Hello everyone and welcome in for another article, the sixth part of a series in which I try to determine the truth about puzzling players. First I want to take a second to invite you to join the Apples & Ginos Discord server which is where I gathered ideas from the members on which players to investigate. With that said, let’s discover the truth:
Dylan Larkin, C – DET
Dylan Larkin has been emblematic of Detroit’s miserable season, scoring just 11 points in 22 games thus far before getting injured this past week. He’s expected to miss both of Detroit’s games this week, which makes him a prime drop candidate for many fantasy managers without an IR slot to put him into. But Larkin has showed signs of heating up, particularly over the past two weeks. During that time span, Larkin ranks 67th in shots/60 and 66th in individual scoring chances for/60 (iSCF/60), which compares favorably with his averages over the past couple of seasons. Larkin is shooting a horrendous 5.6% on the season and hasn’t scored since January; his linemates aren’t helping matters as he sports a 6.6% on-ice shooting percentage (down to 5.3% in the last two weeks). Tyler Bertuzzi’s injury and Anthony Mantha’s disappearing act are largely to blame here in my opinion, and I look forward to better days ahead for Larkin.
Verdict: Hold if possible but drop this week if necessary; look to pick up/acquire when he returns next week
Drake Batherson, RW – OTT
Batherson has been on an absolute tear of late, registering 7 goals and 10 points in his last six games. He’s tied for 3rd in league scoring over that time period despite skating just 15:35 per game. The individual stats look pretty good if not elite: he’s 93rd in shots/60, 47th in individual chances for/60 (iCF/60), and 69th in iSCF/60. Ironically that’s not much different from his season-long rates (76th in iSCF/60). The team stats look pretty good too for Batherson, as he’s 46th in expected goals for/60 (xGF/60) and 3rd in on-ice scoring chances for/60 (SCF/60) since his hot streak started. It’s not all roses, of course: his individual points percentage (IPP) during this streak is exceptionally high at 91%, his shooting percentage (S%) is an astronomical 46.7%, and his on-ice shooting percentage is 18.3%. I’d expect those to regress to roughly 70%, 13%, and 10.5%, respectively. But that’s still not a bad place to be! I ran a quick projection on Batherson that I thought was fairly conservative and put him on a 27-goal, 62-point 82-game pace rest of season (ROS). Given that Batherson provides hits as well and is producing all that despite under 16 minutes of ice time a night, it’s very easy to get excited about Batherson’s ROS outlook.
Verdict: Acquire and hold
Rasmus Dahlin, D – BUF
Dahlin hasn’t had an ideal start to his season with just one goal and eight points in 19 games so far this season with a -17 plus/minus rating that is sinking people who have the misfortune of playing in leagues that still count plus/minus as a stat. But there are positive signs under the hood. Dahlin is up to a 21:21 average time on ice (ATOI) on the season and 22:41 over the past two weeks, for starters. Over that same time period he’s 35th among defensemen in xGF/60, and he’s shooting more than in previous seasons as well. Similar to teammate Taylor Hall, he has significant positive regression indicators including a 2% S% on the season and a 6.9% on-ice S%. Dahlin has never been much of a goal-scorer but should be in the 5% shooting range. His season-long xGF/60 is actual a few ticks higher than either of his first two seasons, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe that Dahlin should be in line to collect more assists and a few extra goals here or there as well from here on out.
Verdict: Buy low candidate
Cody Glass, C – VGK
Cody Glass has had a nice start to his sophomore season with 8 points in 14 games, getting looks on the top power play and between stars Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. Realistically however I don’t think Glass is looking at a breakout season this year unless something changes. He’s scored half of his points on the power play and is only getting just over 14 minutes of ice per game. The IPP looks a little high at 73%, the S% is definitely high at 17.7%, and given that Glass is firing just 5.1 shots/60 on the season (403rd in the league), the upside is very limited. Despite his favorable circumstances his xGF/60 is just 267th in the league over the past couple of weeks – this is a player I can’t recommend at this point in time. When Glass starts to drive play a little more on his own and put more shots on net, we can talk again.
Verdict: Possible PPP streamer in good matchups, nothing more for now
John Tavares, C – TOR
Tavares seems to be taking a bad rap in fantasy circles this season and to be honest I’m not sure where it’s coming from – he’s got 19 points in 23 games on the season which is maybe three points less than you expected from him when you drafted him? The fact that he only has six goals is not ideal, but the point production has largely been there. The big difference I’ve seen thus far is that Tavares is averaging 18 minutes per game, where last year he registered 19:32 per game. Unfortunately, 37 seconds of that difference has come on the power play with the Maple Leafs avoiding stacking one PP unit with Matthews/Marner/Tavares/Nylander and instead electing to push Tavares and Nylander to the second unit. Tavares has an IPP in line with his career averages, shot and chance generation rates that are nearly identical to last year, and an xGF/60 mark a notch above where it was last season. Tavares has a little bit of positive regression coming for his S%, which is currently at 9.2% after firing at 16.4% and 13.2% in his first two seasons as a Maple Leaf. I expect Tavares will likely get a mild boost in ice time over the rest of the season, and that combined with a little big of positive regression in shooting should make Tavares at least 95% of the same old reliable guy you thought you were getting when you drafted him this year.
Verdict: He’s the same old dude with a bit less time on ice
Torey Krug, D – STL
Krug has had a solid if unspectacular open to his Blues’ career, notching 12 points in 22 games thus far. He’s averaging a career-high 22:43 ATOI this season including 24:46 over the past two weeks. He’s 10th among league defensemen in xGF/60 despite that increased role, 26th in shots/60, and 25th in iSCF/60. The IPP looks to be due for some positive regression at 33% and he’s shooting just 2% versus a career rate north of 5%. I don’t see many red flags in Krug’s profile. I ran a projection for Krug that I felt was relatively conservative and came to a 10-goal, 55-point 82-game pace ROS. I’m definitely comfortable with trading for Krug if his current owner is displeased with his performance so far given the extensive ice time Krug is getting.
Verdict: Worth an offer if his owner is selling low
That’s all for this one folks! Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter or join the Apples & Ginos Discord server for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have.
Thanks for reading, you are appreciated!