Hello everyone and welcome in for another article, the eleventh 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:
Mikhail Sergachev, D – TBL
Sergachev has gone awfully quiet of late, with zero points, two hits, and (thankfully) ten blocks. The issue isn’t with Sergachev’s deployment (23:58/game in those five and PP2) or personal handiwork (15th among defensemen in shots/60, 10th in individual chances for/60 over past five). The issue here is pretty clearly with Tampa as a team – particularly the cringe-inducing 1.8% on-ice shooting percentage (oiSH%) Sergachev is holding in this cold stretch. The expected goals for/60 (xGF/60) here is not great (75th among defensemen), but it’s pretty hard to bet against Tampa for the long term, and Sergachev himself is actually playing pretty well all things considered.
Verdict: Hold for the incoming Serge
Jared Spurgeon, D – MIN
Spurgeon is a suddenly desirable fantasy asset, quarterbacking a clear #1 power play unit with Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala. He’s averaging 23 minutes of ice of late, but he’s never been a big shooter and ranks just 66th among defensemen in his last five games. That said, his 50% individual points percentage (IPP) and 10.5% oiSH% in those five is pretty sustainable, and while he’s not going to score on 10% of his shots, he is a generally high shooting percentage (S%) defenseman. As long as he’s on the top PP with the aforementioned stars I’m very willing to ride Spurgeon, especially considering Minnesota’s very favourable schedule throughout the upcoming fantasy playoffs. A 45-50 point pace is very easily within reach through the home stretch.
Verdict: Hold if you got him, a lowkey buy for playoffs
Alex Goligoski, D – ARI
Alex Goligoski has been a very under the radar fantasy stud for a couple of weeks now with a shocking eight points in his last seven games. He’s been seeing time on Arizona’s top power play unit alongside Jakob Chychrun as the Coyotes run a 3F2D look. The on-ice stats are good for Goligoski as he’s 11th among defensemen in xGF/60 during that stretch. The oiSH% is definitely too high at 15.3%, and the S% is a touch high for his standards at 8.3%. Goligoski is certainly not a shooter, ranking 96th in shots/60 during the hot stretch, so his value is limited to his just-ok-peripherals and assist/power play point possibilities. I don’t mind Goligoski as a streamer option while he’s on the top PP (especially this week with all of those juicy off-nights), but I’d drop him as soon as he comes off. And he will come off.
Verdict: Stream him for this week, watch the PP deployment
James van Riemsdyk, LW – PHI
The man known as JVR has gone six straight without a point after spending much of the first half of the season unloading point after point for his fantasy managers. I don’t see this cold streak as much to do with JVR’s inability – he’s 84th in shots/60 over the past five games – but given the current trajectory of Philadelphia’s season it’s very hard to be optimistic about his rest of season outlook. The xGF/60 is not encouraging (167th in those five), but he should still probably be producing at a 50-point pace at minimum given his advanced numbers. Of note is the fact that coach Alain Vigneault is riding a true PP1 unit that does not currently include JVR, meaning he’s losing valuable minutes there. The ceiling that JVR hit early in the season is not coming back, and while he will probably be serviceable ROS, there’s a good chance that there are better options on your waiver wire.
Verdict: On the bubble; droppable if you find a good pickup on the wire
Dustin Brown, RW – LAK
Dustin Brown is guy I’m going to be looking at adding wherever possible for the Wednesday/Friday/Saturday schedule he has this week. If you’re currently holding him while he’s mired in this one goal in five games mini slump, you can take comfort in a lot of Brown’s underlying stats. There’s the 50% IPP which is 10-15% underweight. There’s the 7.1% S% which is 4-5% underweight. And then there’s that rotten 3.5% oiSH% which is a solid 6-7% underweight. These are all strong positive signs for Brown, as are his healthy 3.43 xGF/60 (77th in the league) and 9.4 shots/60 (72nd in the league) marks. If you need a hitting, shooting RW who should pace at 60 points ROS, I think we’ve found your guy.
Verdict: Hold him if you got him, potential buy low
Kevin Fiala, RW – MIN
Fiala has been a frustrating hold this season, flashing that ability that made him a point-per-game player over the back half of the 2019/20 season, but often leaving the scoresheet empty. I’ve been a proponent of Fiala’s for much of the season as his individual underlying stats were right in line with where he left off in 2019/20. Indeed, on the season his advanced stats line up shockingly similarly with his 2019/20 marks with two key differences: a S% decrease from 13.1% to 10.5% and an oiSH% decrease from 11.2% to 7%. Fiala is actually crushing his 2019/20 xGF/60 (3.6 vs 2.9 last season) but his actual goals for/60 has decreased from 4.1 to 2.5. Suffice it to say, Fiala isn’t getting any help and it’s hurting his bottom line. Of late, however, we have some reason for hope as Minnesota has finally loaded up the top power play unit as discussed above and seen some positive results. Fiala is skating 19 minutes a night and ranks 10th in the league in shots/60 over the past five games, and is getting rewarded with six points in that span. I was hoping that someone on the Wild would be able to step up and be a reasonable Robin to Fiala’s Batman but it seems that outside of the power play Fiala will have to scratch and claw for every last point he scores. I project Fiala for a 65ish point pace ROS with great shot volume, with some upside up to a PPG if he goes on an insane bender like he did last season.
Verdict: Same as at every other point this season: hold because he’s good at hockey
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!
Advanced stats credit: Natural Stat Trick
Title photo credit: David Berding – USA TODAY Sports