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The Life and Fantasy Hockey Mailbag – March 1st 2021

Welcome to the LFH mailbag, where all your burning fantasy questions are answered moderately well by Spencer Plamondon, co-host of the Life and Fantasy Hockey Podcast.

Alright, we’ve made it to Week 2 of the mailbag and the wheels haven’t fallen off. I owe myself a Coke.

Joke’s on me – I’m not good for it.

I am good for Fantasy Hockey opinions though, so with that in mind, let’s dive into this week’s questions.

Should I drop Jason Zucker now that he’s on IR? Kris J-G

It depends on how many free IR spots you have. I’m all about hoarding assets and using my IR spots to the fullest, so if you don’t need the spot for someone more impactful, I’d stash him on your IR until that changes and use the free add.

He was off to a slow start before he got hurt, but then again so was the play driver on his line: Evgeni Malkin. Zucker is a former 30 goal scorer in his own right, but if Malkin is flailing, he just doesn’t have the toolkit to make up the difference. Which is fine – they can’t all be elite.

I like Zucker personally, and I have him stashed on IR on one team myself. I think he’s worth holding onto if you can, and maybe by the time he’s back Malkin will be rolling and he steps right into a great situation. No guarantee that happens, and as it stands, all we know is he’ll be out “longer-term”, but it’s worth the gamble. He could provide some nice reinforcements down the stretch.

(Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

I just added Trevor Zegras. Am I ahead of the curve, or myself? Kris J-G

Fifty percent chance that it’s one of those, I’ll give you that one free of charge.

Zegras is just oozing with high-end potential, and he was a joy to watch at the WJC. He’s now cracked the Ducks roster after lighting up the AHL for 9 points in 8 games, and if his nasty shootout goal the other night is any indication, his confidence is in a good state.

Look, it’s only a matter of time for him as far as I’m concerned. You very well might be ahead of the curve. I’d give him a week or two to figure it out and go from there, particularly if you’re confident with your place in the standings. I look at what Tim Stützle is doing in Ottawa and I don’t see why Zegras can’t do the same in Anaheim. Doesn’t mean he will, but the skill levels are in the same ballpark. Anaheim does happen to be significantly more goal-starved though, so the hope is he may be able to help jumpstart things on that front.

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

What would you do with Kailer Yamamoto in a league that counts hits and blocks? At what point does his lack of production warrant a drop despite being one of the rare forwards with hits and blocked shots? – Frank White

Ugh, I sympathize with you, King of New York Frank White. I didn’t draft Yamamoto in any leagues, but I would’ve if it had made sense. I like the player, I just always had someone higher on my board.

He’s playing Top 6 minutes with Draisaitl; that’s great news at face value. But he’s barely getting power play time (25 seconds/game), he’s got 11 points in 22 games, and here’s the best part: 5 goals on a 17.9(!) shooting percentage. That’s a whopping 28 shots in 22GP. Why isn’t he shooting more Frank? Probably because you drafted him. You just had to ruin it for everybody else, eh? You selfish son of a bitch.

It’s a tough situation. I’d be curious to know who’s on the waiver wire. It’s hard for me to believe there’s a clear-cut better option who has Yamamoto’s upside, though there are likely some soon-to-be-diamonds-in-the-rough in there if you wanna take a swing. Definitely keep a close eye out for mid-season breakout candidates.

In the meantime, at least he blocks and hits. It’s nice to be able to count on that production, if nothing else. I’m curious to know how important his production on those fronts is to your team’s success right now, but based on what you’ve told me, my stance on him is to hold a little while longer unless you can find a legitimate upgrade.

That’s easy for me to say given I don’t have him on any team and I haven’t built up frustration towards him though. I wouldn’t fault you for cutting bait at this point, but I’d probably give him another 1-2 weeks to bring up the point production, personally.

(Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

Keep holding on Samsonov? – Mike T

You’ve come this far, haven’t you?

Is that a diamond in your hands, or a bag? Who knows? That’s the fun!

Sorry, I’m going through some $GME, $AMC related stuff.

I don’t know, man. It seems like something significant could be going on behind the scenes at this point. He’s struggling in the AHL, though he’s only played four games. He was also open about his struggles battling COVID, both physically and mentally, so it would make sense if the long road back is tied to that. If that’s the case, it’s important to remember he’s a 24 year old human being living in a foreign country, dealing with something really heavy. Fantasy takes a f*cking backseat to something like that, not that you shouldn’t be asking the question.

I’d give it a week more and re-evaluate, but it also depends on how badly you need him replaced. If it’s a pressing need, just do it. If you can stand to survive a little while longer and not risk falling out of the race, give him one last chance. Just bear in mind that even if he does get back in the mix with the Caps, he’ll likely end up sharing the net, given Vitek Vanecek’s emergence. At his best, though, Samsonov is the better goalie, and even splitting starts, that would be a very valuable goalie to have on your team.

(Photo Credit: Unknown)

Is Jakob Chychurn a sell high candidate to package into a trade or will he continue to produce above expectations? – Peeze, asking for a friend also named Peeze

What a strangely common name you have, Peeze.

Man, I like Chychrun this year. I think he’s taken a step forward, and Arizona is hangin’ in there. They aren’t a playoff team, but they’re better than I think a lot of people expected them to be. I don’t expect him to keep up this pace; he’s not John Carlson. That being said, he’s averaging a minute more on the power play this year compared to last, and has become the clear #1 D in Arizona.

The best part? He’s only 22. He’s been in the show since he was 18, has dealt with injury issues, and has benefitted from having the same Head Coach for the past four seasons in Rick Tocchet. Elevating his game at this age, under these circumstances, makes perfect sense.

This is also a player who fell down draft boards late in his draft year, and it was never very clear why. It seemed like the hype surrounding others rose while his remained on track, which feels like an issue of contrast more than anything. For much of that season, analysts had him in their Top 5-10, so it’s not like this level of play wasn’t projected. Teams just got a little more bullish on guys like Juolevi and Sergachev.

He is underperforming relative to his expected numbers from an analytics standpoint, but as was pointed out to me by the awesome HSS Analytics crew* in their scouting report, this aligns with a young player taking on the #1D role for the first time.

At the end of the day, I believe he’s the real deal. That being said, I think regression is inevitable with the pace he’s on right now. If you can find someone who’s willing to pay up like he’s a 60 point a year defenceman, fleece away – but I doubt his name has the cachet to pull that off just yet.

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

*Big shoutout to the HSS Analytics crew for their Jakob Chychrun evaluation.

Catch the Life and Fantasy Hockey Podcast every second Sunday of the month on the Hot Sauce Sports Podcast Network. You can find us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Got a fantasy hockey question? Send it in to @LFHPod on Twitter. Seriously. We need questions.

Find Spence on Twitter @HockeyOMC

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