We all enjoy trying to find the next great sleeper in fantasy hockey. Every year there are at least a half dozen players who rise from relative obscurity to NHL (and fantasy hockey) stardom. How many of you can say that you expected Craig Anderson to be one of hockey’s best goaltenders in 2009-10? How many saw Patric Hornqvist score 30 goals, 15 times his goal output in 2008-09?
I will be profiling many of my favourite sleeper picks in the DobberHockey Fantasy Guide. (Out August 1st, in case you haven’t heard!) I have decided to share my (unofficial) favourite sleeper for the 2010-11 season with you all today. Peter Regin, Ottawa’s 3rd round draft selection from way back in 2004, played three full seasons in the SEL before making the trip over to North America. His first season in North America saw him record 47 points in 56 games for the Binghamton Senators. Regin only scored once in 11 games at the NHL that season, and he was considered an afterthought in Ottawa Senators heading in to the 2009-10 season.
Fast forward a year, and the outlook on Regin has changed considerably. He played in 75 games for Ottawa this past season, scoring 13 goals and adding 16 assists. It took Regin 29 games before he saw more than 15 minutes of ice time in a single game (15:58 against Minnesota in December, 2009). Regin played over 15 minutes in four of Ottawa’s final 10 regular season games, and in four of Ottawa’s six postseason games as well (including 30 minutes in the triple-overtime game five). His dramatic increase in ice time is perhaps the greatest indicator of how his performance improved over the course of the full season.
Regin finished the season playing on the top line with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson. Look for him to continue to skate on the top unit in 2010-11. Ottawa’s other offensive left wingers are either injury prone (Milan Michalek), or not as talented (Nick Foligno). It is often easy to get caught in the trap of always predicting young players to improve. It is poor logic that many poolies and hockey fans use every off-season –because a young player had a good season, he will definitely have an even better season the next year, even if there are no concrete, quantitative reasons as to why. Fortunately for Regin, there are many reasons as to why he’ll continue his rapid improvement.
Ice time is probably the biggest. He has earned the trust of Cory Clouston. After ice time comes quality of linemates. In Ottawa, it doesn’t get any better than Spezza and Alfredsson. After that, you have to look at the player himself. Regin has very projectable skills – he is big, fast, and very dynamic offensively. He has impressive puck skills and his shot release is absolutely wicked.
Finally, his upward trend is very promising. Regin started the 2009-10 season on the third line, quickly moved up to the second line, and finished on the first line. He was arguably Ottawa’s best forward in the playoffs as well. His cumulative statistics for the entire season are far from overwhelming, but they fail to accurately depict Regin's currenty abilities and both short-term and long-term upside. The way he rapidly improved as the games became more important and the checking became even closer should be weighed more heavily.
If he is able to stick on the top line for most of the season (I doubt he becomes a permanent fixture there, unless Michalek gets injured again), Regin could very well score 25-30 goals and add 25-30 assists in 2010-11.