Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll take a look back at a few of the articles I churned out at the beginning of the pre-season and evaluate whether or not my prognostications were on the money or completely off base.
Joe Thornton – C- San Jose
On average, Thornton’s the 13th overall center being selected in Yahoo! leagues, which is a bit low in my opinion. I know last year was a bit of a down year, but he’s only a year removed from being a 1.13 point-per-game player and since the lockout he’s averaged 1.26 points-per-game. The drop off in point totals in 2010-11 could be mainly attributed to the offensive depth that the Sharks had. He wasn’t heavily leaned upon to put up the points, since they had Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe, Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi and the out of the blue producer Logan Couture to do that for him. Now, with big offensive pieces like Heatley and Seto moved, the onus is back on Thornton to be a main focal point of the Sharks offense. I’d strongly consider bypassing a Jonthan Toews, Jeff Carter, or Ryan Kesler and opt for drafting Thornton in the fourth round instead.
Spot on with this one. He didn’t post the numbers that I initially thought he would (point-per-game), but his 77 points in 82 games ranked him in tied for a spot in the top-12 in league scoring. Certainly Thornton was a bargain price if you managed to snag him in the fourth round of your fantasy drafts. Maaaasquito Bite: HIT.
Taylor Hall – LW– Edmonton
Hall missed 17 contests last season due to an ankle injury, which kind of explains why he’s fallen a bit in Yahoo! pre-season draft rankings. He still managed to post 42 points in 65 contests which would have pro-rated to 52 contests over a full season. Hall also averaged just 18:12 overall and 2:43 on the PP per contest. If he can manage to get up into the 20’s and over three minutes of PP ice-time this season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a strong breakout sophomore campaign, (75+ points), from the former first-overall pick.
Injuries once again de-railed his sophomore season in the NHL. His stat-line would have pro-rated to a respectable 71 points, a minus four rating, 48 PIM, 28 PPP along with 278 SOG over the course of a full 82-game season. If he can ever shake the injury bug, he could really bust out next campaign. Maaaasquito Bite: PUSH. (Can’t draw a solid conclusion based on pro-rated stats)
Paul Stastny – C – Colorado
Things were pretty much fine and dandy for Stastny up until Christmas. Things were going swimmingly when he picked up 35 points in 37 contests, then disaster struck and the entire Avs team came crashing down to Earth along with Stastny. Yes, they lost Chris Stewart, but they found a replacement in Gabriel Landeskog. Peter Mueller, (mentioned later), should be back and if T.J. Galiardi or David Jones can stay healthy the Avs can seriously be a darkhorse team this campaign. Stastny is currently being drafted as the 22nd overall center, but I would not be at all surprised if he ended up top-10 by season’s end. He’d be a great number two for all fantasy squads.
Stastny certainly didn’t light the world on fire, but did finish with a respectable end-of-year point total. With the emergence of Ryan O’Reilly that really took a lot of steam from Stastny’s sails. I certainly had higher expectations from Stastny than where he actually finished off. Maaaasquito Bite: MISS.
Alex Edler – D- Vancouver
Yahoo! dropped the ball on this one. Edler was on a 55-point pace before succumbing to a torn disc in his back, which caused him to miss nearly three months of the regular season. Depth was a problem for the Canucks blue-line last campaign, as there just wasn’t enough ice-time to spread amongst all of their defensemen. That problem has received a temporary solution as Christian Ehrhoff was let go in the off-season, meaning that there should be more ice-time (especially on the PP), to spread around this season. Edler is the “go to” guy in Vancouver and should be the main recipient of some of that residual ice-time. Make sure you slide him up the list on draft day.
On average Edler was drafted as the 26th blue-liner in Yahoo! fantasy drafts but managed to finish as the ninth ranked blue-liner. He really took over the reigns as the “go to” number one PP QB in Vancouver, which in turn resulting in his offensive production to spike. Those who landed Edler at the discounted price were surely rewarded with his production. A whopping 16 percent of the top 500 Yahoo! Public Roto league winners owned Edler, which just proved how much of a difference maker he was this campaign. Maaaasquito Bite: HIT.
Shane Doan – RW – Phoenix
If you’re looking for consistency then you probably don’t need to look much further than Doan. Since the lockout he’s averaged 78.5 games played as well as 64.5 points and 231.8 SOG per season. Someone will need to score for the Yotes and it’ll probably most likely be Doan. 43.3 and 30 percent of Doan’s points occurred with Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata on the ice respectively. Both of those players remain in the desert, so there should be some residual chemistry left for the top-line. At the bargain bin price of the 150th pick, it makes Doan well worth it.
Although the numbers weren’t as good as the numbers listed in the pre-season column, his 50 points and 226 SOG are within ballpark figures of my initial projections. 54 percent of his point production occurred with Whitney, while 24 percent occurred with Vrbata, which kept Doan in the top-100 of league forward production. He was certainly a bargain bin pick up while cementing a solid roster-filler role for many fantasy teams. Maaaasquito Bite: HIT.
Jamie Benn – LW – Dallas
Benn managed to tally six points and 21 SOG, while averaging 22:27 per game during the seven contests that Brad Richards was out last season dealing with concussion issues, which does show that the ability to self-generate offense is definitely there. He’ll need to step up big time to help fill the void that Richards left and should get plenty of opportunity to do so with a top-six gig securely locked up in Dallas. Considering he’s on average the 27th LW taken in fantasy drafts, that’s definitely great value if he ends up on your squad and not someone else’s.
I kind of cheated with this pick, as Benn was pretty much on everyone’s “cheapie” radar during the pre-season. He was probably the consensus number one bargain bin pick heading into this fantasy campaign. Benn didn’t disappoint as he finished with 63 points in an injury-shortened campaign, which still ranked him in the top-50 amongst all forwards. Maaaasquito Bite: HIT.
James Wisniewski – D – Columbus
Jeff Carter claimed most of the the poolie’s attention when he was traded to the Jackets earlier in the summer, but the bigger move might have been the signing of free agent Wisneiwski. The Jackets have lacked a puck-moving D-man now for ages, and they might have found their solution with Wissy. 38 percent of his career points have come with the man advantage and the 1.69 SOG per game average demonstrates that he isn’t afraid of shooting the puck. A power-play unit of Rick Nash, Jeff Carter, Vinny Prospal, Grant Clitsome and Wissy could certainly post plenty of headlines this season. He’s severely undervalued compared to his average ranking of the 36th defenseman taken at Yahoo! drafts at the moment.
Really hard to draw a solid conclusion on Wisniewski, as the Jackets were completely Jekyll and Hyde this campaign, along with Wissy’s suspension and injuries. I would argue that if he stayed healthy, he probably would have finished much better than the initial 36th ranked blue-liner, but we’ll never know. Maaaasquito Bite: PUSH.
Simon Gagne – LW – Los Angeles
I know Gagne has been nicked up the last few years with injuries, but the offensive upside still remains plentiful for the 31-year old. One of the biggest reasons why the Kings picked up Gagne from the free agent market over summer was his previous ties with newly acquired Mike Richards. The last time that both he and Richards suited up together in Philadelphia, Gagne registered 74 points, while Richards recorded 80. According to FrozenPool, 84.7 percent of those points were recorded with Gagne on the ice. There was certainly plenty of chemistry between the two stars in Philly and if they can manage to rekindle some of that in Hollywood, Gagne would certainly make a great dark horse candidate to snag late in drafts.
Once again, pretty hard to draw a solid conclusion for Gagne as injuries completely de-railed his season. Maaaasquito Bite: PUSH.
Ian White – D – Detroit
If Nicklas Lidstrom is singing White’s praises, then he’s probably doing something right. The latest news coming out of Detroit is that Lidstrom thinks that White is going to be just fine in the MotorCity. White’s playing style just reminds me a lot of Brian Rafalski and how he approached the game. There isn’t exactly a ton of competition in the Detroit defensive corps, which should pretty much hand White a default top-two gig on a silver platter. If Rafalski can manage to pot 48 points last season, expecting 40+ from White probably isn’t too much to ask.
White had a very interesting season. From the start of the season till Valentine’s Day, he posted 28 points in 54 contests (which was a 42 points pace), but he then finished 2011-12 with just four points in the final 23 contests (funnily enough co-incided with Lidstrom’s injury). If you look at end-of-year numbers, then this is a MISS, but there were glimpses where this could certainly been a huge HIT during the season. Maaaasquito Bite: MISS.
Sheldon Souray – D – Dallas
The biggest Western Conference boom or bust candidate heading into this season is probably Souray. As I mentioned last week, he spent the entire last season riding the buses in the minors, and will enter this season with a huge chip on his shoulder. Much like the situation with White, there isn’t a lot of competition on the defensive front for Souray in Dallas. With a cannon of a slapper, he’ll surely be primarily utilized on the Stars’ top PP unit and garner plenty of high quality scoring opportunities on the way. Another huge positive for Souray is he’s a great under-the-radar contributor for the peripheral stats. He maintains career averages of 1.57 PIMs and 2.32 SOG per game, which roughly translates to 128 PIMs and 190 SOG over a course of a full 82-game campaign. Obviously, things don’t always go peachy keen with him. Injuries are a major problem for him as he’s averaged just 60 games played per season since the lockout. If you can swallow the gamblers pill, you could certainly be well rewarded if Souray comes back with a vengeance.
Was pretty spot on with my pre-season projection as his 1.14 PIM (73, tied for 16th amongst all blue-liners) and 2.80 SOG (179, 13th) per game averages were reasonably in line with his career numbers. He also appeared in 64 contests, which is right around the mark that he has averaged since the lockout. The points weren’t entirely there, but the peripherals were the main reasons why you would have wanted to own Souray. Maaaasquito Bite: HIT.
Peter Mueller – LW– Colorado
If you’ve been following fantasy hockey for a while now, then you’re probably well aware of Mueller’s situation. He basically missed the entire last season due to recovery from concussion symptoms. A couple of positives that you should keep in mind is that he did register 57 points during his rookie season as well as a massive 20 points in 15 contests when he was moved to the Avs post-trade deadline in 2010. The chemistry between Milan Hejduk, Matt Duchene and Mueller was undeniable. If they can manage to rekindle some of that chemistry, the Avs could be a surprise team in 2010-11. With LW being so shallow, definitely keep Mueller’s name in the back of your mind for your drafts.
Injuries once again de-railed Mueller’s campaign. He managed to only suit up for 32 contests which really hampered his offensive output. If you look at the stats that he did produce, they weren’t too shabby with 16 points, five of which were on the PP, along with 82 SOG in 32 contests. I don’t know if he will ever be healthy enough for a full 82-game season, which will always devalue his worth in fantasy leagues. Maaaasquito Bite: PUSH.
Devin Setoguchi – RW – Minnesota
A change of scenery is exactly what the doctor order for Seto. In SJ he was playing fifth/sixth fiddle to the “big names” of the Sharks. If you look at his overall stats, they aren’t actually all that horrifying. He boasts a 0.6 points and 2.68 SOG per game career averages (pro-rated to 49 points and 220 SOG over 82 games). Seto will finally get a chance to show his stuff in a locked top-six role with the Wild. If he, Mikko Koivu, and Dany Heatley can make a connection, he’ll certainly produce much higher than the 41st RW that’s currently being taken in fantasy drafts.
Seto finished with 36 points and 174 SOG while appearing in 69 contests for the Wild this campaign. If you break those numbers down to per game averages, it would have been very closely in line with the numbers that I stated in the pre-season column (0.52 and 2.52). The problem for me is if you look at the players that were drafted near or around him, Kyle Okposo, Milan Hejduk, Jordan Eberle, Kris Versteeg, Jakub Voracek and Ales Hemsky, I don’t think he provided any better value than the rest of those candidates. Maaaasquito Bite: MISS.
Sami Salo – D- Vancouver
The most under-rated player in terms of Yahoo! rank probably has to be Salo. I know he missed most of last season due to an Achilles injury, but when he returned he posted a decent seven points in 27 regular season contests while following that up with five in 21 during the playoffs. After Ehrhoff and Edler, Salo was actually the third highest recipient of PP ice-time for the Nucks. With Ehrhoff out of the picture, look for Salo to claim a large chunk of Ehrhoff’s residual ice-time. The only downside is that he’s averaged just 57.3 games played per season since the lockout, so if you do take the leap of faith on the 37-year old expect a few games missed.
Salo ended up claiming a lot of the residual ice-time that was left from Ehrhoff’s departure. He averaged 2:45 on the PP, which was second to Edler’s 3:26. As predicted he also missed 13 contests due to “concussion symptoms”, but still managed rank as the 48th overall blue-liner (and 31 percent Yahoo! owned), at season’s end, which is a huge improvement considering he was largely left undrafted at the fantasy draft table during the pre-season. Maaaasquito Bite: HIT.
So overall similar to last week, as I finished with a 6-3-4 record which puts me at 12-6-9 for the two columns. Next week we’ll take a look at my Not With a 10-Foot Pole column back from the pre-season.
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