|Polarizing Dichotomies: Miller, Doughty, Berglund, and more.||Tweet|
|Written by Ryan Ma|
|Saturday, 25 August 2012 20:14|
Back from a summer hiatus this week. Littered on the forums are plenty of “how do you rate” or “what do you expect from …” type of questions. The answers provided can vary dramatically and could be based on some personal circumstantial opinion. Hopefully this week’s column should provide you with some quality insight into generating your own opinions (or confuse you even more) regarding a few polarizing fantasy players and open up some quality debate to help you make a better informed choice.
Patrik Berglund – C – St. Louis
Berglund is one player that I’ve seen mentioned repeatedly on the forums and certainly with very polarizing views. On one hand, it’s hard to argue his pedigree displayed in the SEL and also his performance at the World Championships last summer (10 points in nine games). Many of his supporters would argue that his recent post-season performance (seven points and 24 SOG in nine contests) is just the tip of the iceberg and he’s on the verge of breaking out. Another very strong positive that poolies may allude to is his size. He’s 6’4” and 215 pounds who isn’t afraid to shoot the puck (averaging 2.05 SOG per game in his career) and only at the ripe old age of 24, he’s just beginning to enter his prime and still has plenty of room to grow.
As a critic, I’ve never argued against his ability or the way he approaches the game. For me, it’s always been competition and depth charts. In St. Louis, he has to compete with the likes of Andy McDonald, David Backes, T.J. Oshie, David Perron, Alex Steen, Chris Stewart, Matt D’Agostini and now a couple of youngsters in Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko, so it’s not like he has a clear cut, unhindered path to all of the offensive opportunity in the world. The 20:08 and 3:14 that he snagged during the playoffs could just as easily be reduced back down to 17:57 and 2:22 that he garnered during the regular season last campaign. If that’s the case, then all of Berglund’s fantasy value would be shot.
Drew Doughty – D – Los Angeles
Doughty is also another player that I’ve seen bandied about quite a bit. Supporters would bring up many quality points such as how he’s posted a 59-point season at the tender age of just 20! He’s also the undisputed number one blue-liner in LA, who is coming off a huge Stanley Cup winning season. If you look at the competition (Slava Voynov, Willie Mitchell, Rob Scuderi, Matt Greene, Alec Martinez and Davis Drewiske), it’s not like there are very many who will steal quality ice-time away from him. Doughty is also only one of five defenders (Dustin Byfuglien, Shea Weber, Keith Yandle and Jordan Leopold) who have tallied at least 10 goals during the last three seasons. Finally the major supporting point, he’s just 22 and still has plenty of quality hockey left in him.
The flip side of the coin, you could argue that even though he did have a 59-point season, the last two seasons’ he’s posted just 40 and 36, so hanging onto the hope of 59 is a bit far-fetched. One would also argue that the Kings, with Darryl Sutter at the helm, aren’t a team built to produce huge offensive numbers. LA was the 29th ranked offense last campaign while averaging just 2.29 goals per game, which was 30 goals less than the average team in the league. One may also argue that they won the Cup playing strong defensive hockey, so why would you expect them to stray away from status quo when they’ve experienced success doing what they’re doing. You also have to beware of the carryover “name” effect. Doughty might have proven that he’s a “big game” playoff player (27 points in 32 career post-season contests), but unfortunately fantasy hockey doesn’t really occur during the playoffs (162 points in 316 regular season games).
Dany Heatley – RW – Minnesota
Heatley supporters certainly have plenty of evidence to justify their opinion. I mean he’s only two years off from being a point-per-gamer with the Sharks. After the lockout, he did post a whopping 362 points in 317 contests with the Sens, and all of that talent can’t just disappear can it? Heatley has also averaged well over three SOG per game, while connecting at a rate of 14.8 percent. He didn’t have much offensive support last campaign with Mikko Koivu missing some time due to a shoulder injury and Devin Setoguchi having a subpar year. But now with Ryan Suter and Zach Parise entering the mix, he could be in for a big season since the limelight won’t be primarily focussed on him anymore. Gone are the 100-point days, but would a 75-80 point season still be inconceivable?
There are plenty of Heatley naysayers out there as many have been burnt by him in the past. I mean those 100-point seasons were five seasons ago (which is a lifetime for fantasy hockey purposes). Heatley also posted just 64 and 53 points during the last two seasons. I mean if you look at the opportunity that he was handed (20:56 and 3:23 on the PP), surely a 53 point performance is a major disappointment right? Another negative is that his SOG has also been on the decline as he’s averaging just 2.71 and 2.90 per contest during the last two campaigns. Having another high shot taker in Parise join the team could only make matters worse. It also brings up the question, whether it was Jason Spezza that made Heatley look so brilliant or did he really have the capacity to do it himself?
Ryan Miller – G – Buffalo
In 453 career games started, Miller has posted a reputable 252-147-49 record along with a respectable 2.57 GAA and .915 SP. If you breakdown his career stats, they’ve been fairly consistent since the lockout, with a huge exception in the 2009-10 year when he posted ridiculous numbers during his Vezina-winning season.
The question is whether or not that consistency is a good or bad thing? I mean 2.57 and .915 numbers are solid in terms of providing you stability as a primary goalie, especially if it’s over the course of a full season, but are they good enough to win you a fantasy championship? Are they good enough to justify taking him as a first rounder? With Jhonas Enroth experiencing success in his short stint as the number one, does that chip away at the once invincible shield of Miller’s job security? Henrik Lundqvist has 43 career shutouts along with a 2.27 GAA and .920 SP. Is Miller even remotely comparable to him in terms of stats?
On the flip side of the argument, if you breakdown his numbers even further, during the last three campaigns, the last two months (arguably the most important) of the fantasy season (March and April), has seen Miller post a 30-12-5 record along with a dazzling 2.35 GAA and .924 SP. Now those are the types of numbers which help you collate championships. Add in the fact that he averages around 60-65 starts a season while remaining relatively healthy, surely you’d be happy with him between the pipes during the stretch run of the fantasy season.
Rick Nash – LW – New York Rangers
Nash is one of our favourite fantasy whipping boys. On one hand, he’s continuously teases us with his point-per-game and 300+ SOG potential. I mean when you think Blue Jackets, the thought of Nash should automatically pop into your head.
He’s also only one of four players (Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Jarome Iginla) to have recorded 30+ goals in each of the past five seasons. If you also consider his international play, representing Canada, he has had a wondrous pedigree with 50 points in 47 career international contests, which does highlight how he “vamps up” his game when provided with better linemates. He now joins Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan in the Big Apple, which should provide him with much more offensive support than he received in Columbus, so is a big season in store for Nash?
On the opposite end of the scale, does he really possess the skill set to become a prolific goal scorer? I mean when you watch Stamkos, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk or Iggy, there’s an aura about them, that their main goal is to put the biscuit in the net and nothing is going to prevent them from doing so. With Nash I’m not quite sure I see the same aura emanating from him. I mean I wouldn’t bat an eyelid about him possibly notching 40 goals, but 40 goals is a bit of a stretch from 50, and isn’t that the new standard that we’re using to differentiate between a “good” goal scorer and a “prolific” goal scorer?
Below is table of recent 50+ goal scorers in the last five seasons:
If you look at the table, generally speaking, a player needs to meet two standards in order to achieve the highly elusive 50-goal campaign. 1) They generally have to own a pretty high shooting percentage (~17 percent) or 2) they need to take a huge amount of SOG (like Ovechkin). Nash has a career 12.7 shooting percentage and hasn’t been remotely close to the 17 percent mark since the first year after the lockout, so I mean that kind of knocks out half of the equation doesn’t it? Does he have the ability to pump out 350+ SOG to meet the other half of the equation?
So buy or sell on each of these players? Are there any other reasons that I might have overlooked? Questions or comments? As always I’ll discuss them in the section below.
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|Last Updated on Monday, 27 August 2012 11:08|