|Do You Believe in Magic? (West)||Tweet|
|Written by Ryan Ma|
|Tuesday, 16 June 2009 11:10|
A couple of weeks ago in my Projections column, I mentioned something which was commonly known as the “magical fourth year”. This week I plan on de-bunking or confirming the myth with stats to see if there really is such a thing as the “magical fourth year”.
Poised for a marginal breakout year
Dave Bolland – Bolland had himself quite a post-season while tallying 12 points in 17 playoff contests. With his solid post-season, Bolland pretty much secured a top-six spot along with number two center status, behind Jonathan Toews, with the Blackhawks heading into next season. He averaged 16:27 in ice-time during the regular season, but improved to 18:43 during the playoffs, which means that if he maintains that type of ice-time next season, he should be in line for 60 points. Because the Hawks are so deep in forwards, I wouldn’t mind throwing in a few extra points and projecting 65 for him.
Patrick O’Sullivan – O’Sully has bounced around a few teams early in his NHL career. He was initially drafted by the Wild and then subsequently traded to the Kings in a three way deal with the Wild for Pavol Demitra. This past season O’Sullivan was shockingly moved to the Oilers at the trade deadline, which rings a few alarm bells in my head of what could be the possible reasons why he has changed addresses so many times. Is it his work ethic? size? or perhaps clashes with the GMs? Looking at his past history, O’Sullivan has won a Jack Ferguson award for being the top OHL draft pick, along with a the OHL and CHL rookie of the year awards on top of being named as the AHL rookie of the year in 2005-06. Those accolades could be mentioned beside the names of such fellow NHLers named Steve Stamkos, John Tavares, Spezza, Eric Lindros, Nash, Thornton, Crosby, Lecavalier and Daniel Briere, which makes me really deliberate whether or not O’Sullivan has super star potential buried deep within him. Edmonton has a few interchangeable parts up front, which means that O’Sullivan could go anywhere from top-line left winger, alongside Alex Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff, to third line center, alongside Fernado Pisani and Ethan Moreau, depending on how he performs during the season. I’d pencil him in for a 60 point season, but if all the pieces fall in the right place, he could be in for a homerun of 80+ next year.
Sitting on the fence
David Backes – Backes had a great season as he was one of the most across-the-board producers in fantasy hockey last year. His upside for next season remains unknown as his production will be largely affected by his surroundings, similar to Eriksson’s case in Dallas. If the Blues decide to re-sign Keith Tkachuk, there won’t be a top-six role in store for Backes next season, which will greatly hamper his production, on the other hand if the Blues choose not to re-sign Tkachuk, Backes could step into a top-line role playing alongside Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes, which will make him a huge fantasy asset. I’m going to have to sit on the fence about his production on this one.
Rob Schremp – Schremp and O’Sullivan have a few things in common, one of which is that Schremp also won the Jack Ferguson award for being the top OHL draft pick. He too followed O’Sullivan’s suit by winning the OHL rookie of the year award in 2002-03, which begs the question why does he only have a grand total of seven games of NHL experience under his belt heading into his fourth NHL season, compared to O’Sullivan who has 207? He’s done well playing in the AHL while tallying 171 points in 216 career games, so offense doesn’t appear to be the problem, so I tried to delve a little bit deeper to see what truly the real problem is. After a bit of research I’ve narrowed it down to his one-dimensional game that is really hampering is ability to play in the NHL. In the past three years in the AHL, Schremp is a combined minus 41 rating, which is more than enough reason to keep him down in the minors and not give him a fair shake of the ketchup bottle (some term I picked up here in Australia...) Looking at the Oiler’s roster, I just don’t see where he would be able to fit in. He might be able to convince new coach Pat Quinn otherwise, which is why I’m leaving him on a fence as opposed to considering him done and dusted.
Troy Brouwer – Like Moss, Brouwer really asserted himself into the Blackhawks line up this season while playing in 69 games. He spent a lot of his time in third/fourth line duties alongside Adam Burish and Ben Eager, which will be the best case scenario for Brouwer this season. He briefly hit the jackpot in the middle of the season when Patrick Sharp went down with an injury where he spent some time playing alongside Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but he probably won’t be as lucky this time around. With youngsters, Igor Makarov, Jack Skille, and Kyle Beach nipping at Brouwer’s feet for a roster spot in the Chicago line up, I wouldn’t expect Brouwer to get the optimal ice-time needed for a breakout season next year.
Joel Lundqvist, Dustin Boyd, Enver Lisin, Adam Burish, Colin Fraser and Nigel Dawes.
Most of us have heard of the phrase “It takes defenseman longer to develop in the NHL than forwards.”, so I decided to look into it a bit further and see if there is such a thing as the “magical fourth year” for defenseman and found these results.
- Out of the 30 defenseman I looked at, only five had a point production increase of more than 10 points into the 45 point or above range. They were Mike Green, Rob Blake, Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Duncan Keith.
- Of the 30 defenseman, 13 actually had a drop in production from their third season to their fourth.
Tom Gilbert – Gilbert is an interesting case because he is entering his fourth season after having a very successful third year in the NHL. He tallied a whooping 45 points in 82 contests for the Oil this past season, 13 points came from lining up alongside Denis Grebeshkov, and 17 came from playing alongside Sheldon Souray on the power-play and even strength. You would have to acknowledge the fact that a lot of his production was inflated due to the extra playing time that he received from the injury to Lubomir Visnovksy. With the return of Vizzy, it would be hard to make a case for him to repeat let alone improve upon the numbers that he put up this past season. Gilbert should be a sell-high candidate in the minds of many keeper league managers heading into next season.
Alex Edler – Edler is in a very intriguing position, as he doesn’t face very much competition for ice-time on the Vancouver blue line. He picked up eight points in 10 playoff contests, while averaging over 22 minutes of ice-time per contest. He pretty much sits second on the depth chart behind Kevin Bieska, with a very good chance of surpassing him for top-dog this season, so all the signs are point up for Edler to have a very productive season along the same lines that Suter(44) and Keith(45) had this past season.
Keith Yandle – Yandle is in a similar situation as Edler after finishing last season with 30 points in 69 games with the Coyotes. Looking at the Phoenix depth chart, Yandle is really only behind Ed Jovanovski on the Coyotes’ blue line, and like Edler above has a very good chance of obtaining the number one gig on his team this season. Pencil him in for a similar season like Edler where he’ll be right around the 45 point range.
Peter Harrold, Jack Johnson, and Mark Giordano.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 June 2009 08:00|