Last week my colleague James Maloney published a piece highlighting some of his favorite surprises from the 2020 fantasy hockey season. Since I don’t have any more weeks to preview I figured I might as well add five of my own picks. Plus, now that we have a couple of articles, we could call it a miniseries – just like some of my favorite “television events” of all time:
- Band of Brothers
- Lonesome Dove
- Chernobyl…Alright, I confess. I haven’t seen it. I’m just trying to look cool in front of my friends.
John Carlson, Washington Capitals
69 Games Played: 15 Goals/ 60 Assists/ 75 Points/ +12/ 26 PIM/ 26 PPP/ 189 SOG/ 55 Hits/ 108 Blocks
What did we know about Carlson coming into 2019-20? He was a lock for PP1 with Ovechkin & Co. and he was pretty good there. At even-strength, he was capable of scoring and his team context gave him a good ceiling. As it stands, he has been a point-per-game player as a defenseman. Looking into his first half/second half splits, yeah he got off to a really hot start, but he’s also maintained an elite level of production for the entire season. A virtual lock for the Norris Trophy, I would also venture a guess that this is peak JC. Considering his age (30) and the age of the guys around him, I will most likely be out on him next draft season.
Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators
71 Games Played: 21 Goals/ 23 Assists/ 44 Points/ -14/ 106 PIM/ 8 PPP/ 259 SOG/ 303 Hits/ 43 Blocks
The first part of the younger Tkachuk brother’s stat line is not all that impressive. After 71 games he was on pace to score just 51 points – one fewer than his rookie season last year. However, as you read further down that line the numbers jump off the page. He is currently sitting at third in the league in PIMs, second in hits, and seventh in shots. He is a bangers category beast. The scoring will most likely come around. According to the model over at moneypuck.com, he leads the league in expected goals. His -19.2% “shooting talent” might have something to do with his low goal total but give him a break – he’s 20 (!!). I expect him to score more – soon.
Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins
33 Games Played: 20-12-1/ .921 save%/ 2.43 GAA/ 3 Shutouts
Where would the Penguin’s (and one of my fantasy team’s) season be without this guy? I’ll save you the guesswork: In the toilet! Matt Murray was in the midst of one his usual valley’s after an early-season peak and Jarry came from seemingly nowhere in late November. From then until early January he went 12-3-1 with a .932 SV% and got himself named to the All-Star team. By mid-January, he and the Pens had all started playing a bit worse overall and most recently, Murray seems to have won the starter’s job back. The goaltending situation (and the season as a whole of course) is tenuous in the ‘Burgh but if they do end up keeping both Jarry and Murray for 2020-21, don’t be surprised if you see another 60/40 split.
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
70 Games Played: 12 Goals/ 33 Assists/ 45 Points/ -22/ 35 PIM/ 17 PPP/ 225 SOG 72 Hits/ 115 Blocks
Surprise! Did you think this was all going to be good surprises?! Nah nah nah nah. For you see, Father Time comes for each and every one of us. And really it is no surprise at all. The Sharks as a team completely unwound on the back of terrible goaltending, key injuries, and more bad goaltending. Their powerplay also went from number 6 in the league last season to number 23 this year. That, coupled with Burns’ offensive output mirroring his totals from 2013-14 (while getting 9:00 more minutes TOI) is a recipe for disaster. Look, he’s 35 now and next year he’ll be 36. There comes a time in sports where you come back after one particular offseason and just kinda suck. I think that is what we just witnessed with Brent Burns.
Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks
70 Games Played: 18 Goals/ 27 Assists/ 45 Points/ -10/ 15 PIM/ 16PPP/ 207 SOG/ 58 Hits/ 19 Blocks
Another sad surprise here. DBC was a solid fourth-round pick in a lot of drafts this year and for good reason. He’s young, coming off a 41-goal season and was seemingly joined at the hip to either of Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane. Sure, he scored on 18.5 percent of his shots in 2019-20 but that’s not unheard of. Well, this year his shooting percentage has bottomed out at a cool 8.7%. Yikes! He was bumped off of the top PP and shuffled up and down the lineup all year. He was probably dumped onto the waiver wire in a lot of leagues. Recently though, he’s been back playing with Toews and getting a lot of PP time. I would peg him as one of my top bounce-back candidates for next year.
Well gang, I hope these five more surprises were surprising enough for you! If not, I’m sure we can think of a lot more so let me know who you’re fave’s were/are.
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