What have we learned this past season in the NHL?
Special for Yahoo Sports
As the program draws to a close, it’s time to take a look at what exactly we’ve learned from this truncated season. Here are six lessons to consider:
We will start with the most obvious. Going into Monday’s competitions, Connor McDavid’s 1.78 points per game (min 40 GP per season) is the highest average of the past 20 seasons, and it’s not even close – the 1.56P / GP of Nikita Kucherov in 2018-2019 is far behind, while Leon Draisaitl’s Le 1.55 last season is third. The only times a player has averaged over 1.60 P / GP in the same period are Sidney Crosby in 2010-11 (1.61 P / GP) and Mario Lemieux in 2000-01 (1, 77 P / GP). In a full 82-game schedule, McDavid would have been on track to score 145 points and win Art Ross by a 27-point lead over Draisaitl.
It should be noted that playing in the One North Division probably helped McDavid improve his stats, but unlike in previous years where multiple players could claim to be selected first overall in Fantasy Leagues, McDavid will enter next season as that not unanimous and undisputed. 1 selection. If you are lucky enough to get the first choice, it will be the easiest decision you can make, and saying any name other than “McDavid” – “McJesus” and other variations like that is okay. – deserves a lifetime of ridicule and a walk down the main street where people will line up and sing, “Shame. Shame.
2. Auston Matthews is also in a class of his own …
… but only when it comes to scoring goals.
While McDavid is the scariest player to cross the neutral zone with speed, no player is more dangerous than Auston Matthews with the puck in the attacking zone. His ability to change the angle of his shot and release it pretty much anywhere means he’s the rare player who when shooting, no shot is really a bad shot. At 0.81 G / GP, Matthews would have been on pace for a 66-goal season in an 82-game schedule.
Just to illustrate how rare this feat is compared to McDavid’s point production, only two players have managed to score 60 goals in the past two decades: Steven Stamkos in 2011-12 (60 goals) and Alex Ovechkin in 2007-08 (65). Goals are one of the most predictable stats, and for snipers like Matthews, the gap from season to season is usually not that big. The efficiency and production of Stamkos declined due to injuries; otherwise, he’s been remarkably consistent, and Ovechkin is arguably this league’s greatest goalscorer ever (so far).
Once again, playing in the very poor North Division helps improve Matthews’ stats, but it is only early in his career and he will have Mitch Marner at his wing for the foreseeable future. Matthews’ scoring ability is so rare that he has to be the consensus No. 2 pick.
3. Connections are important
In an extremely unpredictable season with games postponed and rescheduled frequently, the head-to-head leagues have taken the brunt of the impact. Assuming everything returns to normal next season, clashes should play a lesser role in head-to-head leagues, but, the wrinkle: According to Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman, there is an option for teams from vote for a schedule that allows six “” special games that cater to geographic or historical rivals. This means, potentially, more head-to-head matches between Canadian teams in different divisions / conferences, and these are the games where players like McDavid and Matthews can improve their stats If head-to-head leagues have taught us anything this year, it’s that planning ahead and maximizing your games played per week is absolutely essential.
As for next season, assuming the teams are moved back to their original divisions, wait for the Maple Leafs to step back into the much tougher Atlantic Division and the Oilers to perhaps improve further in one. Relatively weak Pacific division. Central will likely be the toughest team, and even the weakest – the Blackhawks – could see a significant year-over-year improvement with the continued development of Kirby Dach, Philipp Kurashev, Pius Suter, starter Kevin Lankinen, and also the potential return of the captain. Jonathan Toews.
The teams that everyone will try to beat and thus showcase in your weekly clashes: Red Wings, Blue Jackets, Ducks, Sharks, Sabers and maybe Devils, Kings and Coyotes. The one thing they all have in common? They lack quality depth and / or mediocre goalkeepers.
4. Drafting defenders at a high level can be costly
This is subjective and will depend on league parameters, but consider that the three defenders selected by Yahoo’s ADP – Victor Hedman (17.7), John Carlson (22.8) and Roman Josi (32.4) – are place sixth, fourth and 11th in P / GP. That’s pretty good considering the inherent randomness of hockey, but the flip side is that there’s a big opportunity cost to catch defensemen this high in the draft, especially considering how many ‘Others have the same or better P / GP potential: Cale Makar, Shea Theodore, Adam Fox, Quinn Hughes and even Tyson Barrie, to name a few.
Catching Hedman, Carlson or Josi probably meant you missed Brad Marchand (ADP 19.7), Aleksander Barkov (46.3 ADP) and a beast from the rotisserie to Brady Tkachuk (43.4). Defense can be a scarce commodity as there are only 128 of the top four defenders versus 192 of the top six forwards, but the talent pool is large, scores are on the rise and goalkeepers tend to lower. According to hockey-reference.com, goals per game fell from 2.74 G / GP in 2013-17 after a shortened season by lockout to 2.98 G / GP in 2017-2021. Power plays have also gone from a traditional three forwards and two defenders setup to four forwards and one man at one point, and they’re more effective than ever with the average power play converting over 20% of their odds.
You should catch another brand forward in the second and third rounds because those players will always tend to beat a first pair defender.
5. Goalkeeper rotation is the new normal
Keeping a goal is voodoo, we all know that. Apart from Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is normally a staunch but has even seen his game drop considerably lately, consider the list of the top 10 goalies in the draft: Connor Hellebuyck (16.4 ADP), Carter Hart (31.0 – ouch), Tuukka Rask (32.8), Robin Lehner (35.5), Jordan Binnington (39.0), Ilya Samsonov (40.4), Carey Price (47.5 – again ouch), Frederik Andersen ( 49.4) and Igor Shesterkin (57.1).
It’s safe to say that at least three (Hart, Price and Andersen) will no longer be drafted in the top 50, two have been the subject of too much hype (Samsonov and Shesterkin), and half of the top 10 goalkeepers. goals (counting W, GAA, SV, SV%) – Alex Nedeljkovic, Mike Smith, Jack Campbell, Chris Driedger and Cam Talbot – were essentially afterthought, written very late or not at all. It just goes to show that taking a goalie early in rounds – unless he’s elite and playing behind a good team – tends to be an unfortunate decision, and that potentially ignores more time. shared on the road. When it comes to goalies, lean more towards a draft strategy that emphasizes value in draft position rather than big names.
When it comes to next season’s draft, don’t overlook goalies who can exploit a timeshare to start with, but who could play a much bigger role as the season progresses. This includes Alex Nedeljkovic of Carolina, Spencer Knight of Florida, Jake Oettinger of Dallas, Cal Petersen of Los Angeles, Jake Allen of Montreal, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen of Buffalo and whatever Toronto chooses to do for their goaltending tandem. as they face an uncertain goaltending situation after this season. .
6. Already Seen
The COVID situation has affected leagues around the world, including one of the biggest feeder leagues in professional hockey: the Canadian Hockey League. The cancellation of the entire OHL season and shortened seasons for the WHL and QMJHL meant that the junior players had a chance to play in the AHL against the men. The last time this happened was in the 2004-05 season, when the AHL benefited from 19 and 20-year-old players on rosters who would otherwise have played in the NHL or elsewhere, and the result was a huge talent boom next. season because the Prospects had an extra season to get used to professionally in the minor leagues rather than making the astronomical leap from junior hockey to the NHL.
Kings sniper Arthur Kaliyev turns 20 in June and has over 30 games of AHL experience under his belt next season, and Capitals center Connor McMichael is in a similar situation. A delayed start in the WHL allowed Dylan Cozens to stay with the Sabers the entire time. Cole Perfetti (Jets) and Quinton Byfield (Kings) were very good to their AHL teams as a teenager and could be ready to enter the NHL right away after performing well in their first professional hockey experience. Perfetti, in particular, can provide an offensive touch if the Jets lose a key player to Seattle’s expansion draft.
Ducks center Trevor Zegras will surely be a focal point of attack next season, as will small but talented Habs scorer Cole Caufield. Both got some seasoning in the AHL after their college seasons and it seems to have served them well.
Remember these names on draft day; the NHL is a game for young people and the next wave is coming.