Following the lead of my Western Conference counter-part, here are the Eastern Conference 2008-09 Fantasy Awards finalists and winners.
David Krejci – Surprising Bruin led the entire NHL with a plus-37. The 73 points were unforeseen by most poolies not related to Krejci. He averaged 1:46 of ice time while short-handed and had four short-handed points.
Mike Richards – Mister Everything in Philadelphia. Richards had 30 goals, 80 points, 33 power play points and a league leading nine short-handed points, seven of those goals. He even found the time to rack up 63 penalty minutes along with a sweet plus-22. Richards also averaged 3:12 per game on the penalty kill.
Travis Zajac – Nice numbers from a relatively unexpected source. He scored twenty goals, fifteen power play points, four short-handed points and 62 points. Zajac averaged two minutes per game on the penalty kill and sported a fabulous plus-33.
Winner – While it’s very tempting to go with Krejci’s overwhelming plus-37, the win goes to Mike Richards. Even in fantasy hockey, it’s not just about the plus/minus. Richards is superior to Krejci and Zajac in every other category and the fact that Richards is also a real Selke candidate sways the award in his favour.
Zdeno Chara – An absolute beast. Dominating defensively. All true in real life, but how does that translate to fantasy hockey? In Chara’s case, pretty well. The NHL’s tallest skyscraper recorded 50 points, 28 power play points, 95 penalty minutes and a fine plus-23.
Mike Green – First defenseman to score 30 goals since Kevin Hatcher turned the trick in 1992-93. Green had 73 points in only 68 games, recorded 38 power play points, 68 penalty minutes and had a very good plus-24. He also led all defensemen with 243 shots on goal.
Andrei Markov – We found out how much Montreal missed him after Markov was hurt and sat out the final four regular season games and all four playoff games against the Bruins. The Canadiens didn’t win a single game after Markov went down. Markov scored 64 points and had the most power play points (39) of any defenseman in the league.
Winner – Contrary to real life, defensive play in fantasy leagues is highly over-rated. This one wasn’t even close; Mike Green has surpassed Dion Phaneuf as the most sought after fantasy defenseman.
Sean Avery Memorial (opposite of Lady Byng)
This award goes to the most useful high penalty minute player in fantasy leagues.
Daniel Carcillo – His 254 penalty minutes, by far the most in the league, were not surprising. Unfortunately, much more than his 14 points were expected offensively from Carcillo and a minus-15 makes Carcillo a one category player.
Scott Hartnell – A bit of a wild child (check out that hair), Hartnell was able to score 30 goals, 60 points, 13 power play points, while recording 143 penalty minutes. He took 210 shots on goal and didn’t hurt your team with a decent plus-14.
Milan Lucic – I think comparisons to Cam Neely are still a bit premature, but this kid is very exciting to watch. He’s a big part of the Bruins success this season and is only going to get better. Lucic scored seventeen goals and 42 points, eight via the power play. He had a strong plus-17 rating and spent 136 minutes in the sin bin.
Winner – The fine balance of points and penalty minutes can win many a rotisserie league. Scott Hartnell for me was a difference maker, contributing in every category and that makes him and his fantasy owner’s winners.
Mikhail Grabovski – Was the leading rookie scorer in the Eastern Conference with 20 goals and 48 points, with 15 coming by way of the power play. His 92 penalty minutes are most welcome in fantasy hockey and a little surprising. Too bad Grabovski can’t figure out how to play like he did against Montreal this season. He had six points in six games with 54 penalty minutes.
Kyle Okposo – Okposo led all rookie forwards in time on ice, averaging 18 minutes per game. He scored 18 goals, 39 points in only 65 games. Had Okposo played the entire year, he would have had 49 points. If the Isles ever manage to find some talent to compliment this youngster, he will provide some pretty nice fantasy numbers.
Blake Wheeler – I for one certainly didn’t expect a 21 goal, 45 point rookie season from the tall (6’5”) winger. Wheeler didn’t provide a great number of power play points (5), penalty minutes (46) or shots on goal (150), he did finish second in the NHL with an incredible plus-36.
Winner – Blake Wheeler. He had a slow start and hit a wall in March, but from November to February, Wheeler was very consistent in scoring 35 points in 52 games. His fantastic plus/minus rating helped push many fantasy owners over the top in that category, while not hurting in the other categories.
Henrik Lundqvist – Got off to a fantastic start on his way to 38 wins (second in Conference) and three shutouts. Lundqvist led all Eastern Conference goaltenders with 1839 saves, recorded a decent 2.43 goals-against-average (fourth in Conference) and 0.916 save percentage.
Tim Thomas – Helped Bruins to the best record in Eastern Conference. Thomas dominated the NHL in goals-against-average (2.10) and save percentage (0.933). He also recorded the third most wins (36) and third most shutouts (5) in the Eastern Conference.
Cam Ward – Led all Eastern Conference goaltenders with 39 wins and six shutouts. Ward was second in saves with 1741 and had a very respectable 0.916 save percentage and 2.44 goals-against-average. Ward played a large part in Carolina qualifying for the post season.
Winner – Tim Thomas clearly had the best overall statistics in the Eastern Conference and that’s what really wins hockey pools. Sure he had the luxury of playing on a team that allowed the least number of goals against, but hey, Thomas was a big part of that.
Evgeni Malkin – The Art Ross trophy winner had 35 goals and 113 points, 41 on the power play. Malkin still found the time to record 80 penalty minutes and a respectable plus-17. He also recorded the most time on the ice amongst all forwards in NHL.
Alexander Ovechkin – Finished only three points behind Malkin in the scoring race, but led the league in goals (56) and shots on goal (528). Recorded a whopping 46 power play points, was plus-8 and had 72 penalty minutes.
Zach Parise – After back to back seasons of 62 and 65 points, in this, his fourth NHL season, Parise took it to another level. He scored 45 goals, 94 points with 30 via the power play. One reason for his leap in goals and points can be attributed to an increase in shots on goal. Parise finished third in the Eastern Conference with 364 shots on goal. His plus-30 was upper echelon.
Winner – In fantasy hockey this is a no-brainer. Ovechkin wins going away and the fact that he isn’t a Centre only helps. The big Russian machine just doesn’t hurt you in any category while scoring the most goals and shots on goal by wide margins.