For all of the times that I pat myself on the back with good predictions… there are (nearly) as many bad ones. I thought Chicago made a huge mistake drafting the undersized Patrick Kane over Joe Sakic 2.0, Kyle Turris. Through 37 games, Kane has 13 goals and 39 points for the Blackhawks. Through 31 games, Turris has seven goals and 22 points. In the AHL. Swing and a miss!
It is only a matter of time until Bobby Ryan is among the NHL scoring leaders. His skill level is absurd, and he can absolutely dominate with his size. The way he uses it reminds me a bit of Rick Nash and Joe Thornton – essentially defensemen are forced to take a penalty if they want to get the puck back. Ryan is on pace for 36 goals and 65 points after a slow start – wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him hit 40. Using the DobberHockey Frozen Pool line combinations tool (very, very useful), Ryan is skating 46% of the time with Getzlaf and Perry. Imagine if that number was closer to 60 or 70%…. (Perry skates with Getzlaf approximately 94% of the time). I kept Ryan in one of my keeper leagues in the summer over some pretty good players, and definitely don’t regret it right now.
Is there a tougher NHL player than Stephane Robidas? Not necessarily in terms of fighting, but Robidas backs down from no one, blocks any shot he can get his body in front of, and plays in all situations and simply busts his rear all the time. Fantasy-wise he isn’t too shabby either. He is currently on pace for 19 goals and 51 points.
I have mentioned this before, but the mistake of the year has to go to the Oilers management team, who passed on Dwayne Roloson for the younger Nikolai Khabibulin. The Oilers balked at giving Roloson a two-year deal, but gave Khabibulin four. Obviously the deal looks even worse now with Khabibulin out indefinitely, but Roloson is simply a superior goalie. He has firmly entrenched himself as the number one on Long Island, and he keeps that team in many games they have no business being in. It will be interesting to see how the situation is handled if/when Rick DiPietro eventually returns.
Is Henrik Sedin’s breakout season a trend or an anomaly? Since the Sedins-Burrows unit was put together last season, the three have racked up the points with ease. Projected over an 82 game season, Henrik would have close to 100 points, Daniel close to 90, and Burrows 70. I have always thought that the Sedin twins had another gear offensively. They were dominant players many nights, but not every night. Consistency is what separates the stars from the superstars, and they may be inching closer to the latter if they can keep up their stellar 2009-10 campaigns down the stretch. I often avoid drafting Canuck players in fantasy pools because I tend to be a bit optimistic when evaluating them, and unfortunately I own neither Sedin in any of my pools.
Nicklas Backstrom keeps adding new dimensions to his game. He has exactly 202 points in 202 career games, and is quickly become a lethal goal scorer, and his strength with the puck is very reminiscent of Peter Forsberg. He has 11 goals in his past 12 games, and with the recent one-year extension to Semin; it appears that Washington (obviously) would rather commit long term to Backstrom. I see many 100-point seasons in his future…
What would I do if I was Chicago’s GM this summer? I would dump Brent Sopel, either in a trade (Sopel and a 1st or a 2nd, something like that). Sopel makes about $2.2 million, and if you sign someone or promote someone, that saves around $1.5 million. I’d deal Cam Barker for picks. Barker is a decent defenseman but one that is vastly overrated because of the team he plays on. He is a liability at times five-on-five, and last season had only 11 even strength points. With Keith and Seabrook seeing more power play time, Barker’s ice time has dropped down dramatically. Saves about $2-3 million there, depending on who you bring in as a replacement. I’d resign Niklas Hjalmarsson, one of the most underrated players in the NHL. He is an RFA this summer and you can bet teams will be dangling offer sheets in front of him if Chicago is unable to lock him up before July 1st. Madden probably won’t be back, that saves another $2 million or so. Although the Blackhawks are once again profitable, I am unsure of whether they would be willing to eat Huet’s $5.6 million contract and send him to the AHL. I can’t see him having any value around the league – he is a decent goalie, but nothing special. Chicago could make a trade for a goalie, or see how Niemi does and get him a solid 1B type of goalie. Dumping Huet is the most obvious move and the most tricky at the same time.
The Phoenix Coyotes have won nine in a row at home. I will be in attendance at their next one, against Vancouver on Tuesday (the 29th). Their roster is largely the same from last season – it just shows what a difference a coach can make. Gretzky wasn’t necessarily an awful coach. He was learning on the job and seemed to be a good motivator, but with a young team, you need a solid foundation and a coach who can instill fundamental tactics in the players, and that is exactly what Dave Tippett has done. Gretzky would be better suited coaching a veteran team looking to get over the hump.
My two favourite things to read besides DobberHockey are Elliotte Friedman (CBC) and his 30 thoughts every week. They are informative, funny, and interesting. Here is the link to his most recent piece. I also am really enjoying Justin Bourne’s blog. He is a former player who is trying to make it in the journalism world. His dad was Bob Bourne from the Islander dynasties of the 1980s.
Finally, buy the Mid-Season Guide! The Fantasy Guide helps you keep up with your poolies, but this one gives you the edge. If you are leading your pool now, it will give you tips and advice on how to stretch that lead, and if you are trailing (barely, like me in a few of my pools), it will give you that edge to close the gap on the competition. The guides help keep this site, and all of the goodies (articles, ramblings, and message board) free for you to enjoy!
I will be away for the next few days – Happy New Year to Dobber Nation!