Kessel

 

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It’s certainly a lot more complicated than this, but a macro look at a successful hockey team tells us that it has strong goaltending, a stud defenseman four star forwards and strong secondary scoring. Heading into 2008-09, the Boston Bruins had Zdeno Chara as their defenseman, Marc Savard as a star forward, and they hoped that Patrice Bergeron could recover from is concussion to be that second big scorer. The B’s also hoped that the tandem of Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez would keep them in enough games to squeak into the postseason.

 



Two of their kids becoming sensations so quickly was not something the Bruins could have counted on, but they’ll take it. And so will their fantasy owners.

David Krejci was supposed to be their “third-line” center behind Savard and Bergeron. Phil Kessel was a promising young player without a clear role. That was in September. Today, these two kids and fellow youngster Milan Lucic are the Boston Bruins.

In fact, Savard – a $5 million player who has twice topped 95 points – has just seven points in his last 10 contests, while the so-called third-line center has 16 in that span. Going back further, Krejci has 20 in his last 12 games. Ice time? He doesn’t need any. Four times this season Krejci has played fewer than 15 minutes in a game. He totaled six points in those contests.

The 22-year-old was a standout for Gatineau of the QMJHL, he was a standout for Providence of the AHL and now he is a standout for Boston of the NHL.  I can’t think of one player in the league who I have bumped up their upside so frequently – as a prospect, I had Krejci’s ceiling at 65 points. By the end of 2006-07 I bumped it up to 70. After the way he ended 2007-08 (nine in his last seven regular season games, plus another five points in seven playoff tilts), I pushed his upside to 75.

Counting the postseason, Krejci has 43 points in his last 44 games. That’s more than half the season, so it’s time to give him his due – this guy can get 90 points. I would say 80 to 85 is a more likely career high for him, but 90 is feasible.

With Phil Kessel, the expectations were much higher. At times in 2005 and into 2006 he was considered the top prospect in his draft class. He ended up being selected fifth overall, but his stock hadn’t really fallen a whole lot. He made the team as an 18-year-old, but his 29 points disappointed poolies who had hopes of an immediate impact. His second year saw an improvement to 37 points, but fantasy owners were still unhappy – in many cases he was dealt or dropped in leagues across North America.

Heading into this campaign, fantasy owners didn’t even know what position he was playing. Center? Left wing? Right wing? Would he be on the top line? The third line?

Patience wins keeper leagues and experienced poolies know that these players need a few years – usually three to five – to gain in strength and experience. It’s Kessel’s third season and he has 31 points in 30 games playing right wing on the top line with Savard and Lucic.

Kessel and Krejci will be big names in fantasy hockey and it starts now…

Meanwhile…

If you are looking for an under the radar winger who can give you two points for every three games, you should take a flyer on Joakim Lindstrom. The Coyotes picked him up from Anaheim a couple of weeks ago in a little-talked-about deal, but the 25-year-old is blessed with a lot of skill. He has nothing left to prove in the AHL and has not had great opportunities at the NHL level. The knock on him has been his size, but so far in Phoenix he is clicking nicely with rookie Mikkel Boedker. Lindstrom has three points in three games so far…

B.J. Crombeen has had an excellent season so far. First he unexpectedly made the Stars out of training camp and then later, when the team tried to sneak him to the AHL through waivers he was scooped up by St. Louis. He has eight points in 13 games for the Blues, but seven in his last five. He also has 26 penalty minutes. There is nothing in his history to suggest that he could ever get more than 40 points in a season, but he does have the pedigree to support 150 penalty minutes. Sean Avery (who is likely out of the NHL for this season) could recoup much of their losses by scooping up Crombeen. Forty points and 150 PIMs is close to the 45 and 250 that Avery would have provided.

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