This week, the Eastern Edge looks at a pair of Red Wings in Stephen Weiss and Justin Abdelkader, as well as Buffalo's Cody Hodgson.
There were a couple of Red Wings that have caught my eye this week and I wanted to expand on what we might expect in their fantasy futures. Detroit is having less trouble adapting to the Eastern Conference than some of us skeptics may have thought, yours truly included. The Red Wings currently sit third in the conference with eight points in six games.
Stephen Weiss is not having a great start this year with only two points (both goals) in his first six games. He is averaging 16:12 minutes per game, including 1:28 on the power play. Not including last year's injury-riddled four points in 17 games, Weiss had averaged 21 goals and 57 points per season over his previous four campaigns.
Last year, Weiss' shooting percentage was 0.053. Over the previous four seasons, he averaged 0.126 and is currently shooting at a 0.222 clip, making the most of some early opportunities.
Even though he only has two goals, he is still receiving second unit power play minutes, so the points will come for Weiss. His past performance was no fluke. In Detroit, he has better line-mates than he's had previously and once he adjusts to receiving second line minutes, he will start to produce. The less ice time garnered as a second liner should be offset by not playing against the oppositions top checking units night in and night out. Weiss has a track record and at 30 years of age, is not over the hill quite yet. He should still be considered a lock for 50-55 points even playing second fiddle on this team.
The other Red Wing being discussed today is Justin Abdelkader. Many people, me included, have him pegged as an elite third line checker. His best NHL season was 22 points in 81 games, but last year he seemed to find another gear offensively, leading the Red Wings with 10 even-strength goals in 48 games.
This year, Detroit seems intent on playing him in the top six. On the season, he has taken 55.42 per cent of his even-strength shifts with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and 26.85 per cent with Johan Franzen and Stephen Weiss. That's some pretty good company.
While he's averaging 15:03 minutes of ice time per game, Abdelkader is not spending very much time with the man advantage; he has recorded 2:25 minutes of total power play minutes. With the talent-laden Red Wings, don't look for Abdelkader to receive more than mop-up duty with the man advantage.
Another important aspect of Abdelkader's game in relation to many fantasy hockey leagues is that he sits atop the NHL in hits with 29. He's averaging nearly five hits per game, which would equal over 400 hits over the course of a full season. There is no way he hits that mark, but if he records 300-plus hits, it would put him in elite territory in that category. Add that to his top six minutes and the 26-year-old is in for a career season.
After recording no points in his first two games this season, many people either bailed or were seriously considering giving up on Buffalo's Cody Hodgson. Those that stayed the course (after a whole two games!) were rewarded with a point in each of his next four contests. Although he was held off the scoresheet in Monday's game, he now has five points in seven games on the season.
Hodgson didn't disappoint last season, recording 34 points in 48 games, a 58 point full season pace. In his last season in Vancouver, Hodgson scored at a 43 point clip.
This year, he is averaging 20:59 minutes of ice time per game, including a substantial 3:45 on the power play. All that prime ice time is putting Hodgson in a position to succeed. Look for at least 60 points after all is said and done this season.
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