The more I research hockey this offseason, the more I like the Blues. Not because they’re a potential fantasy powerhouse, but because they are much better than they have shown. Translation: there are deals to be had.
Let’s start with the easy reasons. T.J. Oshie and Alex Steen. The latter led the Blues in scoring over the final 49 games with 43 points. While Steen is historically inconsistent, he should still be good for 60 points. Oshie, on the other hand, was arguably the only Blue to take a step forward last campaign. Expecting an additional 10 points on the 48 he had is not a crazy thought.
Now the less-tangible reasons. Patrik Berglund is not a 26-point player, give me a break. Would it shock you if he got 60 next year? He certainly has the talent. But even the most pessimistic poolie would concede that increasing his numbers from 26 to 40 is a safe bet.
Can rookie Lars Eller replace Paul Kariya’s 43 points next season? Sure. He could. But it is a little bold to assume so. Let’s assume he gets reasonably close enough to those numbers – say 38 points – to call it a wash.
So if Oshie, Berglund and Steen pad their point totals accordingly – again, it’s an assumption, but a fairly safe one – and Perron continues to flat line or improve on that 50-point range and Eller has a decent rookie season, how will this impact the rest of the lineup? Think domino effect.
Andy McDonald hasn’t had a decent season in three years. I think he’ll get 70 points, give or take, in the season ahead. How cheap would he be in your keeper league? Think about it – if the supporting cast around him improves and the coaching style is a non-Andy Murray one, then his numbers are bound to improve. He had 57 points last year, so is 70 really a stretch given that the aforementioned Steen, Perron, Oshie and Berglund each add anywhere from 10 to 20 points to their totals?
The same could be said about Brad Boyes, or the player whom the Blues acquire for Boyes if they are somehow able to trade his bloated contract and use the money on a free agent.
And I haven’t even mentioned future superstar Erik Johnson, who is obviously on the upswing.
There are another 30 to 45 goals in this team and the fact that only one player topped 50 points last season only means that there are a handful of players in the perfect “buy low” situation. Like all strategies, this one is certainly no guarantee, but it’s the one I’ll be going with in my keeper leagues this offseason.
Carey Price owners be very afraid (disclosure, I am a Price owner in two of my three keeper leagues). Nothing good can come of this. After weeks of reading about how Price will be traded – mostly during the Halak-is-God era of the postseason – I am now reading about how Halak will be gone. Both goaltenders feel they should be NHL starters.
Halak owners can rest easy. He is hot right now and has proven quite a lot when there is much on the line. But Price owners are in trouble no matter what.
Situation 1 – Price gets moved.
On a new team he will be hailed as a savior. Wherever he goes, it will be to a team in desperate need of him. This is the lesser of the two evils, but he’ll be going in with lot of expectations that he is a couple of years too young to fill. Will Philadelphia or St. Louis (two teams oft-mentioned in rumors) fans have the patience to watch him struggle through a year before finding his groove? No. And as such, he may never find that groove. However, if he joins the new team and makes an impact quickly – the best possible scenario for Price owners – he’ll be fine.
Situation 2 – Halak gets moved.
Montreal fans are split on who they prefer, but the betting here is that Halak is their preference when it gets right down to it. If the team decides to roll with Price, how much patience will fans have for him? Answer: maybe the first period of Game 1.
Price has shown in the past that he can handle a lot of pressure, and the upcoming season will be the ultimate test. There are two paths ahead of him and the big, wide, paved one is leading towards “struggle for a few years and then bust”. That narrow, weed-infested, dirt road that goes in the other direction is the one that leads to stardom.
As a Price owner, I’m stuck with him. I can’t trade him for the pittance I would get and I certainly can’t drop him because of his incredibly high upside – perhaps the highest upside of anyone in the league. I just have to hang on and hope that he has more resilience than ever.