Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the fifteenth installment of a weekly article I’ve been writing all season long in which I try to determine the truth about puzzling players. I pull suggestions for which players to write about for these articles from the Apples & Ginos community on Discord and the Apples & Ginos Patreon members. Be sure you check out those spots to catch up with me and I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about Brady Tkachuk, myself, or anyone else with clear younger-brother issues.
Let’s get it!
Brady Tkachuk, LW – OTT
Tkachuk has gone a bit quiet of late, with even the hits falling off a bit. However you can clearly see from the graphic above (shoutout to @TJStats, who you can get custom cards from via the Apples & Ginos Patreon), it’s not for a lack of trying. Brady has taken his game to a new level in spite of Drake Batherson and Josh Norris going down to injury, ranking fifth in the league in shots/60 and first in individual scoring chances for/60 (iSCF/60) in his last five games. Doing that at 20:33 average time on ice (ATOI) is impressive work, but unfortunately it just hasn’t resulted in points for Tkachuk. Tkachuk should be on the right side of the ledger here soon and while his upside may be capped without his top linemates, Tkachuk is a multi-category stud and I wouldn’t dream of moving him for anything less than another stud.
Verdict: Unlucky of late, but playing his best hockey of the season with increased minutes
David Perron, RW – STL
Perron is an interesting case, especially with the spectre of just two games in the next two weeks looming. As you can see from his card, Perron’s ice time is within half a minute of his season average, and his iSCF/60 looks pretty good. The IPP and S% show you he’s been a bit unlucky, but the CF/60 being down a bit is slightly concerning. The on-ice SCF/60 being right in line with his season average is a good sign though. Perron has still maintained PP1 usage and of late the Blues have used that unit at a 60%+ rate. I think Perron is right on the streamer level bubble along with most of St. Louis’s forwards as long as they continue to roll all four lines at almost the same usage at even strength (Bozak/Sundqvist/Kostin is the line with the most EV ice time in the last three games). Given that the Blues only have two games here as I mentioned previously, I’d be OK dropping Perron for a streamer who will play far more games.
Verdict: Still playing well, but not much above a streamer level and droppable in some circumstances
Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW – CBJ
Bjorkstrand is trending terribly in the wrong direction. It’s a bit odd that his CF/60 and SCF/60 have gone up but his shots have trailed off. The last five game sample is especially damning, with Bjorkstrand completely unable to generate anything of note on his own. Perhaps Bjorkstrand is dealing with injury or some other unknown factors, but his ice time trending down is a particularly troubling development. It’s hard to project much positivity for this bad Blue Jackets squad, especially if Bjorkstrand will be unable to be a focal part of the effort to lead them out of it himself. One would expect that Bjorkstrand would be able to improve his game somewhat, but it’s worth questioning whether his best is worth waiting out this cold stretch for.
Verdict: Bjorkstrand is droppable in the worst of cases and definitely worth shopping for a streamer
Ryan Hartman, C – MIN
I can’t help but feel somewhat responsible for Hartman’s recent dropoff in production: I made a trade of my Trevor Zegras and Gabriel Landeskog for Hartman and Drake Batherson about a week ago and instantly Batherson got injured and Hartman stopped shooting. Hartman is still centering Kirill Kaprizov but has been bumped off the top PP unit in favour of rookie sensation Matthew Boldy. Time will tell if Boldy is able to hold that deployment, but the signs are not pointing in the right direction for Hartman. The dips in CF/60 and SCF/60 are likely due to that lack of PP1 usage, but the shot and iSCF drops are very concerning. I do believe Hartman’s production was no fluke; it’s simply impossible for a player to maintain the rates Hartman did for 30+ games if they’re simply getting lucky and/or carried by their linemates. That being said, it’s also possible Hartman’s new normal is not quite at the heights he was achieving earlier in the season and you need to build that into your expectations.
Verdict: It’s a tough spot for Hartman managers, but I’m holding while continuing to monitor his situation
Dylan Strome, C – CHI & Brandon Hagel, LW – CHI
That’s right, it’s a 2-for-1 here with Strome and Hagel. Both are on CHI’s top line and top power play alongside Patrick Kane, and I don’t think I need to tell you that’s a good spot to be. Between the two, Hagel is seeing more ice time but all of that is due to his penalty-killing role, which doesn’t factor much into our projections for him fantasy-wise. I would characterize Strome & Hagel’s on-ice chance for numbers as very good, but the SCF/60s being in the 28-29 range is not particularly impressive. Hagel’s 9.6 iSCF/60 in his last five games is impressive, but the rest of his individual profile is nothing to write home about. Strome’s individual work is decidedly average and not much better than his career numbers. It’s pretty clear to see that Strome’s IPP and S% are inflated of late without a great deal of support from his individual stats. If I had to pick between the two, I would go with Hagel because of his iSCF/60 and the fact that he’s got less of an NHL sample meaning it’s more likely that he’s simply taking a bit of a step forward. I don’t buy Strome’s snake oil for a second and Chicago changes lines at the first hint of a cold streak, but I could see Hagel sticking on Kane’s line while Chicago seemingly cycles its centers through the lines every other game. I’d pick up either for a quick stream while they’re hot, but I’m going to be awfully quick on the drop button if their deployment or hot streak changes.
Verdict: Good for a stream and Hagel > Strome for me, but keep them on a short leash
Before you go, I want to make sure you’re aware of the Apples and Ginos Fantasy Hockey Podcast and I would be much obliged if you were to give it a listen. There are two 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. I’ve already had terrific guests like Ian Gooding from Dobber Hockey and Elan Dubrofsky from Keeping Karlsson on the show and I’ve added a midweek podcast with my friends Josh Hutchinson and John Binkle who are a ton of fun on the mic.
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 and join the free Apples & Ginos Discord server for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have. If you want to learn more about any of the advanced stats I mentioned in this article, be sure to check out my article on applying advanced stats to fantasy hockey, or check out Natural Stat Trick’s advanced stats glossary.
Thanks for reading, you are appreciated!
Player Stats Cards: Created by @TJStats
Soundtrack to my writing: Pray For the Wicked by Panic! At The Disco
Advanced stats credit: Natural Stat Trick