This week we look back to July of 2004 and the fantasy value of a younger Daniel Alfredsson
There seems to be two different kinds of Hall a Fame players. The generational superstars, the Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, guys we knew would be first ballot entries around their second year in the league. Then there are the other guys, the ones that sneak up on you. At no point in time were they the best player in the world, but rather in the top 10 or 20 for a decade or more.
That’s where Daniel Alfredsson comes in. I can’t say I ever watched him and was blown away by his physical tools. He is certainly a good player, possessing the skills needed to be a very productive NHLer. What has been most impressive about him is that he’s maintained his level of play for nearly 20 years.
Thinking about him this week as he suited up against Ottawa for the first time it struck me that his fantasy career has mirrored his one on ice. Over the years he has always been a reliable source of points, at some times (when with Spezza and Heatley) an elite option. Yet, you don’t remember your buddies fighting over who got to draft the former Senator captain. He was always just there, plotting away, providing strong category coverage and a decent amount of points for your team.
Over the course of 18 seasons he has amassed 433 goals and 696 assists, no doubt leading more than one of the current readers to fantasy championship glory along the way.
In homage to Alfie and his fantasy career I want to look back to July of 2004, a time when he was being mentioned among the game’s best.
First, some of the other notables from that year…
17. Elias, Patrick
21. Bertuzzi, Todd
15. Spezza, Jason
It’s easy to forget just how valuable Patrick Elias was in points leagues during the mid 2000s. In 2004 he was coming off of a 38 goal, 81 point campaign and had rightfully earned himself the 17th overall ranking. The issue with Elias over the years has been consistency, shooting from the highs of 96 in 2000-2001 to the inexpiable lows of 55 in 2007-2008. My suspicion is the fluctuations were due in large part to the Devils and their characteristically defensive style.
Bertuzzi listed at 21 struck me as quite high; then again 2004 was on the heels of his surreal 97 point (yes, you read that right) season in 2002-03 when he clicked with Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund. For those of you in multi-cat leagues he added 243 shots and 144 penalty minutes. During that brief window of three to four years there simply wasn’t a more well-rounded asset in fantasy.
|4||TB||St. Louis, Martin|
154. Semin, Alex
159. Vanek, Thomas
168. Boyle, Dan
I can’t be too hard on Dobber for ranking Semin so far down the list. He was a red shirt rookie (do rookies wear a red shirt in the NHL?) and had posted only 22 points in 52 games the prior season. If you nabbed him at 154 in a keeper pool you would go on to enjoy four seasons of elite production (at least on a per game basis).
There are a number of parallels to be drawn between Vanek and Semin. Both have shown flashes of absolute brilliance – then followed that up with pronounced declines. In 2004 Vanek was still a prospect, yet to even play a single pro game. In his first four seasons he would surpass 40 goals twice, moving him into the conversation of a top 10 player in some formats. Since then he has broken 30 once. I expect this move to New York to pay dividends, the big question is does he re-sign long term?
Back to Alfredsson…
I had doubted him heading into this year. Yes, there was a lot of media hype around him meshing with Swedish countrymen Henrik Zetterberg and feeling “rejuvenated” (the usual clichés). I wasn’t buying it though. Having watched a number of Ottawa games at the end of last year I saw a player that looked a step slower then he once was. His 26 points in 47 games equated to a full season pace of 55.
Astoundingly, I couldn’t have been more wrong about him. Through 23 contests with a winged wheel on his chest Alfredsson already has 21 points. His shot totals are low, but they have always been that way. His plus minus and power play totals are a positive and he has shown no real signs of slowing. All this from a man that turns 41 in December.
So what is the difference between this year and last? Is it the new line-mates in Detroit? Did he re-commit himself over the offseason? Is a sample size of 23 games far too small to draw any conclusions? Did he stumble upon the Lazarus Pit? Ultimately, it is probably a bit of everything cobbled together (other than that Lazarus Pit, of course).
If this is in fact Daniel Alfredsson’s final season it seems fitting that it started with both the hockey and fantasy world questioning his abilities once again. It’s something he’s probably gotten used to by now. He may never have been the great-est choice in your pool, but he certainly was great.
Darren is a fantasy hockey writer for DobberHockey. You can follow him @FantasyHockeyDK
Previous Rankings Rewind:
|Looking Back...at May, 2004 Top Players|
|Fantasy Hockey Player Rankings - April, 2004|
|Looking Back...at December, 2002 Top Players|