Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the eighteenth 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 rostering Evan Bouchard, skydiving, or any other situation in which you should be pulling the parachute cord. Let’s get it!
Evan Bouchard, D – EDM
This one is cut and dried to me. As soon as Jay Woodcroft took over as coach of the Edmonton Oilers, Bouchard’s ice time took a nose dive. Now, he’s lost his power play role as well. Bouchard has averaged 14:25 of ice time a night under Woodcroft – that’s a level of deployment at which you’d cut a forward in fantasy, much less a defenseman. I still believe in Bouchard’s offensive talent, but I would have dropped him several games ago at this point and I’m out until he gets north of 17-18 minutes once again.
Verdict: Drop immediately
Martin Necas, RW – CAR
Necas is having a frankly putrid campaign, following up last year’s 63-point pace with just a 48-point pace through 46 games this season. His ice time has trended downward and his play has not inspired confidence at any point despite repeated chances alongside Sebastian Aho and the other Carolina stars. Necas has registered zero shots on goal in four of his last six games and hasn’t scored a goal in well over a month. I’m out on Necas until his underlying stats come up in a big way and coach Rod Brind’Amour starts entrusting him with more minutes.
Verdict: Drop immediately
Oliver Kylington, D – CGY
Kylington was one of the biggest stories of the early going this season, scoring 12 points in 12 games at one point and ripping off 5 different 3+ game point streaks. Unfortunately Kylington’s last point streak (a five game run this time) was preceded by eight pointless games and he’s now gone four straight without a point again as of this writing. Unfortunately some of that is due to Kylington’s performance: across his last five games every statistic I like to look at for point-scoring defensemen has dipped sharply, from individual Corsi For/60 (iCF/60) to on-ice Corsi For/60 (CF/60) and on-ice scoring chances for/60 (SCF/60). I think Kylington has real talent and is likely to be a fantasy relevant defenseman in future years. But unless you’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel in a points league, I think you can probably do better on the waiver wire than Kylington at this point.
Verdict: There are probably better options out there than Kylington at this point
Sam Bennett, C – FLA
Bennett has seen a concerning dip in his underlying numbers of late, but of most import is the reduction in ice time. Bennett has averaged under 15 minutes per game in his last five compared to 17:16 ATOI on the season. A significant part of that was due to losing his PP1 role to Sam Reinhart and Anthony Duclair, but it’s worth noting that Bennett did get back on the top unit for all 20 seconds it played in Florida’s last game. I’ll be watching the Panthers’ PP lines very closely in their next game as it’s a huge part of Bennett’s fantasy upside. It’s concerning that Bennett also saw significant drop-offs in his shots/60 and individual scoring chances for/60 (iSCF/60) to go with CF/60 and SCF/60 hits. That being said, even at the reduced number Bennett’s iSCF/60 still ranks 43rd in the NHL over these five games which is obviously still very good. I’m not ready to drop Bennett or even trade him away at what would likely now be a reduced price, but I am watching Florida’s situation and PP deployment more closely than I thought I would be given how hot Bennett was through the first 30+ games of the season.
Verdict: Not particularly close to doing anything about it, but Bennett’s relative slump and dip in deployment are cause for legitimate concern
Robin Lehner, G – VGK
Lehner has been another cautionary tale in the #ZeroG lore this season, ranking 31st in the league in GAA and SV% and 11th in wins despite being drafted inside the top-20 according to Yahoo ADP. He’s been out for a bit with what seems to be a short-term injury, but I can’t say I’m wildly optimistic about his prospects for the rest of the season. Despite playing in the NHL’s weakest division, Vegas has not exactly been defensively stalwart in front of Lehner either, ranking 28th in the league in scoring chances against/60 on the season and 31st in their last ten games. To top it off, Vegas has a pretty terrible fantasy playoff schedule. Add it all up and Lehner is a guy I’d be hoping has a nice little hot streak soon so I can ship him off before my league’s deadline for someone more likely to help me win in the playoffs.
Verdict: Pray for a hot streak so you can move him before your trade deadline
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 Nick Alberga from NHL Fantasy on Ice 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 Natural Stat Trick’s advanced stats glossary.
Thanks for reading, you are appreciated!
Player Stats Cards: Created by @TJStats
Soundtrack to my writing: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb by U2
Advanced stats credit: Natural Stat Trick