Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the twenty-third instalment 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 Aaron Ekblad, Charlie McAvoy, or any other supposed stud defensemen who have been unceremoniously booted from their top power play units. Let’s get it!
Aaron Ekblad, D – FLA
Ekblad has been a hot topic for a while now as a potential drop, and that conversation has ratched up another level since Ekblad was dropped from the Panthers’ top power play unit in favour of Carter Verhaeghe. Ekblad has put together a truly dismal stretch of play recently, with his assist in Monday night’s 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators the first assist he’s registered since February 6th. That unbelievable statistic aside, Ekblad’s individual numbers had taken a dip in the four games prior to Monday night, where he registered four shots on seven attempts while skating 21:39. Ekblad’s schedule this week makes him a tough drop, as he still has a midweek back-to-back Wednesday and Thursday and another game on the Saturday heavy night.
I roster Ekblad in one place and my current plan is to play him through the back-to-back and re-evaluate if I want to drop him for a Friday/Sunday streamer at that point. Unless your waiver wire is truly abundant and you’ve got lots of moves to spare, I feel there are probably bigger priorities on your roster this week than dropping Ekblad immediately.
Dylan Larkin, C – DET
All things told, Larkin has been remarkably consistent in an uneven season for the Red Wings, scoring 68 points in 71 games so far to nearly mirror last year’s 69 in 71. Larkin’s underlying metrics align pretty consistently with last year’s production as well, and it would be exciting see his ceiling if only Larkin had a truly elite top line winger to play with. As it stands, I expect a 75ish point pace for the rest of the season. I view Larkin as one of the more boring yet consistent assets around these days, and given that Detroit plays four games this week including a Friday/Sunday weekend that avoids the heaviest night of the week on Saturday, I’d have to have a truly stacked lineup to be considering moving on from him.
Charlie McAvoy, D – BOS
McAvoy is a bizarre case study, still on a 64-point pace for the season despite a tremendous stretch of futility of late. McAvoy has scored points in only two of his last eleven games (both multi-point outings) and has just three shots on goal in his last seven. The Bruins have tried both new acquisition Dmitry Orlov and Hampus Lindholm over McAvoy on the top power play unit to varying degrees of success. With Lindholm out Sunday, McAvoy regained his top power play spot and gathered two assists (one with the man advantage). But it’s anyone’s guess as to whether that spot is Lindholm’s or McAvoy’s when both are playing (or Orlov’s, for that matter).
Further complicating the analysis is the looming spectre of the Bruins’ ability to rest any player they want on any given night since they have their top seed all but sewn up. I’m OK to move off McAvoy if you’ll gain games played or if he gets pushed off the top power play again; his individual numbers have been atrocious of late and the Bruins have very little motivation to score tons of goals throughout the rest of the season. It’s a lukewarm take, but it’s a player I feel very lukewarm about right now.
Timo Meier, LW – NJD
Meier was acquired by the Devils to be the missing piece in their already-potent offense, but things haven’t exactly gone to plan. Meier has just four goals and two assists in thirteen games since joining the Devils, despite getting plenty of usage including 19:39 in Monday’s 5-1 loss to the New York Islanders. In general I have no concerns about the level of Meier’s play; he’s fired three or more shots and four or more individual scoring chances for (iSCF) in each of his last seven games. But it certainly grows harder and harder to wait on the production from Meier as we progress in the fantasy playoffs.
I can’t sign off on any Meier drops since all the underlying stats are still right there and the Devils still have three more games this week (albeit all on heavy nights). I’m looking at his two weekend dates with the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets as a potential get-right scenario for him, and planning accordingly.
Alex Tuch, RW – BUF
Tuch is a tough drop right now, garnering an assist and six shots on goal in Monday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens. But you’ll have to wait until Friday for Tuch to play again, and his only other game this week comes on Saturday, the heaviest night of the week. If you’re a top team it’s not inconceivable that you’d be better off dropping Tuch now to get an extra game played or two from a streamer and freeing up a Saturday slot for someone else who would have otherwise been relegated to the bench. I’m looking at this conundrum in one league myself with Dylan Cozens and Jeff Skinner, and I’m leaning towards dropping both. It’s still a situational call, but if you’re getting an extra two games played on the week by dropping Tuch I think it becomes a no-brainer.
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.