Nash

 

For the past couple of seasons, I’ve written a few columns breaking down each of the Western Conference team’s top-six from the bottom-six. So for the next couple of weeks, I’ll go back to the well once again and give you some insight on each of the Western Conference teams for the upcoming campaign.

 

(Part One)

 

At the end of the day, point production can easily be attributed to one thing; opportunity. A top-line player, who is the focal point of his team’s offense, will generally receive every possible chance to succeed and put up big points. A top-six player will receive decent even strength/second unit power-play ice-time, but may not put up dazzling fantasy numbers. A cavalry candidate is a player who may find themselves in line for a top-six role if things fail to remain status quo (injury or poor inconsistent play, etc.) Finally, a bottom feeder will most likely receive checking line time and probably won’t receive ample optimal scoring time to put up fantasy roster worthy numbers. Their big break will only come if there are injuries or sudden collapses of young players from their team’s top-six.

 

We all like to be optimistic with our projections, but there really isn’t a point in projecting 80 points for a player who won’t even crack a team’s top-line let alone top-six. If you haven’t read my projections article from earlier this summer, go back and take a gander. I know I had an eye-opening experience when digging up all the stats. Note: Take the line combos with a grain of salt. They are just arbitrary and are used primarily to separate a team’s top-six from the bottom-six. I really don’t want to get into arguments about player X had chemistry with player Y therefore they’ll be on a line together during the season.

 

Now onto the good stuff:

 

Colorado – Top-three cemented, plenty of room for competition between the top-six and cavalry

 

Top Six
Peter Mueller* – Paul Stastny – Milan Hejduk
Brandon Yip – Matt Duchene – T. J. Galiardi

Cavalry

Joey Hishon, Gabriel Landeskog*, Ryan O’Reilly, David Jones, and Ryan Stoa

Bottom Feeders

Joakim Lindstrom, Jay McClement, Chuck Kobasew, Cody McLeod, Kevin Porter, Mark Olver, Greg Mauldin and Daniel Winnik

 

After a pretty strong start to the season, the wheels fell off the Avs’ bus by the end of January. The departure of Chris Stewart has left a gaping hole in the top-six for the Avs to fill, so it’ll be very interesting to see who steps up to the plate to answer the bell. I temporarily placed Yip and Galiardi in that slot, but it could fall into either Hishon’s or Landeskog’s lap come training camp, so keep an eye on that situation. With 255 points in 214 career junior contests, there’s not a lot left for Hishon to prove spending a year in Lake Erie, so consider him as a strong dark horse sleeper candidate this campaign. The latest news out of the Mueller camp is that he has been training at a pretty high level and most importantly has been symptom-free, so look for a strong bounce back season from him if he remains healthy.

 

The bottom feeders are all “role players”, but could find themselves in brief stints in the top-six. They probably won’t maintain a sustained role, so not a lot of fantasy value there.

 

Last year’s pre-season top-six:

Mueller, Stastny, Stewart, Yip, Duchene, Hejduk.

 

End of year finish:

Duchene

67

Stastny

57

Hejduk

56

Jones

45

Fleischmann

31

O'Reilly

26

 

 

Columbus – Top-five pretty set, slim competition from cavalry


Top Six

Derick Brassard – Jeff Carter – Rick Nash

R.J. Umberger – Antoine Vermette – Ryan Johansen

Cavalry

Matt Calvert, Derek MacKenzie Kristian Huselius*

Bottom Feeders

Cameron Atkinson, Jared Boll, Sammy Pahlsson, Cody Bass and Derek Dorsett

 

Things have certainly changed in Columbus during the last 12 months. In last season’s article, I was harping on and on about the depth of the forwards, but it appears to be completely opposite heading into this campaign. I can easily identify the top-five of the Jackets, but the rest of the roster spots are completely up in the air. Much like Hishon, with 161 points in 134 career junior contests, Johansen doesn’t really have much to prove outside of the NHL, so I would have to assume that he will be handed a top-six gig on a silver platter. Keep an eye on Calvert as a dark horse candidate. He tallied 99 points in just 68 contests during his final season in the WHL and demonstrated plenty of high hockey IQ during his short stint in the NHL. If Scottie Arniel isn’t a fan of Johansen, Calvert could have a big bust out season if slotted into a top-six role. If you haven’t heard yet, Huselius has torn a pectoral muscle and is out for four-to-six months, which pegs his return time between Christmas and the trade deadline. He probably isn’t worth drafting at pre-season drafts, but file his name in the back of your mind for the stretch run of the season.

 

If you are swinging for the fences or are in a long-term deep keeper league, keep an eye on Atkinson. He’s had himself a great career at BU, but I’m not quite sure whether or not if a player has signed an entry level contract that they are eligible to return back to college? Maybe my fellow Dobberities might know the answer to that question? Either way file his name for the future. Boll, Bass and Dorsett could be the league’s toughest line. The trio could very well all end up with 100 PIM seasons.

 

Last year’s pre-season top-six:

Huselius, Umberger, Rick Nash, Vermette, Brassard, and Voracek

 

End of year finish:

Nash

66

Umberger

57

Vermette

47

Brassard

47

Voracek

46

Upshall

34

 

 

Dallas- Top-four pretty solid, questionable top-six fillers and cavalry

 

Top Six
Loui Eriksson – Mike Ribeiro – Brendan Morrow

Radek Dvorak – Jamie Benn – Michael Ryder

Cavalry

Steve Ott, Tom Wandell and Scott Glennie

Bottom Feeders
Vernon Fiddler, Eric Goddard, Adam Burish, Krys Barch, Jake Dowell, Tomas Vincour and Toby Petersen

 

With the departure of Brad Richards and James Neal, the Stars top-six is starting to look pretty shaky. The top-four of Eriksson, Ribeiro, Morrow and Benn should carry most of the offense, but it’ll be interesting to see what Dvorak and Ryder will contribute as secondary offensive sources. I’ve always been a big fan of Ott. He was a “star” back in his junior days, but hasn’t really been given an opportunity in a top-six role at all in the NHL. I could foresee him garnering a top-six role by replacing Dvorak or Ryder if either falters. A lot of the hype has died down for Glennie, which is surprising, considering he still potted 91 points in his last campaign of junior eligibility. It could be a boom or bust season for those gambling on the former eighth-overall pick from 2009. Fiddler is a great option for FW, but probably won’t be a strong point producer on the offensive front.

 

Last year’s pre-season top-six:

Eriksson, Richards, Neal, Morrow, Ribeiro, and Benn

 

End of year finish:

Richards

77

Eriksson

73

Ribeiro

71

Morrow

56

Benn

56

Ott

32

 

Next week: the Red Wings, Oilers, and Kings.

 

Questions or comments? As always I’ll be ready and willing to discuss them in the comments section below.

 

 


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Comments (15)add comment

Jaxx said:

Jaxx
ott - penguin i have ott and benn, follow them a bit. ott's the type of tweener that coaches like to have, a guy that can do several things well despite not being able to do one thing great (other than agitate)... hence he sifts between 2nd and 3rd line, is on 2nd PP, 1st PK..... Penguin, in the last 10 games you noted, my guess is those draws were on the PK and as the 3rd line C.... brich and ribs had their share of draws as top 6 Cmen... now that brich is gone, my guess is that dallas will want benn there because as has been pointe dout, he has more play-making and goal scoring ability, moreso than ott. this isn't a dig on ott, i like him... but just mainly as a 3rd liner, top pk man who can fill in for a period of time as a top 6 guy, but not a "full-time" top 6 guy.
July 20, 2011
Votes: +0

tGr said:

27Blue
... ott takes most all defensive zone face-offs and is number one on the penalty kill... also, even if he plays the wing he can take important face-offs...

just think benn will be given a chance to work on his face-offs as the number 2 centre. ott could very well be his lw and insurance for important face-offs in the game. ott's game is in the corners and banging bodies - not puck possession and distribution. he could very well end up top 6 by default in dallas, just can't see it at centre.
July 20, 2011
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

Pengwin7
Smiley Face Can mods edit my post to change the smiley faces into
8.)

Supposed to be the number 8... LOL.
July 20, 2011
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

Pengwin7
More Ott Great Note on Fiddler. He was definitely signed to be C3. He's excellent on the dot and the PK.

Using Frozen Pools, sort by Steve Ott's last 10 games of line combos in 2010-2011:
41.36V;10 MORROW,BRENDEN - 29 OTT,STEVE - 63 RIBEIRO,MIKE
17.41V;21 ERIKSSON,LOUI - 29 OTT,STEVE - 91 RICHARDS,BRAD
*Crawford was giving him top 6 minutes on BOTH lines down the stretch.

To a typical eye, somebody might look at these lines and say "Oh, Ott was playing wing on the top two lines". IDK, was he? Cycle through the last 10 games of Dallas game logs and jot down the number of face-offs everybody was taking.

Face-offs
Game #73 vs ANA: Ott(20), B.Rich(19), Ribs(11), Benn(0)
Game #74 vs NAS: Ott(15), B.Rich(16), Ribs(20), Benn(1)
Game #75 vs PHX: Ott(15), B.Rich (9), Ribs(19), Benn(4)
Game #76 vs SJ: Ott(17), B.Rich(15), Ribs(11), Benn(1)
Game #77 vs LA: Ott(19), B.Rich(17), Ribs(11), Benn(1)
Game #78 vs ANA: Ott(22), B.Rich (smilies/cool.gif, Ribs(15), Benn(2)
Game #79 vs CBJ: Ott(19), B.Rich (6), Ribs (5), Benn(1) (***WOW***)
Game #80 vs COL: Ott(20), B.Rich(13), Ribs (smilies/cool.gif, Benn(1)
Game #81 vs COL: Ott(13), B.Rich (9), Ribs(10), Benn(0)
Game #82 vs MIN: Ott(12), B.Rich(17), Ribs (5), Benn(0)

Maybe the new Dallas coach tries something different... but Ott was definitely seen as the #1 face-off guy down the stretch. If he plays top 6, he'd be wasted at any position other than C.
July 20, 2011
Votes: +0

Ryan Ma said:

Maaaasquito
... RE: Ott

I think you're onto something Pengwin regarding the FW%, but the problem for me is his overall style of play. C's tend to play more of a puck possession/controlling the play type of game, but I don't know if Ott is that type of a finesse player. Benn IMO is. Everytime he has puck possession, he seems to do something with the puck to generate some sort of offense.

If Ott ends up playing C, I think he ends up in a role much like what Fiddler did with the Coyotes last season as a third-line FW specialist, but then again that's probably why they brought in Fiddler in the first place, which kinda leaves Ott only winger eligible really...
July 20, 2011
Votes: +0

tGr said:

27Blue
... time will tell, and lines are fluid through the season but,

when richards went down for 10 games last year,
-morrow stayed with ribeiro and ott joined them.
-benn played with eriksson.

i think ryder will be given a spot alongside ribeiro as they have a history playing together from their days in montreal.
July 19, 2011
Votes: +0

SeaDawg said:

SeaDawg
Benn I sure hope he plays with Eriksson...it only makes sense, imo, that they try the two together. Ribs and Morrow won't be around forever and Benn and Eriksson are the future top line for them.
July 19, 2011
Votes: +0

tGr said:

27Blue
... If Ott plays centre it will be on the third line and on the penalty kill.

Top line will be:
Morrow - Ribeiro - Ryder

Benn will play with Eriksson on the second line - maybe with Ott on the left side. Dallas wants Benn to replace Richards as the team's number one centre and they will give him the opportunity to see if he can handle the job.
July 19, 2011
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

Pengwin7
Steve Ott Right now, I have the opinion that Ott gets a spot as the line #2 center.
Ott took 1138 faceoffs last year, winning them at a rate of 56.6%.
Benn took 195 faceoffs last year, winning them at a rate of 43.3%.

Many people are overlooking the fact that Ott is now a center.
He took 172 faceoffs in 2008-2009.
Then took 352 faceoffs in 2009-2010. (@ 56.8%)
And now 1138 faceoffs in 2010-2011. (@ 56.6%)

I tend to believe that if a coach has a chance to bring a young player along as a winger, he'll try that first... less defensive responsibility.

Benn-Ott-Ryder
July 19, 2011
Votes: +0

SeaDawg said:

SeaDawg
Hishon The problem with Hishon, as Dobber (or maybe it was Angus) mentioned in the ramblings today, is that he is still suffering post-concussion symptoms. Even before this news, I personally did not think he'd be ready for the NHL yet, but with that news I think the chances of him playing in the NHL next year are very, very low.

Even long-term I'm not convinced Hishon is a top sixer. I see him more as a 3rd line, penalty killer-type with a good offensive instinct to chip in with some secondary scoring. I just don't see him as a solid top 6er.
July 19, 2011
Votes: +0

Ryan Ma said:

Maaaasquito
... RE: Jones

Completely agree SeaDawg! It's completely a toss up, which kinda shows just how unpredictable the situation in COL is.

The problem with those three (Yip, Galiardi, and Jones) is their inconsistency. You'll see 2-3 maybe even 4-5 games where they go point-per-game when lining up alongside Stastny or Duchene, then go ice-cold with goose eggs in the next 3-4. They lose their spot and their fantasy value is shot. It becomes a roulette situation where everyone just has a turn at the wheel, so the overall production is pretty much leveled off.

I honestly think Hishon could come in, play a consistent game and end up securing a top-six spot kinda how Wolski did back in the 2009 season, and end up having a great rookie campaign.

But then again the same could happen to Yip, Jones, or Galiardi as well.
July 19, 2011
Votes: +0

Ryan Ma said:

Maaaasquito
... RE: Landeskog

Definitely I think he's probably the most NHL ready in terms of the 2011 draft class. The downside for me is he's drawn a lot of comparisons to Mike Richards in terms of style of play. Those physical bang em up players tend to bloom a little bit later than true finesse players like Hall, Kane, Crosby, Toews, Malkin... During his rookie season Richards notched 34 points, so I kinda expect something similar for Landeskog. He's able to dominate young smaller junior players, but playing against men there's going to be a tougher adjustment period, which is why I kinda gave the proven players like Galiardi, Yip, Jones a leg up because they'll probably have better one-year fantasy production than Landeskog.

Great long-term potential, but I'd be wary in one-year leagues.
July 19, 2011
Votes: +0

SeaDawg said:

SeaDawg
David Jones Nice article once again, Ma.

I tend to agree with most of it, but I think David Jones has a top 6 spot to lose for Colorado. I think he is a bit underrated, but he has a great scoring touch and could be a 30 goal threat if he lines up with either Duchene or Stastny.
July 19, 2011
Votes: +0

ultrawhiteness said:

ultrawhiteness
... i would say Landeskog, of all the 2011 draftees, is the one guy you could point to as being a lock for the NHL.
July 19, 2011
Votes: -1

DuklaNation said:

DuklaNation
... Landeskog is an interesting case. I think Kitchener renounced his rights and he's too young for AHL so doesnt that mean he's guaranteed an NHL spot?
July 19, 2011
Votes: +0
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