It is now about 50 games into the season for most NHL teams. With just over 30 games left, there is still plenty of hockey to play – more than enough time to close the gap in your fantasy league. Here are some things to keep in mind.
· Patrik Elias has five points in his last two games and 13 in his last 13. It takes some longer than others to buy into the coach’s system, but it looks like he has. Elias is the perfect ‘buy low’ candidate. I can see 30 or even 35 points going forward.
· Since Bruce Boudreau became coach of the Caps, rookie Nicklas Backstrom has 31 points in 29 games. Before that he had 10 in 21. He’ll catch Patrick Kane and win the rookie scoring title.
· Peter Mueller will finish third.
· Thomas Vanek has six points in his last four contests and he will reach 70 this year despite a horrible first half.
· Jonathan Toews has missed his last 12 games. Patrick Sharp has three points in his last 12 games (and zero in four since signing his contract). Kane has eight points in that span. This is not a coincidence.
· Dennis Wideman has 19 points in his last 27 games for Boston. He’s a 50-point defenseman, but will forever be on the cusp of the doghouse due to his defensive deficiencies. See Marc-Andre Bergeron and John-Michael Liles for details.
· If Marian Hossa is traded, it will be by mid-February. The big stars aren’t dealt at the last minute.
· Bryan Smolinski has six points in seven games since returning from his knee injury. This is more like what the Habs had in mind when they signed him. He has been playing with Tom Kostopoulos and Steve Begin, so the production will not last, but he is a steady 40- to 50-point player and his stats will always correct themselves.
· Since being a healthy scratch, Nashville rearguard Ryan Suter has six points in seven games and is currently riding a four-game streak. He and Shea Weber are helping each other out of their slow starts.
· Sheldon Souray didn’t get 64 points last season. The Montreal Canadiens’ power-play quarterback did. Souray just happened to fill that role at the time. In any other system, he is a 40-points-in-70-games player at best. Andrei Markov is the new Souray (on pace for 56) and Mark Streit is the new Markov (on pace for 52).
· By the way, how is Guy Carbonneau so successful with his power play? I mean, come on. It’s GUY CARBONNEAU.
· Braydon Coburn has 20 points in his last 37 games for Philly. That’s about a 45-point pace. He’ll approach that level this season and produce in that 45- to 50-point range for the next several years. When he turns 27 or 28, he will be a Top 5 offensive defenseman who you can count on for 60.
· Mike Cammalleri has missed 14 games for the Kings. Anze Kopitar has just 10 points in that span. Alexander Frolov, however, has 16. When Cammy comes back, you may see a decline in the streaky Frolov’s numbers.
· Dominik Hasek has faced more than 30 shots just once this season. He faced 32 against Ottawa a couple of weeks ago. He has faced more than 20 shots 13 times. Chris Osgood, meanwhile, has faced more than 30 shots on four occasions and more than 20 shots 19 times. Hasek’s career is slipping, but the team plays well in front of him so he will be the starter in the playoffs if healthy. I think Hasek will retire.
· Andrei Kostitsyn has 23 points in his last 22 games. He’s the real deal and will be a 75- to 85-point player going forward.