This week we look back to March of 2004 and the often underappreciated Marian Hossa
I had one of those “sheesh I’m getting old” moments the other day while looking over some hockey stats. Marian Hossa is turning 35 on January 12th. What struck me about this was that I remember him as the “next” big thing in Ottawa, which is well over a decade ago.
This got me thinking about Hossa and what he’s meant not only to the NHL but to fantasy hockey. Upon looking at his career statistics I was a bit surprised that he’ll soon surpass both 500 goals 1000 points. Keep in mind he’ll have accomplished both feats during an era where scoring generally wasn’t high.
On his resume is a 100 point year, four over 80, and eight over 70. He’s scored 29 or more goals in nine seasons (a number that should be higher if not for a couple lockouts). His career shots on goal are 3,510, which works out to 3.3 per game. Over the past 16 years only one of them has seen him end with a negative plus minus rating.
Despite the numbers and multiple Stanley Cup finals appearances how many names would you think of from that generation before landing on Hossa?
I would likely rattle off guys like Kovalchuk, Heatley, Thornton, Iginla, Nash, Zetterberg and Dastyuk before even considering him. Thinking about it now, there is an argument for him to be placed above all but one or two names on that list in the pantheon of NHL greats. From a fantasy hockey perspective (at least in leagues with multiple categories) he’s been one of those rare players that can help across all categories. Often posting elite points, shots, power play, and plus minus numbers. The one issue that has plagued Hossa in recent years has been injuries, though in today’s game it’s difficult to find a player that hasn’t dealt with them.
What may ultimately help Hossa close the gap on his contemporaries in the collective minds of fantasy managers and fans is longevity. The more and more I watch Hossa I get the feeling we’re looking at Teemu Sleanne seven or eight years ago. A fantastic core of young players is surrounding him and there is no reason to think he won’t be productive well into his late 30s.
I decided to sift back through the rankings a decade ago, remembering a young Marian Hossa, about to complete his second straight season of 35 or more goals and over 80 points.
|6||TB||St. Louis, Martin|
But first let’s take a look at some of the other notable names…
6. Martin St. Louis
12. Mats Sundin
20. Jarome Iginla
There are a lot of parallels between Sundin and Hossa. Both were able to put together great numbers over an extended period of time. Sundin became known as Mr. Consistent in most fantasy pools, reliably between 70 and 80 points with strong peripheral numbers each and every season. The only issue, if there was one, was that his shots would fluctuate significantly, as high as 321 and as low as 184. Thankfully he was one of those few players with an uncharacteristically high shooting percentage of 14 percent.
Unlike Sundin, Iginla has been a difficult player to value the last 10 years of his career. Some seasons there has been an argument for him as the top asset in all of fantasy (50 goals, 98 points) and others where he’s broken poolies’ hearts (32 goals, 67 points). In 2004 his ranking had slipped to 20th as a result of two down seasons between 2002 and 2004. However, those lucky enough to nab him in the late second round of were treated to back to back 94 plus point years between 2006 and 2008.
119. Eric Staal
144. Jonathan Cheechoo
211. Brian Rafalski
119th actually isn’t a poor guess for Eric Staal’s value. He was a rookie who had just finished with 31 points in 81 games. We all expected a jump in his totals across the board, though I don’t remember many projecting 100 points (ok, absolutely no one did). His explosion in the post lockout NHL probably won thousands of hockey pools for lucky Managers. Getting the value of a first round pick in either the late rounds or off the waiver wire can completely transform your squad.
Brian Rafalski’s career was a bit brief, but he was able to establish himself as one of the most consistent defencemen available. At the end of 2004 he had two seasons in a row where he failed to break 40 points, which likely drove down his ranking. However, from there he was able to re-establish himself as a 50 point man in New Jersey before signing a five year contract in Detroit in 2007. From there he posted two years of 55 or more points and was paired regularly with Nicklas Lidstrom (which probably didn’t hurt his fantasy value)
Back to Hossa…
What I like most about this set of rankings is that it represents a time when Hossa was being lauded as the fantasy star he is. In the 10 seasons to follow he would seemingly fall into the trap of “always a bridesmaid”, playing on teams that featured generational talents, which may have allowed fans to overlook just how integral he was. As he turns 35 next week, I hope we’re all treated to another 10 years of selecting number 81 in the early rounds of our drafts.
Darren is a fantasy hockey writer for DobberHockey. You can follow him @FantasyHockeyDK
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