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Fantasy hockey mailbag: MacKinnon makes managers miserable

Matt Larkin
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Nathan MacKinnon. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Fantasy hockey mailbag: MacKinnon makes managers miserable

Matt Larkin
By:

The latest THN fantasy mailbag features 2014-15 whipping boy Nathan MacKinnon, who cost GMs a pretty penny in drafts and has derailed many teams this year.

Raise your virtual hand if you've been in this situation before: you have a sore throat and that wonky knee of yours is bothering you, too. You head to your family doctor and spot a sign taped to the wall: "Please limit your visit to one issue." What does that mean? Are you seriously supposed to make two appointments?

I'm out to right that wrong in this week's fantasy mailbag. Many readers crammed multiple questions into their "one" question. But I'll answer them all if it's the last thing I do.

John Daniels (@Daniels1984J) asks…
Is it time to bail on Nathan MacKinnon (i.e. take anything in a trade)? I feel like I've been holding out for too long.

Answer: Sigh. I'm a MacKinnon owner in one of my leagues and I'm beginning to sweat at this point. The goal-scoring droughts have been long and frequent. He has just 24 points in 40 games season. I can't justify selling him off in most circumstances, however. It's easy to forget how strongly MacKinnon finished his rookie year. At the exact same 40-game mark last year he had…drum roll…24 points. Then he caught fire for 39 over his final 42 contests. He's a streaky player with the talent to get hot at any time. Case in point: Tuesday's Avs victory over Chicago, in which MacKinnon's speed was simply uncontainable and he notched a goal and an assist. If you're dead set on trading him, you'll likely only net someone with similar production and lower upside. I'd only trade him for an equally slumping star with bounce-back potential (i.e. Taylor Hall) or a player worth MacKinnon's start-of-season value, if you can find a GM willing to surrender one.

Chris (@c_Row314) asks…
What is Chris Kreider's value in a keeper league? What could I get in a trade?

Answer: Kreider has teased us for a few years now. He was a Rangers first-round pick in 2009 and leapt onto our radar with a five-goal debut in the 2012 playoffs. I do think he has value in a keeper league – at the right price. He's unquestionably talented. He's a beast at 6-foot-3 and 226 pounds and his ability to disrupt opposing goalies is well documented. At the same time, we haven't seen a massive leap in his production yet. Big power forwards sometimes take longer to peak. Maybe Kreider will follow a Todd Bertuzzi-like development path. He's not a guy I'd build a keeper league team around. He's a depth addition. If you're going for it this season, you could send Kreider to a rebuilding team for a win-now type like the streaking Nick Foligno.

Kozi Fantasy Hockey (@FantasyHockey4U) asks…
My multi-layer question is, are you using analytics and, if so, how are you using analytics, and what type?

Answer: I am starting to apply analytics to fantasy hockey, primarily as a predictor of statistical regression. As an example: Aleksander Barkov is a guy I'd scoop off the waiver wire in deep leagues with benches. The reason: he's among the league leaders in Corsi Close, his shooting percentage is less than half what it was last season and he's generating almost the exact same amount of shots on goal per game. What the analytics tell us here: he's just unlucky. He's influenced scoring chances just as well as he did as a rookie.

Keith Beebe (@kmb8488) asks…
Do you think Jakub Voracek can sustain the numbers he's put up thus far this season?

Answer: Sustain might be too strong a word. It would mean jumping from a career high of 62 points to flirting with 100. It was inevitable Voracek would regress, and it's already started, as he has two points in his past six games. I do, however, believe Voracek will remain effective. He really didn't come out of nowhere. He was a highly regarded first-round pick, taken seventh overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2007, ahead of guys like Logan Couture, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk and Max Pacioretty. Voracek averaged almost a point per game two seasons ago in a lockout-shortened year. He's likely reaching a new echelon of production and may be a 75- to 80-point player year after year going forward. Just not a 100-point one.

KnogPastorn (@KnogPastorn) asks…
Max Pacioretty, will he ever hit 40 goals again? David Perron, the real deal or not?

Answer: Two questions! Actually, it was three, but I deleted KnogPastorn's MacKinnon question. Pacioretty: technically he hasn't hit 40 yet, but he would've had he not missed nine games last year. And yes, I do think 'Patches' will do it. He's only 26, and he's one of the game's most underrated scorers. Only six guys have more goals over the past four seasons. Perron: I say real deal. I rushed to grab him in my league. The Penguins surrendered a first-round pick (plus Rob Klinkhammer) to get Perron from Edmonton. They wouldn't do that to bury Perron in the bottom six. He'll play with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin virtually every night. As a former first-rounder who has produced in the 55-point range before, Perron is just the kind of guy No. 87 and No. 71 regularly turn into fantasy stars.

Austin Gagne (@gagne31) asks…
Is Tyler Johnson an elite player? Adam Larsson, is he on the verge of becoming a good player?

Answer: Another 2-for-1 question! Johnson truly confounds me. He's a 5-foot-9 and undrafted but, hey, his tale of the tape sure is similar to Martin St-Louis'. The fact Johnson is not only producing two years in a row, but also improving, bodes extremely well. For now, I'll call him "very good." Not quite ready to label him elite. As for Larsson, I believe he's indeed on his way to being an effective NHLer. He was such a hyped prospect that he was talked up as a potential No. 1 overall pick before the 2011 draft. He has the talent and perhaps, like so many young defensemen, he just needed a few years to develop and gain confidence. He's still just 22. He's younger than new sensations Torey Krug, Tyson Barrie, Sami Vatanen and John Klingberg.

Harold P (@howie379) asks…
Has T.J. Oshie turned the corner?

Answer: I think so. Oshie just needed to put some distance between himself and his most recent injuries, and he's back with Alexander Steen and David Backes, his linemates from last season.

Sean van den Berg (@seanvdb) asks…
Darcy Kuemper, long-term?

Answer: I don't think so. He had an amazing first month, posting a 1.70 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and three shutouts, but it's been all downhill from there. Kuemper hasn't looked up to the task of bona fide No. 1 NHL goalie for a few months now. He's had good support, too, as the team in front of him allows the second fewest shots on goal per game in the league and ranks in the top half in Corsi Close. The Wild may have to explore new options to finally remedy their rather nightmarish goalie carousel.

Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blogFor more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazineFollow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin

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Fantasy hockey mailbag: MacKinnon makes managers miserable