Players To Avoid For Your League

So a few weeks ago, we released our sleepers, Grit N’ Grind list for our fantasy hockey preview series. The second instalment is naturally who you should avoid if you want to win your league.

Editor’s note: This post is sponsored by our friends over at Honest Hockey.

William Karlsson
Im going to be the first one to tell you that I didn’t expect the Vegas Golden Knights to do so well last year (granted, no one did). There’s one name in particular that no one expected to do as well as they did, and that’s William Karlsson. Last season, Karlsson scored 43 goals, 35 assists, and was the Lady Byng Memorial trophy winner. Remember, this is the same guy that was traded by the Columbus Blue Jackets along with a 1st, 2nd, and David Clarkson’s contract just to ensure he would get picked.

There can be an argument that last season he should have done better than his last year in Columbus because of his better analytics numbers, and a consistent improvement year after year, but no one would have expected more than tripling his point total in one more game. Our biggest red flag was his shooting percentage last year. It was a staggering 23.4%! That jump is unheard of, and there’s really no explanation for it. His career shooting percentage is 14.6%, but if you remove last year from the total, it’s 8.3%. Now I’m not saying that you avoid Karlsson like the plague, but ESPN ranks him at 47, Yahoo at 59. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if he gets 25-30 goals next season, but the way fans are hyping him up, you would think he would be challenging McDavid next year.

Better options: Mark Scheifele (ESPN Ranking 58), Mikko Rantanen (Yahoo Ranking 74)

Jonathan Toews
Every year, someone in your league will draft Jonathan Toews way too early and become disappointed. He’s a great leader for a team, don’t get me wrong, but his hockey production does not justify his high rankings (ESPN Ranking 100, Yahoo Ranking 94). In terms of analytics, he still remains an analytical darling, with high CF%, and FF%, but a lot of that is due to his strong defensive play. He has been in the running for a Selke trophy every year since 2008-2009 but most leagues don’t reward strong defensive play, only offensive play. His Points per game numbers have been dropping steadily since this 2012-2013 peak of 1.02 points per game, and his point share has dropped from 9.4% in 2014-2015 to just 5.0% last year. There is nothing to suggest that the number will improve next year. Just like Karlsson, he’s a good pick in the middle to later rounds, but his name recognition often gets him drafted too early.

Better options: Jeff Carter (ESPN Ranking 104), Dylan Larkin (Yahoo Ranking 107)

Mikko Koivu
Koivu just like Toews is a great leader, and a great two way player, but fantasy leagues don’t reward defensive production that well. At best, it will reward defensive players with +/-. Koivu is a great defensive player with him being ranked 5th in Selke voting last year, but was only a +9 for the season. If his 2016-2017 season is not taken into account, he has never been higher than a +13. In terms of offensive production, he is not an elite producer, and his age suggests his production will continue to decrease. He has taken on a defensive role in the last two years, with his starts in the defensive zone rising to 57.5% last year and 63.8% a year before. His CF% is 49.6% and his PDO last year was 101.3. Some fans may argue that his 2016-2017 season is proof that he isn’t regressing and his stats last year were a fluke. He had 58 points was third in Selke voting, and had 63.8% of his starts in the defensive zone. I would argue that his 2016-2017 season was the fluke and not last year. His individual PDO was 104.2, which would suggest that it was a combination of good goaltending, and offensive teammates that were shooting their lights out. I expect that his production this year will be around 12 goals, 25 assists and 37 points. There should be better options out there at his rankings (ESPN Ranking 148, Yahoo Ranking 203).

Better Options: Ryan O’Reilly (ESPN Ranking 150), Nick Schmaltz (Yahoo Ranking 206).

What do you think? Do you agree with our busts or did we hit it spot on? Are there better replacements than we have suggested? Let us know! Do you think you can beat our busts on the ice? Make sure you have the right stick on the ice! Check out our friends over at Honest Hockey for the honest reviews on sticks here: https://honesthockey.com/gear-reviews/sticks/best-senior/!

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Fantasy Grit and Grind

It’s almost fantasy season, and fantasy players are going to be scouring the internet for sleeper picks and late round gems. After fifteen rounds in a fourteen team league, most users are going to be grasping at straws. Final picks are either going to be boom or bust picks, or low ceiling players. All of the major sites will have these boom or bust guys but not low ceiling players. Low ceiling players can be safe picks that can provide stability and opportunities for your team to get that extra little push. With this post, we’re looking for overlooked players that can provide the “Grit ‘n Grind” for your championship team. Without further to do, here’s our list!

Alex Petrovic
We begin with one of my favourite defenseman. I’m a little old school, I still believe in having the rough and tumble defensive defensman. Petrovic fits in the role. His career high is 17 points, and he’s not as durable as other players on the list, but he fits in well with the list. He gets hits, blocks and PIMs (wholly underrated in fantasy drafts), He has been sheltered quite a bit last year, with 60% of his starts being in the offensive zone. The high offensive starts correlate with the improvement in relative Corsi percentage. I don’t expect his offensive zone starts to continue being that high, but that may be beneficial for his hits and blocks.

He’s still rather young at 26 years old, and is just starting to hit his prime. His offensive ceiling is rather low, and could have peaked already. However, if his offensive ceiling was higher, then he wouldn’t be on this list would he?

Milan Lucic
I can already hear the boos from here. NHL.com has him ranked 247 in their Top 250 fantasy rankings.Give me one second, though and hear me out. He is relatively durable, and has played an average of 74 games a season since 2007. The 74 game average takes into account the 48 game 2012-2013 lockout shortened season. Once that season is removed from the equation, his career average rounds up to almost 77 games a season. There’s no reason to believe he can’t be near those averages again. Statistically, he hasn’t been as terrible as many people believe. He dropped off a cliff to 34 points last season, but I believe its more of a one year drop more than a long term worry. It is natural to expect some sort of regression to begin by his age 30 season, especially with the way he plays, but I don’t believe he will regress further this year. Last year, his shooting percentage dropped to 6.8%. It seems that every four years, his shooting percentage takes a drop to under 10%. I’m not saying that he phones it in every fourth year on schedule, but he has experienced a drop in shooting percentage before and has recovered from it. I do expect his shooting percentage to increase. His dip in production this year could also be partly blamed to luck. His PDO had been one of the lowest in his career at 98.4. There’s not much Lucic can do but wait it out. He is still a tank on the physical front, with above average years in hits and blocks, and is still able to generate quite a few penalty minutes. I do not expect his physicality to change, but I do expect his points total to increase this year. A lot of the criticism of Lucic has to do with his bloated and inflated contract at $6M per year, but this is fantasy hockey we’re talking about. His contract doesn’t matter here. He’s a solid pick.

Radko Gudas
I’m not going to lie, I originally had Jake Dotchin but after his weird termination, I can’t in my right mind add him to the list now. Radko Gudas is still part of the Grit ‘n Grind list. Gudas doesn’t need to be introduced. He’s infamous for his hard hitting defense, and the “Grit ‘n Grind” that makes you special part of this list. 123 hits, 170 blocks, 83 penalty minutes, screams Grit ‘n Grind. He’s not much of a offensive force, with his career high in points being 23. In 2017-2018, his goal total is a meager 2 goals. However, at the same time, his shooting percentage was 1.4%. If you take away his 2017 season, his career shooting percentage is a much more respectable 3.8%. Critics would argue his offensive abilities are so bad that if he scored even one more goal, his shooting percentage rises to 2.1% for 2017-2018. However you look even deeper, his advanced stats are still relatively solid; 51.8% Corsi For, 52.9% Fenwick For, 98.0 PDO. All positive numbers. Gudas is relatively protected for his game. Last year, he had 53.2% starts in the defensive zone. Let’s address the elephant in the room. He’s not the cleanest player. He’s been suspended quite a few times, and he likes to walk the line. There’s nothing fantasy owners can do, but he’s a strong depth piece for the last few spots.

Are there anyone we missed? Let us know below!

Where Do The Wild Go From Here?

Sometimes you make the gamble and it pays off, sometimes you end up like the Wild. The Wild took a gamble, signed Eric Staal to a three year deal in the off-season, They took another gamble and traded a 1st Round pick (amongst others) to the Arizona Coyotes for Martin Hanzal. As much flack as he received he scored 13 points in 20 games played. Comparatively speaking, his 20 games played resulted in a 0.65 PPG is the highest in his career. His CF% was the highest of his career at 58.6%. Yes, a lot of this is on a very small sample size, and yes, his teammates were much better than with the Wild than when he was a Coyote. But the season is done and Hanzal is a UFA. Using the CapFriendly cap comparable tool, Hanzal should get a slight raise, with my personal guess being approximately a $3.5-4M a year contract. The Wild may not be able to keep a player at that cost, as they only had to absorb $1.55M of Hanzal’s contract this year and players such as Granlund, Niederreiter, and Haula all expecting to get raises from their current RFA deals.

Looking at their draft picks, the Wild do not have their 1st and 2nd round picks, as they traded their 1st for Martin Hanzal and their 2nd for Chris Stewart. Looking at their prospects, there’s a few interesting prospects. Krill Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson-Ek, and Luke Kunin did very well in the World Juniors, and could be the core for the future. But what do they do now?

Kaprizov will remain the KHL for the next little while and Kunin and Greenway will need some time to develop. Joel Eriksson-Ek is an intriguing prospect will have to be seasoned in the AHL. The Wild are in an intriguing position. Their free agency situation will be rather predictable, with Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Jordan Schroeder and Nino Niederreiter all expected to earn hefty raises. With approximately $11,441,409 cap space expected, their moves will be limited to mostly depth moves.

So what’s next? The experts are unsure. The Wild came into the 2016-2017 NHL season at 30-1 odds. Our friends over at www.CanadaCasino.net have pegged the 2017-2018 NHL season odds for the Minnesota Wild at approximately 20-1 by the time the season starts. How about you though? What do you think? Think that the odds are a steal? Let us know!

Editor’s note: This article was sponsored by www.CanadaCasino.net

Are The Sedins Hurting The Canucks?

Just call me the king of hot takes. I AM THE STEPHEN A. SMITH of hockey. Put all your pitchforks away you Canucks fans and hear me out. I promise it won’t be too long.

I think most people agree that the Sedins are productive NHL players. 60-70 points each doesn’t seem too out of reach. They also make a lot of money. At $7M a year, you could consider them slightly overpaid, but not grossly overpaid to the point of Rick Nash and his almost $8M contract with 36 points last year. At 36 years old, the decline has been coming, with his lower point totals and CF%.

The Canucks need a rebuild. The good news is that most of their older veterans will be off the books by the 2018-2019 season. Accordingly to CapFriendly, they will have $43M to play with by then. But here come’s the bad news. The Canucks think they have a winning team, and have been trying to add pieces to make it a cup contender. Loui Eriksson’s contract is a prime example of that. A $6M contract for 5 more years after this one? That’s tough. In the short term, there is some relief. Derek Dorsett is out for the year, and in theory, can help with LTIR relief. Yet, that’s not something that is sustainable. So what does this all have to do with the Sedins?

What if the Canucks trade the Sedins to expedite the rebuild? We’re operating on the fact that they are willing to waive their NMC. It seems unlikely, but could be possible. At age 36, their window to win a cup is closing fast. Like I mentioned before, they’re good for 60-70 points, and even with a decline rate of 10%, 45-52 points in their age 39 season, is nothing to be ashamed about. There are a bunch of team who would love to add a guy like that for a playoff run. But there’s one big issue. $7M is a lot of money, and who would acquire one, but not both of the twins? A trade like that would definitely be veto’d by the twins. In theory, it is possible for the Canucks to retain the max 50% on both the twins to make it a more attractive target, but that still leaves the other team with a $7M cap hit. There aren’t that many teams with the cap space to take on both of them even at the discounted $7M cap hit. Take out the teams who are not in play off contention and there are possibly only a few teams with the type of players the Canucks could use.

Is it impossible? No. Unlikely? Probably. The Aquilinis have wanted to sell the Canucks for a while and it’s much easier to sell a winner than a loser. Could they be holding them back? It’s possible, but until the Canucks can clear the older, heavier contracts, the team will be perpetually stuck adding pieces to a broken machine.

Open Letter To Auston Matthews

Dear Auston,

Can I call you Auston? I feel like we’re on a first name basis now. Congrats on your NHL regular season debut. Also congrats on your first goal. I hope you got to keep the puck. Also congrats on your second goal.  That’s great! Wait stop. You’re scoring your third goal? What are you doing? This is insane. Goal number four? Why are you doing this? Stop, stop, stop! Oh good four is enough for you.

Remember the fact you play in Toronto, aka center of the hockey universe. The media hype around you doesn’t go away. Remember Tyler Biggs? The next big thing? Well that didn’t go so well. But the hype train doesn’t stop. In the words of 2004, the hype train “Won’t Stop, Can’t Stop“.  Now do I think you’ll be a bust? No. I think you’ll be an All-Star. But after one game, you would believe that he is a combination of Crosby, Messier, Orr, and Gretzky into one.  (Maybe it’s true, I’ll find out.)

But what now? How do you even follow up on that? Do you score 5 goals? Do you get a shutout? Do you do a hat trick of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick? I have a few ideas, and if you use them, just make sure to send me a shoutout on Twitter alright?

  • Score a goal while not having a stick
  • Score with only one skate
  • Assist on every goal in the game while also not playing a single minute
  • Shoot a puck over boards and balance it on Carlton The Bear’s nose
  • Buy everyone a beer in the stands (pop for the kids. Come on now.)

Let me know if you would like to collaborate for more ideas. I would love to help. Make sure to let me know on Twitter. My Twitter account is @hkyblogger. Also one thing Auston. This is all a joke. Keep on going man, but if you use one of my suggestions and don’t give me credit, that would be really disappointing. I won’t be angry, just disappointed.

Yours Truly,

@hkyblogger

Advice From An Agent and Advisor: Scott Deady!

So we’ve done many, many interviews with players, but every now and then we like to switch it up and interview hockey-related people like scouts, and we’ve done that once again! This time we have an interview with Momentum Hockey Player Agent/Advisor Scott Deady! Although agents are often overlooked in importance, ask any player and they’ll tell you right away how important having an agent is. Momentum Hockey provides services from Athlete Marketing to Tax Planning and everything in between. To learn more about Momentum Hockey check out their website here. To learn more about Scott, make sure to follow him on Twitter. He doesn’t exclusively talk about his clients and is a fun follow! If you enjoy what we do, you can follow us or like us. Without any more of my rambling, here is our interview with Scott Deady!

Editor’s note: Comments have been edited for clarity. We are in bold.

So according to your Twitter bio, you’re a Player Agent/Advisor for Momentum Hockey. Is there a difference between an agent and an advisor?

Yes there’s a big difference. Agents represent pros while advisors represent amateurs. Agents also act as advisors but it’s important to differentiate between the two because each comes with different responsibilities and, more importantly, restrictions. Some of the things we do for our pro clients as agents would be in violation of NCAA regulations when dealing with an amateur player. You have to be very careful to stay within the confines of the regulations and act only in an “advisory” capacity to ensure no chances are being taken with the players’ amateur status.

What’s a day in the life of a Player Agent/Advisor?

There really isn’t a “typical” day in my job. It all depends on what’s going on in hockey or with clients.

If it’s a weekday, I start my morning off with a cup of coffee, hop online, and check out any news from the previous day/night I may have missed. Player signings, trades, industry business…really anything pertaining to the world of hockey. Then I go through my reminders I set the day before. Emailing coaches and scouts, checking in with clients and their families, reaching out to potential and current marketing partners. Taking new calls…all depends on what happened the day(s) before.

If it’s a weekend, I’m at the rink. Usually start off early in the day with some of the younger kids. Might have to shuffle around to a couple of arenas. By 5 or 6 it’s usually time to focus on the older clients. Might be heading to a Junior game or college game, might mean watching a game online, might mean heading to the UC or watching one of our NHL guys on TV. All depends.

People often only hear about the flashy parts of being an agent/advisor, such as the contract negotiations and trade requests. What are some less flashy parts of being an agent/advisor?

Most of it haha. Best way I can describe it is with a story. A few years back I was in Detroit for a AAA showcase. At the same time, I had a client playing in the OHL who had a Saturday night game in Windsor and a Sunday afternoon game in Sarnia. So I spent Saturday in Detroit, drove across the border to Ontario that night and went to the game. On my way back to Detroit that night, there was a huge blizzard. I pulled up to the border and was the only person on the road let alone crossing the border at 2am. The border patrol guard asked me the usual questions…”Where are you heading?” “Detroit.” “And you’re staying there?” “Well no, I’ll be back in the morning.” “For what?” “The same client who I saw tonight has another game tomorrow.” “And how long will you be staying in Canada then?” “Only for a couple of hours…I’ll be coming back to the States tomorrow afternoon.” “I’m assuming you’re an agent?” “ Yeah.” “Well (as she looks around at the barren road…) I suppose it really isn’t like Jerry Maguire eh?”

Many agents have a specialty, what’s yours?

Well I’m a lawyer so I suppose I’d have to say contracts would be my specialty. Not so much the playing contracts – those are standard boilerplate, fill in the blank deals. But in order to be creative and structure deals within the confines of the CBA, you have to understand the CBA. And the CBA is a legal document just like any contract. Obviously part of law school is being able to read and interpret legal documents. It’s probably the area where my law degree comes in handy the most.

How do you as a Player Player Agent/Advisor market yourself so potential clients choose Momentum Hockey instead of other firms?

It’s all about personal relationships and your reputation. We focus on being selective with who we recruit so that each player is a person to us, not just a number on a balance sheet. Sorry I can’t give you more than that but our specific recruiting methods are kept internal.

Most people don’t grow up wanting to be an agent/advisor. How did you decide that you wanted to be in a Player Agent/Advisor?

I actually probably came as close to growing up wanting to become an agent as anyone has. Playing in the Tretiak Cup, which evolved into the Bauer Invite, we were asked to house Russian players. At the time, I was smart enough to know I wasn’t going to the NHL. But I wanted to stay involved in the sport and some of the kids who stayed with my family did have that potential. I had a slight urge to pursue a legal career and parents from my teams growing up would back me up when I say I always had a knack for sales. So I decided to skip Junior hockey, head straight to college at 18, and direct the focus of my undergraduate and law school work to put me in the best position to help other hockey players achieve their dream of playing in the NHL.

Most exciting thing you’ve done as a Player Agent/Advisor?

It’s all relative. Most of the things that I thought were “exciting” happened earlier in my career – before I was established. Meeting with the Russian Olympic Committee in Moscow was probably one of them. In undergrad I took Russian for three years and kept in touch with my Russian friends. So when I travelled to Moscow to visit some clients I was able to get a meeting with the Olympic Committee. One other notable “shake yourself” moment was the first time i received a call from a former NHLer, who now works for the same NHL team he played for. He was calling about a client of mine. As a Chicago native and Blackhawks fan, my entire childhood was ruined by him tormenting the team I loved most. I’m sure there are plenty of things I do on a daily basis now that years ago I would’ve considered exciting. Spend enough time in the industry and you realize we’re all just people working in the same industry.

Most painstaking thing you do as a Player Agent/Advisor?

I don’t know if this fits the description, but once I flew to Columbus, OH to see a goaltender I’m advising. I flew in, checked in at my hotel, showered, changed, drove to the rink, only to see that the coach decided to play the other goaltender since it was only a preliminary game of their District Tournament. I have way too many other stories about brutal travel schedules but the best stories are from when I first started out and didn’t have the resources to fly everywhere I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I still drive a ton…and they’re boring drives. But I’d never make the Chicago-Toronto-New Haven-New York City-Chicago drive, like I did five years ago, at this point in my career.

If you’re referring to more of an emotional drain, the worst part is hearing about players being taken advantage of by “advisors” trying to get rich quick. I’ve seen emails from “advisors” (and yes i’m intentionally including the quotation marks) to coaches about players they’ve never even personally seen play. What coach is going to take that seriously? And then to hear that a family paid that “advisor” thousands of dollars? It makes me sick. Hockey is a very small and tight circle. If you’re a parent or player being approached by an advisor, make sure to do your homework and ask around about them first.

The trend is moving towards agents approaching players younger and younger, what is your stance on it and why do you believe this is happening?

It’s happening because everyone wants to win the race. If you’re the only one at the table, you have a better shot of landing a kid than a scenario where there are five other groups talking to them. There are different timelines in the U.S. and Canada. Kids are getting recruited much earlier north of the border. In the U.S., there’s a general understanding about when we start approaching players and their families. I think for the most part the more competent agencies know that the younger you recruit, the harder it is to project pro potential. So many factors come into play. Every year I pick up one or two 17 year olds who were “late bloomers.” And every year you see a kid who was “the next best thing” at age 13 fade away. Those “advising” companies I referred to before who are just looking to make a quick dollar don’t care as much about long-term potential so they might not care. That’s what makes us different.

Who should we interview next?

It’s too bad you can’t interview my car. She knows all the best stories.

Advice for people wanting to enter the business?

Don’t try to get into the industry with one foot in and one foot out. You’ll fade away like I’ve seen so many “new faces” at the rink do. Unless your next-door neighbor or best friend is on the doorstep of the NHL and wants you to represent him, be prepared for a very long road of tough hours and very little income. I spent the weekend nights of my 20’s in ice rinks watching Bantam and Midget hockey while my friends were out at the bars. I don’t regret it one bit, but it’s still a major sacrifice.

I remember a conversation I had with the guys running the first agency I worked with right out of law school. After offering me a job they told me that after meeting with me a couple of times over the course of several days, they said to each other, “this kid is dumb enough to succeed in this industry with or without us…we’d better hire him.” Even then I didn’t really know how tough of a road it would be. But today I’m glad I was that stupid at the time. To me, it was worth it to be able to do what I love for the rest of my life.

At the same time be leery of potential “opportunities.” I’ve heard too many stories of firms bringing a kid on to scout for them only to have that same company steal the scouts “clients” and push him to the side. Don’t think that getting in with an agency is your golden ticket. Surround yourself with good people and put in the work. This isn’t a “normal” industry to work in…and in a lot of ways I’m glad it’s not.

Thanks for your time.

Let’s Chat With Zachary Yuen!

As China gets ready to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, a focus is being put on their national hockey team to improve from their current men’s ice hockey ranking of 37. One of the ways they have begun that process is by partnering up with the Czech Ice Hockey Federation to improve the level of coaching that is available in China. However, another important step to improving the national team is to develop interest in the sport, and the KHL has step up to the plate. Earlier this year, the KHL announced the expansion into China with the introduction of HC Kunlun Red Star. One of Kunlun’s first signings was a defenseman from Vancouver named Zachary Yuen. This 6’0, 196lb defenseman also happens to be the first ever Chinese-Canadian defenseman ever selected in the NHL Draft, going in the 4th Round to the Winnipeg Jets in 2011. We’re lucky enough to have him here today to have a little chat about HC Kunlun Red Star, China, and what he wants from a care package.

Without further to do, here is our interview with Zachary Yuen!

As per usual, we are in bold.

Thanks for taking time to do this interview! I appreciate it!
My pleasure.

Why did you decide to join the KHL’s Beijing Kunlun Red Star?
I joined the Redstars because it is a great opportunity. Not only for my hockey career as I further my development as a player, but most importantly for the development of Chinese hockey. Hockey in China is really starting to grow, and I would love to be a part of it and hopefully contribute in any way that I can.

How do you find the facilities in Beijing so far?
The team has yet to go to Beijing. We started training camp in Finland for 2-3 weeks, now we are in Moscow, heading to Astana, Kazakhstan for a preseason tournament. We won’t be in Beijing until the end of August.

So what has your whole experience at Beijing Kunlun Red Star been like so far?
It’s been a very cool, yet extremely unique experience so far. This might be the only professional sports team in the world that speaks 6 different languages in the locker room. English, Russian, Finnish, Slovak, Chinese, and French.

How did you end up being the de facto spokesman for the team, doing things such as revealing the team logo and team jerseys?
Haha I just try to share all of the team news with all of the fans out there as soon as I hear about it because I know a lot of people are interested in the new team. Just trying to get the fans the latest scoop.

For players who are considering a contract offer from the Kunlun Red Stars, what’s your pitch like?
This is a very big deal in the world of hockey, in China and globally. This is opening a door to many opportunities for the sport of hockey. If you want to be a part of something historic, then this would be the place to play.

You’re going to get a care package from Canada during the season. What do you want in it?
My mom’s homemade meals!

Final question: Who should we interview next?
Depends what you’re looking for. Too diverse of a group haha.

Thanks for your time.

Make sure to follow Zachary on Twitter. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.