Archive for August, 2012

Just a quick note to say that I’m working on something big, tracking zone entries by type (carry in, dump in, etc.) for the Minnesota Wild for last season. I’m going back and re-watching all the games to collect data, and I’m just over halfway done, so I plan to do a write-up of the first half’s data. Not too sure exactly when I’ll get it up but it will be soon. PLUS, I’m working on my personal rankings for the 12-13 season, those will be up soon as well. Thanks for checking in! …here’s Arrested Development for no reason. Enjoy

There is a school of thought in sports analysis that says to be stuck as a mediocre team is worse than being at the top or the bottom of the league. The good teams get low draft picks but they do not need to drastically improve, and the worst teams get high draft picks to try to turn over their roster. But the middling teams get stuck with middling draft picks so they stay mediocre, and they keep getting middle picks, and so on. The Edmonton Oilers have been proudly bucking this trend since 2009 by being terribad and *staying* terribad.  They finished last in the league that year and got the first overall pick, which they used to select Taylor Hall. And there was much rejoicing! Until they finished last in the league again, and got the first overall pick. Again. Which they used to draft Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and the was much rejoicing!…again. Then they finished second-to-last (suck it, Columbus!) and got the first pick (AGAIN!!) which they used to select Nail Yakupov. And there was cautious optimism mixed with guarded hopefulness.  But this year will be different! …right? I mean, it just has to…right?

On the bright side, as long as they don’t finish last (…again…) they can start to build some momentum and try to get back into Cup contention. In addition to their trio of first-overall picks, they have other young skaters like Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle, and newly signed defenseman Justin Schultz. I can hear the chants already: Not Last Place! Not Last Place! In fantasy circles, everyone will be focused on Hall, RNH, and Yakupov, but I am turning my attention to another youngster in Edmonton, their 26 year old net minder, Devan Dubnyk. The Oil need to improve in all phases of the game, and I think Dubnyk could make a quality third goalie on any roster, or possibly second if you like to live dangerously and only roster two backstops.

Fantasy Stats

I’ll freely admit that until I looked up his stats, I had no idea Dubnyk started the season on the Edmonton roster last year. In fact, he was their opening day net minder. His overall numbers won’t blow you away, 42 GS, a 20-20-3 record and a .917 Sv%, though a 2.67 GAA is not too shabby. But a closer look at the end of his 2011-12 season shows Dubnyk might make some significant strides going into 2013.

Advanced Stats

On the season, Dubnyk recorded 22 Quality Starts (.524) with 7 Terrible Starts (.167), and his Even-strength Sv% was a pretty respectable .927. But as the calendar turned to March, Dubnyk turned up his game and started putting up great numbers.

I don’t call this column Arbitrary Endpoints for nothing…in Dubnyk’s last 13 starts, he posted a 7-4-2 record with a .933 Sv% and a 2.04 GAA. In that span he posted 9 Quality Starts (.692) though the Oilers wasted 3 of them, and of his four NQS, two of those were terrible starts.

His .524 QS% needs to improve for him to be considered a reliable fantasy goaltender, and he needs to cut down on the Terribad Starts or he will negate his good starts.  Dubnyk is still developing, which is why I don’t think I would roster him as my number two, but if he is still there in the late rounds I think I would take a chance on him.

Offseason Moves

As mentioned, Nail Yakupov is now donning the blue and copper, and he figures to stand a good chance to make the opening roster (first overall picks have a way of getting their shot with the big boys sooner rather than later.)

Edmonton is not hiding the fact that they are going for a best-defense-is-a-good-offense strategy, so if Hall, RNH, Yakupov, Gagner, and Eberle can effectively drive play and keep pucks going at the opponents’ nets, there will be fewer pucks flying at Dubnyk. In addition to Yakupov, the Oilers won the Justin Schultz sweepstakes this summer, and while it remains to be seen if he can have an immediate effect, I also like the addition of Nick Schultz from Minnesota. He won’t dent the stat sheet much but he is a smart defender who should help Dubnyk’s progression.

Bottom Line

The first month or six weeks of the season will be crucial for the Oilers, and if they can jump out to a strong start (or let’s be honest, above-average would probably suffice…) they will be inclined to keep their young talent in the lineup. I think it’s safe to assume a pretty even split between Dubnyk and Khabibulin for the starts, though I think the club may want to give the kid some more ice time to see what they have–after the last few years of futility there is no point stashing Dubnyk on the bench. If they like what they see from Dubstep in October and November, they may hitch their wagon to him and send more starts his way.

Going into the season, I am not ready to trust Dubnyk as my number two starter, but I like to have a solid third goalie on my roster in case of injury or cold streak from my top backstops. Plus, goalies are always in demand during the season, so Dubnyk could fetch a good return if he gets on another streak at the right time. In the late rounds, you should be looking for high-upside picks that could return great value, and I think Devan Dubnyk fits that bill. Take a chance on him this year while he is still under the radar.

The Anaheim Ducks have not made the playoffs two of the last three years, and their top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan vastly underperformed last  year as the team finished fifth in the Pacific division. It’s a safe bet that each of these players will be available in your draft a fair bit lower than last year, providing a good opportunity for value if they can bounce back. I believe the Ducks’ woes last year were due to a combination of factors: a slow start (they went 7-13-4 through November before firing head coach Randy Carlyle) combined with a weird case of vertigo for Jonas Hiller, and just pure bad luck all mashed up for a disaster of a season. Unless your league is made up of Ducks homers, expect your owners to pay more attention to other teams in the Pacific division: the Stanley Cup champion Kings, the surprising Coyotes and their new super goalie Mike Smith, or the perennially-enticing San Jose Sharks. With more stability behind the bench and a chance to press the reset button on last year’s bad luck, I am willing to bet that the Ducks’ stars will return to form. I think Perry will still be drafted in first two rounds (people don’t forget a 50-goal scorer so quickly) and Ryan’s year wasn’t so bad last season, but I am looking for Ryan Getzlaf to fall the most in drafts and thus potentially return the most value.

Fantasy Stats

The RPG line were all coming off great years in 2010-11, which certainly inflated their expectations going into 11-12. Corey Perry in particular had a phenomenal 2010 campaign, lighting the lamp a cool 50 times (32 coming at even strength) to go with 48 assists, putting him within spitting distance of the century mark with 98 points on the season. Despite suffering a really nasty facial laceration (fair warning) that put hin out of commission for 15 games, Getzlaf still managed to record (19+57=76,) good for better than a point-per-game. Bobby Ryan posted a career-high 270 shots on his way to a 34-goal, 71-point season. Then it all came crashing down in 2011-12, when Perry scored only 27 goals, though still managed a 76-point campaign, while Getzlaf posted only 9 points in his first 17 contests. Ryan, however, managed to net 35 goals on 258 shots, salvaging some value for his fantasy owners. What went wrong for the Ducks? It’s hard to say exactly–like all things their crappy season was multi causal so we can’t point to just one thing. However, a look at the advanced stats can help shed some light on the subject…

Advanced Stats

The first thing I want to point out is the RPG line’s on-ice shooting percentage, which measures the percent of shots by any teammate that turn into goals when a player is on the ice.

After two seasons of seeing on-ice Sh% in the double digits (10 to 12 is pretty standard for star-level players,) Getzlaf and Perry both tanked into the 7-8 range, which you would expect to see from the grinders on the team. Ryan’s on-ice Sh% did not drop as drastically–he was still in the upper-9 range in 2011, but a look at his TOI with Getzlaf & Perry shows that he only skated with those two around half the time, which explains part of that difference.

Another notable factor for the trio was their increased level of competition: all three players have seen steadily tougher competition over the years, as measured by CorsiRel Quality of Competition, where league average is about zero, plus-one represents very tough opponents, and negative-one is what we would lovingly classify as “Cupcake.”

In 2009, Bobby Ryan got the toughest minutes of the three with .501, representing middle of the pack competition, while Getzlaf saw .348 opposition and Perry a rather low .203–it’s safe to say he was not skating against the other teams’ stars. Then, in 2010-11 the linemates saw slightly tougher opposition, and in 2011-12 Perry was being matched by .905 competition and Getzlaf .843. You can imagine the opposing coaches saying to themselves, “Derp, there’s that guy that scored 50 last year, I better send out my shutdown line when he’s skating herp.” Bobby Ryan’s QualComp remained pretty stable, staying in about the .500 range. Special teams are not a factor, as the statistic only uses 5v5 data, and even with a coaching change, it’s notable to see that consistency.

Despite much stiffer competition, the RPG line was still driving play for the Ducks last year, with Getzlaf and Perry posting CorsiRels of 14.5 and 15.9 respectively, and moving play into the offensive zone (each had an OZ Start % of about 48 and OZ Finish % of just over 52. With Anaheim’s depth chart looking mostly the same as last year, we can expect their top line to keep getting the bulk of the tough minutes. If their younger players can step up, it would go a long way towards freeing the RPG line to focus on putting the biscuit in the basket.

A brief aside here to look at the difference between CorsiOn and CorsiRel. In 2010-11, the year the RPG line all had 70 point seasons, they all posted good CorsiRel numbers, 7.9 for Ryan, 12.5 for Getzlaf, and 14.2 for 50 Shades of Goals Corey Perry (sorry.) Recall that CorsiOn is simply the rate of the team’s combined S+MS+BS per 60 mins when a player is on ice, while CorsiRel looks at a players’ Corsi while on the ice compared to all other players cumulatively when the player was off the ice. Each player’s CorsiOn was negative in 10-11, meaning that although relative to the rest of the Ducks they were driving possession, they still saw more pucks directed at their own net than the opponent’s.

What this tells us is that Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan had to really capitalize on their opportunities that year, which they certainly did. Perry shot 17.2% after converting 10.0% the previous year, which to me hints that for all the bad luck in 11-12, their 10-11 numbers were the result of some favorable puck luck.

After seeing all negative CorsiOn values in 10-11, all three posted positive Corsi numbers in 11-12: 1.31 for Ryan, 6.82 for Getzlaf, and 7.6 for Perry. So while they were on their heels but scoring profusely one year, they were skating downhill the next year but not finding the twine. What this suggests to me is that going forward, it’s safe to think their production will wind up somewhere between those two years–with increased QualComp they may not achieve what they did two years ago but they aren’t as bad as they appeared last year.

Offseason Moves

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Teemu Selanne re-signed with the team for another year, and while he did lead the team in points last year with just 66, the guy just turned 42 years old. He wouldn’t have signed on for another campaign if he didn’t think he could produce, but let’s be really real right now, his days of scoring on an elite level are over. As I write this, the Lubomir Visnovski kerfuffle has not been completely sorted out, but it appears he is likely gone. But for the most part, the roster will remain mostly the same as last year.

Bottom Line

Corey Perry will be drafted highest of the three, possibly still in the first round, but I think he could fall into the second or maybe even farther. Depending on how the early picks shake out, I’d take him as early as seventh overall (keep your eyes peeled for my preseason ranks in the next couple of weeks,) but in the unlikely scenario he was still available in the second or even third round I would snatch him up faster than a fat kid gets out in dodgeball. Bobby Ryan has scored in the mid-thirties for two years in a row now, while throwing a ton of rubber at the net. Owners will notice his consistent production, and stat-heads will notice that he is still facing middling competition. Ryan was drafted in the early rounds last year (ADP 22.1 ESPN, 12.4 Y!) but I could see him slipping a few rounds this year because people will likely not notice his consistency. I’ve seen him on as the 75th ranked *forward*, so he could be a fantastic value pick if he’s still on the board in the double digit rounds. I really want to get into some mock drafts to see where he starts going.

After Getzlaf’s free fall last season, he will very likely experience a similar fall down the draft board. Obviously the lower he goes, the more potential value he could return if he bounces back, so while I think somewhere in the seventh or eighth round would be alright, I will be inclined to pass him over and see just how far he goes. There is nothing wrong with a little gamesmanship on draft day, so I might loudly bring up just how bad he was last year and then scoop him up a few rounds later. He is being ranked in the same ballpark as guys like Jeff Carter and Jeff Skinner, both of whom I would rather have. My home league counts hits (not my call, don’t judge me) so he does have a little more appeal to me than in standard leagues.

All three of these guys are still in their mid-twenties, so I don’t take their bad performance last year as much indication that their skills are deteriorating. As I mentioned before, I think it was sort of a perfect storm for the Ducks, and between a slow start that led to a coaching change and Hiller getting messed up between the ears, the whole team just fell into a funk. I’m willing to bet that last year was just bad beats all around and this year will be better. As a man much wiser than myself once said, “Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear, well…he eats you.” <That some kind of Eastern thing?>

Having said that, I do think the Anaheim roster is thinning out (just like 15’s hair BOOM!) After the top line, they have Koivu and Selanne who are a combined 79(!) years old, and their bottom six is nothing to write home about. Expect opposing coaches to continue to focus their best shutdown players on the RPG line this year, but there is such a thing as positive regression to the mean, so I am willing to bet on a bounce back season. Getzlaf in particular could be a great value pick if his production doesn’t continue to…<sunglasses>…recede.