In keeping with my Western counterparts theme this week, I’ll take a look at some Eastern Conference players that could be considered busts at this point in the season. I will also give you my slant on what to expect for the remainder of the season.
After recording a career high 73 points last season, White is on pace for only 37 points. The naysayers who thought White might have trouble duplicating those numbers appear to be right. It may well be that with the addition of Afinogenov and Antropov, the scoring has been spread throughout the line up, leaving White less likely to collect his points. White is still getting his power play time, but his total ice time is down about two minutes a game. View from the Edge: Even though he receives the third most ice time with the man advantage, White’s role has diminished, making him expendable.
While the Gun from Graz is on pace for a reasonable 29 goals and 54 points, more was expected. I myself had him pegged for 40 goals and close to 80 points this season. That shouldn’t come as a surprise because he has scored 40, 36 and 43 goals over his last three seasons. View from the Edge: It would be a shock for him to snipe less than 35 goals this season.
His numbers this year are disappointing to say the least. Staal is on pace for an unfathomable 38 points. Most would not have been surprised if those projected numbers were reversed and he were on pace for 83 points. Over the last four seasons, Staal has averaged 82 points a year. View from the Edge: If you can convince his current owner to sell, especially in a keeper, do so immediately. The 25-year-old’s value will never be lower.
Over his last four seasons, Cole has averaged 53 points. After returning to Carolina near the end of last season from a 63 game exile in Edmonton, he recorded 15 points in 17 games with the Canes. His performance mysteriously fell off during the playoffs, where he recorded only five points in 18 games. Coincidentally, he has five points in 17 games this season. Cole is averaging more than 17 minutes of ice time per game, but is tenth in power play time (seventh amongst forwards). View from the Edge: Unless he spends more time with the man advantage, Cole will have his worst year in six seasons.
The 39-year-old warrior has fallen from grace very quickly. I thought that his legendary devotion to off-season training would have bought him a few more years. He has perennially been one of the fittest players in the league. Brind’Amour’s current pace has him looking at a 24 point season. He has recorded 51 points in each of the last two seasons and I expected more of the same this year. View from the Edge: Father Time has bailed on Rod the Bod, it would be wise to follow suit.
Gomez has averaged 68 points a season over each the last five years, but is on pace for only 37 points in 2009-10. Last year, he was very consistent, recording ten or 11 points in all but one of the six full months of the season. The Alaskan Assassin receives over 20 minutes of ice time per game, including the third most average power play time on the team. View from the Edge: Gomez is too good not to turn it around this year and should still come close to matching last years 58 points.
The Brothers Kostitsyn
A two for one here. Andrei is on pace for 32 points after consecutive seasons of 41 and 53 points. I had him approaching 50 points this year. Sergei has been a distraction ever since training camp. He has two points in three games since being recalled from the AHL. The problem isn’t his talent. In his last year of junior, Sergei had 131 points (in 59 games) on a line with Patrick Kane (145 points) and Sam Gagner (118 points), I mean how lucky can a guy get!? His effort and lack of defensive awareness have been questioned though. Maybe the short stint in Hamilton (13 points in 16 games) smartened him up and he’ll show us a glimpse of his offensive potential. View from the Edge: The talent is there on both accounts, but will they figure it out before they wear out their welcome? Neither are really a great fit on a Jacques Martin coached team. The KHL could be a reality for one or both of these Belarusian brothers.
I really thought Higgins had a chance to hit for nearly 50 points this season. He was supposed to play on one of the top two lines for the Rangers. Unfortunately, he’s on pace for 21 points. Last year, Higgins scored at a 33 point clip. The season before, he had 52 points and the season before that; he scored at a 51 point pace. He’s receiving second unit power play time, but has a grand total of zero power play points. View from the Edge: Like Young MC says, don’t be standin on the wall like you was Poindexter, it’s time to bust a move and cut this dud loose.
Drury has been a very reliable fantasy player over the last four seasons. In that period, he has averaged 62.5 points per season. This year, he is on pace for 31 points. He has three points in his last four games. Last season, Drury had 25 points in his final 30 games. View from the Edge: Even though he’ll likely have his worst season in seven years, he should still challenge the 50 point mark.
There’s no mistaking that much more was expected from Spezza. At only 26-years-old, Spezza should just be entering his prime. Unfortunately he is on pace for only 52 points. Over his last four NHL seasons, Spezza has averaged 85.5 points even while missing an average of nine games each of those four seasons. View from the Edge: Spezza is too talented not to turn it around. Last season he had 35 points in his final 35 games and he has the potential to score in bunches. Definitely a buy low candidate.
The 30-year-old Tanguay had a very poor October, scoring only four points in 11 games. His performance in November was markedly different however with 12 points in 15 games. View from the Edge: If Tanguay can continue his November pace and I see no reason why he won’t, he’ll finish the season with around 65 points.
Though he’s not having a horrible season, at least points-wise, Lecavalier is on pace to score 16 goals and 66 points. He had 29 goals and 67 points last season. Consider that over his last four seasons he has averaged 39 goals and 85.5 points per year. He is on pace to record 300 shots on goal, which is right where he was expected to be. Both Stamkos and Malone are currently having much more success in the goal scoring department than Vinny. The problem may lie with the shoulder surgery he had in the off-season prior to last year. View from the Edge: I’m not convinced that the shoulder is the sole reason for his scoring woes over the last two seasons, but there are no overt signs that Lecavalier will return to his elite status. Take a pass.
A Puck Tease
Come on already Martin, since you pitched shutout number 102 on 17 October, you’ve recorded seven games with only one goal against. Brodeur needs one more shutout to tie Terry Sawchuk for most career NHL shutouts (regular season). My money has him hitting 103 before the end of next week.
Off With His Head
There is no truth to the rumour that Keith Ballard is a big Highlander fan and was only attempting to imitate his favourite character, Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, in trying to take the head of the Kurgan (played by Tomas Vokoun). There can be only one!