|Geek of the Week: Chris Kunitz (Revisited)||Tweet|
|Written by Terry Campkin|
|Friday, 15 March 2013 13:11|
An indepth look at Pittsburgh forward Chris Kunitz's fantastic season
It’s always nice when one of your preseason dark horse picks breaks through with an elite season to propel your team to the top while making you look like smart along the way. Today I am going to take a look back at one guy who did just that for me and is currently lighting the league on fire: Chris Kunitz.
A week into the season, I wrote about how I thought Kunitz was an absolute steal for me when I drafted him in the 12th round of the Dobber Pro League and wow has he ever proven me right! When I wrote the article, Kunitz was a bit of a scrub grinder who had some finish and happened to play on a great team. He always provided great peripheral numbers, so I identified him as a great sneaky late round pick for somebody who won’t be winning any scoring titles, but who could provide your fantasy team some great value.
Since I wrote the last article and up to Thursday morning (March 14th), Kunitz has scored amassed 35 points in 24 games. How in the world did I see this coming? Obviously the answer is that I am just a complete genius who knew that Kunitz would take his career PPG of 0.69 and almost double it this year. I wish I could say that that is the case, but unfortunately it isn’t. My original point with Kunitz was that he was good value at his 2011-12 production and I would have been completely thrilled if he had simply repeated last season. Recall how I ran the numbers through Fantasy Hockey Geek and showed his value in this league in 2011-12:
Dobber Pro League (Yahoo! 12-team Roto league: G,A, +/-, PPP, SOG, Hits, GAA, Sv, W)
Last season in the Dobber Pro League, Kunitz was the 28th most valuable guy! Me getting him with the 145th pick was a complete steal already so the extra points he is putting up now are just gravy. I can’t claim for a second that I saw something of this magnitude this coming, but I’ll gladly take the extra production on my team. Take a look at Kunitz’ value in the Dobber Pro League so far this season (as of the morning of Thursday the 14th)
The new scoring-machine version of Kunitz is the 2nd most valuable player in the entire league! The previously 2nd tier workman winger who I drafted in the 12th round has transformed himself into a legitimate fantasy stud. So how in the world has he done it?
Some experts in the preseason actually thought Kunitz’ production would drop this season because of goal scarcity and the fact that Crosby, Malkin, Neal and Letang would all be eating up the points. I referenced in my first Kunitz article how three games into the season he was still playing on PP1 which is something that I always pay attention to. Dobber made a great point in his Advanced Stats article about how opportunity is so critical to a player’s success, and if you identified early that Kunitz was still getting the opportunities it probably paid off.
The Crosby effect
Obviously having Sidney Crosby as your centre is going to help you produce and clearly this is the case for Kunitz. He has averaged .69 points per game over the course of his career. In the last 82 games he has played with Sid, his average has been 0.94.
Looking at last year’s numbers alone you might have expected a good jump from Kunitz: He had 19 points in the 22 games that Sid played in, but managed only 40 points in the 60 games Sid was out.
I tend to look at shooting % a lot when analyzing players and doing so with Kunitz would suggest that his current scoring pace is probably not sustainable. Even at his career shooting % though, he would have 27 points this season and still be a top value player. This is one instance where I wouldn’t let an unsustainable shooting % scare you off. His goal scoring rate likely will drop slightly, but he will continue to provide great fantasy value even if he scores a couple less goals over the back half of the season.
Now that we understand a little bit about how Kunitz has transformed himself into a fantasy hockey dynamo, let’s look at some of the things that we can learn from the curious case of Chris Kunitz that will help us stay ahead of the curve on the next player to “pull a Kunitz”:
1) If a scorer hasn’t ever contributed to hits/PIMs/Blocks etc then they are very unlikely to start. What I mean to say is you don’t ever find scorers who just have “good hitting years”, whereas there sometimes are hitters who have “good scoring years”. Players like Kunitz can have career years, increase their shooting %, get onto a PP with Sid and Gino and suddenly become the highest performing player on your team.
2) A down season for somebody like Kovalchuk is catastrophic for your team. When Kovalchuk isn’t scoring, he isn’t doing anything for your team at all. If you drafted Kovy this season then you likely need him to produce at his top end potential just to get fair value for your pick. As of the time that I write this article, Kovalchuk is the 41st most valuable player in Dobber Pro league. In 2010-11 when Kovalchuk scored 60 points, I can pretty much guarantee you lost your pool if you owned him. At least if you pick somebody like Ovechkin or Weber with a high pick and they have a down year on the scoresheet, they provide value in other categories.
Chris Kunitz is one of the more interesting stories of the shortened 2013 season and there is a lot to that can be learned from somebody like Kunitz. Through FHG or otherwise, if you can identify guys who provide great value at late draft positions then you are already at an advantage to the rest of the league. If that player also happens to have a bit of offensive upside and some great opportunity given to him, then you could be in for the homerun of your draft! Make sure not to miss out on the next Kunitz and sign up for Fantasy Hockey Geek today!
|Last Updated on Monday, 18 March 2013 12:53|