Leino

 

With the end of the 2010-11 season in sight, it's time to gauge who's going to be amongst your keeper selections heading into next season. Of course which players end up staying on your rosters depends greatly on your league make up, number of keepers and your own personal risk tolerance. I’ve compiled a list of players that may have some question marks as protectable players in limited keeper leagues heading into next season.

 

 

(See Part 1 here)

 

Let me get this out of the way right now, I hate fishing. The score card is simple here; Fish means I find the player in a favourable light as a keeper for next season. Cut Bait means I'd rather throw this one back into the water and hope for a bigger catch. Be aware that I tend to be quite conservative with my protected players, preferring the vast majority of my keepers to come down on the proven side of the ledger. Here is Part 2:

 

New York Rangers

 

Ryan Callahan

Gut Feel:  Fish

 

I love how hard this guy competes. He started the year with 13 points in his first 11 games and has 15 points in his last 13 matches. Overall, he is scoring at a 68 point pace. After posting seasons of 40 and 37 points, I'm not convinced he is a 70 point player. He did record 84 points in 62 games in his last junior campaign. Depending on your league set up and number of keepers, you could do worse than keep this guy. You'll never have to worry about him being in the coach's dog house.

 

Derek Stepan

Gut Feel:  Fish

 

The rookie pivot came from seemingly nowhere to post a 20 goal, 40-plus point NHL debut. He did record 54 points in 41 games last year for Wisconsin of the WCHA. He also led the World Junior tournament in scoring (14 points in seven games) and was the captain of the gold medal winning Team USA. The scouting report says he isn't especially skilled in any one area, but he is simply a player. Stepan has averaged slightly more than 16 minutes of ice time per match as well as second unit power play duty. He's a slam dunk rookie protection if your league allows that, but would I protect him over a sure 50-pointer, yes.  Over a 60 point player? No.

 

Artem Anisimov

Gut Feel:  Cut Bait

 

In 2008-09, a 20-year-old Anisimov recorded 81 points in 80 AHL games. Last season, he scored 28 points as an NHL rookie. This season, he has improved to 42 points and counting. He is on a tear of late, with 11 points in 13 games so far this month. He's now 22-years-old and will be a restricted free agent at year's end. I really like the kid's upside, but can't protect him over more veteran sure things.

 

Michael Del Zotto

Gut Feel:  Fish

 

As a rookie last season, Del Zotto wowed poolies and Rangers fans alike finishing with 37 points. This year hasn't been so kind to the sophomore defenseman. The 20-year-old has 11 points in 47 games. This season, he has averaged 19:29 of overall ice time and had the highest average power play time (3:45), but he last played for the Rangers on February 25. He has seven points in 11 AHL games this season. Del Zotto was unbelievably prolific in his three years of junior hockey, recording 183 points in 190 games. I love seeing offensive numbers like that from defensemen. He'll be back manning the point next year after experiencing some growing pains this season.

 

 

Ottawa

 

Daniel Alfredsson

Gut Feel:  Fish

 

This year is the first time in the last ten NHL seasons that Alfredsson had less than 70 points. The 38-year-old is under contract for two more seasons, but I truly believe that he has at least one more 70 point season left in him. Depending on the league, I'd take a chance with my last protection.

 

Milan Michalek

Gut Feel:  Cut Bait

 

Michalek hasn’t been the same player since being traded. He averaged 59 points in his last three seasons with San Jose. He will finish with less than 35 points in each of his two years with Ottawa, despite receiving top six ice time and first unit power play time.

 

Craig Anderson

Gut Feel:  Fish

 

Will he repeat Year One in Colorado or will it more resemble Year Two? My gut says what you are seeing right now is what you will get for next year. The Sens may be a team that can quickly turn back into a playoff contending team with a healthy Captain and decent goaltending.

 

Bobby Butler/Erik Condra

Gut Feel:  Cut Bait

 

Something good coming from Ottawa’s disastrous season is that they get a chance to give their young guys some significant playing time. Both Butler and Condra have shown that they have potential at the NHL level, but next year is a long ways off for these two pending restricted free agents. There might be room for one or both of them in the top six next year though, but I'm not reserving a top ten protected roster spot on my fantasy squad. Butler scored 53 points in 39 college games last year, while Condra recorded 158 points in 159 career college games and had 38 points as an AHL rookie last year.

 

 

Philadelphia

 

Ville Leino

Gut Feel:  Cut Bait

 

Most of you remember Leino's 21 points in 19 playoff games last year. His career high (regular season) was only 11 points in 55 games. Leino started the year with 19 points in the first 23 games and he has ten points in 14 games in March. He's on pace to finish this season with 53 points, so he's proven that last year's playoffs were no fluke. Do I trust Leino to finish with 60 points next year? Not on a team as deep as the Flyers.

 

Chris Pronger

Gut Feel:  Fish

 

One of my favourite fantasy players of all-time, it may be that Father Time has caught up with the 36-year-old, 16 year NHL veteran. Although he's only played 50 games this season, he still has 25 points. Last year he recorded 55 points and added five points in seven Olympic matches for Team Canada. He hasn't missed all that much time over the past six seasons, averaging 52.5 points. Old yes, washed up, no. Duh, winning.

 

Matt Carle
Gut Feel:  Cut Bait

 

One player taking advantage of Pronger's absence is Carle. He has ten points in 14 games this month. Overall he is on pace for 40 points after finishing with 35 points last year. He is currently sitting pretty with a plus-29. In 2006-07 he notched 42 points with San Jose. Back in his last college season, he scored 53 points in 39 games and copped the Hobey Baker award as the top U.S. collegiate player. Oh man, after reading the above paragraph, I almost convinced myself to change my gut feel. Nah, Pronger will be back full force next season.

 

 

Pittsburgh

 

James Neal

Gut Feal:  Fish

 

In his first three NHL seasons, Neal has scored 24 goals, 27 and to date, 22 goals. We are salivating at the prospects of him playing with Crosby. The enthusiasm should be tempered as this might just be Kunitz 2.0 if he can't mesh with El Sid. Still, I'd keep Neal on my short list just on the possibility that he and Crosby play nice together.

 

Jordan Staal

Gut Feel:  Fish

 

In his last two seasons, Staal recorded back-to-back 49 point campaigns. Injuries have derailed this season, but next year will be the 22-year-olds fifth in the NHL. Look for a mild breakout of around 60 points next year.

 

Kris Letang

Gut Feel:  Fish

 

He receives the most average ice time on the team, nearly a full minute more than Paul Martin. Letang also logs first unit power play time and is on pace to finish with 51 points. In his last two seasons of junior, he recorded 120 points in 100 games. This guy is legit offensively and with Crosby and Malkin back in the fold; Letang could realistically hit the 60 point plateau next season.

 

 

Tampa Bay

 

Teddy Purcell

Gut Feel:  Cut Bait

 

The 25-year-old is on pace for 51 points, yet sits tenth amongst forwards in average time on ice with 14:11 per game. He does get second power play minutes, but when Malone and Downie are back in the mix, Purcell's opportunities will diminish. He scored 43 points in 40 games in his only college season and followed that up with 83 points in 67 AHL games, copping Rookie of the Year hardware. Feel free to protect him if you are a gambler, at least he has a history of offensive performances.

 

Steve Downie

Gut Feel:  Fish

 

His role will only increase as he matures and figures out that he doesn't need to be agitating all the time out there. He seems to have some chemistry with Stamkos and it is fun watching him when he has possession of the puck, he protects it very well. Some people will overlook his offensive abilities and only focus on his clown act, but if you are in a rotisserie league that counts penalty minutes, you already know that Downie is a fantasy stud.

 

Simon Gagne

Gut Feel:  Cut Bait

 

Gagne will be an unrestricted free agent following the season. He's on a tear right now, ripping off 12 points in his last seven games playing mainly with Lecavalier and St. Louis. Only 31-years-old, but his body has significant wear and tear on it. Very risky.

 

Victor Hedman

Gut Feel:  Cut Bait

 

While the numbers don’t look all that great, Hedman is being brought around slowly. He has already improved upon his 20 point rookie campaign and the second overall pick in the 2009 draft has an offensive side that has yet to show itself at the NHL level. He might be fantasy worthy in two or three years.

 

Vincent Lecavalier

Gut Feel: Fish

 

Vinny has 26 points in his last 26 games, although overall he is scoring at a 65 point pace. His last two seasons of 70 and 67 points pale in comparison to the two years before that where he scored 92 and 108 points. I'd still take a shot as he gets the third most ice time on the team and plays on the top power play unit.

 

 

Toronto

 

Clarke MacArthur

Gut Feel:  Cut Bait

 

In his last two AHL stints, MacArthur recorded 105 points in 94 games. He has improved his NHL point totals three years in a row now, going from 31 to 35 and now 59 points in 77 games so far this season. The 25-year-old is about to cash in on this breakout season. I think he can hit 50 for sure next year, but do I see a sure thing for 60? No.

 

Mikhail Grabovski

Gut Feel:  Cut Bait

 

Grabovski has already bested his previous career high of 48 points and is on pace to finish with 30 goals and 59 points. Outside of the opening stanza, where he tallied four points in ten games, he has put up points on a consistent basis, recording between nine and 12 points in each of the other months. I’m still not convinced of his upside.

 

Nikolai Kulemin

Gut Feel:  Cut Bait

 

Kulemin falls into the same category as the two previous Leafs for me. He has increased his point totals for the third consecutive year, 31, 36 and 55 points so far this season. The 24-year-old has scored at a 64 point pace in the current calendar year, recording 32 points in 41 games. Can he repeat the feat next year? Yes. Are there better 60 point bets out there? Yes.

 

Dion Phaneuf

Gut Feel:  Fish

 

Mister Personality averaged 51.5 points in his first four NHL seasons. Then in 2009-10 came the trade from Calgary to Toronto and he finished with 32 points. This year has been difficult, but it looks like he might be turning it around with ten points in his last ten games. It's hard to ignore the last two seasons, but it's even harder to overlook his first four years in the league. I can see 50 points from here, but that may be just me being a tad optimistic.

 

 

Washington

 

Mike Green

Gut Feel:  Fish

 

Coming off 73 and 76 point seasons, Green has had to deal with serious injury issues this year. Even still, he managed to score at a 40 point pace. Once he is back and healthy, we will see a slightly toned down version of Green.  I still believe he'll be good for 60-plus points.

 

Marcus Johnasson

Gut Feel:  Cut Bait

 

The 20-year-old could sneak into the top six next year depending on how the Caps go about replacing their many unrestricted free agents. In his last dozen games, Johansson has scored nine points and received two to three more minutes of ice time above his season average during that stretch. He might be worth a gamble if you roll that way.

 

Dennis Wideman

Gut Feel:  Cut Bait

 

It boils down to what happens with the power play when Green is back in the equation. What I see happening is that Green's return pushes Wideman to the second power play unit, limiting the 28-year-old's upside next season. He is scheduled to make just under $4-million in 2011-12.

 

Simeon Varlamov/Michal Neuvirth/Braden Holtby

Gut Feel:  Cut Bait for me, but if you Fish, use a very big net

 

There is obviously huge potential for this situation to be an even bigger three-headed monster next year. Unless you get lucky and pick the right one, assuming there is a "right one", then I'd pass on the lot of them and go for more of a sure thing somewhere else.

 

 

As I said in the opening paragraph, leagues and roster requirements are so varied that it's difficult to nail each scenario without knowing all the details. If you want my opinion, feel free to leave your league set up and keeper dilemma below or create a post in the Comish's Corner and I'll give you

Write comment
Comments (9)add comment

mike hess said:

SharkMeat
comments Russ...what I liked about this piece was that even if you are not in a keeper league the comments have value for drafting next year. Few places do any year end analysis of players that you can carry over...good work, great article.
April 02, 2011
Votes: +0

Russ Miller said:

The Comish
... Oh man, with limited keepers, he who gets the best player wins 98% of the time.

If you can snag Backstrom for Seguin/E.Kane, I'd be all over that. I know in a couple of leagues I play in, we would be able to keep Seguin as a rookie protection, which would make sense if the guy needed a good rookie protection and you have other options.

Seriously, when I look at Backstrom's previous seasons in the NHL, I drool at the potential...it's not like he's old or anything! Some people will always put potential ahead of current points, but those guys rarely win.
April 01, 2011
Votes: -1

frozenpools said:

frozenpools
... Russ: Fair enough. Its always hard to draw the line on say Backstrom vs Green or Letang.

I'm mostly interested because I have my Seguin and Evander Kane for his Backstrom on the table. I think I have to pull trigger.
April 01, 2011
Votes: +0

Russ Miller said:

The Comish
... Thanks for all the comments guys - appreciate the feedback.

frozenpools - I had a blurb written for Backstrom and decided to delete it because he is such an obvious keeper. I agree wholeheartedly with your 90 pts for next year.

In making my Fish or Cut Bait calls, I used primarily next season as my benchmark. Rask will likely not play a big role next year for the Bruins (barring injury to Thomas). He will likely play somewhere between what he did this year to a 50/50 split at best. That's not going to cut it in most 10-12 team fantasy leagues. I LOVE Rask's upside and if there was any way to keep him on my roster without killing my chances at winning next year, I'd definitely keep him. He's going to be a top ten fantasy goalie.

Same really for Seguin. How many years do you hang on to a talented young player getting 12 minutes of ice time per game? Two years? Three? With limited keepers, these players become a burden and negatively affect your current season. Now if you are allowed a farm team or more protections, then the answer is obvious.

I really see MDZ as a 40 point defenseman next year, that's how I justify putting him ahead of a 40-45 pt Seguin for next year. When Del Zotto played, he got the top PP TOI, he's that type of offensive player. This year was a step back, a learning year and I think it will be beneficial in helping him grow. He had a 37 pt rookie season with 22 PPP.

I'm concerned about Hedman's lack of offensive numbers. He's 12th on the team in PPTOI per game. Until he gets more opportunities, he won't be a factor in fantasy hockey. He's a big guy, it's possible that in 2-3 years we'll start seeing the numbers.

I like Kulikov's game. I think he is simply put, a player. When I saw him fight, I was sold. I like this guy. The offence will come, but he's still so young and raw, plus he's on a crap offensive team. Pass for next year on both he and Hedman for me.

Depending on your league make up, Seguin COULD bring you value in return for his potential, but you better have a buyer. I would definitely not keep Seguin over Burrows or Callahan. I'd keep Seguin over Filppula for sure. Keeping a guy just so you can trade him is a risky proposition in my opinion.

Obviously your league make up and rosters will affect how players are valued as keepers. If your league is points only, players like Downie and Burrows become less valuable. If one of your categories in your roto league is plus/minus, then most players from losing teams become much less valuable.

Just remember, this is only my opinion, it doesn't make me right! Again, I appreciate all the feedback.
April 01, 2011
Votes: +0

frozenpools said:

frozenpools
Backstrom? Hey should be a fish no? I think he'd get 90 pts again next year anyone else?
April 01, 2011
Votes: +0

lusshouse said:

lusshouse
In with Cory I agree with Cory,

I feel like 90% of what's said in both articles is on target, but somehow wonder how you could suggest to cut on Seguin (who holds value as a future star) or Leino (a 50 pts guy) over MDZ who struggled to remain on a NYR blueline that features no real stars here.

I would definitely cut bait on MDZ, and as a Seguin owner in one of my keeper league, I'll keep him ahead of Burrows, Callahan and Filppula, just for the sake of his potential and reward he could bring in a trade to a non-contending team if he doesn't produce up to par.

My two cents.
April 01, 2011
Votes: +0

Cory said:

Corstyles
... My expectations for those players for next year:
Seguin (F): 80 games, 42 points.
Del Zotto (D): 70 games, 27 points.

Maybe you do want the 27 point d-man over the 42 point forward, but is it worth giving up Tyler Seguin?? That seems crazy.
Are my expectations off?

(There's a bigger AHL risk with Del Zotto than Seguin, that's why I have him at 70 games)
April 01, 2011
Votes: +0

shaun burchell said:

shingy
Keeper Suggestions I disagree, even though it's a keeper league doesn't mean you have to look 4/5 years down the road. You still want to win each year or at least the next year. Having said that, Rask's future is muddled for the next couple of years. Same for Seguin. He's gonna be behind some guys in Boston and not scoring 70+ points. Leino, same thing..too much depth in Philly, plus, he's only good in a few categories. Remember, you want near future success and for that I think he's been accurate.
April 01, 2011
Votes: +1

Cory said:

Corstyles
... You've evaluated 25 players, and I'm going to pick on just one of them, but I think you're way overvaluing Michael Del Zotto. He played poorly for the Rangers this year, and is trying to fix things in the AHL.

You've suggested cutting bait on players like Seguin, Rask, Leino, Sekera, Kulikov and Hedman. In a keeper league, Seguin and Rask are gold. Del Zotto is bronze. (Yes, depending on how many keeper spots you have. Maybe you have a case with Rask, but not with Seguin.) And, for next year, I would rather have a talented defenceman like Hedman or Kulikov, who I know will be pulling big minutes in the NHL, rather than a guy like Del Zotto who is going to first have to make the team.
April 01, 2011
Votes: +1
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