|Fantasy Indicators of Success 2009: Centermen||Tweet|
|Written by Ryan Ma|
|Tuesday, 24 November 2009 14:30|
This week - the final instalment of the series which will deal with the Western Conference centermen. The fantasy value of pivots can be identified using the same two main stats as we used for the last couple of weeks for wingers and defenseman, which is PP ice-time and SOG. The reasoning behind it is the same. The amount of PP ice-time given usually separates players who are heavily relied upon to carry the team offensively than those who are role players. On a similar note, SOG usually maintains a similar line of thought, but it has more emphasis for a center than it does for a winger. Centers are generally considered to be “pass first” players, which is why you tend to see wingers with much higher SOG totals than centers, which makes owning a center who shoots that much more important to fantasy hockey than those that don’t. Now that we’ve established clear indicators on determining the fantasy value of centers, let’s take a closer look at a few of the them from the Western Conference.
After starting the season with three points in his first seven games, Getzlaf followed that up with an 11 game point-scoring streak in which he tallied 19 points. The fantasy stud is pretty much back. Getz reminds me of a younger Joe Thornton, who was a pass first, shoot second type of physical playmaker who isn’t afraid of dropping the gloves when called upon. If you have an opportunity to snag him definitely take your best shot. Koivu was starting to find some consistency in his scoring before sustaining a groin injury in mid-November. He does have decent line mates in Joffrey Lupul and fellow countrymen Teemu Selanne to play alongside, so the potential is definitely there. If you are looking for help up the middle definitely keep an eye on Koivu. Marchant, Carter and Nokelainen are pretty much depth centers so they don’t possess much fantasy value to be owned.
Jokinen is currently riding a five-game point scoring streak in which he has tallied six points along with 19 SOG. I still don’t see the chemistry that is supposed to exist between two All-Star players involving him with Jarome Iginla, which is why I wouldn’t expect anything more than 85 points from Jokinen by the end of the season. Either way he’s currently on a less than point-per-game pace, which should make him a great buy candidate from here on out. Langkow has been alright to start the season, but has been wildly inconsistent. He has put up points in 10 of the 22 contests, while picking up goose eggs in the other 12. That’s pretty much how I picture it for the duration of the season, where he’ll settle around the 45-50 point mark by season’s end. Boyd and Conroy are depth centers which don’t garner enough fantasy value to be owned.
No big surprises in the Windy city as we all pretty much know where the fantasy value is with the Blackhawks. Toews runs the show while gaining the most PP ice-time amongst the centers in Chicago. He missed six contests with a concussion which explains why his numbers are as low as they are compared to the rest of the league. His 2.06 SOG per contest average is average for a centerman, but that shouldn’t turn you away from considering him as a buy-low candidate at the moment especially with the imminent return of Marian Hossa to the line up. Madden is your prototypical third line shut down center. They have tried to slot him in the second line, but he just didn’t look comfortable in that role. In the most recent contest, they slid Patrick Sharp back to the second line center position, so he’ll most likely remain in that position until Dave Bolland returns from his back surgery. I mentioned Sharp last week as part of the wingers column, but you can add Sharp to the buy list as well. I’ve placed a watch sign on Kopecky because he was once a product of the Red Wings system, and we generally know what type of success they have had in drafting European unknowns. He doesn’t get much overall ice-time but he does pick up a bit of PP ice-time alongside Toews, Patrick Kane, Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg, so keep a soft watch on him. Fraser belongs on the waiver wire so leave him be.
The Avs are pretty much Stastny’s team. He’s leading the Colorado forwards in overall ice-time while ranking second only to Milan Hejduk in total SOG. Stastny has had eight multi-point contests so far this season compared to 12 goose eggs, which means that if you are an owner, you need to be aware of his peaks and valleys. Both O’Reilly and Duchenne are beginning to settle back to “normal” production as the duo has combined for only six points in the last seven contests. With the amount of ice-time both are receiving they’ll be “decent” fantasy players for this year by “decent” meaning 40-50 points along with 150 SOG. Hensick has been plagued with injuries to start the season, which is why his production has been so low. If he can manage to get healthy, he might steal some playing time away from the two rookies in the second half of this season. Henricks is waiver wire material, so leave him where he belongs.
Columbus has a few cooks up the middle but really lacks an exceptional chef. Vermette, Umberger and Brassard can all fill the top-line role alongside Rick Nash and Kristian Huselius adequately, but they aren’t players who can elevate Nash and the Blue Jackets to the next level. Vermette and Umberger have the edge over Brassard as Ken Hitchcock just doesn’t fully trust him in vital situations, which is why I tagged him with the WW tag and a watch on the other two players. The Jackets are currently ranked ninth overall in terms of team offense, but it’s the 28th ranked defense that’s not typical of a Hitchcock-coached team. Changes are sure to be coming as there are plenty of unhappy people in Columbus. Pahlsson is utilized as a depth center, so there’s no fantasy value to be found there.
Richards has busted out this year after having three sub-par seasons with the Lightning and the Stars. His 5:16 PP ice-time average ranks fourth behind only Alex Ovechkin, Martin St. Louis, and Evgeni Malkin, which should guarantee him at least a point-per-game pace for the duration of the season. He’s a strong buy candidate in my books. Entering the season, I would have slotted Ribeiro as the number one center, but with how well Richards has played, I think Ribs will be playing second fiddle to him the rest of the way. Stand pat for now, but if a good offer comes rolling along definitely consider it. Wandell and Sutherby are both WW players, so leave em be. Modano recently returned from a rib injury and has played with some zing in his step. He doesn’t receive much overall ice-time but is second to only Richards in terms of PP ice-time amongst Star forwards. If you are looking for some help definitely consider Modano. Ott really is a winger, but NHL.com has him listed as a center, so I left him for this week. With the solid play of James Neal, Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn, it really has forced Ott into a third line checking role. As long as he remains there, his fantasy value will be diminished. He’s nothing more than a waiver wire candidate at the moment.
After starting the 2009-10 season with four points in the first seven contests, Datsyuk is beginning to return back to his scoring potential. He’s missed a bit of time with an upper body injury which might explain his slow start to the year. See if you can buy-low on him, as he should be one of the top offensive threats for the rest of the way. Draper is a checking center so he doesn’t possess much value. Filppula is nursing a wrist injury, which is why his stats are as low as they are. He is beginning to practice with the team and scheduled to return in mid-December. Keep an eye on him when he is nearing his return.
Much like the situation in Columbus, the Oilers have plenty of cooks, but no aspiring chefs. Horcoff leads the bunch but he seems like a fish out of water this season with only 11 points in 20 contests. He’s had flashes of brilliance in the past, but it just looks beyond him and is nothing more than a 50 point scorer at the moment. He’s garnering plenty of ice-time on the top line with Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner, but with the Oilers struggling for the time being, look for Pat Quinn to shake things up fairly soon. Brule and Comrie have done well this season, but aren’t garnering enough ice-time to be of fantasy impact at the moment. Gagner is looking to improve upon his dismal 41-point sophomore season and will probably a prime candidate for Quinn to utilize in order to jumpstart the offense. Watch for his 16 minutes of average ice-time per contest to rise in the following months. Cogs and Potulny are trade bait candidates, so they won’t see much ice in Edmonton.
Los Angeles Kings
The boldest statement that I’m going to make in this entire series is to sell Kopitar. He’s currently on a 112 point pace, which I think just enters into the “whoa, hold your horses” category. Since the lockout only seven times has a player cracked the 110 point barrier. Joe Thornton and Alex Ovechkin each did it twice, Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin once each. So to assume that Kopitar will keep up the pace I think is unreasonable. You might be able to make a case if Ryan Smyth was completely healthy, but with the news that he’s going to be lost for at least a month that pretty much destroyed any chance that Kopitar will have of reaching 100 points. He was on a 1.48 point per game prior to Smyth’s injury, but only a 0.66 pace after. I’m not saying deal Kops at the first offer, but if you can to land a package of two star players like a combo of Jarome Iginla + Daniel Sedin for Kops + a throw in, you should definitely consider it. Stoll is quietly having a solid season, but is mainly being overshadowed the success of the rest of the Kings. He’s getting decent PP time and garnering plenty of SOG, which makes him a great third/fourth center option on fantasy squads. Handzus has been alright but the SOG isn’t quite there yet to deem him fantasy worthy. Richardson is a fourth liner, so not much value there.
Mikko Koivu has been the silent assassin this season as his 74 SOG is tied with Richards for fourth in the league amongst centermen. His 20:59 of average ice-time along with his 4:12 on the PP both rank 10th in the league amongst centers. Basically what I’m trying to articulate is that he’s probably the biggest buy candidate out there. He won’t get much help in Minny, but from what I can observe he seems to be the type of player that controls his own fate rather than depending on others. Look for him to keep up similar stats the rest of the way. Belanger is a borderline WW candidate at the moment only because I don’t see him getting much help from his wingers, although adding Guillaume Latendresse should help, it won’t make enough of a difference. Brodziak has looked good, but he and Sheppard don’t earn enough PP ice-time to warrant a roster spot.
A second diamond in the rough is Nashville’s own, Arnott. Although the Wild and Preds aren’t exactly offensive powerhouses, fantasy poolies almost always tend to ignore them for their leagues. You don’t head into the season expecting Arnott to play in the full 82 games, but if you have reasonable expectations of 55-60 points along with 200 SOG in 65-70 contests, you’re probably along the right track. With 10 points and 61 SOG in his first 16 contests, look for numbers around 45-50 points and 140 SOG in 50 contests for the rest of the way, which probably is on par with the production of a Henrik Sedin, Jokinen or Toews. Much like Belanger in Minny, Legwand won’t get much help from his line mates, which makes him Goc and Santorelli all WW candidates moving forward.
Much like the Oilers and Blue Jackets, the Coyotes are in a similar boat. I just don’t see any huge fantasy candidates up the middle. Sure they have a few decent options in Lang, Lombardi and Hanzal, but none of them are going to lead you to the glory land come April. Lombardi does have the benefit of picking up three and a half minutes of PP ice-time per contest for the Yotes, but the SOG and production have not been there. I’ve put a generous watch sign on Lombardi, but he’s probably more WW material than roster material at the moment. Lang, Hanzal and Winnik should all be riding the WW train for the season. Dobber’s column on Mueller pretty much sums up all I have to say about him. If you haven’t done so make sure you give it a good read.
Thornton is back to 100 point potential with Dany Heatley running wingman for him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got back to the 120 point pace to be honest. The only knock on him is his relatively low SOG average. If it was in the three per contest range, he would easily be the top fantasy center to own for fantasy purposes. I’ve placed a sell sign on Marleau but it’s more like a Christmas sell than an immediate sell. Marleau since the lockout, has a Post-All-Star 0.79 point per game average compared to 0.97 Pre-All-Star average. He usually gets nicked up as the season progresses, so expect those numbers to drop come second half of this season. Keep that in the back of your mind if you are a Marleau owner. I had Pavelski pegged as a breakout candidate this year, since it’s his “magical fourth year” in the league but a foot injury, which sidelined him for 15 contests, really put a damper on that thought. He’s still tallying at a 0.9 point per game pace which is nothing really to scoff at. What’s also a positive is the fact that he’s averaging 3.8 SOG per contest. If he can get his shooting percentage up towards his 9.6 career average, he could be a great candidate for 30 goals this season. Which would give him 28 goals in the remaining 57 contests (0.5 goal per game pace). After watching a bit of the Sharks game on Friday night, I’ve noticed that Malhotra has one hell of a slapper and could potentially generate some offense with Devin Setoguchi out of the Shark line up for an undisclosed amount of time. Keep an eye on his situation.
McDonald has been riddled with injuries in three of his last four seasons, but that doesn’t make him a bad own in terms of fantasy hockey. His current 2.79 SOG per contest average is his third highest total in his nine-year NHL career. He’s also picking up plenty of PP ice-time which makes him a solid buy-low candidate moving forward. Oshie is keeping pace, rather than taking off, from his rookie season as he only has eight points in an injury plagued 17 contests so far this season. It appears that him, Berglund and Perron have lost that edge that they played with at the end of last season. Until they find that edge once again I’d label them with the WW tag. McClement is as depth centerman and doesn’t possess much value.
Sedin proved that he could play without his twin brother as he maintained a similar point production for the last six weeks without Daniel in the line up. Alain Vigneault mentioned something that was interesting to me, which was although Henrik still put up the points, his line was not as dominant in terms of puck possession with Daniel out of the line up than with him in it. The major difference this year as opposed to the others is that Henrik has been shooting the puck a lot more. He currently has a 2.30 SOG per game average compared to his career 1.41 average. More shoots generally equals more points, so look for him to finally breach the 85-point plateau for the first time in his NHL career. Kesler continued where he left off last season as he’s currently on a 0.83 point per game pace. The ice-time and SOG are there, which should see him continue the production for the duration of the year. If you are looking for some help up the middle without having to give up “big name” players in return, try to target the under-rated Kesler. Wellwood earns a bit of PP time, but doesn’t shoot the puck enough to make him roster worthy. Let him join Johnson and Rypien on the WW.
Questions or comments? Like always I’ll be ready and willing to discuss them with you in the comments section below. We’ll see you next week, as we go discuss a few early season busts of the year.
Gabriel Leblanc said:
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 November 2009 11:04|