Writing from the beautiful city of Paris, I’ll follow along the same lines as my Eastern Conference counterpart and dish out some end-of-year fantasy awards.
Western Conference Goaltending
Most Valuable Goaltender
Winner: Ilya Bryzgalov
The Coyotes’ version of their saviour had the third most wins, only three back of the eventual NHL leader Martin Brodeur. Bryzgalov’s save percentage (0.920) wasn’t exactly mind-boggling but it was still good enough to sit him in seventh place amongst all number ones in the league. His 2.29 goals-against-average is the sixth best in the NHL and just a smidgeon below Western Conference leaders Antti Niemi (2.25) and Jimmy Howard (2.26). He had the eighth most saves in the NHL (1805) while finishing the season with eight goose eggs. Bryz certainly saved a few hides this season, so there’s probably isn’t anyone more deserving of the award than him.
Runner Up: Evgeni Nabokov
I had a tossup in deciding this one, but figured I’d go with consistency over a few of the one-year breakouts. Nabby finished the season with 44 wins (second), a 2.43 GAA (10th), a 0.922 save percentage (sixth), 1998 saves (second) but a very disappointing three shutouts. Sure there were a few frustrating blips along the way, but overall his numbers are as solid as they come.
Winning is the Only Thing Award
This award goes to the best goalie who wins at the expense of all else.
Winner: Roberto Luongo
Canadian Olympic hero, Luongo, certainly showed his non-believers that he is a world class goalie, but that might have come at a cost in terms of overall fantasy numbers this season. His 40 wins did wound up being the fifth-most in the league, but his four shutouts are a far cry from the nine that he had last campaign. His 2.57 GAA and 0.913 save percentage ranked him tied for 19th and 18th respectively amongst his peers. Definitely not the numbers that are expected by the fifth goalie taken in Yahoo! drafts at the beginning of the season.
Runner-up: Nicklas Backstrom
Considering the Wild weren’t expected to be contenders this season, Backstrom certainly had a decent season in terms of victories as he tallied 26 wins on the season. Too bad his GAA and save percentage ranked amongst the lower quartile of the league, but the 26 wins definitely softened the blow in wins-only leagues.
Russ Miller (he finished second-last in the Dobber Expert Pool) Commemorative Award:
Awarded to the Western Conference goaltender determined to be the most detrimental to a fantasy team.
Winner: Chris Osgood
Is there really anyone more pain-staking to own this season than the whinging Detroit netminder? He finished with seven wins, a GAA above three and a save percentage of below .890 and really did hand the number one job over the Jimmy Howard. But you know what will be the funny thing? He’s probably going to lead Detroit back to another Stanley Cup finals appearance, but it’ll be too late for all the frustrated fantasy poolies out there...
Runner up: Steve Mason
This award probably is more of a vendetta award moreso than a deserved award. He pretty much screwed me in two of my major pools this season, which is why I’m sending out an APB for his head. How does a goalie go from pretty close to winning the Vezina trophy one year to flopping this badly the next? Seriously, I want to know how do you go from a 2.29 GAA to 3.05 or a save percentage drop from 0.916 to 0.901 with practically the same team as last year? Can you feel my hatred?
Best Late Round Pick:
Winner: Craig Anderson
Much like Tuukka Rask won the award out East, Anderson is also the hands down winner of the award here in the West. The Avs were pretty much disrespected at the beginning of the fantasy campaign, but thanks to some great coaching and some solid goaltending by Anderson, the Avs managed to make the playoffs when nobody thought that they would. Anderson was the 168.9 average pick (38th overall goalie) in Yahoo! drafts at the beginning of the season, but managed to finish as the 60th (12th ranked goalie) ranked player in all of Yahoo! leagues. He’ll definitely not go unnoticed in next season’s drafts.
Runner-up: Jon Quick
Quick had similar numbers as Anderson did, but also did have the help of a more explosive offense in front of him. Much like Anderson, the Kings’ netminder also had a very low initial draft status as he was on average drafted just one spot ahead of Anderson (37th goalie) in Yahoo! leagues. He ended up starting in 72 of the Kings’ 82 contests, while finishing with 39 victories, definitely a huge bargain in terms of value for draft position if you ask me. He won’t be neglected next season, mark my words.
Most Likely Not to be on Your Fantasy Roster Next Season Award:
The only reason you would have either of these two guys on your fantasy roster next season is that you are in a very deep league or are very desperate.
Winner: Nikolai Khabibulin
It’s kinda hard to predict the future as there could be a tonne of potential changes that occur in the off-season, but one goalie that I’m going to stay away from is the Bulin-wall. The Oilers are in full-fledged rebuild mode, and probably won’t win many games next season. He’s also turning 38 in January, so he’s definitely not a spring chicken anymore. I’m ready to stamp the do not touch with a 10-foot pole label on him right about now.
Runner-up: Vesa Toskala
There’s a plethora of goalies heading for UFA status in the off-season (Marty Turco, Evgeni Nabokov, Jose Theodore, Kari Lehtonen (RFA), Chris Mason, Ray Emery, Carey Price (RFA), Martin Biron, Dan Ellis, Petr Budaj, Johan Hedberg, and Toskala). There isn’t going to be 12 NHL teams looking for number goalies in the off-season, so it’s probably safe to say see you in the KHL for Toskala.
Western Conference Defensemen
Most Valuable Fantasy Defensemen
Winner: Duncan Keith
There’s a clear-cut winner in terms of MVP in terms of fantasy numbers for a defenseman in the league which that honour belongs to Mike Green. If you are looking for a Western Conference nominee that honour should definitely belong to Duncan Keith. He ranked sixth overall in terms of goals scored, and second to only Green in terms of overall points. His plus 21 rating, 51 PIMs and 213 SOG are certainly amongst the same ballpark figures as the Capital fantasy monster.
Runner-up: Dan Boyle
Boyle had a very quiet fantasy season, as he always seems to consistently do. He finished with a line of 58 points, a plus six rating, 70 PIMs, 29 PPP and 180 SOG definitely not bad production from a fantasy blue-liner.
Best Late Round Pick:
Winner: Drew Doughty
If there was a list for the biggest breakout players of this season, I’m sure Doughty would be on the top of that list. The sophomore sensation not only doubled his point output from his rookie season, he was arguably a force for Team Canada during the Olympics as well. If there is an heir-apparent to Mike Green, Doughty might just be that guy. His overall line of 59 points, a plus 20 rating, 54 PIMs, 31 PPP and 142 SOG is definitely not bad for a player that was largely ignored at the draft tables in the beginning of the season.
Runners-up: Christian Ehrhoff
I bet the Sharks are kicking themselves in the butt for moving Ehrhoff at such a discounted price in the off-season. The German-Olympian finished with 44 points on the season which ranked him tied for the 15th amongst his peers. Ehrhoff also finished the season as the seventh ranked defenseman in Yahoo! leagues. Definitely pay attention to him for the next fantasy campaign.
Runners-up: Stephane Robidas
If you were following my columns during the season, you probably would have read Robidas’ name mentioned quite a few times. Much like Doughty, Robidas was largely ignored at the draft table, but managed to finish with a line of 41 points, a minus 10 rating, 70 PIMs, 19 PPP along with 199 SOG. He won’t be ignored much longer moving forward.
Most Disappointing Defenseman
Winner: Jay Bouwmeester
Said it once and will say it again, JBO is the MOST OVER-RATE DEFENSEMAN TO OWN IN FANTASY HOCKEY. He finished the season with 29 points despite averaging five seconds short of 26 minutes per contest for the Flames. In seven years in the NHL, JBO has never tallied more than 47 points. Yes the name is there, and there are even a few flashes of brilliance at times, but people continue to reach for this guy at the draft tables and treat him in the same league as Chris Pronger or Zdeno Chara. Don’t be that guy in next year’s drafts. Let some other chump take the gamble...
Runners-up: Sheldon Souray
I realize that Souray’s season was hampered due to a broken hand, but if you consider the historical numbers. He has averaged just 56.13 contests in each of the last eight seasons. He’s a pretty much the poster boy for Dobber’s band-aid boy club, if not at least an executive member somewhere along the line. Keep that fact in mind for next season so you won’t be disappointed in him like I have been this season.
Runners-up: Kevin Bieksa
A few seasons ago Bieksa really leaped onto the scene much like what Robidas did this season with the Stars. Since then he has alternated 42+ point seasons with seasons in the teens sandwiched in between. Perhaps he’s a Yo-Yo player like Vinny Prospal and only produces every other year...
One Hit Wonders, One Track Mind
Winner: Alex Edler
With 37 assists this season, Edler ranked 13th amongst his peers in terms of tallying helpers for his team-mates. Sure playing with the Sedins will help rack up the assist totals, but his play this season is really deserving of a mention and definitely helped to balance a few goal-heavy teams out there.
Runner-up: Shea Weber
Although the Canadian Olympian didn’t have a spectacular fantasy season, his 222 SOG was definitely a bright spot for the Preds this season. That total ranked him behind only Chara and Dion Phaneuf in that category amongst all of the league’s defenseman. He now has 473 SOG in the last two seasons in Nashville.
Western Conference Forwards
Most Valuable Fantasy Forward
Winner: Henrik Sedin
It was a close call but Hank really stepped it up this season, especially when twin-brother Daniel succumbed to a leg injury earlier in the year. The Swede ended up winning the Art Ross with a total of 112 points and really demonstrated that he had a next level beyond the point-per-game clip. His PIMs (48) and SOG (166) still lag behind fantasy studs Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, but considering he was being drafted 80 spots after the dynamic duo, Henrik certainly provided a great bang for the buck this fantasy campaign.
Runner-up: Brad Richards
I couldn’t really shaft someone that had a 91 point season and was completely dominant on the PP. His 67 assists ranked him fourth in that department, while his 284 SOG ranked him sixth amongst all centers. A shooting center is quite hard to come by which is why Richards was such a great fantasy asset this season and certainly deserving of the runner-up award.
Winner: Ryan Kesler
Kesler had a great season last year when he tallied 59 points in 82 contests. This campaign the American took it to the next level by surpassing the 75 point plateau. Much like a few of the surprise picks listed above, Kesler was largely undrafted in pools at the beginning of the season, which is what makes his outburst this season even more surprising.
Loser: Pavel Datsyuk
Datyuk’s production this season wasn’t entirely that bad, but it was probably the fact that four consecutive seasons of 87+ point production really sky-rocketed his expectations for this campaign, which resulted in a 70 point season being a huge disappointment. Look for him to make his mark this post-season.
Best Late Pick
Winner: Anze Kopitar
Kops finished with a line of 81 points, a plus six rating, 16 PIMs, 38 PPP along with 259 SOG. Those numbers resulted in a 20th overall ranking amongst all players in the Yahoo! database, which certainly isn’t bad for a player drafted in the 80’s at the beginning of the year.
Runners-up: Paul Stastny
264 points in 274 career NHL contests. If you are looking for the very definition of quiet achiever you probably won’t have to look much further than Stastny. He was on average the 200th ranked player to be picked in Yahoo! leagues at the beginning of the season, and if you managed to get your hands on the near point-per-game player you definitely should have been laughing all season long.
Runners-up: Patrick Sharp
Sharp managed to pull off the very rare triple-eligibility in Yahoo! leagues which made him a huge fantasy asset. His 66 points and 266 SOG ranked him 45th and 19th respectively in that department amongst the entire league and considering he was on average the 208th player taken in Yahoo! drafts, he was certainly great bang for your buck if you managed to get your hands on him this season.
Least Likely to Repeat Next Season
Winner: Brad Richards
I just have a gut feeling about this pick. Richards had a very good year, maybe even a career year, but for every one great year he has two or three very average years. I think he reverts back to the 70-75 point Richards that we are accustomed to.
Runners-up: Alex Burrows
Burrows had the benefit of playing with the Sedins for the majority of the season prior to the Olympic break, but after the break he was moved off the line and Mikael Samuelsson replaced him for a brief stint before succumbing to injury. Only 25.4 percent of his points this season came without a Sedin as a line mate, so if he gets removed from playing with the Sedins look for his points totals to plummet.
Runners-up: Duncan Keith
I really like Keith, but the problem is he’s producing too much like Green. He isn’t the same type of player as Green, so I would expect that his numbers come back down to Earth next season.
One Hit Wonder
With a line of zero points, 11 SOG and 190 PIMs, Cam Janssen is your definition of a one hit wonder.
Did I miss anyone you thought should have been included in the Western Conference Fantasy Awards? Comment below!