Proceed with Caution - these players are bound to decline
So the big NHL news last week unfortunately had nothing to do with the lockout. It was in fact that the New York Islanders are heading to Brooklyn. After losing the Dodgers 54 years ago, all of a sudden Brooklyn will now have two pro sports franchises. The good thing for Islanders fans though is that the team is still in the area. Once the team's lease expires after the 2014-15 season at Nassau Coliseum they will only be moving about 25 miles away.
Normally I am against any form of relocation in pro sports, especially when it comes to a storied franchise like the Islanders, who won four consecutive Stanley Cups through 1980-83. Typically when a team moves, all the positive press surrounding the new city and location overshadows the real disappointment many fans that lost the team are feeling. However, in this case I fully support the decision for a few reasons.
First off, owner Charles Wang has made many attempts to get approval for a new building in Long Island. Wang is often the target for criticism because of some of his hockey related decisions, but it seems like here he really made a concerted effort to get a new stadium built and understood the value of the team to the community.
Secondly, it's not like he moved the franchise to Seattle, Kansas City, Quebec, or any other spot that would have displaced the team. The Barclays Center is supposedly accessible to 11 subway lines, 11 bus lines, as well as the Long Island Rail Road. General Manager Garth Snow said it took him about 25 minutes to get to the new arena for the announcement. And getting from Nassau to Brooklyn in 25 minutes may be the most impressive thing Snow has done so far in his tenure as GM.
Lastly, we may get to see Jay-Z, part owner of the Brooklyn Nets, eventually take a stake in the Islanders. It's a long shot, but Jay-Z loves to be involved in everything Brooklyn. And if you think his hockey knowledge isn't up to par, I'm sure even he would have known that trading away Zdeno Chara, Roberto Luongo, Todd Bertuzzi, a second overall pick that turned out to be Jason Spezza, and signing goaltender Rick DiPietro to a 15 year deal would be bonehead moves.
Although the Islanders series of bad hockey decisions and struggles on the ice have been well publicized, they just may be finally heading in the right direction after all. John Tavares looks to be just a small step away from being a superstar and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Unlike these Western Conference players that you may want to be weary of owning this season on your fantasy squad.
Michael Ryder - RW - Dallas Stars
Ryder had his best statistical season in eight years and potted a career high 35 goals in 2011-12. However, there are a few reasons to be skeptical that he can duplicate those accomplishments. One thing to keep an eye on is the departure of Mike Ribeiro and how that will affect Ryder. Last year Ribeiro was on the ice with Ryder for 31 of his points, which counted for 50% of his production. The loss of the slick-passing center is certainly going to take a toll.
The other issue will be all the offensive firepower the Stars have brought in. The additions of Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy, and Ray Whitney may take away some ice-time, as well as power play time away from Ryder in 2012-13.
One more interesting note on Ryder is that four of his 35 goals were empty netters. Not that it's a huge deal, but empty net goals can be random and they represented 11% of his goal scoring. You can't really count on those consistently.
Ian White - D - Detroit Red Wings
White set a career high with 32 points last season and 196 shots. He was also a plus-23 for the campaign and looked to have really found a home in Detroit. The problem for White, and the rest of the Red Wings for that matter, is that the bionic Nicklas Lidstrom has retired. White played nearly 47% of his even strength shifts and just over 28% of his power play time with Lidstrom. Expect a drop in points and plus/minus now that Lidstrom will be relaxing somewhere back in Sweden, instead of carrying Detroit on his back.
Also take into consideration that Kyle Quincey will be around for a full season, the emergence of Brendan Smith, and the addition of 10,000 Frequent Injury Miles card holder Carlo Colaiacovo. All will be vulturing away precious minutes and opportunities from White.
Curtis Glencross - LW - Calgary Flames
Glencross had 26 goals last year in just 67 games and has posted 50 tallies over his past two seasons. The issue I see this year for him is a rapid slide down the depth chart. The Flames seem to be content with Alex Tanguay at left wing on the top line, and really want to give Sven Baertschi a shot on the number two line. Leaving Glencross probably playing alongside Lee Stempniak and Roman Cervenka in perhaps more of a checking role. Unless someone in the top six really falters, expect his goal totals to slide a bit.
Vinny Prospal - LW - Columbus Blue Jackets
It's hard to imagine Prospal matching or exceeding the 55 points he had in 2011-12. At least not with the Blue Jackets. The loss of Rick Nash has to really take a toll on Columbus this year as it's almost like trying to find Waldo when searching through their roster for offense.
Although Jeff Carter's time in Columbus lasted about as long as That 80's Show, Prospal may end up missing him more than Nash. Carter factored in on 22 of Prospal's points last year which accounted for 40% of his production.
Kyle Brodziak - C - Minnesota Wild
After looking things over several times I can confirm Brodziak did indeed have 22 goals and 44 points in 2011-12, and thankfully I don't need glasses. It looks like Mikael Granlund is penciled in to be Minnesota's number two center and the additions of Zach Parise and Torrey Mitchell should hurt his power play time a little. Don't expect the same point totals, but if faceoffs are a category in your league then he might be worth a shot. Brodziak took more faceoffs and won more draws than anyone on the Wild last season.
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