Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the sixteenth 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 Drew Doughty, Filip Hronek, or any other defenders out-producing their advanced stats. Let’s get it!
Drew Doughty, D – LAK
Doughty has caught fire in the new year, registering eleven points in his last ten games. Despite the rebound in counting stats, I still have significant concerns about Doughty’s performance this season. Doughty is still failing to shoot the puck at a rate even approximating last year’s, only registering more than two shots on two occasions across his last fifteen games played. It’s a puzzling development for Doughty in a season where the Kings have added to their forward corps in a way that should facilitate even more production for him. Doughty’s on-ice numbers have come down this season as well and he’s being buoyed by a near-career high 10.5% on-ice shooting percentage (oiSH%) despite just a 3.2% personal shooting percentage (S%). I’m concerned that Doughty simply isn’t going to provide consistent production through the rest of the season despite this recent hot streak.
Brandon Hagel, LW – TBL
Hagel reflects a very particular prototype of player for fantasy in my mind – the middle six winger who can return increased production when given elite deployment. For much of this season, Hagel has played alongside superstars Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point on Tampa’s top line and joined them on PP1 as well. But recently coach Jon Cooper has resorted to a stacked top line with captain Steven Stamkos replacing Hagel, and Hagel’s production has predictably started to fall off. Hagel is averaging 18:48 of ice time on the season but has not eclipsed that number in the last five games and was down to 16:22 in tonight’s shellacking at the hands of the Florida Panthers. Hagel had just a single shot on goal in this game and while that single statistic is not terribly predictive, it’s a microcosm of who I view Hagel to be as a player – a middle six winger who can produce strong numbers when given the opportunity but is unlikely to lock down a top line role forever. I don’t think Hagel is a drop right away, but he’s a power play demotion away from being on that bubble.
Filip Hronek, D – DET
Filip Hronek has fallen off the torrid pace he established earlier in the season and has seen Moritz Seider take the top power play spot back as well. But while Hronek was unsustainably hot for a long period of time this season, I still think it’s fair to say that he’s elevated his game this season, pacing at over a full shot/60 higher than his previous career high and on track to post the highest CF/60 and SCF/60 marks of his career as well. Hronek’s inflated production can largely be attributed to his sky-high 12.3% oiSH%, making his current 56-point pace feel a little on the high side. But Hronek is still providing value with his improved shot volume and he’s added a little more snarl to his game this year with the highest hits/60 of his career. In summary: Hronek is a solid D4 in almost any format for my money, but if you’re waiting for 70-point pace Hronek to re-emerge this year I think you’re going to be waiting for a long time.
Boone Jenner, C – CBJ
I’m very into Jenner at cost. 20+ minutes a night on lock? Check. Top line and top power play? Yep. Nearly 10 individual scoring chances per 60? You bet. Jenner is even on pace to set a personal best in CF/60 and SCF/60 by nearly 10% this season, no doubt due in large part to the addition of star winger Johnny Gaudreau. Combine all of this with Jenner’s bangers profile as a hitting/blocking/faceoff machine and you have a player who is extremely valuable in leagues that count those categories. Jenner is one of the most disrespected players in fantasy for my money and if you get the sense that he’s acquirable for less than his real value for your league’s settings I would fully support an attempt to acquire him.
Torey Krug, D – STL
I am having a very tough time getting a read on Krug currently. On one hand, Krug has been firing shots on goal at Dougie Hamilton or Roman Josi rates in his four games since returning from injury on January 24th. Justin Faulk’s horrendous struggles on the power play while Krug was out gives me hope that Krug may see a greater percentage of the Blues’ power play time than he has so far in his St. Louis tenure. But the Blues’ position well outside the wild card race in the Western Conference has led to much discussion that they may be sellers at the trade deadline, which could potentially lead to less team offense and therefore less upside for Krug.
Krug is currently on a 49-point pace and I think he could pace anywhere from 40 points to 60 points for the rest of the season and it wouldn’t surprise me terribly. I’m not buying Krug as if he’s a guaranteed 50+ point defender, but if his cost to acquire is less than that I am interested given the solid fantasy playoff schedule for the Blues.
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.