Mike Richards

 

Russ is on hiatus for the summer, but don't you worry. I'll be filling in for him, so you Dobberities won’t miss out on the Eastern Conference side of the coin for your fantasy leagues in this column series.

 

As many of the Dobber writers have alluded to, offensive production essentially boils down to opportunity. A top-line player will receive every possible chance to succeed, while a top-six player will receive decent even strength/second unit power-play ice-time for production. A depth player will most likely receive checking line time and definitely won’t receive ample optimal scoring time. Their big break will only come if there are injuries or sudden collapses of young players from their team’s top-six.

 

We all like to be optimistic with our projections, but there really isn’t a point in projection 80 points for a player who won’t even crack a team’s top-line let alone top-six. If you haven’t read my projections article, definitely go and take a gander. I know I had an eye-opening experience when digging up all the stats. Note: Take the line combos with a grain of salt. They are just arbitrary and are used primarily to separate a team’s top-six from the bottom-six. I really don’t want to get into arguments about player X had chemistry with player Y; therefore they’ll be on a line together during the season. I must add that I’m not as informed about the East as I am with the West, so if there are any controversial items, be sure to make comments at the bottom of the page to open up some discussion.

 

The following table was the same from last week’s column, so make sure you pay attention to the numbers.

 

Offensive Player’s scoring position on team

West

East

League

Median

Max

Min

Top

74.6

74.1

74.3

70

112

51

2nd

62.8

64.5

63.7

61

101

41

3rd

55.1

54.5

54.8

53

84

37

4th

47.7

45.1

46.4

47

67

33

5th

42.7

38.2

40.5

38.5

53

32

6th

36

34

35

34

53

22

 

Enough of the stats, now onto the good stuff.

 

Ottawa – Top-six fairly locked, but faces decent competition from bottom-six


Top Six


Milan Michalek – Jason Spezza – Daniel Alfredsson

Peter Regin – Mike Fisher – Alex Kovalev

 

Cavalry


Nick Foligno

 

Bottom Feeders


Chris Kelly, Chris Neil, Jarkko Ruutu, Jesse Winchester, Ryan Shannon and Zach Smith

 

Despite popular opinion, Spezza was just fine without his fellow scoring mate, Dany Heatley, as he finished with 57 points in an injury shortened 60 contests. Obviously missing a 100-point scorer as a line mate hurts, but he proved last season that he could definitely hold his own. Don’t expect him to get back to the 90-point mark, but 75-80 seems reasonable, especially if you get the 55 PIMs and 200+ SOG attached with it. Alfredsson’s career is coming to a close, but it’s not like he’s completely useless heading into 2010-11. As a 37-year old, he still put up a point-per-game pace including the playoffs, so he still has plenty of fantasy value remaining. He did have off-season sports hernia surgery, so maybe take his projections down a notch just in case of a slow start.

 

Kovalev was probably the biggest headache for fantasy owners last season, as his point-per-game numbers broke down to: 0.42, 0.67, 0.65, 1.13, 1.14, 0.08, and 0.25 from October to April. Attitude seems to be his major problem. When he feels like playing, he plays like Sidney Crosby, when he doesn’t, he plays like Snuffaluffagus from Sesame Street. A positive that you might want to make note of is that he’s heading into a contract year. A huge blowout year could translate that into a big final payday to finish off his career, so there’s definitely plenty of motivation for him to do well this campaign. That or the opposite happens and he busts completely and bows out gracefully much to the dismay of many disappointed fantasy owners.

 

You can pretty much say Fisher is a poor man’s version of Spezza, but his overall stats could certainly surprise. For the last five seasons he’s averaged 44.8 points, 62.4 PIMs, 9.4 PPP, 579.2 FOW, and 190.4 SOG. If you don’t expect any more than those numbers from Fish, he’d be a great third/fourth center to help pad peripheral numbers. The battle on the left wing will be an interesting one, as there are plenty of opinions as to who will win that top-line spot. I’m going with Michalek only because he has more historical numbers to draw from compared to Regin. Don’t get too bogged up by his numbers, (or lack thereof), last season, as he spent a lot of the time lingering with the knee injury rather than concentrating on playing optimum hockey. Foligno always seems to get a few shots in a top-six role throughout the season, so consider him the main cavalry unit for the Sens. Kelly, Ruutu, Neil and Shannon are more peripheral stat role players, so probably not a lot of offensive fantasy value there.

 

Last year’s pre-season top-six:

 

Foligno, Spezza, Kovalev, Shannon, Fisher, and Alfredsson.

 

End of year finish:

 

Alfredsson

71

Spezza

57

Fisher

53

Kovalev

49

Michalek

34

Kelly

32

 

Philadelphia – Top-six talented, stiff competition from cavalry


Top Six


Jeff Carter – Mike Richards – Claude Giroux

Ville Leino– Daniel Briere – Scott Hartnell

 

Cavalry


Nikolai Zherdev and James Van Riemsdyk

 

Bottom Feeders


Dan Carcillo, Ian Laperriere, Jody Shelley, Darroll Powe, Blair Betts, and Riley Cote

 

The Flyers carry one of the most talented top-eights in the league, which could act as a double edged sword heading into 2010-11. The problem with talented teams is that the lines will shift constantly which will result in a balanced scoresheet where the entire top-six could tally between 50 and 65 points. Last season, the Flyers had a range of just 22 points between their top scorer and their sixth scorer, which is one of the smallest ranges in the league (Nashville was lowest with a spread of just 13). I wouldn’t expect much change for this campaign.

 

Richards and Carter should garner the most ice-time, so they’ve got the inside track to be Philadelphia’s leading scorer. The trio of Leino, Briere and Hartnell accounted for close to 22 percent of their post-season scoring, so they’ll most likely keep that line together because of the chemistry.

 

The big question that is on everyone’s mind is who’s going to win out between Giroux, Zherdev or JVR? The easy answer is probably your favourite player, or the one that’s on your current fantasy team. But if you want a truthful answer, probably none of them will be outstanding in terms of overall numbers this season. During their playoff run, Giroux, JVR, and Simon Gagne averaged 18:44, 11:54 and 17:34 in ice-time respectively, but that’s based on the fourth line averaging just 11:42 per contest. If you consider regular season conditions, you might want to add a few more minutes to the fourth line and take away a couple of mins from Giroux, JVR and Zherdev. Only one player in the top-73 of league scoring, (Jussi Jokinen), averaged less than 17 minutes of ice-time per contest last season. Can you really expect Giroux, JVR or Zherdev to do that? If you were a smart poolie, let someone else take the gamble and take a safer choice.

 

Last year’s pre-season top-six:

 

Richards, Carter, Gagne, Briere, Hartnell, and Giroux.

 

End of year finish:

 

Richards

62

Carter

61

Briere

53

Giroux

47

Hartnell

44

Gagne

40

 

Pittsburgh- Top-four set, pretty much a gong show for the rest of the spots.

 

Top Six


Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis

Jordan Staal – Evgeni Malkin – Matt Cooke

 

Cavalry


Tyler Kennedy and Brett Sterling


Bottom Feeders


Max Talbot, Eric Tangradi, Mike Rupp, Eric Godard, and Craig Adams

 

Pretty much status quo from last campaign, Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz and Staal will shape the top-four in scoring in Pittsburgh. Crosby added a new dimension to his repertoire, as he was in the running for the Rocket Richard trophy by the end of the year. His 71 PIMs and close to 300 SOG, along with 1001 FOW certainly provides enough evidence to justify taking him over Alex Ovechkin as the first overall pick, especially in fantasy leagues with an emphasis on FOW. He should be in contention for the Art Ross once again in 2010-11. Malkin had a bit of a dip in production due to missing 15 contests with an injury. He’ll bounce back to the century mark once again.

 

Staal hasn’t cracked the 50 point plateau in his young NHL career, but this may the year where he finally does. His 50+ PIMs and 180+ SOG is certainly not a bad stat booster as a third/fourth center. Kunitz missed 32 contests last season after battling a variety of injuries. There is a myth out there that playing alongside Crosby and Malkin should return a pretty decent yield, but that has just not been the case, (Mark Recchi 68, Petr Sykora 63, Staal 49, and Staal 49). Don’t head into the season falling into the trap thinking that Kunitz may produce better numbers than he should. Same could be said for Cooke and Dupuis.

 

This might be the last chance for Sterling to crack into an NHL line up full time. He certainly has the credentials to make an impact, (293 points in 294 career AHL contests including playoffs), and if you can’t get it done with Crosby/Malkin next to you, I don’t know what more you’ll need to succeed at the NHL level.

 

Last year’s pre-season top-five:

 

Kunitz, Crosby, Guerin, Fedotenko, and Malkin

 

End of year finish:

 

Crosby

109

Malkin

77

Staal

49

Guerin

45

Dupuis

38

Kunitz

32

 

Next week final installment: the Lightning, Leafs and Capitals.

 

Questions or comments? Like always I’ll be ready and willing to discuss them in the comments section below.


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Comments (2)add comment

Ryan Ma said:

Maaaasquito
... RE: Jeffrey

Sorry that's a miss on my part. This is normally Russ' gig, and I'm just filling in for him so I'm not quite as familiar with the unknown prospects out East as I am with the West.

From what I can gather he does seem to have as much upside as Tangradi.

218 points in 151 contests in the final 2 campaigns in the OHL.
Also 71 in 77 last season in the AHL.

Definitely plenty of upside there.

Only thing that I might throw in is that the top-six is pretty packed, I don't really see anyone that they can move out of the top-six to accommodate for Jeffrey and on top of that he probably needs to outplay Sterling and Kennedy for a top eight gig too.

Unless all the stars align, like a major injury happens, then he happens to show a ton of chemistry with the big lines and he keeps it. I don't think he'll be that valuable of a fantasy asset this campaign. But definitely for keeper leagues, he's earmarked for success.
August 05, 2010
Votes: +0

UKflames said:

UKflames
Pittsburgh calvalry Once again another article with Tangradi making the team but no mention of D Jeffrey, who possibly has as much chance as Tangradi of making the team imo.

Otherwise another great article.
August 05, 2010
Votes: +0
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