New Year, New Sven! 2021 Pre-Season Ranking Reflection

What’s Happenin’?


Sven here back with another article. I apologize for not being around as much so far this season, but hopefully I will be able to prioritize this passion project of ours more in 2022.


It’s difficult to say sorry sometimes, but it’s even harder to admit when you’re wrong. We all wish we had a crystal ball to perfectly predict who to draft at the start of the season so we’re able to run away with all of our fantasy hockey leagues. Sadly, that isn’t possible – however we do our best to help you guys out with pre-season rankings based on who we love and who we aren’t as high on.


In this article, I will be taking a look back at my pre-season rankings and looking at a few key takeaways – who I was too high on, too low on, and maybe even pump my tires a little with who I got right. We are not accounting for players who have been injured, as of course I am off on guys like Bryan Rust and Max Pacioretty. As always, let us know if you enjoy reading this sort of content. Let’s get right to it:


For the sake of current player “rankings”, I am looking at how the players are currently ranked in my main Yahoo league. G, A, PPP, SOG and blocks. Goaltenders is W, SV, GAA.



GOALTENDERS


Too high: Philipp Grubauer (pre-season rank: 11)


Turns out, taking more money on free agency day over playing on one of the best teams in the league isn’t always the right decision. Grubauer was a 6th-rounder on average and a lot of people were assuming he was going to carry Seattle to a winning season much like Marc-Andre Fleury did Vegas. Unfortunately, Grubauer has just seven wins and a GAA North of three which is an absolute eye sore. I don’t think Seattle will be as bad as they have been for the entire season, but I would look to sell Grubauer if you still own him.


Too low: Tristan Jarry (pre-season rank: NR)


My top ten is in shambles compared to league rankings so you could throw a number of names here (Jack Campbell, Frederik Andersen, etc.) That being said, at least I ranked those guys. I had ZERO faith in the Penguins going into this season especially with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin missing significant time. Jarry has proven this season that he was the right choice as his former partner has spent time in the AHL this season! I ended up picking goaltenders relatively early in both my leagues, but would have loved to scoop Jarry up at his 114 ADP.


Just right: Thatcher Demko (pre-season rank: 9)


Bruce, there it is! The Canucks season has been quite the head scratcher but Demko has been by far their most consistent player. Him ranking in the top ten overall in this league is largely due to how many freaking saves he has to make, but the start volume has also been immaculate. Vancouver is relevant again, and I like the idea of holding Demko till the cows come home.



DEFENCE


Too high: Darnell Nurse (pre-season rank: 14)


Though the SOG are immaculate, Nurse ranks outside the top 25 in every other category in this league. I had a feeling his offensive output was going to taper off, but I did not expect him to only have 32 blocked shots in 23GP. This could be a hangover from the goal-fest North Division last season, or we just need to lower our fantasy expectations for Nurse going forward.


Nurse is fine to hold, but perhaps his name could still garner some trade attention if you need more offensive production.


Too low: Roman Josi (pre-season rank: 6)


Just one season removed from a Norris trophy, I had a feeling Josi would be back to his old ways. It certainly helps when the Predators are surprising everyone and back at the top of the Central Division, but this guy is a one-man breakout. 10 goals, 107 shots and 13 PPP are all top three in their respective category, and the fact that his ADP was 61st overall on Yahoo makes him one of the biggest steals of the first half.


Josi is showing no signs of slowing down, and if you were able to draft him around his ADP he is likely the second Dman on your team. I would hold him rest-of-season unless you can land a big splash forward.


Just right: Seth Jones (pre-season rank: 9)


Things were very rocky right off the hop, but if you managed to hold Jones through Chicago’s awful start you are LAUGHING right now. 20 assists puts him sixth among blue liners, while the SOG and blocks are immaculate as expected. If the Blackhawks’ 16th ranked power play catches fire, we could see Jones absolutely pop off and take the top spot for PPP.


Jones is a hold and might even be a potential buy in leagues where people are too mindful of his -6 rating. Keep your eye out!



WINGERS


Too high: Brady Tkachuk (pre-season rank: 11)


Don’t get me wrong, 22 points in 25 games is nothing to look down upon. That being said, what’s killing Brady is that he only has three PPP, all of which being goals. It certainly doesn’t help that his absolutely ridiculous shot rate has ticked down noticeably through those 25 games this season. I am still very much on the Tkachuk wagon and have loved the intangibles he has brought as a recently named captain, but the team around him needs to get significantly better before we consider him an on-the-cusp top ten winger.


I am hoping the shot rate will improve as the season progresses, which would absolutely make Brady a trade target if you are lacking goals.


Too low: Kyle Connor (pre-season rank: 17)


I was cautious with Connor heading into this season as I wanted to see more consistency, but did admit that he could be a steal at the ranking I had him. Is second in the league to only Alex Ovechkin in SOG any good? I don’t know Sven, that sounds pretty good! 18 goals aren’t too shabby either. These categories alone carried Connor to 13th overall in my league, and his ice time has only gone up under interim coach Dave Lowry.


Honourable mention to William Nylander who wasn’t in my top 20 wingers article but is tearing it up in Toronto right now!


Just right: Matthew Tkachuk (pre-season rank: 19)


Honestly, instead of “just right” I should put “close enough”. Injuries and Covid have really screwed up my rankings, as guys like Gabriel Landeskog and Brad Marchand are performing very well but have played significantly less games than some other players ranked higher.


That being said, this paragraph isn’t about Sven. It’s about Matthew Tkachuk and his surprise Calgary Flames. The team’s success has accounted for a nice PPP production, and I love his shot rate thus far. If the TOI stays where it is, I can only see Matthew becoming more and more of a fantasy force as the season progresses. It really helps a player when the rest of your teammates are back to their normal selves and helping each other produce!



CENTRES


Too high: Elias Pettersson (pre-season rank: 11)


Though he has picked it up as of late under new coach Bruce Boudreau, Pettersson has been flat out disappointing through his first 30 or so games. Fellow high C pick Mark Scheifele has had similar underwhelming production, though the Jets 1C has played nine fewer games. I have no doubt Pettersson will be a great NHLer, I just think we need to lower our expectations a bit going forward into next season. It is difficult to see a player taper off after such a promising rookie season, but let’s hope things continue on the up-swing under his new coach. DailyFaceoff currently has him skating with Vasily Podkolzin and Conor Garland, which is a line I would try to give as many offensive zone starts as possible.


Seeing as Pettersson has five points in eight games under Boudreau, I would monitor his production and possibly look to buy low if we see his TOI get closer to 19 minutes per game.


Too low: John Tavares (pre-season rank: 17)


I figured Tavares would be a safe pick, but did not expect him to continue to produce at a fantasy 1C level. His point totals are very respectable, but what puts him at 15th among all positions in this league scoring is how well-rounded he’s been, ranking top 25 in everything except blocks.


Depending on the amount of Leafs bias in your league, JT might not have even been a steal this year on draft day. That being said, he has turned back the clock a little bit and been one of the many bright spots on his team this season.


An honourable mention to Steven Stamkos here so has the Lightning on his back despite missing teammates Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov for a significant amount of time.


Just right: Mika Zibanejad (pre-season rank: 6)


Going into this season, I think we were all holding our breaths on Zib and what he was going to be able to do. More importantly, if he would be consistent this season against teams other than the Flyers. Recently signed to a big ticket, the Rangers 1C is hovering right around a point per game and much like JT is very well rounded in the categories we care about. One thing to note is his shooting percentage is down to just 8.7%, obviously down from his ridiculous 20% in 2019-20 but also noticeably less than his 14% last season. If he keeps up around three SOG per game, we are going to see more goals. That is just what the historical data is telling us. Zib deserves to be where he is and could even get better if he gets some puck luck!


That’s it from me for now, but stay tuned to the YouTube channel and the discord as we are very excited to get some more content out in 2022!


Take care,


Sven

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