Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the ninteenth 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 Timo Meier, Auston Matthews, or any other elite scoring chance producers across the league. Let’s get it!
Ryan Hartman, C – MIN
I’m a pretty big proponent of Hartman. For one thing, he’s clearly the most offensively talented centre in Minnesota in my mind, making him the obvious candidate to stick in his current role on the top line. Second, Hartman has largely maintained last season’s shots/60 and individual scoring chances for/60 (iSCF/60) rates despite getting bounced around the Wild middle six for much of the season before his recent promotion to line 1.
Hartman has especially elevated his game of late, scoring six points in his last five games while averaging more than three shots per game. I don’t view Hartman as true top line talent, but he’s good enough to be a strong third wheel and that’s plenty valuable for fantasy. Hartman has skated a minimum of 16:40 in each of his last eight games so I feel pretty confident that as long as he’s on the top line he’ll have every opportunity to provide a 65-70 point pace for his fantasy managers.
Auston Matthews, C – TOR
Matthews’ season has been a little difficult to tease apart, but there are a two things I believe about him currently. First, he’s been wildly unlucky this year, with a 59% individual points percentage (IPP) and 12.8% shooting percentage (S%). Regress those two numbers to his average over the prior three seasons and Matthews would have 38 goals and 36 assists for 74 points in 53 games, a 59-goal and 114-point pace. I’m still comfortably taking Matthews in the top-4 of my drafts next season.
Secondly, I do believe Matthews is nursing an injury of some kind. He’s averaging just 16:58 of ice time over his past six games while registering a pedestrian (by his standards) 10.6 shots/60 and 12.4 iSCF/60. I can’t recall a stretch of games where coach Sheldon Keefe has given Matthews this little ice time before and it’s at least a little concerning. It’s pretty hard to bet against Matthews and if whatever’s ailing him is resolved soon then he could be absolutely dominant for the rest of the season. But the trend is enough to give me pause.
Timo Meier, RW – NJD
Meier’s trade to the New Jersey Devils and the resulting fantasy impact was something we discussed on the latest Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey Podcast episode, but I’ll reiterate here. Meier is unlucky to get 19:58 of ice time in New Jersey like he was in San Jose, but it’s pretty clear that he’s about to receive a massive upgrade in quality of linemates regardless of where he ends up slotting into the Devils’ top six. Combine that with his addition to an already-lethal Devil power play in need of another finisher and it’s easy to get excited about what could be.
I’d imagine Meier should end up getting close to the 17:41 of ice that Jesper Bratt sees on a nightly basis, and that’s enough to call this trade a net positive for Meier’s fantasy stock. I’d hesitate to assign a 90-point ceiling here unless he gets up into a 19+ minute per night range, but point-per-game Meier is well within reach. The sole caveat with Meier is that he’s still recovering from a minor injury and he may not be ready to go for Wednesday’s tilt against Colorado.
Tommy Novak, C – NSH
Novak has absolutely exploded of late, scoring eleven points in his last five games while occupying a spot on Nashville’s top line and top power play unit. While I don’t think Novak necessarily has a top line projection, I have no issue in picking him up while he’s hot and trying to stay in the flames for as long as possible. The deployment gives him a decent floor, and he’s certainly bought himself some runway with this latest hot stretch.
Overall it’s hard to say that Novak will continue to score at this rate without generating more shots, but he’s registered a very respectable 9.4 shots/60 and 8.9 iSCF/60 in 26 games this season. So go ahead and grab Novak if you’re looking for someone who’s hot at the moment, but keep that leash short and don’t get caught hanging on after he’s gone cold again.
Moritz Seider, D – DET
Seider’s season has not exactly gone to plan this year, as he’s taken a bit of a step backwards instead of ascending into superstar status as many thought he could. Seider is ice cold at the moment, running six straight games without a point now. Filip Hronek has once again supplanted him as the PP1 quarterback, rendering Seider nearly irrelevant for fantasy in all but bangers categories leagues. The biggest problem with Seider for most is that it’s crunch time with playoffs just around the corner, and managers need points from every player in their lineup.
On the season Seider’s individual numbers have taken a hit from last year while his on-ice numbers haven’t changed appreciably. It really does seem like a classic sophomore slump, and with Detroit scrapping for their first playoff berth in years I don’t think they’ll be overly patient with Seider when he’s not producing. I’m OK with dropping Seider in most points league setups, and if Detroit had a worse schedule this week I’d be OK with it in bangers categories too. As long as Hronek has PP1 Seider is just a guy and you can’t afford to be snoozing with an ice-cold defender on your roster as you try to make your fantasy playoffs.
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.