The Truth #24

Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the twenty-fourth and final 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 Jonathan Huberdeau, Erik Karlsson, or any other players who shocked their fantasy managers this season (for better or for worse).

This article is going to be a little different because I wanted to do something different for the final Truth article of the season. In this one we’re going to examine a few players’ full seasons and see if their performance this season was an aberration or indicative of things to come. Let’s get it!

Aleksander Barkov, C – FLA

Aleksander Barkov Player Card – via @TJStats

It will probably shock most people to realize that Barkov has posted a 92 point pace this season, as he was one of the players I received the most questions about this year for his “poor play”. Barkov certainly took a step back on the goal-scoring front this year and both his shots/60 and individual scoring chances for/60 (iSCF/60) numbers took a step backwards this year after two very strong seasons prior. I’m inclined to believe that Barkov’s various injuries this season (including a hand injury that likely affected his shooting) are more to blame for his individual stats regressing than any slippage in his overall talent.

Barkov’s on-ice numbers were actually even better this year than during last year’s bombastic performance, but the regression bat coming for 2021-22’s 18.2% shooting percentage (S%) and 13.4% on-ice shooting percentage (oiSH%) kept Barkov’s totals under wraps. Looking ahead to next year, I feel very confident in projecting Barkov as a 95ish point player with more of those points coming as goals than this year.

Nikolaj Ehlers, LW – WPG

NIkolaj Ehlers Player Card – via @TJStats

Ehlers has been touted as unreliable and cold as ice for a month now, but those people clearly aren’t actually going by his statistics – Ehlers has 13 points in his last 14 games and four in his last two. That’s come despite averaging just 15:40 of ice time in that span while Rick Bowness appears to continue a personal vendetta against his most talented offensive player (I said what I said). Unfortunately for us in fantasy, Ehlers may continue to fit the mold of a player who can’t win coaches over for whatever unknown reason and thereby never gets the deployment that could turn them into a true league-winner.

That being said, the value proposition on Ehlers is always going to be there. I fully expect Ehlers to be faded by many in fantasy drafts next year and I’ll make sure I’m just a little higher on him than my leaguemates. Ehlers’ combination of elite efficiency (81% average IPP the last four years) and shot production (10th in the league in shots/60 over the last four years) makes him a powder keg that could explode for a 40-goal/90-point season given 19 minutes a night. I’ll keep dealing with the 70-point “frustrating” seasons out of Ehlers while continuing to bet that one day the stars will align and he’ll be a league-winner.

Jack Eichel, C – VGK

Jack Eichel Player Card – via @TJStats

Eichel is a very interesting player to me, because how I have viewed Eichel since his Buffalo days has always seemed to differ from his general perception in the fantasy community. I still remember the “Eichel > Matthews” takes of yesteryear, but truth be told Eichel has never been in the same league as Matthews in terms of efficiency. This is a player who has never exceeded 82 points in a season and whose best point pace is 94 points in a season in which he averaged over 22 minutes a night. Since arriving in Vegas, Eichel has been consistently deployed in the high-18 minute to low-19 minute range; good numbers no doubt, but not the kind of TOI that can turn a player of Eichel’s profile into a true superstar.

To drive the point home a little more, Eichel has only had two seasons in the league with a S% north of 10.5%: the 2019-20 94-point pace season in which he shot 15.9%, and this season right now in which he’s shooting 12.7% and has been widely regarded as a disappointment for fantasy. When I look at Eichel’s advanced stats for this season I see a player performing almost exactly as expected. As of today he’s one point below a point-per-game pace and I projected him for one point above a point-per-game pace back in August. This is who Jack Eichel is, friends. Get used to it.

Jonathan Huberdeau, LW – CGY

Jonathan Huberdeau Player Card – via @TJStats

Huberdeau hasn’t been terrible of late with 10 points in his last 11 games, but the 58-point pace on the season is a huge problem for a player coming off a 115-point campaign in which he was unironically being touted as an MVP candidate by some (misguided) media types. It’s easy for me to say that Huberdeau still has the talent to be a fantasy star: he posted four straight 90+ point pace seasons prior to this year’s debacle. There have been well-publicized pieces saying that Huberdeau and Flames coach Darryl Sutter are not seeing eye-to-eye, and there were certainly underlying injury issues for Huberdeau as well, at least for stretches of the season.

Huberdeau’s future projection depends on Sutter’s future as Calgary’s coach, and how much you believe Huberdeau can turn the tap back on in Year 2 as a member of the Flames. I’m inclined to forgive Huberdeau’s sins this season and bank on the multiple years of stellar production in years prior, but I’d be lying if it’s not already in the back of my mind that the floor with Huberdeau is lower than literally every other player we expect to score a point per game or better next year. One last note: I want to try to get a good sense of what Huberdeau’s deployment will look like next year, because 16:52 average time on ice is not going to cut it if we’re hoping for a PPG-plus.

Erik Karlsson, D – SJS

Erik Karlsson Player Card – via @TJStats

Karlsson’s rebirth as a fantasy star this season has been excellent cinema, dominating the league from the defense position on a putrid Sharks team in a way that only a handful of defensemen in NHL history could even dream of. Certainly Karlsson’s 25:45 average time on ice has helped him achieve his 103-point pace, as has his career high marks in all of the luck metrics: 66% IPP, 11% S%, and 11.9% oiSH%. We can’t expect Karlsson to post another 100 point season next year, but I’ll have few qualms about drafting him with a 70 point floor and 90 point upside in mind.

But I want to emphasize that smart fantasy managers should have been in on Karlsson from the start. The injury risk that everyone saw with Karlsson was always more than baked into the price (140.8 ADP on Yahoo/189 ADP on ESPN), and Karlsson posted a 57-point pace in his 50 games in 2021-22. I personally had Karlsson projected north of 60 points and 13th amongst all defensemen for the season. With the benefit of hindsight, Karlsson’s season is a lesson in betting on ceiling especially when the risk is negligible given the cost to acquire.

That’s all for another season of The Truth at Apples & Ginos folks, I hope you had as much fun reading this series this season as I had writing it! There will be plenty of content all offseason so don’t be a stranger and stay plugged in all offseason as we break down player movement, playoff performances, and more. 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.

Much love,


Published by Apples & Ginos

Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey Advice

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: