Welcome to a new weekly feature here in the fantasy hockey hovel at The Hockey Writers. Each week this column will take a look at the three players whose ownership levels have risen the most and three whose ownership has fallen the most.1
The idea here is that looking at guys whose ownership is moving in a hurry can give you an idea of moves you can make with your team and helps to identify trends that may give you an edge in your league. Is a player being over-hyped? Is a top player getting dropped and worth grabbing to wait for the production to return?
1. Martin Hanzal (+80.9%) & 2. Anthony Duclair (+69%)
I’m putting the top two together, since they’re both with Arizona and I feel about the same on both of these guys. I feel like *shrugs shoulders*.
With how well they’ve played, we were all probably a little low on them to start the season. On the other hand, I have next to no confidence that Arizona’s hot start continues. But predictions of the tire fire that was supposed to be this team may have underestimated how big of an impact their young players would have. So, maybe they’re better than we thought, but I wouldn’t bet a half bottle of Windex from under the sink on them making the playoffs.
So, yeah, go ahead, pick these guys up. They’re both averaging over a point per game. It’s hard to argue with their hot start. If they’re out there in your league, grab them, hang onto them, love them.
With Martin Hanzal, my concern is that he’s no Joe Thornton. He has no goals and eight assists in six games. This pace can’t continue. He’s averaging two shots per game and won’t stay a 0% shooting percentage, so goals are going to come, but there’s a lot here that looks like it’s not going to keep up for long at this torrid pace.
With Anthony Duclair, I’m buying it to a certain extent. He’s ready for the NHL and he’s a top six guy. Do I think he’s hanging with Jamie Benn for the scoring lead at the end of the season based on his current pace? Not at all. While the talent is real, if Arizona falters — and I bet they do — it will affect his production. The other concern is fantasy format based. If your league measures time on ice, Duclair is just hovering between 13 and 14 minutes. Next to nothing for a guy producing this much. He also has a 55.6% shooting percentage. I don’t know how familiar you are with hockey, but that’s not going to last.
3. Jay Bouwmeester (+57.7%)
If you want what Jay Bouwmeester is giving you right now, why didn’t you draft him in the first place?
Through seven games he has two assists, a plus-1 rating, 11 shots, five hits, two penalty minutes and an average TOI of 23:54. That’s about exactly what you should have expected from him. I suspect that some of his rise has more to do with injuries to Duncan Keith, Kevin Shattenkirk, Paul Martin and others than it has to do with what Bouwmeester has done so far, which isn’t all that remarkable or out of line with expectations.
Other Notable Riser: Nikolaj Ehlers (+26%)
Nikolaj Ehlers is a little down the list of risers, but his 26% jump is significant, particularly for deeper leagues. He’s playing well, but he’s not posting Duclair or Max Domi’s numbers.
In six games he has a goal and three assists with a plus-5 rating, four penalty minutes, 20 shots, four hits and an average ice time of 15:04. I’m highlighting him because I think all of this is real. It’s not super flashy, but I think this is what you’re getting from Ehlers if you pick him up. A little production across categories, solid point production even if it’s not elite, along with a lot of shots. In fact, we may get more goals from him than we’re seeing right now. His 20 shots ranks 23rd in the league among forwards. For a guy who scored 37 goals and 63 assists through 51 games as an 18-year-old in juniors, he’s probably not going to continue shooting at 5% for the year. (He scored 49 goals in 63 games during his 17-year-old junior season.)
1. Colin Wilson (-29.9%)
I like Wilson. He’s the kind of hard-working player I enjoy watching. However, I think he was being drafted way too high. He broke out last — at age 25 — for 20 goals and 22 assists. There may have been a perception that this kind of production would be easily repeatable for Wilson. The goal total was the highest of his career and the first time he punctured 20. He’s a solid secondary scoring player, but I think to expect him to continue to improve his point production at 26, when he hasn’t been a solid scorer previously, might be folly.
Where there’s room for his numbers to grow right now is in his shooting percentage. With most players who hit a career high in goals on an 11.6% shooting percentage, you might expect regression. However, Wilson has consistently had a high shooting percentage throughout his career. Through 374 career games, he’s shooting 13%. Will he blow last year’s numbers away? I doubt it. Is he the 0% shooter we’ve got so far? No. If you’re in a deeper league and picked Wilson at a reasonable time, it’s worth being patient here.
2. Teuvo Teravainen (-29.1%)
Speaking of players that were probably overrated going into the draft… Teuvo Teravainen still has nice upside and looked good in the playoffs, but his presence in the postseason seems to have made drafters forget that he only played 34 NHL games last year, over which he scored just four goals and five assists.
Through six games this season he has two goals and an assist. That’s almost twice the points per game pace of last season. That improvement coupled with this very large drop in ownership shows the misperception of what he was going to bring to the table this season.
3. Mike Ribeiro (-28.9%)
Mike Ribeiro had a good rebound in his first season with Nashville, putting up 62 points in 82 games. That’s a nice improvement over his struggles of the season before, where he put up 47 points in 80 games for the Coyotes.
Now, he has three points in six games and has seen his ice time drop.
He’s 35. He’s probably going to take a step back. But the truth is that he’ll get past this slump where he has no goals and a half point per game pace. Compared to what is out there on waivers in most leagues I might stick with Ribeiro simply based on the long view that he’ll rebound and has been fairly consistent over his career. And yes, I think that despite the fact that he’s only taken four shots in six games.
You could pick up a Duclair or Ehlers, which may pay off in the near term, but there’s something to be said for a reliable player with a low ceiling and high floor, even if their upside is lower than some guys available on waivers. But if you want to grab a hot player off waivers instead of Ribeiro, I have no problem with that. Ultimately, I don’t believe he hits 62 points this season, but I don’t think he drops to 30 either.
Other Notable Faller: Logan Couture (-21.4%)
Logan Couture broke his leg in practice last week and is going to be out for four to six weeks. That’s the cause of the 21.4% drop in ownership. But Couture represents an annual dilemma. When a top-tier player goes down long-term with an injury, very often, particularly in leagues with no IR, a team can’t afford to keep him on the bench for a couple of months no matter the player’s talent level.
If you happen to be at the top of your league and are have a guy like Ribeiro or Wilson and you’re able to spare a roster spot, it could be a shrewd move to drop him into your lineup and hold him. If you’ll survive being down a player, you stand to gain a big producer for the three-quarters of the season when Couture gets healthy. You’ll be cashing in on someone else’s apprehension.
If you’ve got questions you want addressed in a future column, drop a question in the comments section below.
1 If you care about this kind of thing, I’m using data from ESPN’s Fantasy Hockey hub.
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.