- Cage Match
- Written by Rick Roos
Fantasy hockey's most frustrating player is...
Loyal Cage Match readers – we have our “champion!” By your votes, Mike Green is officially the most frustrating player to own in all of fantasy hockey!
What’s more, not only did Green win, but it was a rout (50 votes to only 14)! On the heels of defeating Kris Letang, who had received the most total votes in each of round one and round two, he completely obliterated Cam Ward, who had looked super strong going into the final!
In terms of the end result, there’s not much to say beyond what I talked about last week or in a previous recap or preview. In short, while Ward was your clear choice as the NHL’s most frustrating goalie and managed to beat Marian Gaborik as well, Green frustrated his owners in more ways and after many had paid through the nose to acquire him at the height of his offensive breakout. And when faced with deciding between Green and Ward (a choice that a good number in the poll thread interestingly felt did not indeed represent the NHL’s two most frustrating players), it turned out to be an easy decision.
I hope you had as much fun as I did along this journey that led us from 32 players to our “winner.” Along the way we had some surprise wins and losses, a few nail biting close matches, and – nowhere more so than the final - blowout victories.
It’s nice to see that the results didn’t just stay the same throughout the tournament (as they sort of did in my last tournament to crown the NHL’s best multi-cat player); that showed everyone really took their voting seriously and weighed each choice each time. Big shout out to all those who took the time to vote and/or to post in the poll threads in the forums along the way.
Also, remember that frustrating doesn’t mean “bad” in the traditional sense. In fact, many of the 32 players who started this tournament should be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues. And hopefully during this process you’ve had a chance to think a bit more about these players and their value, thanks to seeing the votes of your fellow fantasy owners.
Speaking of value, if you have a few minutes to spare, it’s definitely worth going back through all the polls in the forums from all the rounds of the tournament to see the posts that were made, because mixed in with cathartic venting and sometimes painful anecdotes was some very good food for thought. And after all – frustration does influence a player’s value, so keep this in mind come draft day or when making trades in your league.
Bonus Top 10 List – Fantasy Hockey’s ten LEAST FRUSTRATING Players
Next week I’ll return to the normal Cage Match format. But for now, as a bookend to this tournament and an homage to the excellent weekly “Top 10” column from Tom Collins, I’ll leave you with a list of the ten LEAST frustrating players in fantasy hockey as of today.
In my mind, these are the ten guys you can count on to consistently provide your team with the value you expect, and who – for the most part – also stay healthy. So while there might be better producers in fantasy hockey in a given season, those others lack the consistent performance, value and health of these ten.
Of course don’t be afraid to throw comments at me like you do with Tom, as I’m curious to see if I did a decent job standing in his shoes this one time.
10. Mark Streit
Sure – he’s getting up there in years (turning 37 in December); but as I pointed out in a recent Ramblings he’s also the only defenseman in the NHL who’s tallied 40+ points in each of the past five full seasons, which is pretty impressive. And although his hits totals aren’t what they used to be, he’ll still deliver your team 1-1.5 blocked shots per game. Plus, given the state of the Flyers defense and Streit looking like he hasn’t lost a step, he’s a good bet to produce 40+ points for at least a few more campaigns.
In another couple of seasons Karlsson might be closer to #1 on this list. But for now, the reason he makes the top ten despite only two top notch seasons is because he managed to come back from his 2012-13 achilles injury to post numbers in 2013-14 that were fully on par with his breakout 2011-12 campaign, which says a lot about him compared to other fly by night guys (including our newly crowned most frustrating player Mike Green) who never seemed to be the same after injuries took a toll.
8. Chris Kunitz
Life is pretty good when you’re stapled to Sidney Crosby (according to Frozen Pool they were on the ice for an astonishing 90% of each other’s shifts). And although Kunitz turns 35 next month, he should be able to continue posting his valuable combination of 65-70 points with 25+ goals, to go along with a great plus/minus rating, many power play goals and tons of hits, for at least several more years to come. Oh, and he makes the list because for him with age actually has come health – he’s only missed four games in the past three seasons.
While Bergeron owners would love to see him return to his former 70+ point ways, he’s actually posted 62 and 64 in the past two full seasons, which is barely below his early career numbers. What’s more, he’s averaged a +30 rating over the past four seasons, during which he’s also finished in the top five for faceoff wins and top ten for faceoff % each season. With his concussion woes seemingly behind him, and given his talent and the team he plays for, he’s a great fantasy asset.
Pretty much everything that I said about Bergeron likewise applies to Toews, except he’s a few years younger, gives you a realistic shot at 5-10 more points per year, and has a bit higher PP output.
5. Shea Weber
Weber is now officially Zdeno Chara v2.0 – the definition of a multi-cat defenseman beast. Everything you want and need from a rearguard you get from Weber, including between 16 and 23 goals in each of the past five full seasons and finishing in the top thirty among defensemen in both hits and blocked shots year in and year out.
Here’s a guy who’s posted 171 points in 172 games over the past three seasons in the fairly quiet shadow of Alex Ovechkin. And Backstrom also had two seasons out of three before that which were point per game as well. Oh, and four times in the past six seasons he’s finished within the top 11 in power play points, including first overall last season. When it comes to points, assists, and steady health he’s just about as non-frustrating as you can get.
3. Tuukka Rask
Although he’s still yet to even play in 200 NHL games, and 2013-14 was his first where he took the ice for more than 45 contests, he clearly belongs this close to #1 since he’s never once shown signs of poor play. Going into 2013-14 the only question was whether he could withstand the rigors of a full season, especially one where he’d have the added burden of playing in the Sochi Olympics. He went out and proved that he was more than ready for the task, capturing the Vezina Trophy while anchoring many a fantasy league winning team’s roster.
No one in the entire NHL has played as many games as Giroux over the past three seasons and also posted point per game output in each. Plus, he’s excellent with the man advantage (finishing within the top six in the NHL in power play points for each of the past three seasons) and, unlike many top scoring centers, can be counted upon for 1+ hit, 2.5 to 3 shots, and 0.5 PIM per game, all while having missed a mere five games over the past four seasons. Oh, and last season he actually tallied all 86 points in his final 77 games and all 28 goals in his final 67 contests, which means 30+ goals and 90+ points are within reach going forward.
Could there be any other choice? Eight straight full seasons of 30+ wins, five straight seasons of 92% or higher save percentage, only one season with a GAA higher than 2.38. Yes – at this point he probably won’t go out and post a Hasek-like season of 94% SV% or 1.87GAA; but he’s the true definition of someone you can put in your line-up and rest assured of good health and top notch performance by season’s end.
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