My advice would be to avoid the temptation to sell high and hold on to him because he is going to continue to help your team greatly and it is more likely that rival GMs will be offering based on his last year’s production rather than his 2013-14 production. They will see a player that you drafted very late and think they can get him at a reduced price. I would only consider trading him if I were getting a top 75 player in the league in return.

 

If you are not the current Garrison owner in your league then acquiring him will be tricky because his current owner will have been reaping the rewards of this guy for 8 games already and he has probably already put the order in for his new Garrison jersey. I would acknowledge the early season point surge and try to make the other GM feel-like he is being smart and “selling-high” to you. I love this line: “Hey, Garrison has already got 8 of his 35 points this year, so there are only 27 left for him to get”. Maybe you can move a Duncan Keith type and get Garrison in return plus another player. I am confident that Garrison will have more goals, shots and hits than Keith by year end and there’s a chance that his total points and +/- will be comparable as well. Use the recognition of the Keith name, make the other GM feel smart and you could possibly net yourself the more valuable player in Garrison as well as another piece to help your team.

 

Side note on Duncan Keith: In 210 games since his one “big” season, Keith has played at a 45 point pace with peripheral numbers that are decent at best. He was drafted on average as the 8th overall defenseman in Yahoo! this season ahead of guys like Pietrangelo, Phaneuf, Green, OEL which is ludicrous. Take advantage of this.

 

Jason Garrison is one of the early surprises of 2013-14 that I think will continue to provide great value for his owners in Fantasy Hockey leagues. To find more players like Garrison, or more players who you can offer up when trying to acquire Garrison sign up for Fantasy Hockey Geek today and see how the players’ values compare! The tools at FHG can help you decide when to sell-high, buy-low or stand pat in the early parts of the season so that you can be at the top of the standings at the end of your season.

 

Questions or suggestions: tweet me @T_Camp76

 

Recent Articles from Terry Campkin:


Geek of the Week - Brandon Dubinsky

Geek of the Week - Brent Burns

Geek of the Week - Steve Downie 



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