Talk about a weird title. Talk about a weird player to get featured. Surprise! Regardless of if he is truly my bro Goran’s distant relative, he is indeed unstoppable these days. Who would have guessed? He was a sleeper I’ve mentioned before, but this is ridiculous. In the past month, he has ranked among the elite of the professional biscuit depositors.
As we’ve discussed, Johan Franzen had an extremely slow start to his season. Even after he got out of that initial funk, he only contributed 10 points in the next 22 games. His split shows significant improvement later in the season in points. It stands to reason that fewer penalties, more shots, team injuries and thus better opportunity combined to get him on this roll and onto fantasy rosters finally.
First 33 Games: 8G, 2A, 10P, +9, 31PIM, 4PPP, 87SOG
Last 33 Games: 14G, 8A, 22P, +4, 14PIM, 8PPP 97SOG
The goals are the biggest thing, and I also noted that recently. Apparently Franzen has been well documented by moi (working on my French too, haha!). On a team like Detroit, fringe players also garner added value in the form of plus/minus. Despite the team’s huge slump, he still managed a plus-4 in the last 33.
Perhaps, just as in this season, Franzen is a late bloomer in his career as well. Johan has seen his average ice time increase by a couple minutes each of the last 3 seasons, and this past month has seen him receive approximately 20 minutes a game. The result?
Superstar production: 10 goals and 14 points in 10 March games.
That is more than any waiver-wire prospector could hope for. Teams like Detroit do a great job of finding diamonds in the rough. That is what makes them so successful. Still, often times these teams make average players better than they are. Is this the case? As long as he is in Motown, he seems like a capable bench player at the least. Though his goal total has doubled, he is still only a few points better than last year, so he still has a lot to prove.
The Status Report:
Joni Pitkanen, D, EDM
This is a player you should target for next year. He is surging now with seven points in his last seven games going into Monday so that should calm your nerves for next season. By the time the draft comes around again, most will just see the big picture and what a disappointing season it was for Joni. Many won’t take into account the new team adjustments and injuries he dealt with. As the 4th overall selection (who is only 1 day older than me and also shares my father’s birthday) in 2002, he has obvious immense potential having been a nearly a PPG defenseman in the past at the age of 22. Hopefully, he stays with Edmonton as a RFA because that team is full of talent and will only continue to grow. Go get this kid remembering how he ended this season and what he has done already in his short career.
Brad Richards, C, DAL
What the heck Richards? You put up more points in your first game with the team in February than you have in the entire month of March. Get it together. This is definitely a guy you want to look at as a hold or buy low candidate. He needs more time to gel and will hopefully get a better linemate or two next season. This third line stuff can’t last.
From the Dust: The player who may have some value after all.
Manny Malhotra, C, CLS
He has seven points in his last five games. Solid minutes, solid skills and feeding Nash will do that for you. It is one thing to see a guy climb from obscurity and put up a run like this but it is always reassuring when you see that they were an early first round pick. It definitely makes this guy more appealing as a potential longer term answer. It is amazing this is his 9th NHL season but he was born in 1980.
Young Guns: The future of the West.
Gabe Gauthier, C, LA
I’m not overly excited about this kid since he is already 24 after all, but I just wanted to point out again that the Monarchs and the King’s system in general is completely stacked with quality, performing kids. This guy gets overlooked, and he has been one of the most productive players in the AHL this season with point-per-game production. Though he hasn’t broken through in the box score at the NHL level yet, he still deserves some attention.
Cal O'Reilly, C, NSH
Here is another AHL stud to keep an eye on. At only 21 years of age, Cal is third in the league in scoring having surged recently and becoming the February Player of the Month. He’s had 18 points in his last 11 games for the Admirals.
Cactus of the Week: The player you shouldn’t touch right now.
Roberto Luongo, VAN
Tell her to just pop it out already. You already used this excuse for the All-Star game. Make a c-section appointment on an off day or something. You need to make some sacrifices Gina. Ok, ok I’m joking. Best of luck to you Mrs. Luongo. Still, there will be plenty of fantasy players cursing you and your baby with four and five letter words should this cause Roberto to miss a game or two during their finals matchup. Better make it quick!
Fantasy Flashback: Your weekly reminder that fantasy hockey is a rollercoaster.
Brad Boyes, RW, STL
With another recent surge this month, it is about time to recognize the comeback achievements of Mr. Boyes again. Here are how things stack up now for him.
2006-07: 62GP, 17G, 29A, 46P, -17, 29PIM, 9PPP, 182SOG
2007-08: 75GP, 38G, 19A, 57P, +2, 20PIM, 16PPP, 186SOG
An amazing turnaround and his goal total truly startles to me. Last year it was 40 points and this year it is 40 goals.