The Keeper Value of Brent Burns
The debate over whether or not the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey system would list Brent Burns as both a RW and a D for the 2014-2015 season is now purely academic. On May 15, San Jose Sharks' GM Ron Wilson announced that Burns would be moved back to defense for the upcoming season. And with that announcement, the idea of using Brent Bruns as a keeper in your fantasy leagues became significantly less appealing.
#SJSharks GM Wilson: Moving Brent Burns back to defense.— David Pollak (@PollakOnSharks) May 15, 2014
Brent Burns as a Right Wing
When the 2013-2014 Yahoo player rankings were published last Summer, we immediately focused on the list of defensemen. We knew that Brent Burns was being double-listed as a RW and a D for the upcoming season and his position in the defensive rankings was going to make a huge difference come draft time. As it turns out, Burns was listed as the 36th best defenseman for the 2013-2014 season. Given that only 1-2 defensemen typically break the 20-goal barrier each season, we knew there was a huge inefficiency to exploit in these rankings.
In our fantasy hockey draft kit, we devoted three pages to the specific case of Brent Burns. With a fantasy hockey defenseman playing right wing in real life, we were excited for the chance to make an accurate projection of his goal scoring potential. The key to an accurate projection would involve estimating two crucial numbers:
- how many more shots per game would Burns take?
- how much more accurate would his shots on goal be?
Brent Burns as a Defenseman
Burns finished the 2013-2014 season with 22 goals, leaving him one shy of Norris Trophy Candidate Shea Weber's goal total. But the days of 20+ goal seasons for Brent Burns are over. The move back to defense will drastically reduce Burns' shot production and accuracy making him a keeper option only in deeper leagues. But before you can make that decision, you need to assess the expected goal production for Burns as a defenseman.
A first approximation to get a ballpark figure for Burns would involve looking at his career shooting percentage (SH%) and his typical shots on goal production (SOG). But if you take this approach, you might overshoot. Why? Because Burns is playing as a defenseman next season and about 24% of his career data is influenced by numbers he produced while playing the wing. You'd be on much firmer ground with your projections if you removed the Burns-as-a-winger data from your sample before crafting his SOG and SH% projections. We'll do that for you here:
The real key to this analysis is recognizing that Burns could see a 50% drop in his shot production with the move back to defense. And since his shots on goal will be coming from a greater distance, his SH% is expected to drop as well. Note the difference in SH% for Dustin Byfuglien as a forward (8.9%) and as a defenseman (5.6%).
The 2014-2015 Season
You may be asking yourself if it's worth the effort to analyze players to this level of detail. We've only looked at goals and shots in this article, but what about assists, blocked shots, and all the other categories? Each Summer, we publish a 200+ page fantasy hockey guide that includes sortable spreadsheets with projections for over 600 NHL players and over 20 statistical categories. The spreadsheets are customized to your particular scoring system. We do the dirty work so that you can focus on drafting a championship team. Consider supporting the site and giving yourself a huge step ahead of your competition by purchasing the 2014-2015 fantasy hockey draft kit. If you act soon, you can customize the draft kit for three different scoring systems for the price of only one!