as

 

Gaborik vs. Semin: I am going to let you guys in on a little secret; I loathe Band-Aid Boys. What’s the use in owning a player who could, at any moment, spontaneously combust? Sure, anyone could go out for an extended period in today’s “Noggin Hurts League” but there is still something off-putting about knowing that there is a high probability a player will miss 20+ games. With Band-Aid Boys it is basically a coin flip. Heads you get Jekyll, tails you get Hyde.

 

My strategy to deal with Band-Aid Boys is to look for value. If a Band-Aid Boy falls too far in the draft or is getting sold for cheap then I like to treat them like a longshot bet. I invest on the cheap with say a mid or late pick knowing that if it pays off I have myself a golden ticket. If things go south, no harm done but if things go well then I start looking to hedge. Why? Because the difference between a gambler and an investor is that the investor consistently makes money. He makes the smart play. If there is value in a longshot then bet the longshot but the longshot can still fail. At a certain point it pays to hedge and guarantee a profit. You may not make yourself as much money (or in this case fantasy production) by hedging but you will prevent yourself from losing it all if your longshot eventually loses (or in this case gets hurt). Why get greedy hanging on for the huge payday when you can instead reward yourself with guaranteed (or as close to guaranteed as you can get in fantasy hockey) profit.

 

So how do we hedge in fantasy hockey? You probably know this as selling high. When a player over-performs his projected pace, you want to sell high before the market corrects itself. Similarly with Band-Aid Boys, if one stays healthy for a while you’ll want to sell him high and grab a more durable player or at the very least trade him for another long shot and then some.

 

Let us now look at two different Band-Aid Boys and evaluate how we should handle their situation. We’ve got Marian Gaborik vs. Alex Semin. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both of them are hurt by the time you finish reading this Cage Match.

 

Let us first take a look at which one of these guys is the stronger asset, and more over, which one is the least fragile. Let us look to the patented three-year average chart with the caveat that we know these totals will be drastically low. They are Band-Aid Boys so these averages will include both Jekyll and Hyde. Rather than totals, focus on per-game averages. Here is the tale of the tape:

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Plus/Minus

PPP

PIM

SOG

Gaborik

51.7

25.7

26.7

Plus-8.7

16.3

19

177.3

Semin

66.7

34

38.3

Plus-27.6

25

71.3

232.3

 

It is really hard to argue for Gaborik here. We know that his Jekyll is among the best in the league but it is no better than Semin’s. They are pretty well even in terms of goals per game production.  Assists per game is close as well but favours Semin slightly. Plus/Minus definitely favours Semin. Recent trends may turn that around but more on that later. PPP is pretty even but also favours Semin. PIM goes to Semin by a landslide. SOG is pretty even as both guys have gone for about three and a half shots per game.

 

Where Semin really takes the cake however, is in games played. His Jekyll is every bit as good as Gaborik’s but his Hyde is nowhere near as volatile. Gaborik offers the threat of missing an entire season with absolutely no upside over Semin if he does play the full season.

 

The reality is that Gaborik’s wonky groin is a congenital issue that may never go away. Semin, on the other hand, is just soft. He will miss a game with a hangnail. I know which one I would prefer to have in my locker room but that has little to do with fantasy hockey. Semin’s lack of toughness is a detriment but up against a guy with perpetual injury woes of his own, Semin rules.

 

There is more to this story however. Semin’s numbers took a huge boost from the fact that the Capitals were the highest scoring team in the league over the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. Last season the Capitals offense took a nosedive finishing 19th in scoring. Over that same period Gaborik’s teams finished 22nd, 16th and 16th respectively. This season the Capitals are ninth in scoring at 2.82 goals per game and trending upward. The Rangers are 10th at 2.80 goals per game and holding strong. Essentially, the playing field is even, which is important as we will now take a look at their scoring this season.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Plus/Minus

PPP

PIM

SOG

Gaborik

43

23

12

Plus-10

9

16

140

Semin

39

11

13

Minus-1

5

42

83

 

It is pretty clear that this season Semin spent the first half in Hyde-mode. On this new-look, low-scoring Capitals team Semin shoots less, scores less and pilfers his teammates for fewer contributions to assists, plus/minus and PPP production. The only thing holding strong is his PIM production.

 

This means that the Cage Match is not the landslide it first appeared to be. Semin is thoroughly beaten in goals, and SOG. Assists are even and he is leading PIM but he is losing in both PPP and plus/minus. The latter two categories are far from conclusive though.

 

Semin dominated plus/minus on the three-year average breakdown. His team is trending upward and he should be back into the positives soon. Gaborik may have him beat for this season because of how strong the Rangers are playing but Semin is not a lost cause. Gaborik, however, has not been a minus-player since his rookie season and there is something to be said for that consistency. Give a slight edge to Gaborik in plus/minus for the time being.

 

PPP deserves an even closer look. Currently, the Capitals power play is seventh in the league at 19.2% but is trending upward. The Rangers power play, on the other hand, is one of the worst in the league at 14.3% and showing few signs of improvement. Semin is only seeing 2:19 per game on the power play, compared to the 3:25 Gaborik sees per game but on a more prolific power play Semin has a good chance at evening PPP up. Call this category a wash.

 

What’s even more astounding is the fact that if you look closer Gaborik is not exactly “Jekyll-ing” it up, despite his favourable health. In fact, things may actually be tumbling downward. It is true that Gaborik sits tied for fifth in the league in goal scoring at 23, and is scoring more than a goal every two games but the reality is he is still underperforming. The ultimate sell high moment for Gaborik was likely Boxing Day when he scored his seventh goal of a five game goal-scoring streak. Since that game, Gaborik has scored just one goal and two points in nine games.

 

It is not hard to see why either. Thanks to Frozenpool, we can see who Gaborik has been lining up with most frequently this season.

 

j

 

Gaborik has spent most of the season on the “GAS” line with Stepan and Anisimov but this is far from ideal. Ideally Gaborik could find chemistry with Brad Richards. We know that rag tag lines can develop good chemistry and work well for a while but ultimately that stuff fizzles. Gaborik needs linemates that can also bury the puck if he is going to produce optimally. These guys are fine for getting Gaborik his goals but they give him little assistance (pun intended).

 

On the power play the linemate quality is much better for Gaborik but they simply cannot figure out how to score with the man advantage. As mentioned earlier the Rangers, despite their individual talents, have one of the worst power plays in the league.

 

Semin is trending upward. He has been on fire, scoring six goals and thirteen points in his last dozen games. With an improved power play under new head coach Dale Hunter, Semin is back to maximizing his situation. As Frozenpool will show us, Semin gets to skate alongside some of the finest linemates anyone could ask for.

 

j

 

Ideally, Semin would line up alongside Backstrom a lot more frequently but his lack of shifts with the top centerman owes in part to the fact that Backstrom is currently out with the dreaded “UBI” that we all know is really a concussion. Backstrom’s absence puts a slight damper on Semin’s upward trend however he has continued to produce regardless.

 

This season’s mid-way stats are not enough to sway me against my original ruling that Semin is the much finer choice as a fantasy asset. Age is not much of an issue – Semin is 27 and Gaborik is 29 – but contract status might be. Gaborik is locked in with the Rangers long term so we know where his future lies. The Rangers are an average offensive team but they do have a fairly loaded prospect system. Gaborik has produced in defensive systems before so it is hard to knock him too much for his situation. Semin, on the other hand, is an upcoming UFA and it has been long speculated that he could be moved or even jump back to the KHL. I do not like to speculate too much about moves that are beyond your control but just keep a possible change of scenery in the back of your mind. Since the Capitals have essentially stunk for the past year and a half use Semin’s numbers over that same period as an example of how things could look if he is moved to a less favourable situation.

 

So I am still backing Semin as a locked in winner in this Cage Match. Unless you play in a league where production carries over in trades I would be looking at swapping Gaborik for Semin this instant. Whether it is a keeper league or a one-year Semin is on the rise and has proven himself a more reliable asset than Gaborik. Swapping the two is one way to buy low, sell high and hedge your Gaborik bet. Of course, exchanging one longshot bet in for a relatively-shorter-shot-but-still-a- longshot bet is not the ideal way to hedge. Go after Semin if you must but see if you can use Gaborik’s status as a top five goal scorer and Semin’s slow start to get something added to the punch. If you disagree, I am going to pull a tantrum.

 


Write comment
Comments (6)add comment

steve laidlaw said:

metaldude26
... As for the KHL concerns – obviously they exist but there is nothing tangible that any of us can look to as a means of determining if he will or won’t go. I mean, if you really wanted to get into this we could try and breakdown the odds of him staying and then calculate that back to the injury risk associated with either Gaborik or Semin to figure out who is giving you a better projection in the future but that's far too speculative for me to try.

Just rambling off the top of my head I would say that Semin has not reached Frolov levels of suckitude so it seems very likely that someone will step up and pay him, even on a one-year deal. He has proven himself willing to accept a one-year deal if that is what it takes to get paid, which teams would be more likely to offer him. He has yet to truly test the free agent waters so he has not had the chance to burn teams with any outrageous demands. He is a former 40-goal scorer who at 27 offers a lot of upside so you know there will be offers. I highly doubt that he hasn’t at least had a conversation with Radulov about what he felt like leaving the NHL behind, which if you buy the rumours, would not be positive conversations.

The biggest obstacle I see in Semin finding an NHL home is a lack of suitors. Right now I see Washington, LA and Colorado as the three legitimate destinations for him but would Minnesota or Phoenix throw a fat sack of cash at him? Would St. Louis? Would Detroit? Would Edmonton?

There are a lot of unanswered questions out there so this is all way too speculative. The only established star we’ve seen run back to Russia thus far is Radulov and he wasn’t even really established AND he left Nashville.

If I had to bet on it, I would bet on Semin going over to Russia for one-year ripping it up but hating it and then coming back to the NHL and going to the highest bidder. But If I was betting on it I would also bet that Gaborik misses at least one full year over the next three years so either way you are splitting the difference.

My point, as it is, was and always will be is that I don’t want to own either of Gaborik or Semin. Remember, I loathe Band-Aid Boys. If I have to own one them I’m playing for the guy I think will stay the healthiest so I can sell him high. Right now Semin is trending upward and Gaborik is trending downward but the current perception remains the opposite. My advice was to sell Gaborik for Semin only if you had to and ideally for Semin+ because that’s the way the market is even though Semin is the stronger bet in the second half because he has shown himself to be a safer bet for games played.

So in a one-year or in a keeper I am trading Gaborik for Semin but only because Semin is a safer longshot ticket. I am not just resting on Semin like that is my last move. What did I say I like to do with longshots? I said I like to hedge. So upon getting Semin for Gaborik I am going to wait for perception to come around regarding Semin and then trade him too because frankly I don’t want either one of them. I just want Semin more because I see actual potential for improvement and a better track record with regard to injury.
January 19, 2012
Votes: +0

steve laidlaw said:

metaldude26
... Alright, so just to be clear, you are arguing from the standpoint of a league without PIM when the article is about standard leagues with PIM. That’s hardly fair. I’m not saying you can’t voice your opinion but maybe you need to make that caveat from the get-go.

I think you are wrong about the Gaborik-Richards combo but moreover I think you are putting too much stock into it. What is Richards possibly going to add to what we already know Gaborik is capable of? Is Richards turning Gaborik into a 90+ point guy?

The best linemate Gaborik ever had was Pavol Demitra. He just needs guys who can work off the puck and let him use his speed and shot to get things going. The argument for Gaborik getting his production back to that point-per-game level is not that he and Richards are going to figure it out on a line it’s that the Rangers will figure out their power play AND that Gaborik finds some linemates who can bang in some pucks.

That means Stepan, Anisimov and whoever else they might throw on that line need to make the leap from intriguing youngster to consistently productive player. I don’t know when that happens though.

Richards on the other hand has been ever more crippled by the Rangers pitiful power play. He relies on that power play to drive his point production. Until I see them figure things out on the power play, I am not buying into the Gaborik-Richards union. Richards has always had a solid playmaking winger (Eriksson, St. Louis, Prospal) on his line – someone who he can work off of but isn’t afraid to take the backseat. I think we got the whole Eriksson-Richards thing wrong. Eriksson doesn’t miss Richards because he’s like a chameleon – he can play with anyone. Richards misses Eriksson’s steady play. He’s not going to consistently work well with Gaborik because as you said both of those guys love the puck on their stick.

Yeah, they are the top two players on the team so they’ll always get those power play minutes together and the coach will always try them out together when they get desperate but I don’t see that clicking full time. The Rangers are better off having two lines that are a threat than one super-line anyhow.

Ultimately, the problem for Gaborik has never been the points – at least not until recently. The problem for Gaborik has always been the injuries. He’s too combustible. It seems like you have been once burned and twice shy with Semin but damn it if Gaborik hasn’t been burning people his entire career.

As for Semin, you can knock him for his attitude. That’s easy but you can hardly criticize his early season production. Between being injured and playing for a coach the whole team had clearly given up on is not a shot at Semin. Even the most stand-up players have quit on coaches. It just happens. That’s why I am putting stock in Semin’s current run.

January 19, 2012
Votes: +0

duducks said:

duducks
... Its true Semins production is better with Hunter behind the bench, but he is such a streaky guy it could very well be coincidence. Semin had a few benchings before, and a guy as skilled as Semin, with the attitude/not trying documented, could give up on his coach. If its not a streaky coincidence, and it is a coaching change, then yes, Semin could play at a 90 point pace.

I've made that sort of call on Semin in the past, and it hasn't worked out. In leagues like mine (keepers, no PIM cat), I have minimal interest in Semin. I don't see Semin taking a pay cut with a smile, and he's not worth 6.7m. His best chance of a raise is in Russia. I would expect the Lazy Skilled type would be more likely to go to a lesser league for $$ than a Competitive player. I don't like any of the odds on Semin. I wouldnt bet for a better remainder of the season, nor him re-signing with the caps, and the largest risk of a NHL star moving to Russia in awhile.

Rangers are on top, and have no reason to try Gabby/Richards again now. Brad Richards has been fairly disappointing (I traded for him last year, thinking he'd be 90 points with Gabby in NY, or an overvalued trade piece if he signed TOR). If Richards was on his (fantasy) game this year, Gabby would still be on his line, and his numbers would be even better. Im sure they'll be given the chance again next year, and it would only take a few game losing streak to try them together again.

Next year: I'm exicited for the prospect of Brad Richards and Gabby finding their chemistry and racking up points. The knock on them is they both like the puck on their stick. They're extremely talented, and unlike Semin, competitive, so I'm sure they'll find a way. Semin on the other hand, is likely to be in a worse situation next year (not on a top 10 scoring team), possibly even in another league.

This year: Ya, they're damn close. Flip a coin.
January 19, 2012
Votes: +0

GretzkysMullet said:

GretzkysMullet
... Dude, that rebutal rules. My favorite part: "That's MILES of separation? We could high five over the miles separating Semin and Gaborik." Pure gold.

This one is gonna be a tough sell for most people, if only because of the what have you done for me lately kinda mindset. Semin was absolutely brutal to start the year. That said, the numbers back you up, and I for one really hope you're right. I'd love a solid second half from the guy, and I already traded Gaborik, so that point is moot.
January 19, 2012
Votes: +0

steve laidlaw said:

metaldude26
... Agree to disagree? You mean I don't even get a shot at a rebutal?

I'm gonna go for it anyway.

I feel like I properly addressed the fact that the Caps scoring is down in the article, particularly if you followed the link I provided for further research on the matter. Yes the Caps scoring is down but they are suffering from depth issues and a coach they had quit on. So yes, new team, new coach but look, they are still a top 10 scoring team and rising. Will they be where they were two years ago when they scored almost four goals a game? Probably not but they can get it back up. What's more, Semin is scoring. He's turning it on.

From the outset I said that Band-Aid Boys are like longshots. If you punched a Semin ticket at the start of the year it isn't paying off so far but that's what happens. Flip a coin, Jekyll or Hyde. He struggled with injury early in the year but he's healthy and producing now.

If your major quibble is that the Caps numbers from the 2008-09 and 2009-10 season don't count, even when I've provided a reasonable argument to not write them off entirely then let's see what happens when we throw them out the window. Forget about them. Never happened.

Well since that time here is the breakdown of Semin and Gaborik's numbers:

Over the last year and a half Gaborik has played 106 games and scored 45 goals, 39 assists, gone plus-19, with 25 PPP and 335 SOG. Semin, over that same time frame, has played 105 games, scored 39 goals, 39 assists, gone plus-21, with 23 PPP and 280 SOG.

Six goals and 55 SOG are all that has separated them over that time frame. That would be enough to give Gaborik a marginal edge except that Semin has PIM on Gaborik in such a way I don’t even need to look up the numbers. So Gaborik has six goals on Semin over 100+ games. That's MILES of separation? We could high five over the miles separating Semin and Gaborik.

This perception that Gaborik is somehow having a fantastic season is EXACTLY why I am arguing you should sell him. He is no better than Semin. Not one iota. BOTH Semin and Gaborik have struggled but the biggest point I make in the article and the reason I use the three-year average breakdown is to prove that Semin is more likely to give you more games. That's why he's a safer pick.

The fact that the Capitals and their stars have slumped over the past year and a half has caused a tremendous amount of overcompensation to be sent their way. Everyone perceives them as garbage now. That's what makes these players the perfect buy low candidates.

January 18, 2012
Votes: +1

duducks said:

duducks
... Agree to disagree.

Semin has as much talent as Gabby, but none of the drive. Comparing them, I would completely disregard all of his numbers from 08-10. Thatd be like looking at Mike Greens 3 year averages and expecting 70 points from him next year. If you can sell any Cap to someone based on their 3 averages, enjoy the plentiful returns.

That said, I do like your 3 year averages in most cases. Its just the Caps, and thus their players, are a shade of what they were, fantasy-wise. New philosphy, new projected stats.

Semin is no better a LWer than Pacioretty, and Gabby is miles above him.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +0
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy