|Wheeling and Dealing: Western Conference Part Two||Tweet|
|Written by Ryan Ma|
|Tuesday, 17 July 2012 09:25|
Following along Tim’s piece from the East, here is the second set of teams from the West.
Smyth started 2011-12 like a bull out of the gates posting 26 points, 35 PIM and 69 SOG in the first 26 contests of the season all while averaging 20:02 and 2:51 on the PP, but followed that up just 20 points, 47 PIM and 125 SOG in the final 56 contests, while seeing his ice-time drop to 18:38 and 2:18 and most importantly giving way to the “young” kids in the second half. Expect slightly more of the second half totals (30ish point pace and 175ish SOG) for Smyth than what he posted in the first half but not much more. With Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemskey, newly drafted Nail Yakupov, Smyth and probably the re-signing of RFA Sam Gagner occupying the top-eight, the Oilers are very strong offensively up front and could potentially shape into an “offense by committee” team, which unfortunately doesn’t tend to produce high-end fantasy producers.
After Sidney Crosby (10:59 per point), Evgeni Malkin (14:27) and Claude Giroux (17:50), Eberle (18:03) was the fourth most efficient point producer in terms of ice-time in the league. It’s not that I doubt his scoring ability, but I wouldn’t put him in the Crosby/Malkin/Giroux category just yet, expect a dip in production heading into this campaign.
The Oilers won a huge PR battle in winning the Schultz sweepstakes. He essentially walks straight into a top-two spot and could possibly become the top-dog if band-aid boy Ryan Whitney is sidelined once again. He reminds me of a Dan Boyle-type (minus the Florida and AHL years). If you look back to 08-09, most young blue-liners tend to put up “decent” fantasy numbers in their rookie years as long as they’re given the right ice-time.
If Schultz can get into that 22-23 minute range with three minutes of PP time, look for something around the 35-40 point mark along with 120 SOG. He’ll be given the opportunity in Edmonton, now it’s just a matter of him taking advantage of it.
One goalie that I’m really high on heading into this season is Nikolai Khabibulin.
Khabibulin contract years: 85-50-21 (54.5% win rate), .918 SP and 2.25 GAA.
Heading into what possibly may be the final contract of his NHL career, he’ll certainly have plenty to play for this campaign.
After winning the Stanley Cup, it’s not surprising to see very few major changes being made in Hollywood. The Penner re-signing is a bit redundant, as he was essentially useless during the regular season (17 points, minus seven rating, 43 PIM and 119 SOG while averaging 14:19 and 1:33 on the PP), but did manage to redeem himself with a half-decent playoff run (11 points, plus four rating, 32 PIM, 37 SOG while averaging 13:13 and 1:01). A one-year (thank you for your services) deal is a low-risk high reward deal for the Kings. I wouldn’t expect anything more than what he produced last year heading into this campaign. The Stoll re-signing was very under-rated as he ranked 11th overall amongst all players who have taken over 1000 draws in terms of faceoff winning efficiency (55 percent). His 53.1 percent SH faceoff winning efficiency is also amongst the league’s best.
If you look at the percentage of team scoring after the trade deadline and during the playoffs, the Kings are shaping up to be fairly close to an “offense by committee” team. Add the fact that Gagne should provide a bit more competition to the top-six as well which will result in the scoring to be fairly evenly distributed amongst the top-seven or eight scorers, so keep your expectations in check for Richards, Carter and Williams this campaign.
The latest news coming out of the Jon Bernier camp is that he has requested a trade (since the trade deadline) from the Kings organization. The goalie market is flooded at the moment, so LA probably won’t get a king’s ransom in return. Looking at their depth charts and prospects, there’s not a lot of holes that they need to fill, perhaps another puck-moving, blue-liner and a replacement for Bernier? Wouldn’t John Moore or David Savard, Boone Jenner plus Steve Mason for Bernier and Tyler Toffoli make sense? With Ryan Murray drafted (and probably NHL ready), Moore and Savard become excess pieces. Jenner is probably still a few years away while Toffoli is further down the depth charts. Mason can play back up for the Kings and offer little resistance to Jon Quick’s number one status. Bernier gets his shot alongside Sergei Bobrovsky for the number one gig. The Kings and Jackets have had the history of dealing with each other (Jack Johnson for Jeff Carter trade), so it makes sense to me.
Minnesota Wild – Signed Ryan Suter and Zach Parise (13-year deals), Torrey Mitchell (three year deal), Brian Connelly, Jake Dowell, Zenon Konopka (two year deals). Re-signed Josh Harding (three-year deal), Matt Kassian (two-year deal), Stephane Villeux (one year deal). Lost Nick Johnson (Phoenix), Guillaume Latendresse/Mike Lundin (Ottawa).
The Wild are the biggest splashers of the NHL this off-season. They managed to land two of the biggest fish in Suter and Parise. The newly formed “big line” of Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley could be one of the league’s most productive by season’s end. Youngster Mikael Granlund, Devin Setoguchi and P.M. Bouchard could form a very solid supporting second line with Matt Cullen, Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak rounding out the top-nine. The biggest gainer from the signings is probably Heatley. Since leaving Ottawa, his shooting percentage has plummeted from 15.1 percent to 13.9 percent then to 12 percent and to a miserable career-low of 10.1 percent last campaign. With Parise on the opposite wing, look for his efficiency to get creep back towards his career average of 14.8 percent. He averages around 260 SOG per 82 games played and given his shooting accuracy, a 35-goal 2012-13 campaign won’t be beyond him.
On the defensive front, the biggest gainer from the Suter signing will probably be Tom Gilbert. He’s very similar to Ian White in a way that he produces optimal numbers when he plays a “support” type of role, but when he’s thrust into a focal point role, his production is really hampered. With Suter there, Gilbert now can play a full-time support role, which thrusts him back into his “comfort” zone. Now the thing is whether or not Mike Yeo will employ a three forward two defenseman PP setup, or a four forward one defenseman setup. Look for him to get back into the 30+ point range possibly 40+ if he gets a secured role on the top PP unit. Another aspect to keep an eye on is that Gilbert was also on pace for 140 blocked shots last campaign, which would have sat him just outside of the top-30 in the league. He’s a great sleeper pick to file to the back of your mind.
Nicklas Backstrom is also another candidate who should benefit from the signings of Suter and Parise. Take a look at his win/loss splits from last campaign.
The Wild were a very good team in tight (one or two goal) games as they posted a 31-19-11 record (50.8 percent winning record), but when it came to blowouts the Wild were 4-17 in three-goal games. With the additions of Suter and Parise, there probably will be a lot more tight close knit games (resulting in wins) than blowouts, which should drop Backstrom’s loss stats down a bit this campaign.
Nashville Predators – Signed Mike Moore/Chris Mason (one year deals). Re-signed Paul Gaustad (four year deal), Hall Gill (two year deal) and Brandon Yip/Brian McGrattan (one year deal) while losing Suter (Minnesota), Anders Lindback/Kyle Wilson (Tampa Bay), Tyler Sloan (Dallas), Jack Hillen (Washington), Jordin Tootoo (Detroit), Francis Bouillon (Montreal) and Alex Radulov (KHL). Acquired Sebastian Caron.
The biggest impact on the fantasy front of course is the loss of Suter to Minnesota. I wrote a bit about that on the forums back in January here and here. They rolled the dice with Suter and lost. Now the interesting thing for management is what to do with Shea Weber. If I were Dave Poille, I’d be right on the phone and having discussions with him right this moment. If there is even any inkling about him not wanting to re-sign, I’d be looking to move him before copping another Suter-like situation and watching a star walk for nothing in return.
With that said the loss of Suter isn’t the be all and end all. The Preds have always found solutions to the problem.
2005-06: Timonen, Zidlicky, Hamhuis, Suter, Weber
They already have a player in the system to replace Suter and I wrote about him in a column back in January.
If you break down the stats between Suter and Josi, they aren’t all that dissimilar.
So, if you compare the above charts, there’s not a huge loss in stats between Suter and Josi, especially on the peripheral front. I don’t know if Josi is ready to fill the shoes of playing 26:30 and close to four minutes of PP TOI per game, but he should see an increase to 22-23 minutes and a decent amount of PP time. He’s definitely someone to keep an eye out for on draft day.
On the forward front, keep an eye out for Mike Fisher. He didn’t post an overall mind-boggling stat line, but 51 points, a plus 11 rating, 116 hits, 76 BS along with 157 SOG is certainly noteworthy. His 76 blocked shots tied him for eighth spot amongst all forwards in that department and would certainly help complement your defenders on that front. His 588 faceoff wins also ranked him in the top-40in the league in that department.
There’s been a lot of panic about the status of Pekka Rinne heading into this fantasy campaign. One thing you have to consider is that Barry Trotz’ defensive scheme is not based on the play of any single player rather it’s based on the team concept and everyone playing their part. Since the lockout, through all of the changes in Nashville, they have ranked eighth, third, 14th, 13th, 15th, eighth and eighth in terms of goals allowed per game, so the loss of Suter isn’t going to hurt Rinne’s fantasy value at all. They have plans in place to “support the system”. If you are a Rinne owner, or plan on drafting Rinne in one-year leagues, don’t worry too much about the loss of Suter.
I couldn’t fit all of the Western teams into this week’s column, so check in next week as we go through the remaining four teams.
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|Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 17:00|