Beneficiaries of the Lockout
I'm starting to think the lockout may be some elaborate conspiracy by the owners and players to destroy the hockey media. Think about it for a second. The one thing the two sides surely have in common is at times a dislike for reporters. And if you don't believe me, just ask Brian Burke or John Tortorella if they had any beat writers over for Thanksgiving. I can't imagine Tortorella sending Larry Brooks a Christmas card either. Continuing this lockout could be a sophisticated scheme to flush out every last idea a writer has until there is simply nothing left to say.
Conspiracy theories not withstanding, we are at the point now where almost everyone has suffered enough. The players have lost several paychecks, owners are losing money at a rapid pace, and the beloved fans have gone without the game for close to two months. Not to mention that the future of the Toronto bar scene is teetering on a knife edge without hockey. Things are looking grim.
However, not all hope is lost. If the two sides can come to terms in the foreseeable future then we still have a shot a shortened season, possibly starting in the new year. And if ifs and buts were candy and nuts......... well you get the idea. It may be a long shot, but let's hold on to hope. It's all we have right now.
Although there are many people suffering from the lack of NHL action going on at the moment, there are also some benefactors as well. And no I'm not talking about the Columbus Blue Jackets and how they can claim they are currently tied for first place, or the undoubtedly dozens of lawyers involved in the negotiating process that are getting paid by the hour. There are actually some NHLers this lockout is helping indirectly. And those players could have big fantasy implications if there is a shortened season.
Here is a look at a few.
Ryan Kesler - Vancouver Canucks
I remember laughing when Jeff Angus took Ryan Kesler in our Dobber Experts Draft, thinking he was out until January with an injury. Then I remembered there probably won't be a season until January! He scored him pretty late too and it was a shrewd move. Should there be a shortened campaign Kesler will most likely now miss little or no time.
Something just didn't seem right with him last year and he was clearly playing hurt. Hopefully the surgeries on his shoulder and wrist can return him to the form he had in 2010-11 when he notched 41 goals and 73 points. Combine that with the fact that he can help you out in hits and the special teams categories as well, and Kesler looks like a great play this year. And because he is injured he is still getting paid believe it or not. Until he is medically cleared by doctors for play, he will receive his full salary. Put that in your pipe and smoke it owners.
Miikka Kiprusoff - Calgary Flames
You could make an argument that no team relies on a player more than the Flames do Kiprusoff. He is probably even more important to Calgary than Jarome Iginla. Kiprusoff has played in at least 70 games in each of the past seven seasons. The guy could use a little rest, and what better break than an NHL lockout. A shortened season would mean Kiprusoff wouldn't have to play as many games and the Flames wouldn't have to rely on their backup as much.
If you think Kiprusoff's stats are slipping because he is now 36, well they haven't. He posted a .921 save percentage with 4 shutouts and 35 wins in 2011-12. Will Kiprusoff's strong play be enough to finally return the Flames to the playoffs this season? Seems unlikely, but you better believe he will get them close enough so Jay Feaster has an excuse not to rebuild.
Derek Roy - Dallas Stars
Roy is in a very similar situation to Kesler. Having offseason shoulder surgery looked to see him out until November. Once again if we are in for a shortened campaign then he shouldn't miss any time. Roy has a good shot to center that Stars second line with Michael Ryder and Ray Whitney on his wings. Those three could be one of the more underrated lines in hockey. Both Ryder and Whitney have a nose for the net and they combined for 59 goals and 139 points in 2011-12.
This layoff could help the Stars as a whole also since they have a number of veteran players that have a lot of miles on them. Jaromir Jagr, Brenden Morrow, Stephane Robidas, as well as the aforementioned Ryder and Whitney, could all be fresher without having to play a full 82 games.
Jonathan Quick - Los Angeles Kings
If you count last year's playoff run, Quick set a career high in minutes, shots against, and games played. Winning the Stanley Cup is of course the ultimate goal, but playing hockey deep into June means less of an offseason to recover. With the help of the lockout, that shortened summer will no longer be an issue. Quick should be able to comeback refreshed and ready to go in 2012-13.
Quick won't reach the ten shutouts he had last year because he won't be in as many games, but look for his totals in save percentage and goals against to be among the league's elite once again.
Teemu Selanne - Anaheim Ducks
This one could go either way. If the entire season is lost then the 42-year-old Selanne may be forced into retirement, but a smaller season could see a rejuvenation of those Finnish legs of his. If the lockout does end his career then that would be the biggest travesty in this whole fiasco. If that is indeed the case then some sort of boycott may be in order. Or at least a nasty letter sent to just about everyone involved with this entire negotiation process.
Selanne has not just been collecting a paycheck in his 40's. He has 146 points during his past two seasons and is almost a point a game player during that span. Expect him to significantly add to his 1,406 career points if there is a 2012-13 campaign.
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