For the Week of December 13th. Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 30 Thoughts column on the CBC website is currently the best read in hockey. Friedman is insightful, articulate, knowledgeable, fair, and most importantly, interesting. He has sources and contacts in the hockey world that most could only dream of. He has an ability which is rare in this day and age - providing a balanced and reasonable opinion on the league, the players, and all 30 of the clubs.


Each week I will post my own observations (I couldn’t completely steal Friedman’s idea so I’ll pick a number other than 30) – with a heavy emphasis on the fantasy side of hockey, of course. Prospects, goalies, sleepers, busts, it will all be covered each week.


1. Keith Ballard is a player worth targeting. For a multitude of reasons, his ice time was limited early on in the season (and he was even healthy scratched on a few occasions). Ballard will get a ton of ice time with Christian Ehrhoff out, and if he plays well he can expect that trend to continue even when the German defenseman returns.


Ballard is fast, gritty, and offensively gifted – he fits the Vancouver system like a glove. His value will rise even more in leagues that count hits and/or blocked shots.


2. You would win a lot of hockey games with an entire team composed of players like Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. Both are skilled, feisty, gritty, and responsible. Both (especially Dubinsky) are finally getting the recognition they deserve in fantasy hockey circles as well.


3. One of my favourite prospects is off to a terrific start in his professional career. Matt Calvert is hovering just below the point-per-game mark with the Syracuse Crunch. He projects as more of a two-way energy player, but one should never discount the small player with a big heart.


He is in the same mould as Zach Parise (obviously not nearly as skilled) – a real nose for the net, understanding for the game, and a motor that doesn’t quit. He sticks to the puck like white on rice.


4. This not just in – Marty Turco stinks. Corey Crawford’s grip on Chicago’s starting position continues to tighten.


5. Nashville rookie Anders Lindback has two consecutive shutouts filling in for the injured Pekka Rinne. Lindback slid far in his draft year because of a medical issue (one that he still deals with on a daily basis). Nashville continues to pump out the quality goaltending. My only question – how long until Rinne is jettisoned out of town? Mike Dunham, Tomas Vokoun, Chris Mason… the list goes on.


6. Kudos to those of you who held on to Jonathan Quick this past summer. I traded him for a few reasons – I thought last season was a bit of an anomaly, and I was worried about the arrival of Jonathan Bernier. Quick has picked up right where he left off last (regular) season – consistent and quality play every game for the Kings. He’s athletic and talented, but most importantly he is very mentally tough.


7. I agree 100% with Dobber’s take on the Washington Capitals. They are not a defensive team, and they don’t have the personnel to play a defensive game. They lost last spring because of a hot goalie, not because of an ineffective system.


Acquiring Scott Hannan (who may be the worst passing defenseman in the league) made sense, but he doesn’t fit that team at all. Bruce Boudreau may be the problem, but he can only do so much defensively with the personnel on the roster.


8. I get asked this question a lot, so I’ll update my thoughts. My top five young defensemen in a keeper format: 1) Erik Karlsson, 2) John Carlson, 3) Cam Fowler, 4) Jamie McBain, 5) PK Subban. Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo are close behind. Fowler has shot up my rankings list for good reason – he’s an 18-year-old playing like a veteran.


9. Eric Tangradi was recently named AHL player of the week. His value has peaked (in the summer) and fallen (after being sent down) all in the span of a few months. I’d still value him quite highly in keeper league formats.


Obviously if he were a Florida prospect he wouldn’t have the same value, but its only logical that a young, cheap, big, and offensively talented winger on Pittsburgh gets fantasy attention. If you don’t own him, it may be time to toss out a few feelers to the owner that does.


10. My World Junior Championship preview column(s) will be out at some point over the next seven days. Based on my early research, I’d look for a few things – Adam Larsson to receive a ton of hype from the media (which essentially means Pierre McGuire), Canada to play a very physical and aggressive style, and the USA to score a ton of goals. My dark horse for the Canadian team is undersized forward and Montreal prospect Brendan Gallagher of the Vancouver Giants.


11. There are a number of surprise players and teams this season, but to me the biggest may be the Dallas Stars. Did anyone see them leading the Pacific Division midway through December? Kari Lehtonen has stayed (relatively) healthy, they are getting offense, and the defensive group is holding the fort down as well. It helps that the Pacific Division has weakened a bit (especially in San Jose).


One Star I really like for keeper league formats is Jamie Benn. His short-term value took a hit when the team decided to move him permanently to center, but down the road it probably helps his long-term value.


12. The Avalanche are going to win a ton of games this year by simply outskating the other team. Aside from Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk, every single forward can fly. The defense aside from Adam Foote is very mobile as well. With the emergence of Kevin Shattenkirk, I could see the Avalanche shopping the swift-skating Kyle Cumiskey as the deadline approaches.


13. If I’m Steve Yzerman, I hopped on the first plane to Russia yesterday after learning that Evgeni Nabokov was leaving his KHL team. Sure he’d have to pass through the waiver wire if a contract was signed, but few teams possess the cap space and the need for a goalie that the Lightning do. Nabokov would fill a huge need for the team, as Mike Smith is arguably the worst goalie in the league, and Dan Ellis far from a legitimate starter himself.


14. Jeremy Morin is going to be a player. Scoop him up (more value in keeper leagues, obviously) if you can.


15. Willie Mitchell’s first game back for the Kings: 27+ minutes in a shutout win (although the Kings allowed over 50 shots on goal). He is the kind of player who has a ton of secondary fantasy value – he eats up the minutes that Doughty/Johnson don’t need to. Not surprisingly, Doughty had his best offensive game (three points) in quite some time.

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jason said:

Top 5 D @Hockeytowner:

Fair enough. Its certainly possible that it should have been obvious to me that Doughty didn't require mention because he's ahead of those others. If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong. I'm definitely not one to argue with reality. So, maybe I'm the only one who is confused by such things. If that's the case, then I guess I have to live with it smilies/smiley.gif
December 16, 2010
Votes: +0

hockeytowner said:

top 5 D No offense to Jason but I think most people will understand that list. I didn't even think twice about it. I bet the more you visit this site Jason the less questions like that you will have.
December 15, 2010
Votes: +0

Chewd said:

@ Flaupmes "As for Nabokov, I am sure his being with his sick child is more important to him then helping Tampa Bay fill their need for a goaltender. Just a hunch."

If that's true, then why did you pick him up?
December 15, 2010
Votes: +0

jason said:

Thanks for the Clarification Gotcha. But I hope you do realize that you can't expect your readers to make that inference. What's "obvious" to a hockey writer is probably not obvious to the average hockey enthusiast. Considering his struggles, some of us may have been wondering whether or not Doughty's stock has fallen this year. Anyway, I suppose that is why the comment section is so valuable. Gives the reader a chance to point out anything that is unclear, and gives you a chance to clarify.
December 15, 2010
Votes: +0

Jeff Angus said:

... Jason, I assumed most would realize Doughty's admission from the list being due to his games played at the NHL level. He is obviously better than any I listed.
December 14, 2010
Votes: +1

jason said:

Top 5 Young Defensemen Ummm... Have you heard of Drew Doughty? He should definitely be #1 on your Top 5 D-Men list. He's certainly young enough for your list. He's actually younger than 2 of the players on the list (McBain and Shattenkirk).
December 14, 2010
Votes: +0

Kudelski's Krushers said:

Kudelskis Krushers
... 2 - Absolutely agree

4 - Ditto

10 - As Rossi pointed out, Gallagher was cut

11 - Interesting tidbit: The Pacific division has been one of the most offensively potent divisions this year. I think the stat quoted in last night's Stars-Sharks game was that all five teams are in the top half of the league in terms of goals scored.

11.5 - Benn has been playing on the wing the last couple of times I've seen the Stars play...

12 - Interesting thought, but why would the Avs want to move a cheap, puck-moving D-man?

13 - This may be why you're not a GM. haha Nabokov is in North America, or at least the GM of his KHL team said that he would be "on the next flight back". Also worth noting that he has so far had talks with three teams, one of which is the Lightning.
December 14, 2010
Votes: +1

flaupmes said:

... Ummm, Halak played pretty well in the playoffs Tim. Relax. Montreal D should get a lot of credit too but you dont beat Sid and Ovi lead teams with poor goaltending.

As for Nabokov, I am sure his being with his sick child is more important to him then helping Tampa Bay fill their need for a goaltender. Just a hunch.
December 14, 2010
Votes: +0

Tim Johnston said:

Hot Goalie.... Enough with this 'Washington lost to a hot goalie' crap. I hate how everyone claims Halak was MTL's 'playoff saviour'.

Regular season: 2.40 gaa, 0.924 sv%, 0.633 winning%
Post season: 2.55 gaa, 0.923 sv%, 0.500 winning %

His numbers in the playoffs were WORSE than in the regular season.
I'm not saying he played poorly, the 0.923 sv% says otherwise. But stop acting like he was crap before and suddenly became unreal for the playoffs.
December 14, 2010
Votes: -1

Mabus said:

... Wow - McBain over Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo. That surprises me. I guess only time will tell, but I think Shattenkirk has more talent and is in a better long-term situation (I'd rather be an offensive D in Colorado than Carolina). I'm not a huge Pietrangelo fan, but I can understand the reasons others are high on him.

December 14, 2010
Votes: +1

Pengwin7 said:

Willie Mitchell Great recognition for Willie Mitchell.

I made the forecast early in the year that Luongo's stats would see a bit of a hit from Mitchell's departure. Bobby Lu's best VAN numbers will be the 06/07, 07/08, and 08/09 years when Mitchell was so key to VAN's defense. Averaged ~ 2.35gaa & .920 sv%.
Last year (Mitchell injured for much) and this year, average ~ 2.55gaa & .912 sv%.

On a similar note, I predicted Jimmy Howard to lead goalies in points in a W(2) SO(3) league this year. But I think Nicklas Lidstrom's eventual retirement will knock Howard down from a top 5 fantasy goalie to a 10-15 fantasy goalie. Howard owners would be wise to sell high on the kid this year if they can keep points already accumulated.

Often lost in fantasy league's is the impact of losing a defensive defensemen. BUF lost Tallinder (+13) & Lydman (+10) from last year's squad. Big difference to Miller's numbers.

And the Kings - well... 11-3 with Mitchell in the line-up.
Point Pace for LA w/healthy Mitchell = 129pt season.
December 14, 2010
Votes: +0

Rossi said:

Dean Youngblood
Gallagher Cut Looks like your Team Canada darkhorse just got cut today
December 14, 2010
Votes: +1

Jerry said:

Morin Angus! What do you see from Morin this season & next?
December 14, 2010
Votes: +0
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