Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 30 Thoughts column on the CBC website is currently the best read in hockey. Friedman is insightful, articulate, knowledgeable, fair, and most importantly, interesting. He has sources and contacts in the hockey world that most could only dream of. He has an ability which is rare in this day and age - providing a balanced and reasonable opinion on the league, the players, and all 30 of the clubs.


Each week I will post my own observations (I couldn’t completely steal Friedman’s idea so I’ll pick a number other than 30) – with a heavy emphasis on the fantasy side of hockey, of course. Prospects, goalies, sleepers, busts, it will all be covered each week.



1. The Canucks are 7-0-1 with Jeff Tambellini in the line-up. He hasn’t only brought a ton of energy, but his presence on the second line has strengthened both the third and fourth lines, respectively. He allows the Canucks to drop Mikael Samuelsson down to line three, which then moves either Jannik Hansen or Raffi Torres to the fourth line. I am surprised more teams don’t play an offensively gifted AHL player (like Tambellini, although he has proven to be too good for the AHL) with two talented linemates in the top six, which leads to a trickledown effect strengthening every other line. Mathieu Perreault in Washington immediately comes to mind.


2. I wonder where Sam Gagner would be if Edmonton had let him develop for a few more years in the OHL/AHL? How about if he was drafted by Detroit? Hindsight is always 20/20, but he looks no better than he did three or four years ago. The same goes for Andrew Cogliano, but he doesn’t have (nor did he ever have) the offensive talent that Gagner possesses.


3. What does the Tomas Fleischmann acquisition by Colorado mean about Peter Mueller’s chances of returning this season? Scott Hannan will help the Capitals a lot on the penalty kill and in the toughness department, but he is one of the worst puck-moving defensemen in the league. The puck often dies on his stick – I am curious to see how he adapts to Washington’s transitional game. Ovechkin hated playing against him, though, and that has to mean something.


4. Chris Stewart’s injury is exactly why I would never want my star player fighting. Sure, it can get the team going (and help fill the PIM category), but there are too many variables that could lead to injury.


5. Alex Edler is on the cusp of becoming an elite defenseman. He hits hard, logs tough minutes, and puts up points (I’d be surprised if he doesn’t finish the season with close to 50).


6. Eric Staal is the second most underrated star in the league (after Martin St. Louis, of course). Staal puts up points regardless of who he is playing with. When I watch Staal play, I think that he is how Jason Spezza would play if he was a bit harder on the puck and a bit less injury prone.


7. Henrik Sedin is on pace for six goals. He had 29 last year. Am I shocked? Not really, to be honest. Sedin is allergic to shooting the puck, and he is arguably the best in the league at passing it. I’d expect him to finish with 15-18 goals and a hell of a lot of assists.


8. David Jones has five goals in five games. I think I remember telling you to pick him up…


9.  The Thrashers have won six straight. Ondrej Pavelec creeping into (very) early season Vezina discussions, and Dustin Byfuglien is my choice for the Norris. Up front the talent is spread out a bit, but the Thrashers are much more viable from a fantasy perspective to load up on (relatively, of course).


10. Rumours are circulating that the Bruins may release Tyler Seguin to play in the upcoming World Junior Championship. If I owned Seguin in a fantasy pool, I’d encourage this. Edmonton should do the same with Hall. Injuries represent a risk, but in terms of development there would be nothing better for either player than to dominate against the best in the world at his age.


11.  If you haven’t read my column from last year on using the World Juniors as a fantasy hockey tool to improve your squad, check it out.


12. The Sharks have an abysmal defense. They also miss Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov got a lot of heat from fans from struggling during the postseason, but he was a huge reason as to why the team consistently made it into the playoffs in the first place.


13.  I like to gloat when I am right, so it is only fair that I own up to the (few) things I am wrong about. Kudos to Jonas Hiller and the Ducks for playing some great hockey over the past few weeks. Toni Lydman has been a very positive influence on the back end, Cam Fowler is making more than a few teams look silly for passing on him this past summer, and the aforementioned Hiller is playing out of his mind.


14. The Canucks lead the league in power play percentage. The main reason why? New assistant coach Newell Brown. Great to be an owner of any player who skates on the top unit (Sedin, Sedin, Kesler, Ehrhoff, Edler).


15. One final fantasy tip – always have two good goalies. Always. This rule is about as cut and dry as it gets.


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Comments (11)add comment

Maximus said:

Mr Zizzla
Canucks Hey Angus,

We all know you are a big canucks fan but how about spreading your thoughs out a little? 4/15 points are based around the Canucks and point 15 was a bit of a throw away which has left something to be desired especially when you post the Tambellini comment in the ramblings too!

As much as I enjoy your work, I feel short changed on this one.
December 02, 2010
Votes: +1

doulos said:

Gagner tonight! GREAT game by Gagner again tonight. He's looking better and better this year and it's only a matter of consistency.
December 01, 2010
Votes: +0

frozenpools said:

... Oilers nut here. I agree with Gagner but what is Hall going to gain by dominating kids again? 2 WJC and 2 memorial cup MVP's is enough. Renney is already using Hall-Horcoff-Eberle against other teams top lines and Hall is more than surviving. He is already out chancing.
December 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Larry said:

... Hall atleast played on the WJ team last year, not sure what the 'rules' are-but if theyre to be bent- then they should do it for Hall.
Nabokov was the Jose Theodore of the west- great in the regular season-crap in the playoffs. But without Blake-their defense is one of the worst in the league-despite Dan Boyle being IMO a top ten Dman.
I totally agree that both Gagner and Cogliano got rushed to the NHL. They were both handed NHL jobs and have yet to really improve at all. Maybe fighting for an NHL job/paycheque wouldve encouraged them to work on their games. Both tend to play on the periphery (especially Cogs-who doesnt seem to have much fight in him), the argument that Gagner is right behind Kane in scoring just shows how much icetime/opportunity he has been given,doesnt mean he wouldnt have turned out to be more of an impact player if he had spent some time in the AHL.
December 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Puckhead said:

Hall to World Juniors... As I understand it, Hall is ineligible to join Canada's Junior team, because he did not take part in the summer camps. I am a big fan of allowing these young guys to play in the worlds, and if Boston allows Seguin to take part, he will be much better for it.

December 01, 2010
Votes: +1

Sergio Leone said:

... I had a "giggle" at #14. If it's great to be an owner of any ONE of those players that skate on the top PP, what is the expression for an owner that has FOUR of them. Four trades in the span of six month's landed me Daniel, Kesler, Ehrhoff, Edler. Not to mention I recently acquired Burrows as well.
December 01, 2010
Votes: -2

donions said:

Hall to World juniors?? I dont see how the World juniors would benefit Hall, or the Oilers. He's been 1 of the Oilers best players night in and night out. Seguin however, isnt playing as big a role for the Bruins and has never played at the World juniors, it could work.

Good article, keep em coming
December 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Shoeless said:

always have two good goalies Well yeah! The problem is guessing who is going to be good from one year to the next.
December 01, 2010
Votes: +0

doulos said:

Great article! Love the article Jeff, but have to really wonder about the concern regarding Gagner. Not that I blame you though. I was starting to wonder myself, but a little perspective is needed on Gagner. Only 1 person from his draft class has more points than him (Kane) and only a couple others are close (Perron is...and maybe Voracek is getting starting to creep into the same ballpark)

Not to mention Gagner has improved game over game this season to the point where I am really starting to become excited about his game yet again. He's a very good even strength player who has never proven to me to be a fantastic two-way guy. But he seems to have turned some kind of corner the past week and a half and it's really fun to watch.

In Gagner you have a guy who seems to start slow during the season and then picks things up as the season goes along. One would expect consistency to improve as a guy ages and I'd say that's what we're seeing.

He's often been miscast as the Oiler's #1 C, and that's not really all that fair. He's going to be an excellent, hard working 2nd line C who won't get a ton of powerplay time (because he really struggles with it for some reason, and because he's going to be overshadowed by the top end players), and at the end of a season when he's in his prime could be putting up between 60-70 points and really being an important part of good team.

All of this hindsight guessing stuff is I suppose part of what we do in fantasy hockey, but in this case I think it's really hard to knock Gagner for what he has already accomplished and where his game is going.

December 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Todd Dmitruk said:

3 of 5 haha i own d. sedin and edler in my keeper league and i have kesler in one of my one year drafts haha
December 01, 2010
Votes: -1

David said:

Great article
I am surprised more teams don’t play an offensively gifted AHL player with two talented linemates in the top six, which leads to a trickledown effect strengthening every other line.

I totally agree! What is the point of bringing an offensively gifted player up and then plugging him in on the 3rd and 4th line and trying to teach him defense? Square peg - round hole.
December 01, 2010
Votes: +1
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