Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the fourth instalment of a weekly article I’ll be 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 Robert Thomas, Craig Smith, or any other NHL players who just might also be singers. Let’s get it!
Aleksander Barkov, C – FLA
Aleksander Barkov Player Card – via @TJStats
I’ve got absolutely no worries about Barkov. He’s actually been producing just fine of late, too: six points in his last six games. He’s averaging four shots per game across those games and more than four iSCF per game. The extra work I posited as a possibility under Paul Maurice back in July has come to pass in a big way: Barkov is averaging 23:06 per game, nearly three minutes per game more than the 20:18 he played last year. For him to have not given much back on the shots/60 and holding steady in iSCF/60 is actually quite remarkable, and really any lack in Barkov’s production is due to a 50% individual points percentage (IPP) and 4.6% shooting percentage (S%) more than anything he’s not doing. In fact, Barkov’s on-ice rate stats are astronomical currently, blowing last year’s terrific season out of the water (87.7 Corsi For/60 vs 71.2 last year, 48.7 scoring chances for/60 vs 39.6 last year). If there’s any sort of buy-low opportunity now with Barkov you’d best jump on that immediately.
Chris Kreider, LW – NYR
Chris Kreider Player Card – via @TJStats
The Rangers came out with some new-look lines today and those lines featured Chris Kreider on the third line with Filip Chytil and Vitali Kravtsov. Kreider’s ice time has trended down sharply over the last few games, going from 21:57 to 17:28 to 15:03. He’s still found the scoresheet in five straight games, but the scoring chances have dried up along with his ice time in the last couple. I don’t have any major long-lasting concerns with Kreider (he had rattled off five straight games of 5+ shots before these two games), but certainly the deployment change makes him less valuable in the short term. I anticipate he’ll be back in the top six before long, but for this week you may want to consider benching him if you have better options on your heavy nights.
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW – CGY
Jonathan Huberdeau Player Card – via @TJStats
We talked about Huberdeau on the Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey Podcast yesterday, and noted a few things about the early returns in Calgary. First off, Huberdeau is shooting less with a worse iSCF/60 rate, and that’s being compounded by him seeing less than 17 minutes of ice time per night (he averaged 19:25 last year in Florida). The positive sign here is that he’s actually registering a slightly higher CF/60 this year than last season, so he’s at least on the ice for offensive chances for regardless of whether he personally is the one registering those shot attempts. Huberdeau looks like a 75-80 point pace player at the 17ish minute per game level, but if he can get back up to 18:30 or 19 minutes then he’s back into a 90+ point range in my estimation.
Sam Reinhart, RW – FLA
Sam Reinhart Player Card – via @TJStats
I’ve been adamant that Reinhart was a buy low candidate throughout his cold streak, and it appears that we finally have some positive regression here with Reinhart scoring twice in yesterday’s tilt against the Anaheim Ducks. Even after those goals, Reinhart has comically bad numbers in the “luck metrics”: 36% IPP, 5% S%, and 6.8% on-ice shooting percentage (oiSH%). Reinhart has actually been outperforming his rate stats from last season across the board, and he’s doing that despite assuming 20:56 of ice time per game, up from 17:45 a season ago. While nearly a minute of that is additional penalty killing work, Reinhart is clearly in a position to absolutely blow up and I truly believe he could put up a point per game from this point onwards.
The St. Louis Blues
Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, & Pavel Buchnevich Player Cards – via @TJStats
There was a lot of interest in the Discord in a broader discussion on the Blues, so I’ve got three players here for you who I’ve heard lots of talk about dropping. First off, let me just say that the Blues have been dreadful at even strength, ranking 28th in CF/60 and 23rd in SCF/60. Their 6.7% team shooting percentage at even strength is worst in the league and due for some regression, but unless they find a way to generate more shots on goal it’s hard to envision them becoming a top-half offense in the league anytime soon. Luckily the power play is still a top-half unit, but that’s not enough.
The lone player seemingly unaffected by all this is Vladimir Tarasenko, who has gone about putting up his customary point per game as if nothing else matters. Jordan Kyrou has the best stats of the group, outperforming last year’s shots/60, iSCF/60, and CF/60 while up to an average of 19:09 per night (after running just 16:34 last year). The Blues are playing the Bruins as I write this and Kyrou has an assist, for whatever that’s worth. Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich have the benefit of being attached to Tarasenko both at even strength and on the power play, but both have gone the wrong direction this season in terms of their individual chance generation stats. I hold more hope for Buchnevich as he was injured for five games and it’s very possible he just needs more time to get back up to game speed. But I’m not confident enough to label any of these three a major target for acquisition; I’d like to see a few more games shake out before making any major moves.
I’d hold both Kyrou and Buchnevich right now if you were thinking of dropping them, but I could be convinced to drop Thomas in some setups if there’s a priority addition to be made.
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 Apples & Ginos Discord server for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have.