Editors note: Tim Lucarelli was one of many to contribute to Gates Imbeau's September Roto Guide. In Tim's piece for the Guide, he highlights several players who stand to benefit from a lockout (or shortened season).
I would highly recommend checking the September Roto Guide out in full. Gates worked his butt off for this, and the content is amazing. The Dobber community stepped up to provide a variety of analysis and opinions.
Burmistrov is a very skilled forward, but he has struggled to produce consistently. Anyone who has watched the Jets can attest to the fact that Burmistrov has flashes where he looks like an elite, skilled forward who can compete with the best of them. But then a few games go by and he fades back into the player who is still finding his way. Thanks to the free agent acquisitions that Winnipeg has made, if the NHL season were to start today, Burmistrov would likely end up stuck on the third line with the same developmental barriers he has been seeing. Whether he plays in St. John’s – where he is eligible to play – or for a KHL team in his homeland Russia, Burmistrov would benefit significantly in the case of a lockout.
Fowler had an impressive rookie campaign, but definitely hit a sophomore slump scoring only 29 points in year two. Like most young players, Fowler has specifically struggled in his own end, posting a minus-53 rating in his short career. With a year left on his entry-level contract, Fowler will have the opportunity to fine-tune his skills in Norfolk with guys like Emerson Etem, Kyle Palmieri, and Sami Vatanen.
OK, it’s not one player, but these three go together. All three are AHL-eligible, and they would probably all be fine playing in the NHL next year. Now, it’s one thing to dominate in the AHL for a year and then re-join the rest of your teammates who have been training elsewhere. It’s another thing to dominate in the AHL with both of your linemates. Just imagine the confidence these three will bring once NHL action resumes.
Niederreiter had an atrocious year, posting only one measly point and a minus-29 rating in 55 games. Islanders’ coach Jack Capuano has still had positive things to say about him, but the fact of the matter is that Niederreiter is not ready to skate at the NHL level. Last year the Islanders chose to keep him around to gain NHL exposure despite the poor performance, but if there were to be a lockout, Nino would have the luxury of regrouping at the level he should. Additionally, the frustrating year will just add motivation.
Stepan has progressing well, but to get to that next level, he needs to find his offensive touch once again. During the last lockout, Jason Spezza and Eric Staal dominated the AHL, which led to a very successful NHL campaign once the lockout was resolved. Stepan might have a lower ceiling, but some added confidence could do marvels for his development.
Johansen has a ton of potential, but he was most concerned with just keeping his head above water in his rookie year, where he posted a respectable 21 points and minus-two rating for the team who finished statistically worst in the standings. One thing you never want to do is instill an acceptance of a losing attitude, which is why it probably wouldn’t hurt for Johansen to get some time in for another club before re-joining the Blue Jackets.
It is possible that Pronger’s career is over, but it is also possible that a full year of rest (which he likely needs even if there isn’t a lockout) he would be able to return to NHL action after all. It might be a longshot, but the combination of rest and lack of media spotlight may just do wonders for Pronger’s career.
Johansson is another player who would benefit largely from a lockout, specifically because he already has NHL experience and knows the level of effort and talent required to be a successful NHL player. He is also in that developmental stage where it is one thing to know what needs to be done, but it’s another thing to actually carry it out and be a consistent performer. Getting some confidence back in the AHL or even a European league should translate to a more confident and consistent Johansson once the NHL resumes play.