Investigating if there is a relevant correlation between rebounds and production in fantasy hockey.
Hey everyone, I'm FP Don. This is my first article for Fantasy Puck and I'm hoping to contribute regularly to the site and brand. I have experience working in pro hockey and plenty of to talk about from a fantasy and DFS standpoint. As always, feel free to communicate and let me hear your thoughts on this topic or any others down the road.
Many goaltending coaches and goalies themselves will tell you the importance of rebound control and limiting scoring opportunities in and around the crease. Rebounds are a given in any level of hockey and are often considered “garbage goals” or “freebies”. Whether there is a skill involved in accumulating these rebound goals or not, it is a counted statistic and with every counted statistic there are leaders. In this article I will dive into the players and goalies impacted by a rebound goal and whether there is any value to it in terms of fantasy hockey production.
Before I even looked at any data, I had come up with a few hypotheses on the topic of rebounds.
A. Goaltenders that give up more shots per game are likely to give up more rebounds.
B. Players who are in front of the net or in the middle of the offensive zone are likely to have more opportunities to score a rebound (Think Joe Pavelski during his time with San Jose).
C. With the shortened NHL season approaching, the adjusted divisions and schedule would mean players would see the same goalie far more often than in a normal regular season.
What kind of impact would this have on the success of the player or goalie?
Let’s get right into it. Here is a look at the leaders in rebounds allowed from this past season (2019-20) in comparison with the amount of shot attempts faced.
A couple of expected names and a couple of surprising names in my opinion. My first hypothesis seems to be accurate. All of these netminders rank within the top 12 amongst the 67 qualified goalies in shot attempts faced. That was not too difficult to assume. In addition to potentially reassessing your goaltender evaluations for this upcoming fantasy season, this list can help us see which teams struggle in their own zone. If a team is struggling in their own zone, a smart fantasy hockey player will use that to their advantage and select players whom are facing these teams more often this season.
The five teams represented in the above chart will play in the Central Division, North Division, West Division, North Division and West Division respectively. Three of the four divisions are in play here, with the East Division being the odd-man out. We see the North and Central Divisions represented twice, potentially showing there may be some hidden gems on those teams, or at the very least, players to consider in DFS and fantasy pools.
Let’s have a look at which players benefit the most from rebounds. Below is a chart which lists the leaders in Rebound Goals from this past season (2019-20).
Alright, so nothing too exciting. You’re probably thinking “who cares about 8 goals?” Given the season was cut short, one could assume each of these players would have added 1-2 extra rebound goals. When you look at this list on an 82-game scale, we’re talking about double digit rebound goals for these guys! Now, I am not saying these players are must-owns in fantasy or DFS, realistically, Pageau and Granlund may not be drafted in your league at all.
The divisions for this list go as follows:
- West (now in North)
For this chart we have all four divisions represented, but the West appears 3x and the Central appears 2x. That is not optimal for the purpose of this article, but it is okay. The West is the best match with goaltenders Binnington and Fleury and players Kopitar, Kane and Toffoli coming from that division. Based on the new schedule for this upcoming 2021 season, each team will play each other as many as nine times. This is far more opportunities than we would see in a normal season. Around 3x as many opportunities for your fantasy players to beat up on these rebound-heavy goalies.
The final chart we can investigate is the High Danger Scoring Chances. Although rebounds can be from anywhere in the offensive zone, some are juicier than others and result in goals more often. This is the tip of the iceberg for what is known as expected goals and expected rebounds (maybe a topic another day). These high danger chances are considered high danger because of the proximity to the goal.
This image displays the area considered to be high danger in the NHL. One could assume that the majority of rebounds are accumulated in this zone. So it would make sense for the successful rebound goal collectors are also getting the most opportunities to do so. From a fantasy perspective, goals are great, but opportunities are what lead to goals. In DFS and most fantasy leagues, shots is key statistic and what better than a shot that also goes in the net?
Here is a look at the HD Shot leaders from this past season (2019-20).
Of course! Three of the five names are players we also saw on the rebound leaders list. If a player is generating lots of high danger shots, he is likely the beneficiary of some good offensive lines that contribute to the overall success of that player. This can be utilized in DFS and considered when drafting a fantasy team. If a player is successful statistically, consider taking his line mates if possible.
To wrap this first article up I think we should review my initial hypotheses and ensure we touched on all of them. We first looked at goalies that give up lots of rebounds. These are teams I would lean towards picking against, knowing their defense is an issue and their goaltending is shaky on rebound control. Secondly, we investigated how high-danger attempts (in front of the net) correlate to rebound success for players. The old saying “go to the net and good things will happen” still applies at the game’s highest level. Lastly, we want to target these matchups against the weak defensive teams in our fantasy games, whether it be DFS sites such as DraftKings or FanDuel or our fantasy leagues with our friends. I will leave you with some players that I personally will be targeting not only in fantasy leagues, but in DFS as well.
Brady Tkachuk – LW- OTT – 10 games against Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens
Evander Kane – LW – SJS – 6 games against Jordan Binnington and the St. Louis Blues
Sebastian Aho – C – CAR – 8 games against Sergei Bobrovsky and the Florida Panthers
- FP Don
Sources: MoneyPuck.com, NHL.com, HockeyReference.com