It is that time again… time to bring another sensational snoozer into the fantasy spotlight. We now take a trip to the Dub, aka the Western Hockey League. The former home of instant-impact NHLer Martin Hanzel has brought us another gem. This is different however. Colin Long is an absolute snorer that no one is talking about.
If you look, many of your favorite hockey sites barely say a peep about this guy. I’d suspect I could count on one hand all the fantasy players who know about him in my country (an exaggeration, but I do live in the US after all).
Colin Long possesses a unique combinations of traits not often found at the top of major junior leaderboards. He is a player who went undrafted despite being draft eligible. He isn’t too old for his league, and he isn’t extremely small like the 5-foot-7 Colton Yellow Horns of the world. Colin is listed at 5-foot-11 and 174 pounds… a completely acceptable size for a hockey prospect at the age of 18. He is the top scorer in the WHL this season, and no one gave him a chance in the draft. Why? Is it because of some strange bias against the Kelowna Rockets? No, many Kelowna alums such as Sheldon Souray, Shea Weber and Chuck Kobasew now skate the NHL ice. Is it because he is from the hockey hotbed known as Santa Ana, California? No. Although that really isn’t going to help him get noticed, his previous production is the actual reason for the snub.
Colin Long, C, Kelowna Rockets
2005-06: 20GP, 1G, 3A, 4P, 6PIM
2006-07: 69GP, 11G, 17A, 28P, 38PIM
2007-08: 46GP, 23G, 44A, 67P, 23PIM
Whatever the reason, Colin Long was a late bloomer and has become an instant star this season. With 23 fewer games played thus far, Long has already exceeded (more than doubled!) his WHL career high by an astounding 39 points. He was the Player of the Month in December with 23 points during that time and is now ahead of fantasy prospect heartthrobs like Mark Santorelli, Kyle Beach and Oscar Moller…. all players spoken of and found on farms around the fantasy world. Meanwhile, Colin Long lurks unnoticed by most. He is younger than Santorelli or Moller and was already draft eligible, unlike Mr. Beach.
What does this mean? It means in many fantasy leagues, this is a guy who may be eligible for your farm that no one has snagged. Just like David Perron who was a year older when drafted, Colin Long looks primed to jump on the NHL fast track. Just think… Martin Hanzal had 85 points in 60 games in the WHL last year and now look at him. Colin Long is on that same pace. Heck, with a healthy season, he is on pace to easily pass the 93 points put up by 2006-07 scoring champ Zach Hamill. Colin Long is having one of the best WHL seasons in recent memory, and a 100-point season isn’t out of the question. Neither is an NHL career. Get this guy.
The Status Report: A very dusty version this week.
Sergei Zubov, D, DAL
Don’t let the current injuries disturb you. If you look at his history, Zubov always misses five to ten games each season but manages to still be one of the best fantasy defensemen around. With 35 points in 44 games, he is well ahead of last season’s production, even with the injuries. Zubov is showing no signs of slowing down, and Mr. Ribeiro and company are only helping the cause.
From the Dust: The player who may have some value after all.
Joakim Lindstrom, C/W, CLS
The diaper dandy is finally sticking at the NHL level. Still only 24 years old, Lindstrom is coming off of a fantastic AHL stint and now has six points in his first eleven games. With this being his third tryout with the big boys, it looks like the third time’s a charm. A natural winger (despite what yahoo thinks), Lindstrom has been playing center from time to time unfortunately. This does limit his value in the short term, but that’s where Columbus needs the most help. If that is what keeps him in the pros, so be it. With 70-point ability and winger eligibility eventually, Lindstrom has a lot of upside for the future.
Ben Eager, LW, CHI
Stealing from one of my own decisions in a deeper league, I suggest you use Mr. Eager to fill out you extra injured reserve position. It is always smart to maximize the talent within your possession, and filling your IR with guys off the free agent list is a great way to do that. You never know whose value will shoot up. So unless you have a low max moves limit, get as many players under your control as you can. Eager is not a guy who will put up points, but I think we can make an exception for him. After all, he did lead the league last year with 233 penalty minutes. In my leagues, that put him in the top 200 players in value. He is a valuable asset in deeper PIM leagues and is someone you should really consider stashing for a rainy day.
Johan Franzen, C/W, DET
Alright, maybe this is a bit of a stretch. Still, after starting the year with zero points in his first eleven games, Johan deserves a shout out. He now has eight goals and eleven points in his last 25 games and may be useful in deeper leagues. His peripheral numbers are also very solid with a plus-8 and 91 shots on goal. Finally, one of my best friends, Goran, whose family tree includes Franzens and is also from the same village in Sweden, suspects he may be a long lost cousin of his. So obviously, I have to be biased and give him some pub.
Cactus of the Week: The player you shouldn’t touch right now.
Kristian Huselius, LW, CGY
Surprisingly, newly arrived superstar Kristian Huselius has hit a wall this past week. He has zeros across the board in most everything…
Last week: 3GP, 0G, 0A, 0P, 0, 0PIM, 11SOG
Well, at least he is still shooting. After two five-point games in December and a recent twelve points in five games, Huselius owners were getting spoiled anyway. If you own him, don’t worry. If you don’t, I wouldn’t bother trying to buy low any time soon. I’d stay away at least another week. It will take a longer slump than this to get his value where it needs to be for a fair buy.
Fantasy Flashback: Your weekly reminder that fantasy hockey is a rollercoaster.
Pascal Leclaire, G, CLS
As a favorite for this year’s Fantasy Comeback Player of the Year (or even Fantasy MVP depending on how you look at it), Pascal Leclaire has rounded into the star tender we anticipated years ago. Though still a little nerve racking to own with his injury history, his huge shutout totals have more than made up for it. Just look at this amazing comparison.
2006-07: 6-15-2, .897SV%, 2.97GAA, 629SV, 1SO
2007-08: 15-8-3, .927SV%, 2.00GAA, 709SV, 7SO
When you look at his history, you see a general improvement in his GAA since his rookie season. Considering his pedigree, this is looking more like the rule than the exception. Amazing to think that Pascal Leclaire now stands well ahead of his fellow contemporaries like Marc-Andre Fleury and Kari Lehtonen in value. He is a little older than them however, so perhaps they will catch up. Regardless, the combination of his talent, health and the Hitchcock system has done wonders.