The best and worst fantasy hockey signings from the 2011 summer....
Every year fantasy hockey poolies pay very close attention to the movement on July 1st (and July 5th this season). Big names change teams all over the league. This not only has a significant impact on the production of these players, but on their former and future teammates, as well.
With that being said, let’s look back at some of the best (and worst) fantasy hockey signings from 2011. Not all of them were among the best players available in their respective free agency class – finding the right fit is often just as important as overall talent. A change of scenery, more ice time, less competition, a better team, a different coach – these are just some of the factors that can impact the production of a player.
Richards and Marian Gaborik were supposed to light it up on Broadway. But as we continue to find out year after year, dream combinations on paper often don’t translate to dream combinations on the ice. Richards and Gaborik are both puck carriers and they struggled to mesh their styles together.
Richards was decent in his first season on Broadway and awful in his second. The Rangers opted against buying him out, and I expect him to flourish as the primary offensive center under Alain Vigneault (with Derek Stepan playing a two-way role).
The lesson here: hockey isn’t played on paper. These big signings often don’t work – a lot more goes into chemistry than pure talent and past production. Richards is a really good player, but the Rangers overpaid significantly. They are lucky that they will be able to use a buyout on him next summer if he fails to bounce back.
If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck… it’s probably a duck. Cam Barker was awful in Minnesota, and even worse in Edmonton. The fact he was once drafted 3rd overall clouded the Oilers in their judgment.
The lesson here: NHL teams don’t always make the right decisions. And don’t base a player primarily on where he was drafted. It’s just a number.
Cole went to Montreal and had a great 2011-12. And Dobber was bang on in his analysis – Kostitsyn was the major loser with this move.
The lesson here: A player bringing a unique and needed skill set (Cole’s was size/speed/experience) will get a big opportunity to produce. Age is a factor, but look past it whenever other factors are at play.
"You want to give me HOW MUCH money?"
The Sabres wanted to spent some of Terry Pegula’s money. They would have been better off throwing it into a fire. Leino had a small sample size of NHL success, and was completely overwhelmed in Buffalo as he tried to live up to the hype that came with his monster contract.
A team with a number of non-physical offensive wingers threw a bunch of money at a non-physical offensive winger.
The lesson here: free agent frenzy makes people go crazy.
Ryder was productive in Montreal, productive in Boston, and he was REALLY productive in Dallas. A proven track record for success regardless of linemates and location.
The lesson here: a free agent may not be the sexy name or the flashiest player, but a goal is a goal. And the same holds true for fantasy hockey. Proven, consistent production means something.
Toronto failed to land Brad Richards in 2011, so they opted for one of the second tier centers on the market – the injury prone Connolly. Connolly struggled to stay healthy (although missing 12 games in 2011-12 is actually a healthy season going by his track record) in Toronto and spent the entire 2013 season in the AHL. On paper, Connolly with Lupul and Kessel seemed like a fantastic power play trio.
The lesson here: signing somebody for the sake of making a move rarely works out. If a team misses on a free agent target, sometimes they are better off going with an internal option instead.