Hello fellow Fantasy Hockey players! My name is Reid and I’ll be posting some fantasy hockey insight on Razzball throughout the season.
Almost every year now the hype comes along for the top 1 or 2 picks in any given draft as being “generational” or “elite” or “a franchise cornerstone.” That’s great and everything, but what does it mean for fantasy purposes?
The last player to come out of the draft with the “generational” tag is Connor McDavid aka McJesus. In Viz’s ‘Top 50’ rankings, he has McJesus at 5th overall, behind Alex Ovechkin, Jamie Benn, Sidney Crosby, and Tyler Seguin.
I believe the best way to project the 2nd year production of a “generational” talent is to identify other players of the same claim coming out of the draft and see how they did in their 2nd seasons.
Only 2 players really had the “generational” label: Sidney Crosby and John Tavares.
Crosby had a ridiculous 2nd season, registering 120 points, 61 on the power play, with 250 shots on net. Tavares on the other hand had 67 points with 243 shots on net. There are several factors that could have lead to such a disparity in production. One could argue that the “generational” label for Tavares was not warranted. You could also say that Tavares didn’t have an elite center behind him on the Islanders roster to protect him from top-pairing defensemen on the other team (Evgeni Malkin is no scrub).
So let’s take the second point there: Better teammates leads to more points.
A rather obvious hypothesis. So let’s compare Crosby and Tavares’ teammates during his second season to the team that McJesus will be skating with.
Crosby had an elite rookie Malkin with him, and a wily vet in Mark Recchi up front. Jordan Staal was also there, but you won’t ever find me claiming that he’s an offensive juggernaut. With journeymen and role players filling out the rest of the roster, Crosby averaged 1.5 points per game. In case you weren’t sure, that’s a lot of points. And he did it with really 2 other good forwards, and 2 defensemen (Gonchar and Whitney) who put up good points that season.
Verdict: Not a very inspiring lineup that still amassed 105 points and finished 2nd in their division.
Tavares had a tougher 2nd season that Sid the Kid. He has 67 points in 79 games on a team that finished 27th overall in the league that season. His “supporting” cast was anything but. Kyle Okposo was injured for a good amount of the season, leaving the likes of PA Parenteau, Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner, and Blake Comeau to help the second “generational” out. In the words of Maximus Decimus Meridius “Are You Not Entertained?” Seriously though. I’m willing to give JT a pass on that season (especially after seeing him single-handedly take over the playoff series against the Panthers).
Verdict: Poor supporting cast lead to less than inspiring production.
Now for McJesus. He has newly signed Milan Lucic to lag 5 strides behind the play because he can’t keep up with the speed McDavid will play at. He does have a quality center behind him in Leon Draisaitl to alleviate some line-matching by opposing teams. I think Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle are better than their production last year indicates. Still, not a very inspiring crew to work with for the Oilers’ savior. That being said, this is easily the best of three for the generational talents. As for what it means for the McJesus? Well…
Verdict: If he plays with Eberle or another high-skill winger, I expect him to produce around where Crosby did in his 2nd season.
Yup. I said it. I’m expecting around 120 points for the McJesus, who is #2 on my overall rankings (coming soon).
Why the high expectations? It’s simple really. Remember watching the TSN coverage of the 2015 NHL Draft? It’s ok if you don’t, because you’re not the one writing this article. When McDavid was selected, Craig Button give his scouting report on McJesus and it blew my mind. He gave McJesus a 6/5 for skating. A 6/5!!!! McDavid is so fast that he is literally breaking the prospect ranking system. And it’s not flub either. You’ve probably seen a blur on your screen while watching a hockey game. Here is the truth: It was likely Connor McJesus skating so fast you didn’t even notice.
His game is going to get better at an exponential rate, just like Crosby (and Tavares to a lesser extent). The only thing that might worry me is whether he can stay healthy. I’m chalking his injury last season to a freak accident that he’ll be more cautious about this time around.
So in case you were worried about taking McDavid with a top-3 pick, don’t fret. In fact, I think you’ll have some pretty amazing value if you take him anywhere after 2. As for McJesus being #5 in Viz’s Top 50 Rankings, he and I will be chatting about that in the upcoming Razzball Fantasy Hockey Podcasts.
Thanks for reading. Please leave questions or comments below and I’ll be sure to respond. My next post will about one of the hottest takes in USA Hockey history regarding prospects. That’s right. It’s Jack Eichel vs. Auston Matthews and who can carry whose skates.