Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the twelfth 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 Sebastian Aho, Patrik Laine, or any other player whose name has been the source of terrible puns masquerading as fantasy hockey team names. Let’s get it!
Sebastian Aho, C – CAR
Sebastian Aho hasn’t quite lived up to fantasy managers’ expectations this year, falling off last season’s 37-goal, 81-point season with a 30-goal, 77-point pace this season. This is extra surprising because Aho is seeing 19:48 average time on ice this year, compared to 18:48 a season ago. Aho has just four points in his last seven games, which constitutes a real slump for a player you were drafting in the third round of your leagues this year. Under the hood, I see no real cause for concern with Aho; his shot and individual scoring chance for (iSCF) rates are in line with career averages and his on-ice rate stats are the best of his career, ranking top-15 in the league in Corsi For/60 (CF/60) and top-50 in scoring chances for/60 (SCF/60) on the season. The culprit lies with Aho’s “luck metrics”: his individual points percentage (IPP), shooting percentage (S%), and on-ice shooting percentage (oiSH%) are all below career norms. This recent seven-game stretch doesn’t bother me given his long-standing history of production, and if there’s an opportunity to buy low on Aho here then I would absolutely make that happen.
Patrik Laine, RW – CBJ
Laine has always been a hot-then-cold player which is not overly unusual for the goal-scorer profile he presents. Laine hasn’t registered a point in his last five games and prior to Sunday’s game against Washington he had just five shots on goal across four games. But Laine came through with a nine-shot effort in almost 20 minutes of work in that game, and that’s enough to allay any fears I might have had that there was some underlying reason for his lack of production. On the season, Laine’s profile is similar to Aho’s in that his individual stats are in line with historical norms but his on-ice stats are the best of his career and he’s seeing the most ice time he’s ever had. Laine’s S% and oiSH% both look very light for a player of his talents and I’d expect a rebound from him over the back half of the season. Perhaps Sunday’s outing is an indication of an impending hot streak?
Sam Reinhart, RW – FLA
Every year, there’s one player that I get way more questions about than all others. This season, it seems to be Reinhart, who has stumbled out to a 52-point pace through his first 41 games after posting 82 points in 78 games for the Panthers a season ago. It’s incredibly difficult to pin down what could be going wrong for Reinhart this year – is it the loss of linemate Mason Marchment, or the arrival of new coach Paul Maurice? I’d lend more credence to those theories if there was a statistical indication that he was off his game in some way, but it’s simply not the case. Reinhart is getting more ice time than last year but has maintained the shot and iSCF rates that he posted last year, resulting in more chances to score than ever before. The on-ice numbers look solid as well, perfectly in line with last year. Like many of the Panthers, Reinhart’s conversion rates have plummeted, posting what would be some of the worst IPP, S%, and oiSH% percentages of his career through 41 games. I’m still betting on a turnaround and I would acquire Reinhart if a manager was fed up with his performance, but I will acknowledge that there’s a distinct chance that the season drags out and Reinhart continues to be this unlucky (for whatever reason it might be).
Nick Suzuki, C – MTL
Suzuki may have put himself back in his managers’ good books with a two-assist game last Saturday, but prior to that Suzuki had just one point in eight games to go with nine total shots. The fact is that Suzuki’s underlying stats have been underwhelming all season long and his surprising goal totals were largely due to an outsized 20.8% shooting percentage. Even after this long dry spell, Suzuki still sports a 12.6% on-ice shooting percentage which feels very likely to regress given his highest mark prior to this season was 10.8% and Montreal is not exactly a fountain of offense these days. Suzuki will likely provide points as the #1 center and captain in Montreal skating 21 minutes a game, but I’m not bullish on him exceeding a 60-point pace from here on out and less is very possible.
Tyler Toffoli, RW – CGY
Toffoli has enjoyed a lot of success recently, racking up thirteen points across his last ten games. I would classify Toffoli’s individual rate stats during this stretch as good not great, but he was probably due for a little more luck than he had gotten to that point. Overall I look at Toffoli’s season-long pace of 68 points as a very solid projection moving forward. The one interesting part of Toffoli’s profile is that he’s averaging just under seventeen minutes a game; there’s some room for that number to grow if coach Darryl Sutter decides to lean on Toffoli a little more in the back half of the year (and especially given his recent run of production). I’m not sure what the odds of that happening are, but it’s worth noting that there seems to be a little more upside here and not a ton of downside from a deployment perspective.
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.