Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the fourth installment of a weekly article I’ll be writing all season long in which I’ll deep dive some hot and cold players and determine if they’re worth trying to acquire or sell off. Before we dive in, be sure to check out the Apples & Ginos community on Discord and the Apples & Ginos Patreon for even more content. I’m in there every day and would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about Kevin Fiala’s future production, World War 3, or anything else that portends nuclear level destruction. Let’s get it!
Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW – CBJ
Bjorkstrand has enjoyed a terrific start to his season, notching 13 points in 10 games. He’s added close to a minute of ice time this year, up to 18:21 per game. Bjorkstrand ranks an impressive 31st in the league in Corsi For/60 (CF/60), but there are some signs that he’s been a little too hot so far. The individual points percentage (IPP) sits at 87% when it should probably fall in a 75% range and Bjorkstrand is shooting 18.5% when he’s been more of a 12-13% shooter in his career. All things told, it’s not like Bjorkstrand is completely unsustainable. Sure he’s not going to continue his current 107-point pace, but he is legitimately playing very well and his teammates are as well, leading to more scoring chances for when he’s on the ice. Bjorkstrand could push a point-per-game on the season if all were to continue at this level, but a 70-point pace looks pretty reasonable for a rest-of-season projection. If you can move Bjorkstrand for a tried and true point-per-game player I would do that, but odds are you’re best to just hold Bjorkstrand and enjoy the season he’ll give you.
Verdict: He’s not turning into McDavid anytime soon, but Bjorkstrand is well on track to outperform where he was drafted
Jesse Puljujarvi, RW – EDM
To say that Puljujarvi has enjoyed his time riding shotgun with Connor McDavid so far on the young season would be putting it lightly. “Poolparty” has 12 points in 10 games and seems to be a perfect fit on McDavid’s wing as a big strong winger who has the requisite skill to play with a player of McDavid’s caliber. Curiously, Puljujarvi’s shot rates have actually dropped from last season and his extra goal production can be largely credited to an outsized 25% S%. I’m not overly concerned with the shot production decline as Puljujarvi has actually improved his individual scoring chances for/60 mark (iSCF/60), which is more predictive of goal scoring. Puljujarvi’s on-ice shooting percentage (oiSH%) of 17% would be more concerning if he wasn’t attached at the hip to McDavid who routinely posts oiSH% marks north of 14%. Puljujarvi has real 70-point potential rest of season and looks like a safe bet for a 60-point pace at least for the rest of the season. Combine that with a nice little hits floor and you have the makings of a very valuable fantasy asset.
Verdict: If you were looking for it, you have my permission to enjoy the Poolparty
Kirby Dach, C – CHI
Let’s get the ugly out of the way early with Dach: he ranks 318th on the season in shots/60 and 180th in iSCF/60. The good news is that both of those numbers are slight improvements over his previous season marks, and he’s done that without much time exposed to Chicago stars Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat. Now Jeremy Colliton is out and Dach has been elevated to the top line between those two studs and I think there could be something here. Dach’s IPP is low at a mere 42% which suggests he should be producing at a 40-50 point pace so far despite spending most of his season away from Kane and DeBrincat. Unfortunately he still hasn’t cracked the top power play unit because apparently Ryan Carpenter is way too valuable for Chicago’s power play success, but we’ll take the top line minutes for now. I projected Dach for a 50-point pace including lots of exposure to Kane and DeBrincat; the fact that the numbers suggest he should be around that pace despite not seeing that deployment gives me some hope that we could see Dach take another step into consistent fantasy relevance. He’s worth a speculative pickup for now while we wait to see what he can evolve into.
Verdict: Worth looking at adding now, at least a top-of-the-watch-list guy
Yegor Chinakhov, LW – CBJ
Chinakhov has had a metoric rise from draft night where most draft analysts didn’t recognize his name when called in the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by Jackets’ GM Jarmo Kekalainen to now playing second line minutes for the big club and putting up some points to boot. Chinakhov is definitely someone to take a closer look at – he ranks 25th in the league in shots/60 among players who have played at least 50 minutes on the season. Whether he can sustain that kind of terrific shot production (or turn it into goals) is another question, but that’s a very promising sign for a rookie. Given some additional minutes in his last game and currently on a line alongside fellow rookie Cole Sillinger and cagey vet Jakub Voracek, Chinakhov has a real opportunity to make some noise and I will certainly be watching closely over his next few games.
Verdict: A watch list guy – was drafted to score goals and has the shot production early on to say that he just might be able to do it
Kevin Fiala, RW – MIN
I swear I’m not just doing this because I love him, people actually want me to write this much about Fiala! Fiala is a classic buy low candidate with all the earmarks you want to see: a 50% IPP (compared to a 79% average the last two years), a 3% S% (12.7% average last two years), and 6.8% oiSH% (10.8% average last two years). Fiala’s shots/60 are a touch down which probably has to do with him adding a minute per game of shorthanded ice time, but remarkably his iSCF/60 is well above last year’s marks. You want league-wide ranks? That’s 35th in iSCF/60 and 49th in on-ice SCF/60. Fiala looks like a point per game player under the hood and I’m desperately trying to trade for him in every last one of my leagues right now.
Verdict: Go get my guy
Before you go, I want you to know I just launched the Apples and Ginos Fantasy Hockey Podcast and I would be much obliged if you were to give it the time of day. I’ll be providing weekly shows focused on the strategy elements of fantasy hockey and I’m very excited about providing more value to the fantasy hockey community in this way.
That’s all for this one folks, I hope you had as much fun reading it as I had writing it! Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter, on TikTok, and 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!