In honour of Canada’s newest favourite Olympic sport, let’s look at some silver medal picks to rebound for the coming season.
One of the hotter players from the All-Star game on was the Sabre’s Thomas Vanek. He recorded 23 goals and 33 points in 34 post All-Star contests. His overall 64 point total from last season is misleading and the 24-year-old gunner from Graz is a lock to bounce back to his point-per-game level. Hopefully we’re not seeing a good season, bad season trend here ala Vaclav Prospal.
The Montreal Canadiens addition of Alex Tanguay will help push the 28-year-old winger back to the point-per-game level that he achieved in his three previous seasons (81, 78, 79). Tanguay is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the season’s end and will likely be playing on the top power play unit in the league. A great passer on one of the NHL’s top scoring teams. A jump of 20 points from 58 to 78 wouldn’t surprise me.
Is new Bruin Michael Ryder set to leap from 31 to 61 points? A 30 point increase seems like a stretch, but at 28-years-old, Ryder is still in his prime and back with a coach who knows how to employ him. Ryder averaged over 28 goals a season in the three seasons prior to last year’s debacle. No matter where he lines up, he will have some nice centers to work. It looks like he will slide in next to one of the game’s most under-rated passers in Marc Savard and should be a member of the team’s top power play unit. Forget last season’s 31 points, this season Ryder nets 31 goals.
Miroslav Satan is going to play on a line with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin this season. This guy has shown incredible durability; missing a total of only eight games over the last nine NHL seasons. Last year’s 41 points were his lowest total since 1996-97. He is 33-years-old, so Father Time is creeping up, but the situation he is in this year is too good to pass up. Playing on a one year contract with either Crosby or Malkin means that Satan will come devilishly close to his career high of 75 points.
Last season was not very good for Jason Blake. As such, many people are down on him and his prospects for this year. One of my favourite statistics is shots on goal. When you look at the list of top goal scorers, they usually mirror the guys at the top of the shots on goal list. Last year, Blake finished with 332 shots on goal, 5th in the entire NHL, ahead of such accomplished scorers as Lecavalier, Kovalchuk, Gaborik and Malkin. I see Blake turning some of those assists into goals and would not be surprised if he turns in a 25-30 goal, 30 assist season. If he falls late enough in your draft, why not take a chance on this pesky winger?
I’ll close this week with one defenseman that ought to bounce back nicely. After a great rookie season of 42 points, Matt Carle lost his and just as important, his coach’s confidence last season in San Jose. The result was a paltry 15 points. The Tampa Bay Lightning went after Carle in the off-season, trading away Dan Boyle in the process, thus ensuring Carle the role of power play quarterback this season. Lightning management drafted Matt’s younger brother David with their last pick in this year’s entry draft, even though they knew that he was never going to play a game in the NHL due to a heart condition. That sent a statement to Matt Carle and his family. A return to 35-40 point territory should be in store for Matt Carle this season.