Following the footsteps of my Eastern Conference counterpart, here’s a list of some of these Western Conference under-achieving veterans from last season. Many of them were simply injured and could be seriously undervalued heading into your draft this year.
Rene Bourque Cal
The 27-year-old winger had quite the breakout year last season, before having it come to an abrupt stop due to a late-season shoulder injury. He tallied scored 21 goals and 19 assists in 58 contests before returning for the five contests during the playoffs. The downside to Bourque is that he’s missed quite a few contests in his brief four-year NHL career, so there are negative factors that come attached to Bourque’s name at the draft table. With that said, if you are ready and willing to take the leap of faith on Bourque he could be in line for a huge season playing alongside Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen.
Patrick Sharp Chi
Sharp was bitten by the injury bug last season as he missed over 20 regular season contests due to a lingering knee injury. Sharp had been relatively healthy for the prior two seasons as he missed only four games from a total of 164 contests. He is also well-known for his penalty-killing prowess, but last year he averaged only 45 seconds on the PK per contest. With Sammy Pahlsson moving onto greener pastures, look for Sharp to be placed back into a position of responsibility on the PK.
Paul Stastny Col
Stastny managed to only suit up for 45 of the possible 82 contests last season as he was suffering from a kind of bad-luck injury after breaking his forearm from blocking a slap shot by Jokinen right around Christmas time. Stastny has definitely been a pleasant surprise since being drafted in the second round of the 2005 NHL entry draft and registering at nearly a point-per-game pace (185 in 193) since his debut in the NHL. The Avs don’t have much to play for this season, so look for him to have the green light to fire away this season.
Marek Svatos Col
Svatos suffered from a plethora of different injuries throughout the season, but still managed to play in a career-high 69 contests last year. The Avs in general have battled injury problems for the past couple of years with Stastny and Joe Sakic’s long-termed injuries, hopefully newcomer Matt Duchenne can stay healthy and provide some much needed consistency up the middle for the Avs this season, which will hopefully translate to an increase in point production for the Slovakian.
Raffi Torres Clb
Torres missed 31 contests due to a couple of injuries that he sustained throughout the season last year, while finishing with 12 goals and eight assists in 51 contests. A small fact that probably no one really knows about Torres is that he was once a junior hockey star in the OHL. In his third season in juniors he actually tallied 91 points in 68 contests, which is probably one of the main reasons why the Islanders took a giant leap of faith in him when they drafted him fifth overall in the 2000 NHL entry draft. Big bodied power forwards tend to take a while to develop in the NHL. As he turns 28 this season, look for his production curve upwards during the prime years of his career.
Derrick Brassard Clb
If there was one person who was majorly bitten by the injury bug last season it must have been Brassard. He was leading the Blue Jackets in scoring before succumbing to a season-ending separated-shoulder injury 30 games into the season. Brassard has been snake-bitten the last couple of years with injuries, as he missed a large portion of his final junior year with a fractured jaw while missing most of this past season with a shoulder injury. You can earmark him for a spot on Dobber’s Band Aid boy list, but if he can manage to stay healthy this season, watch out!
Brad Richards Dal
Richards is pretty much the model of consistency. In his NHL career, he has played in 80 contests or more in six out of eight seasons and has also recorded a 0.8 point-per-game scoring mark in each of the last six seasons. He had a shortened year last season due to a wrist injury, but did manage to record 48 points in 56 contests. If you are looking for an undervalued draft pick heading into this season’s drafts look no further than Richards.
Steve Ott Dal
Much like Richards, Ott suffered a wrist injury that severely hampered his production last season. He ended up finishing the season with 46 points in 64 contests, but probably could have seen upwards of 60+ if he were healthy for all 82 contests. Ott, much like Torres, was once a junior star as he tallied 175 points in 88 contests (along with 342 PIMs) in the final two years of his junior career with the Windsor Spitfires. He’s a Brendan Morrow in the making and has plenty of past precedence to prove that point.
Brendan Morrow Dal
This seems to be a column entirely about the Stars, as Morrow is the third Star to make our list. Morrow had his season shortened due to a freak ACL injury that ended his year 18 games into the season. Morrow has been an across-the-board stud since the lock out as he averages 0.84 points, 1.67 PIMs, and 2.29 shots-per-game for the Stars in the past four seasons. Surely, many poolies will forget about his name at the draft table, but he’ll certainly make them pay for that mistake later on in the season. Side note: I’m still miffed about the fact that he was injured the day I acquired him in our Dobber’s Expert Pool. I ended up losing the extremely tight pool by a few points that a healthy Morrow would certainly have put me over the top.
Thomas Holmstrom Det
Holmstrom was also bitten by the injury bug last season as he finished with 37 points in 53 contests. Father time is beginning to catch up with the 36-year old, as he’s beginning to sustain a lot more little knickknack injuries in recent years than in the past. He was hampered with left knee problems, as well has hernia surgery with really hindered his production this season. In the past four seasons, Holmstrom has recorded near a 0.70 point-per-game pace each season, so if he can stay relatively healthy this season, he could once again make a run at the 55-60 point mark.
Lubomir Visnovsky Edm
Visnovsky finished last season with 31 points in 50 contests after suffering a dislocated shoulder in Februrary. Vizzy was a workhorse for the Oilers last season as he logged 23 minutes of ice-time per contest when he was healthy. The only downside for Vizzy is that he has played in 60 contests or less in three out of his eight seasons, and 72 or less in six out of the eight seasons, so he certainly is a big risk in terms of injury.
Jack Johnson LA
Johnson had last season shortened due to a torn labrum, in which he suffered in the second game of the season. He returned in January 17th, but much like many players who experience a torn labrum injury, they never really get their feet of the ground during the season. He finished with 11 points in 41 contests and really took a back seat to Drew Doughty and Kyle Quincey. With the later being shipped out to Colorado in the off-season, the Kings are now opening all of the doors for Johnson to walk through..
Brent Burns Min
Burnsy was a fan favourite following last season when he put up an impressive 43 points, 80 PIMs, and 158 SOG in 82 contests for the Wild. He was quickly forgotten when he started the year off slowly by tallying just five points in his first 14 contests and was compounded even more when he missed the last month of the season with concussion-like symptoms. He also underwent shoulder surgery in the off-season, and we all know how well a player rebounds from shoulder surgeries the season after. But who knows Burnsy might just buck the trend and be that gem that’s going to make you a genius at the end of the season.
Steve Sullivan Nsh
There’s a few differing opinions ranging from one extreme to the other for Sullivan. Fact: Sullivan and Arnott have crazy chemistry playing with each other. (20 of his 32 points came from playing with Arnott) Fact: When Sullivan returned, the Preds went on a 20-11-5 tear in the final 36 games. Fact: His back caused him huge problems, as he missed two years of his career because of it. Fact: Before his back injury, he missed 38 games from 2005-07, so he’s not Superman by any means. With Sullivan, you have to take a glass half empty or half full approach. If you don’t think his back will hold up, don’t draft him, if you think it is, then go out and get him on the cheap.
Jonathan Cheechoo SJ
Cheechoo didn’t miss a whole heap of games due to injury last season, but did manage to sit out 16 of the 82 contests. He missed a few games in December due to an upper body injury, and a few games late in the season in April. There are numerous “heated” reports coming from newspapers regarding a trade between the Sharks and the Sens for disgruntled winger Dany Heatley, some of which were involving Cheechoo. Either way things can’t really get any worst for the Cheechoo-train and can only go up from here.
Paul Kariya STL
I’m going to get raked over the coals on this one, as many Dobberities have been trying to keep him secret for this season’s drafts. I’m going to let the cat out of the bag because isn’t this the reason why you came to visit the website anyways? Kariya had last season shortened because of a torn muscle in his hip that effectively ended his season after 11 contests. The Blues’ top-line was on fire to open the season as Kariya, Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes registered 39 points in the first 11 contests of the season. If they can find of that chemistry once again look for them to light up the scoreboard.
Andy McDonald STL
Essentially the same as what I wrote above, McDonald missed over 30 games last season due to a fractured ankle and still ended up with 44 points in 46 contests. He reminds me a lot of another late-blooming under-rated center named Marc Savard, and we all know what he’s done in the past two seasons.
Pavol Demitra Van
Demitra also had his season-shortened last season due to a few various injuries. He was sidelined with a groin injury in January, nursing a broken pinky in February, and suffered a torn labrum during the playoffs. He managed to pick up a very quiet 53 points in 69 contests last season, but I know what you’re thinking, it’s because of Mats Sundin. The surprising thing was that only 24 of those points were alongside Sundin according to FrozenPool. Injuries are usually a sign of old age, but if Demitra can manage to stay relatively healthy this season, he could once again toy with the 60 point plateau.
Questions or comments? Like always I’ll be ready and willing to discuss them with you in the comments section below.