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Slappers and Bangers: Fantasy Hockey Analysis of Yegor Sharangovich and Dawson Mercer

Hey folks, welcome back to Slappers and Bangers, where we look at fantasy hockey through a multi-cat lens; specifically for limited keeper and dynasty leagues. This week we will do a fantasy analysis on Calgary’s Yegor Sharangovich and New Jersey’s Dawson Mercer.

Let’s take a look.

Fantasy Hockey Analysis of Yegor Sharangovich, C/RW/LW, Calgary Flames

Calgary received a lot of flack when they sent Tyler Toffoli to New Jersey this past summer. The return package, at first glance, was underwhelming. This is why we’re fans and not GM’s. On top of Sharangovich, Calgary received an additional third-round pick. At age 30, Toffoli was coming off a career year with 73 points in 82 games. His previous career high was 49 – this should have been a red flag.

Meanwhile, Sharangovich was 24 coming off a disappointing third season for the Devils. Big things were expected for Sharangovich last year. He was coming off a solid sophomore season of 24 goals, and 46 points in 76 games (2021-22).

Last year he struggled to match the production of his second season. He end the year with 13 goals, and 17 assists, for 30 points in 72 games. As a result, the Devils used Sharangovich as the main piece to acquire Toffoli.

Sharangovich is quickly making Flames fans forget about Toffoli. In 51 games, he has already hit the 20-goal mark. His 15 assists put him on pace for 56 points. More than the points is the dual threat Sharangovich has quickly developed into.

He’s produced in every situation this year. He has seven power-play points, three goals, and four assists. He has also been an offensive threat on the penalty kill with three goals and three assists. Sharangovich has also produced 14 even-strength goals.

What happened last year?

The quick answer was that he lost two minutes of ice time and he dropped from 26.2% of Devils power play ice time to 2%. His linemates also changed. He went from playing 370 even-strength minutes with Jack Hughes in 2021-22 to 204 in 2022-23. He also saw184 with Jesper Boqvist. The 16-point drop in production was likely due to a significant change in deployment.

The real question is, what is Sharangovich’s upside?

He started the year on his breakout threshold (205 games played, now at 256). For Sharangovich’s season to be considered a breakout, the expectation is he will improve on his career-high of 46 points by at least 25% (57.5 or more). Breakouts do not mean ceiling. It is a progression model based on games played.

The ‘x’ factor is the personal side. We have a 25-year-old player moving to a new city and a new team. There is bound to be an adjustment period. In his first 22 games, he had 1o points. In his next 21 games, Sharangovich put up 20 points. Adjustment period over. Now halfway through the third quarter of the season, Sharangovich has five points in his last 8 games.

Over his last 28 games, Sharangovich has been on a 73-point pace. Adjustment period over. Taking his increase in production into consideration, Sharangovich is on a 63-point pace for the season.

His Expected Goals For at five-on-five, is down from last year, from 52.8% to 47.5. This should surprise no one as Calgary has had numerous struggles with consistent strong play. Not to mention the Devils were an offensive machine for most of last season.

Sharangovich has improved his points per sixty minutes from 1.7 to 2.4. This is without any significant change to his five-on-five shooting percentage or shots on goal per sixty minutes from last year to this year.

The only problem with Sharangovich’s trajectory is the direction the team is heading. They are heading into a soft rebuild or strong re-tool. As they sell off key pieces, like Elias Lindholm and likely Chris Tanev, Noah Hanifin, and potentially others, his offensive production is likely to suffer. He may not have the opportunity to progress in the same linear fashion as they would if the Flames were adding pieces for a playoff push.

There are likely a couple of 70-plus point seasons in Sharangovich’s future. It will be tough to reach his ceiling until the next wave of players begins to make a real impact.

In the meantime, settle in for a couple of seasons in the 55-65 point range, with the potential to push past 70.

Fantasy Hockey Analysis of Dawson Mercer, C/RW, New Jersey Devils

Mercer’s third NHL season resembles Sharangovich’s third season a lot. He put up 56 points in his second season but finds himself having a down year. He is on pace for 40 points, which would be the worst of his three NHL seasons.

The difference between the two is Mercer is playing 17:41 per game, up from 16:34 last year. Sharangovich lost ice time. Mercer also continues to receive 33% of the Devils’ power play ice time.

We all expected big things from Mercer this year. The expectation was, he would build on his 56-point 2022-23 season and set a new career high. That hasn’t happened.

Things don’t always go according to plan. Development isn’t always linear. With young players, patience is a virtue, and not overreact when they take an unexpected step back. That is the current state of Mercer.

His expected goals at five-on-five is the lowest of his three-year career. At 48.3%, it’s 7.6% lower than last year. Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier have both missed time, which impacts this as well.

Everything is down this year. This includes his shots on goal per game. At 1.78, it is also the lowest rate of his career. In 2022-23 it was 1.96, and in 2021-22, his rookie year it was 1.88. One would hope this would be increasing even in the absence of points.

At 213 games played, Mercer is passing his breakout threshold. Combine that with the return of Jack Hughes and Mercer could be looking at a very strong stretch run.

The one factor we haven’t touched is his contract. This is the final year of his entry-level deal. Stress is a real thing. Mercer could simply be holding onto his stick a little to tight with his first contract negotiation looming.

For salary cap leagues, a little bit of a struggle is okay. It usually means a lower-cost bridge deal. This could make Mercer a really strong value contract for the next couple of years.

It’s not just Mercer that is having a down year, Hischier, and Timo Meier are both producing at lower rates. Dougie Hamilton has also missed the majority of the season, and Hughes is returning after missing a month. Add in the struggles with goaltending and you realize there are a lot of variables beyond Mercer at play that could be impacting the rising star.

We should see Mercer improve down the stretch. He may not put up a 60-point season, but that doesn’t mean he can’t turn on a 60-point pace the rest of the way. Something will have to give.

There’s no indication Mercer has taken much of a step forward anywhere in his game this year. At 22, it’s also far too soon to think he is close to his peak.

If I own Mercer, I am going to deal with the growing pains. It might take him a little longer to reach his full potential, but that potential is too high to give up on.  The only exception is if I’m a top team gunning for the title this year and Mercer helps bring in a a superstar to boost my run.

That will do it for this week. Thanks for reading

Follow me on X (Twitter): @doylelb4

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