Hello and welcome in for the opposing piece to my last article in which I will detail three players that I believe are overrated by the fantasy community for the upcoming season. Today, we’re taking a look at a trio of brand-name right wingers who I believe will return lower than expected value on their draft position in 2020/21.
Starting out hot with a fantasy community darling, I’m convinced that Travis Konecny is going to command a top-10 RW price tag come draft season that I am just not ready to pay. Don’t hear what I’m not saying, though: Travis Konecny is an excellent player with point-per-game potential who took a big step last season as a point producer. But let’s dig in and see what’s giving me pause about anointing him as an elite RW option for 2020/21:
At first glance, there’s not much to dislike here. Konecny’s ice time, points/60, CF/60, and xGF/60 all took significant leaps in 2019/20, all excellent signs. But there are some warning signs here too: the IPP jumped 8% from a two-year established baseline to a McDavid-like level, and the shooting percentage jumped nearly 4% while the rest of Konecny’s individual chances for rates all dropped (with the exception of a slight uptick in iHDCF). These are major indicators for future regression, particularly on the goal scoring side.
Konecny’s increase in ice time was due to his inclusion on the top power play unit, but the Flyers simply don’t play wingers or even forwards in general at the levels usually required for top-end fantasy production. Konecny was second on the team among wingers in ice team at just 16:48/game, third if you count captain Claude Giroux. It seems likely that the Flyers will once again hold down the ice time for their forward group, and that caps Konecny’s upside considerably. Anyone expecting Konecny to take another step to 30-goal, 80-point territory in 2020/21 is likely to be disappointed in the outcome. I fully expect Konecny to come off the board ahead of Anthony Mantha and Brock Boeser in most drafts, and that’s a price I won’t be able to stomach given Konecny’s likely regression and limited opportunity.
I guess this is turning into a “don’t draft Flyers” post, but stick with me on this one. Jakub Voracek is another Flyer winger that I can’t get behind for 2020/21, and while some of the reasoning I outlined with Konecny still applies to Voracek’s situation, there are some unique reasons to be fading Voracek in the upcoming fantasy season. Let’s take a look:
The first thing that jumps off the page is the reduction in ice time. It looks like Vigneault doesn’t want to use any of his wingers much more than 17 minutes a game unless they’re named Claude Giroux, and that reduced Voracek’s 5v5 opportunity by 7% in 2019/20. Voracek will certainly be capped by a lack of opportunity once again in 2020/21, especially since he is pretty clearly no longer the best RW on his team given Konecny’s rise to prominence this season. This is and of itself would be reason enough to be concerned with Voracek’s ability to put up the type of fantasy seasons we have seen from him in the past, but unfortunately there’s plenty more reason for concern.
Voracek’s individual and team chances-for rates have declined significantly peaking from 2013-2017, and 2019/20 represented a brand new low for him. Voracek dropped nearly three iCF/60 and seven CF/60 in 2019/20, a catastrophic development that was largely covered up by his teammates keeping his GF/60 up at 4.03 per 60 minutes while his xGF/60 cratered to 3.13 per 60. These are tremendously concerning statistics, even moreso for a player about to turn 31. I’m not projecting another step back for Voracek this season, but therein lies the issue: his projection is also his ceiling. While most players have a range of outcomes for their season that give them potential to outscore their projection by 10-15 points, I don’t realistically see that as a possibility for Voracek. That means that I’m much more likely to take bets on Timo Meier or Reilly Smith as my RW2 because they still have that higher ceiling and the potential for an age-based dropoff in play is not a concern for those players as it has to be with Voracek.
The third right winger I’ll be avoiding in 2020/21 drafts is the Nashville Predators’ Viktor Arvidsson. The diminutive winger had scored 94 goals across the previous three seasons before registering just 15 goals in 57 games in 2019/20. His season was cut into two parts by a vicious cross check at the hands of the St. Louis Blues’ Robert Bortuzzo, and Arvidsson never seemed to reach his previous level of success at any point in the 2019/20 season. Let’s see what the stats say:
The first and most obvious stat that jumps off the page is the unbelievable drop of almost 3 mins/game in ice time. Arvidsson was no longer a fixture on the PP1 under new bench boss John Hynes and also saw reduced even strength ice time after Hynes arrived in early January. Hynes was unafraid to take ice time away from players he didn’t believe were putting in a full effort and Arvidsson was an obvious target. Apologists will say that Arvidsson was never himself after the injury and that the team was bad around him. While it’s obviously impossible to say if Arvidsson had any lingering effects from the injury that may or may not be cleared up for the 2020/21 season, Nashville as a team was actually 16th in league scoring, sandwiched between Edmonton and Winnipeg. While that’s not a great offense, it was at least a league average offense and better than the 2018/19 team that he scored 34 goals in 58 games for. What we can see from Arvidsson’s individual stats is that his S% regressed back to his career average levels around 12%, but also that he simply didn’t get the puck on net nearly as much or in as dangerous of spots as he did in the previous three seasons.
Arvidsson’s IPP took a hit (a possible sign for positive regression) but looking at his first and second assist rates he produced at the same rate in 2019/20 as he did in 2018/19; he’s simply not the kind of player who will accumulate many assists. The fact is that Arvidsson’s assist rate has not been good for two straight seasons now and we can’t assume that he’ll find that back. If Arvidsson can’t be counted on for even 20 assists that severely limits his upside and places all of his relevance as a fantasy asset on his ability to put the puck in the net, which is exactly what took a significant step back last season due to his lack of shot generation. Combine that with the fact that his new coach doesn’t seem to be a fan and he’ll now have to fight multiple other players for PP1 time and this is not a player I will be counting on to return to his 30-goal form of old. Even with a projected 17 mins/game of ice time, I have Arvidsson scoring just 41 points in 2020/21 as my RW32 currently.
If you’ve enjoyed this content I hope that you’ll take a minute and fill out my five-question survey here as I explore the possibility of doing this full-time. Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have.
Thanks for reading, you are much appreciated!