Every Wednesday this summer, I will bring you a sleeper to watch for the 2009-2010 season (and potentially beyond). Released in no particular order, I will refrain from picking sleepers that have already shown glimpse of breaking out in the past – the obvious candidates. Time to go beneath the surface for some sleepers that you may have not thought about…



Fantasy hockey is all about trends. Certain players play better on certain days of the week, months of the year, and parts of the season. Certain players perform better in certain situations, certain positions, and on certain teams. Identifying these trends is usually the difference between winning your pool and simply staying afloat. Rich Peverley, once a castoff in the Nashville Predators organization, broke out in a big way after joining Atlanta mid-way through the 2008-09 season. He did the one thing that any center must do in Atlanta – establish chemistry with Ilya Kovalchuk. Peverley torched score sheets (relatively, at least) down the stretch, finishing the season with 13 goals and 35 points in 39 games for the Thrashers. In 27 games with Nashville earlier in the season, he only had a measly two goals and nine points. What was the reason for this dramatic increase in production?

The obvious answer is Kovalchuk. Peverley played the majority of his shifts with Kovalchuk. His linemates also included Colby Armstrong, Slava Kozlov, and Marty Reasoner. His ice time jumped significantly – opportunity number two. He averaged just over 12 minutes a game in Nashville, but was close to 19 minutes a game in Atlanta. Peverley wasn’t just scoring and not contributing, either. After his arrival, the Thrashers were a solid .500 hockey club, and even went on a six-game winning streak in March. Lots of players that have been scoring stars in the ECHL and AHL never get opportunities to play in scoring roles in the NHL. However, lots do and don’t take advantage of it. Peverley is a shining example of a scoring star that toiled in the minors for numerous seasons, and capitalizing on an opportunity.

What does this mean for the future? The Thrashers are much improved this off-season. They signed underrated Nik Antropov, traded for top-four defenseman Pavol Kubina, and will have a full season from phenom Zach Bogosian. Perhaps the key player to watch for is Kari Lehtonen, who has done little with his immense talent up to this point. Conditioning has always been an issue with him, but the Thrashers believe they have that figured out. If Lehtonen can stay healthy, he is a top five goalie.

 

Getting back to Peverley, expect his scoring to continue. The Thrashers love the line of Kozlov, Bryan Little, and Todd White. They also want Antropov to play with Kovalchuk, to open up some space for his lethal shot. Peverley will fit like a glove between the two hulking wingers. Expect 50-60 points, and do not be shocked if Peverley hits 70. The coaching staff likes him, and Kovalchuk likes playing with him. As a fantasy hockey owner, what else could you ask for?

 


Write comment
Comments (7)add comment

Jeff Angus said:

angus
... loco, if he was a guarantee it wouldn't be written in pencil! He is the best bet to center that line. Antropov is way more effective at wing, using his size down low and along the boards.
July 22, 2009
Votes: +0

Jer said:

jer_33
... From Fantasy Tools:

465EV20 ARMSTRONG,COLBY - 13 KOZLOV,VYACHESLAV - 47 PEVERLEY,RICH
422EV20 ARMSTRONG,COLBY - 17 KOVALCHUK,ILYA - 47 PEVERLEY,RICH
330EV13 KOZLOV,VYACHESLAV - 47 PEVERLEY,RICH - 19 REASONER,MARTY
152EV20 ARMSTRONG,COLBY - 47 PEVERLEY,RICH - 21 STERLING,BRETT
July 22, 2009
Votes: +0

loco man said:

loco man
... I thought that after an intial breakthrough, Peverly played the majority of his shifts with Kozlov and White centered Kovy and Little, no? I also thought that Antropov was brought in to play centre and that the top line would likely be Little - Antropov - Kovalchuk. It would be great if Peverly is pegged as the number 1 center (still available in our league) and Ants moves to the wing, but I really thought that Ants would be playing center.
Is it a lock that Pevs is pencilled in as the number 1 guy down the middle?
July 22, 2009
Votes: +1

Jeff Angus said:

angus
... For Lehtonen - not sure there. Could be this season. Atlanta has a solid team on paper, and Lehtonen is poised for a big season.
July 22, 2009
Votes: -1

david said:

newper114
... very interesting to know. I really thought down the stretch they were trying to get B.little and kovy to connect big time. there even was an article about their play on how insinc they were. however, the numbers were great for a few games but then trailed off.

so very good insight into the combos.. will be interesting to see what happens. espcially since peverley will most likely go undrafted in most leagues.
July 22, 2009
Votes: +0

Matthew said:

Spec7ral
... How long before Atlanta is a decent enough team for Lehtonen to get close to Top-5 numbers?
July 22, 2009
Votes: +0

tradejunkie said:

tradejunkie
... Great insight... I like this one the most out of your series...
July 22, 2009
Votes: +0
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy