With every team in the NHL having played at least 41 games now, it’s time for some reflection. The season is officially more than half complete, allowing for some extrapolation and (hopefully) accurate projections. There are no more small sample sizes. No lack of games played. And if you’re still vying for top spot in your league, no more waiting around.
2017-18 Fantasy Hockey Series: Bounce-Back Candidates
This week’s Fantasy Hockey Series article offers you some reinforcements in the form of potential bounce-back players. These three players have struggled through the first half of the season for a few different reasons. But they all offer some sort of potential value for the second half of the year. They should also be available via free agency or trade. So, if you feel like gambling on some riskier options, these three may be just what you’re looking for.
For the second season in a row, Domi has been a frustrating player to put on a roster. His 28% ownership in Yahoo leagues (27% in ESPN) reflects that. However, as frustrating as it was to hold onto Domi through his injuries and slumps last season, he scored at a .64 point per game pace. This matches his pace of his rookie season, where he amassed 52 points in 81 games. If he can continue his season to season consistency, Domi is in line for a bountiful bounceback to finish the year.
He has struggled mightily lately, with only two assists in his last 16 games. His shot attempts have dropped as well, and his plus-minus has plummeted. Much of this looks to be attributed to his linemates. He has been playing with Christian Fischer and Tobias Rieder, a big difference from his most productive linemates, Clayton Keller and Derek Stepan. For Domi’s sake, hopefully, he gets reunited with Keller and Stepan to kickstart his production for the second half. He is also shooting a paltry 3% this season while averaging more shots and shot attempts than his first two years. As long as he continues at this rate, he is bound to start scoring again, potentially at a great pace.
The Ottawa Senators, as a team, have not met many expectations charged upon them prior to this season. Mike Hoffman has been one of the problems, as he hasn’t shown the same flash as he has the past few seasons. He was projected for another 60-65 point season, with a strong power-play presence. So far he has accumulated 29 points through 42 games, with four goals and eight assists on the power play. So while more than a third of his points have come on the powerplay, as expected, he is only on pace for 56 points. He is also trending towards missing the 25 goal mark for the first time in four years. While it would be nothing to scoff at, this 56 point projection is not quite what people had in mind when they drafted him at 65th overall (ADP).
A 6th round pick in ten team leagues should be expected to score more than 55~ points, and for that reason, Hoffman could be available via trade. Over the past three seasons, he has a 12.3% shooting percentage and 82 goals. This season he is sitting at 7.9% shooting with 11 goals. Hoffman is also averaging more shots per game this season, meaning he should break out soon in a big way. A very low 97.7 PDO should balance itself out soon enough, as well. Playing alongside Matt Duchene, and with Bobby Ryan returning, Hoffman will have some adequate linemates to pick up the pace. If you can pry him away from a disgruntled owner for relatively cheap, he could be a great second half pick-up.
Skinner has a history of being a very streaky scorer. Since his rookie season, when he scored 31 goals and 62 points en route to a Calder Trophy, he has struggled to maintain a consistent pace. He has only matched that 63 point total once; last season when he scored 37 goals, a career high. Going into this season, he was lauded for his scoring as he had scored 20 or more in five of his seven seasons. With 14 so far, he is sure to hit the 20 goal mark, but on pace to fall short of that elusive 30 goal plateau.
As a high volume shooter, Skinner has inherent value even if he doesn’t reach 30 goals. He hasn’t had less than 210 shots in a full season through his seven-year career. His 281 shots last season were a career high, one which he is on pace to eclipse this season. He is currently shooting two points lower than his career average of 10.8%. A simple correction of his shooting percentage will have him at 30 goals again this year. He has been finding plenty of chances despite spending most of his time on the third line with Derek Ryan and Justin Williams. The recent injury to Sebastian Aho may offer Skinner some prime ice time on the first line, or at least a promotion to the second line. A ridiculously low 93.9 PDO and 68.5(!) % offensive zone starts practically spell out an incoming hot streak for Jeff Skinner.
So hit the message boards and scour the waiver wire. These three should be picking it up sooner than later. Each of them has the potential for bounce-backs in the second half and achieve their true value, so get them while they are cheap.