Pending release of the MidSeason Guide later this week, I thought it would be a great idea to take a look back at thePre-Season guide and see where I stand in comparison to four months ago. It’s always good to take a look back atpast mistakes to help us prepare for the future. Plus it will give an insight to those who haven’t seen the content of theDobberHockey guides first hand.
Andrew Cogliano – C, Anaheim – The Ducks forked out next summer’s second round pick to the Oilers, then signed the speedster to a three-year $7.17 million contract. The expectations are going to be high for a career 0.45 point-per game NHLer, especially if Teemu Selanne decides to hang ’em up.
As discussed in the guide, a lot of Cogliano’s success would have depended on Selanne retiring. That obviously didn’t happen which is why the speedster is toiling around the 14 minutes of ice-time per contest mark, which has left me scratching my head as to why they offered him such a high priced contract in the first place? MISS on my part.
Michael Frolik – RW, Chicago – Prior to being traded to the Blackhawks last campaign, Frolik was a 0.55 point-per-game player with the Panthers. In 28 contests with Chicago, he dropped to a 0.32 point-per-gamer. The main reason could be attributed to a lack of ice-time (averaging just 15:35 per contest), so if coach Q decides to loosen the leash on the Czech-native the numbers should be more favourable.
Ho hum, it’s status quo for Frolik, as he’s averaging 0.27 points-per-game while garnering a worse TOI average than last year (13:58). Things probably won’t change unless an injury to the Hawks’ top-six occurs, which chalks up another MISS for me.
James Wisniewski – D, Columbus – It’s been a few years, (if ever), since the Jackets have had a player of Wiz’s calibre running the point, which is why the Columbus offense (power-play) should be much improved this year. The injury bug has always been an area for concern, so be aware of that factor if you are going to take a leap of faith on him.
The Wiz missed the first eight contests of the season due to a reckless hit in the pre-season, but has rebounded well since his return. He was playing towards a 48-point 155 SOG pace, which is pretty valuable for fantasy leagues, before his recent broken ankle, which will sideline him for the next six weeks. Consider it a HIT for his first half performance, but given the time that he’s going to miss, it’s probably going to be a PUSH by season’s end.
Peter Mueller – RW, Colorado – Concussions have made a big impact on the league in the last few seasons, and one of the major players has been Mueller. He has suffered multiple concussions which has derailed his young career. Mueller missed the entire 2010-11 season. All signs are pointing towards him returning for training camp in fine form, but all it takes is another slight knock to his head and his season (or career) might be over. Mueller’s a boom or bust candidate.
As highlighted in the pre-season, heading into 2011-12 Mueller was a complete boom or bust candidate. It’s always so hard to predict injuries like concussions. Consider this one a PUSH because of the injury factor.
Sheldon Souray – D, Dallas – After spending a year travelling on the buses in the AHL, Souray will be entering this season with a chip on his shoulder and much to prove. If you’re a big trend reader, Souray has played 81, 26, 81 and 37 games the last four seasons while registering 64, 10, 53 and 13 points respectively, so an 81-game, 57-point season isn’t out of the question.
Souray is on pace to finish with a line of 38 points, a plus 21 rating, 103 PIMs, 12 PPP along with 263 SOG, which isn’t a bad stat line for someone who was on average drafted as the 47th defenseman in Yahoo! leagues. HIT!
Danny Cleary – RW, Detroit – If you’re a big fan of consistency then Mr. Cleary might your man. For the last five seasons he has registered between 63 to 71 games played and 34 to 46 points all while averaging 150 SOG. If you aren’t expecting anything more, then Cleary is a great candidate to round out your roster.
So far so good for Cleary, as he’s avoided the dreaded injury bug while pretty much posting numbers along the lines of what I predicted in the guide. HIT. One thing that you should keep in mind is that he’s never played a full 82-game season in his career so keep your expectations in check for the second half.
Sam Gagner – C, Edmonton – Entering a contract year generally helps boosts numbers for some players. With the youth movement occurring in Edmonton, Gagner will have a lot to prove this campaign or he could find himself on the outside looking in. Expect a bit of a slower start to the season as he has a career 0.52 point-per-game average prior to the All-Star break, but then he should take off as he is a 0.76 point-per-game second-half producer.
Gagner missed quite a few games in the first half dealing with ankle and back injuries. His 16 points in 31 contests (0.52), is pretty much exactly as predicted, now let’s see if his second half follows suit. HIT, for now.
Jarret Stoll – C, Los Angeles – Many would think that the recent arrival of Mike Richards will completely destroy all fantasy value for Stoll, but the opposite may come true. The pairing of Michal Handzus and Stoll won 54.6 percent of their faceoffs taken last campaign (62 percent on the PP). Richards isn’t as proficient on the faceoff dot (career 49.2 percent efficiency) as Handzus, so Stoll could be the main “go to” faceoff guy (especially on the PP) in Hollywood.
Although the offensive numbers haven’t been there for Stoll, the faceoff numbers are still quite dazzling. He’s currently tied with Antoine Vermette and Steve Ott for ninth overall in terms of faceoff winning efficiency (56 percent), and eighth in terms of home FO win percentage (59.6 percent). I wonder if he started chirping as much as Steve Ott does (“I’m fifth in the league. At faceoffs, look at NHL.com”), that new coach Darryl Sutter would take note. Either way, MISS on the offensive front.
Devin Setoguchi – RW, Minnesota – After spending the first four years of his career in San Jose, Setoguchi was mostly buried behind the likes of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley, and Joe Pavelski which never thrust him into a position of responsibility. In 2011-12, he’ll finally get a chance to pave his own path with the Wild. He has averaged 0.60 points and 2.68 SOG per game so far in his career. Look for Seto to improve those numbers while playing an integral part in Minny’s top-six.
It’s been an injury riddled first-half for Seto, as he’s missed almost a third of his games due to a “lower-body” injury. If you look at the stats from the games that he has appeared in, 0.46 points and 2.14 SOG per game, they’re still not up to snuff, which is a MISS for now, but things could change with a healthy second half.
Martin Erat – RW, Nashville – Speaking of consistency, Erat should probably be running for president of this club. For the past five seasons, he has averaged 70.6 appearances, 18:27 TOI/game average, 52.6 points, and 149.4 SOG. Erat has a guaranteed top-six role in the Music City, so if you can handle the 10-12 games missed due to injury, he is certainly a worthwhile sleeper investment.
If Erat suits up in all of the remaining 43 contests, he’ll finish with 74 appearances, which is right on pace as predicted. He’s currently averaging 18:44, and is on pace for 54 points and 115 SOG. The SOG is a bit low, but should pick up once he gets his second half legs under him. Mr Consistency is at it again. HIT.
Martin Hanzal – C, Phoenix – With the departure of Eric Belanger and Vernon Fiddler due to free agency, there is a gaping hole left up the middle in the Coyotes’ line up. Despite missing 21 contests due to injury, Hanzal actually ranked amongst the top-30 in overall PP faceoffs won. Look for him to fill the massive void in 2011-12 and spend plenty of time alongside Yotes’ star Shane Doan.
Once again Hanzal has been dominant on the faceoff dot on the man advantage. He currently tied for 13th overall in terms of PP FW with 61 despite missing six contests due to various injuries. He also has a very respectable 56.5 percent faceoff winning efficiency on the power play, which is amongst the league leaders. He’s seeing just 14.71 percent of his entire shifts alongside Doan, so if that improves, Hanzal’s numbers could really take off. HIT.
Brent Burns – D, San Jose – After Dan Boyle, the Sharks had very little two-way depth on the blue-line last campaign. They addressed that problem by acquiring Burns in the off-season from the Wild. He has a career 0.40 point and 1.75 SOG per game average which probably should be a starting point for projecting his production this campaign.
Burns has played to just a 0.34 point pace so far, but the bright side is the 2.8 SOG per game pace that he’s garnering. The Sharks should see an improvement in the second half (much more info in the mid-season guide). MISS for now, but expect that change by season’s end.
Kevin Shattenkirk – D, St. Louis – After posting 26 points in 46 contests with the Avs, Shattenkirk was moved to the Blues in a head-scratching deal near the trade deadline. He followed that up with 17 points in 26 games to finish with a very respectable 43 in 72. The Blues are potentially the deepest offensive team in the league, which should help put Shatty in the right direction.
Shatty is continuing the pace that he reeled off from last season. He’s been on the ice for 55.2 percent of the Blues’ power play opportunities, which should see his success continue into the second half. HIT.
Marco Sturm – RW, Vancouver – The Canucks had a great run last campaign, but were missing that one little piece in my opinion. That piece could be Sturm, as he sports a 0.61 point and 2.54 SOG-per-game average since 2001. I could certainly picture the Sedin twins and Sturm lighting up the scoresheet all season long. Expect a big bounce back season from the poster boy of German hockey.
Six games into the season and the Canucks made a surprising move that saw Mikael Samuelsson and Sturm traded to the Panthers for David Booth. Trades and injuries are always PUSHES in my book as we just can’t predict what would have been.
Andrew Brunette – LW, Chicago – As you can probably tell, I’m a pretty big fan of consistency. Much like a few of the players I’ve mentioned previously, Brunette is another example of a pretty consistent producer. He’s posted 59, 50, 61, and 46 points during the last four campaigns, so if you are a trend-reading fantasy poolie, a bounce back to 60 points just might be in store for the 15-year NHL vet.
With the big five of Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith occupying 53.4 percent of the Blackhawk’s point totals, it has left very slim pickings for the rest of the team. Brunette is a victim of point scarcity, which will see him closer towards last season’s total of 46 points than the 60 that I originally predicted. MISS.
Vaclav Prospal – LW, Columbus – Since 2006, Prospal has averaged 0.72 points and 2.50 SOG-per-contest. With Kristian Huselius on the shelf till at least Christmas, look for Prospal to get some prime ice time alongside Rick Nash or Jeff Carter, especially on the power-play. A 50-point, 180 SOG season could be in store for the journeyman.
Prospal has arguably been the Blue Jackets’ best player in the first half, as he’s on pace for close to 60 points and 180 SOG. He’s also seeing two-thirds (66.1 percent), of his power play ice-time alongside Nash and Carter, which should see him continue the trend until April. Another HIT for me.
Michael Ryder – RW, Dallas – The departure of Brad Richards will hurt the Stars’ offense. Ryder won’t completely mask the loss of Richards, but should at least soften the blow. The last time Ryder and Mike Ribeiro suited up for the same team, Ryder averaged 0.73 points and 2.83 SOG-per-game in Montreal between 2003-2006. If they can rekindle some of that chemistry, the duo could certainly produce some quality fantasy numbers in 2011-12.
So far, so good for Ryder as he’s averaging 0.70 points and 2.24 SOG per game in the first half. He hasn’t seen a lot of even-strength ice-time alongside Ribeiro, but has seen a significant amount on the power play (69.9 percent). The trio of Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson and Ryder have been one of the most productive lines this season, which should see Ryder continue the production moving forward. HIT.
Ian White – D, Detroit – The sudden retirement of Brian Rafalski left a huge hole in the Detroit blue line, so they sought out White to help fill the void. They both have very similar styles of play, so having White replace Rafalski may not result in too much of a drop off. Since 2006, White has posted an average of 27.4 points and 144.6 SOG per season. Expect similar numbers.
It appears that the Red Wings have found the perfect Rafalski replacement, as White has indeed filled the void flawlessly. He’s on pace for 45 points along with 229 SOG, which has certainly blew my initial projections out of the water. Third consecutive HIT for me.
Mike Smith – G, Phoenix – The phrase “the system makes the goalie.” is a fairly well known one amongst fantasy poolies. That could be the saving grace for Smith as Dave Tippet’s defensive scheme should help out his numbers. He doesn’t have a “big name” attachment, which ought to make him a great late-round, buy-low candidate.
Smith was on averaged selected as the 36th goalie in Yahoo! leagues and is currently ranked 14th overall amongst all net-minders according to their rankings. He’s certainly rewarding those who decided to take a leap of faith with him on draft day. Look for the solid numbers to continue into the second half. HIT.
Blake Geoffrion – LW, Nashville – Year after year the Preds always churn out a surprise candidate. It began with Alex Radulov back in 2007, Jason Arnott in 2008, Patric Hornqvist in 2009, and Sergei Kostitsyn last campaign. This season, Geoffrion is my pick to be the Preds’ bust out candidate. He had a brief cup of coffee while registering eight points and 24 SOG in 20 contests despite averaging just 8:16 per game last year. Look for a much bigger role from Geo.
Well it wasn’t Geoffrion that ended up being the surprise bust out. It turned out to be Craig Smith who has come out of nowhere to make a serious impact for the Preds this campaign. Smith’s quality play relegated Geo to a menial role averaging just 10:20 per game. Geoffrion was recently sent down to Milwaukee to gain some much needed ice-time to further his development for the long term. Swing and a MISS on my part.
Marek Zidlicky – D, Minnesota – With the departures of Burns and Cam Barker in the off-season, the Wild’s defense corps appears very fragile. With that said, someone has to assume the No.1 role and that spot undisputedly belongs to Zidlicky. The Wild, as a team, isn’t very deep, but a top power-play unit of Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu, Devin Setoguchi, Matt Cullen and Zidlicky will compete with the best of ‘em.
Zidlicky has missed a third of his contests in the first half dealing with a concussion and hamstring injuries, but has been a part of 57.3 percent of the Wild’s power play opportunities. He has also averaged 8.3 goals during the past three seasons, which should see his current gooseegg in that department pick up in the second half. PUSH because of the injuries, but I expect that to change come April.
Michal Handzus – C, San Jose – With all of the changes happening in San Jose during the offseason, one of the most underrated signings of the summer could be Handzus’. He ranked among the top-40 in terms of faceoff win percentage in the league and should slot in nicely as the Sharks’ third-line checking center. The top-six looks pretty cemented, but if a major injury were to happen, Handzus will slot in nicely as a replacement.
Things are pretty much going as predicted regarding the status of Handzus. He’s currently ranked tied for 28th in terms of faceoff winning effectiveness (53.3 percent), and playing that key pivotal third-line checking role for the Sharks superbly. Since Martin Havlat’s (major injury to the top-six), injury, he’s seen his ice-time increase from 14:55 to 15:59, while his power play ice-time has increased from 35 seconds to 2:09 per contest. Look for him to gain a bit more value in the second half. HIT.
Scott Parse – LW, Los Angeles – My swing for the fences pick this campaign belongs to Parse. After posting four points in five contests, he sustained a season-ending torn labrum. Simon Gagne and Justin Williams aren’t exactly immune to the injury bug, so look for Parse to at least gain a temporary slot alongside Anze Kopitar. If you’re looking for a late-round flier pick, strongly consider Parse.
Well my home-run shot ended up being a giant strike out as Parse has been nowhere near a blip on the fantasy radar. He’s seen just 2.84 percent of his overall ice-time alongside Kopitar, which isn’t even remotely enough to be effective. On top of that he’s gone for the season dealing with hip surgery. I probably should be considering this a PUSH to keep it consistent, but I’ll bite the bullet and give it a MISS on this one.
So far not too shabby with a 12-8-3 record which is a strong improvement over my 7-9-7 record that I posted at this time last year and 6-12-5 record that I ended last season with. We’ll revisit this column again at the end of the year to see where I ended up.
One last plug for the Mid-Season Guide, expect something similar to this column plus many more little tidbits to help you gain an edge over your competition in the second half. You’ve stuck with your team through thick and thin, snowstorm or sunshine, so why let it all go to waste now?
Questions or comments? As always I’ll discuss them in the section below.