Finding Some Bounce Back Candidates

Updated: March 8, 2012 at 10:18 am by Ryan Campbell

Every year there are players who wildly exceed fantasy expectations, and others who underperform. This article is going to focus on that infuriating second group. While talent, matchups and linemates all play very important roles in fantasy production, there is also a little dose of luck. One stat that examines this luck factor is PDO, which sums up on-ice shooting percentage and save percentage. Over the long-term, this statistic regresses heavily to league average (1000), so let’s take a quick look at four players who struggled this year but could bounce back to end the season, as well as provide serious value next season.

Ryan Getzlaf – 976 PDO

After four straight years of over a point per game, big things were again expected from Getzlaf.  While it was accepted that he’d probably miss 10-12 games with nagging injuries, his historical scoring pace indicated that he still was a pretty good bet to reach the 80 point plateau.  Despite missing only one game so far, Getzlaf has disappointed with 45 points and a -14 rating in 67 games.  While we can’t discount the impact injuries have on his body, a lot of the problems can be attributed to luck – notably his 6.3% shooting percentage, well below his career average of 11.8%.  That difference alone is worth seven or eight goals at this point of the season, or almost double his current total. Getzlaf will probably never again be the fantasy dynamo he was in 2008-09, but should be a good bet to bounce back to the 70 point plateau next season.

Ales Hemsky – 973 PDO

Despite a horrendous 29 point effort so far this year, the Oilers rewarded the enigmatic Hemsky with a two year, $10MM contract extension just over a week ago.  Like Getzlaf, injuries certainly play a part in Hemsky’s decline, as his surgically repaired shoulders inhibit his on-ice effectiveness.  Before this year, Hemsky flirted with a point per game pace for six straight seasons, which is excellent production for a winger.  Despite the fact that the youth movement in Edmonton is in full swing, Hemsky’s contract ensures that he will be given every opportunity to succeed next season.  An increase of his personal 5.6% shooting percentage will improve his point total and +/-, and I point you to this wonderfully sarcastic article that highlights the importance of taking +/- with a grain of salt.

Michael Grabner – 973 PDO

Despite a solid 2010-11 campaign in which he recorded 52 points (and 6 shorties), expectations were tempered for Grabner coming into this season as he was on average the 160th player off the board in Yahoo! Leagues.  He failed to live up to even those expectations with 25 points in 63 games, and is now owned in only 23% of leagues.  One of the main culprits is the rate at which he puts the puck on net.  After averaging 3 shots per game last year, he is down to just over 2 shots per game. However, luck also plays a factor, as his .899 on-ice save percentage is well below average on the Islanders. While he has never been known as a defensive asset, this is still a very low number.  Grabner is a tough player to project, but don’t be surprised by a 50 points campaign next year.

Tomas Plekanec – 970 PDO

Plekanec has been a solid fantasy performer for half a decade now, posting 277 points in his last 385 points, making him a solid #2-3 center on most fantasy teams.  This season has certainly brought down those numbers, as Plekanec has posted 42 points in 65 games to go along with a -20 rating.  While the point total isn’t terrible, the +/- rating is what really drags down his value. While his point total should improve when his shooting percentage increases from 6.9%, the real culprit is his on-ice save percentage. His .891 mark is well below his previous season marks of .924 and .922.  While it has a disappointing year for everyone in Montreal other than the Pacioretty/Desharnais/Cole triumvirate, expect a better season from Plekanec next year.

Ales Hemsky, Michael Grabner, Ryan Getzlaf, Tomas Plekanec