The Superbowl isn’t the only exciting thing that’s going on in Phoenix these days. Does the January Rookie of the Month deserve even more attention? Abso-freaking-lutely.
Peter Mueller continues to get noticed around the fantasy hockey world and rightfully so. Not only has he catapulted himself into the ranks of the best rookies this season, but he now resides among the best players in the game with his recent performances. The 19-year-old has had 15 points in his last month of play making him one of the most valuable players of late. Did you know Mueller is in the top 20 in goals, assists, points, power play points and shots on goal in the last month? That is some pretty well-rounded production for your team. He is even plus-4 with the lowly Phoenix Coyotes. But wait… even the Coyotes aren’t so bad anymore. Despite the perception of the more casual fan, going into Monday the Coyotes carried a winning record going 27-22-3 this season. They have a better record than the defending champs and they can attribute a lot of that to Mr. Mueller. The team went 9-4-1 in January. The number of games played is another factor that makes Mueller’s numbers even more deceiving. The Yotes had only played 52 games going into Monday night as you can see. With only three teams having played fewer games, Mueller’s value with games at hand is even higher.
Look at these 82-game pace projections…
First 11 games: 2 points, 14-point pace
All 51 games played: 33 points, 53-point pace
Last 11 games: 14 points, 104-point pace
That last figure is pretty exciting isn’t it? Well that might be a glimpse of what is to come in his career. Despite his overall pace of 53 points, I’d wager on 65 points myself. 32 points in 30 games seems about right the rest of the way.
This is a fantasy haven for years to come. With Bryzgalov in place and studs forming already in Mueller, Hanzal and Yandle, the future is arriving early in the desert. This is a young, solid team already and more of the cavalry (Turris, Wheeler, MacLean) is on the way.
The Status Report:
Kristian Huselius, LW, CGY
If you are the type of person who can ride out the highs and lows of a player like Huselius, then this is your time to get him. Hopefully his owner doesn’t like the ride and is willing to finally part with him at a fair price. With his demotion, only two points in his last nine games and having recently slipped below the point-per-game pace again, Kristian is ripe for the picking. Considering the scarcity of left wingers, I’d be willing to take the gamble and put up with the headaches he cause me. Try and trade someone hot like Kovalev for him. In a keeper, that would be sweet.
Daniel Carcillo, LW, PHO
Nnnnooooooo! Phoenix sent down Carcillo for his penalties? How could they? How will Carcillo be able challenge all the PIM records each year if he is reprimanded for it? This may be the first time you can say you HATE Wayne Gretzky in fantasy hockey.
From the Dust: The player who may have some value after all.
David Backes, C/RW, STL
Did you realize Backes had 10 points in his last 10 games for the Blues? With a total of 9 in the previous 31 games, that is a striking turnaround. If he is floating around on your waiver, he is probably worth a gander again. He has averaged over 15 minutes of ice time during this streak. For his career in St. Louis, his average is still just over 13 minutes, so it would be nice if the increased opportunity continued to see what he can do with it.
Young Guns: The future of the West.
Brett MacLean, LW, PHO
As Dobber scooped me on, MacLean is dominating the OHL this season. Just to reemphasize, he has 101 points in only 45 games this season including 50 goals. He had 100 in 68 last year so he is showing some nice progression. Although he is producing at a similar pace as John Tavares, we must keep in mind he is two years more experienced. Also, he is playing on the same team as the boy wonder. Still, his production with this superstar of the future bodes well for his production alongside Mueller or Turris in Phoenix.
Steven Stamkos, C, LA?
Partially just to put MacLean’s numbers in perspective, Stamkos has only produced 74 points in 43 games this season. He remains a league leader, but is definitely not showing the improvement MacLean has. Stamkos had 92 points in 63 games last year. So, though he is the heartthrob of everyone’s 2008 draft list, his slowed progression is slightly concerning. Still, he doesn’t have Tavares to play with.
Justin Azevedo, C, ???
Though not necessarily linked to the Western Conference, on a side note, Azevedo is another player who is exploding this year in the OHL. The undrafted 19-year-old is 2nd in the league with 97 points in only 49 games. This is a huge jump from his 56 in 50 games last year. The main issue is his 5-foot-8 frame however. Regardless, he is worth mentioning with that kind of increase in production.
Cactus of the Week: The player you shouldn’t touch right now.
Sergei Zubov, D, DAL
Mr. Zubov makes another appearance in the Status Report and this time it really isn’t a good thing. Don’t you hate it when players aren’t playing but aren’t on injured reserve either? If I was reporting on the East, freaking Heatley would have been in this slot every week until recently. It is so frustrating when guys aren’t put on the IR, and Zubov has become another frustrating example of this. He hasn’t played since January 17th but is still clogging up the fantasy benches of many. No one likes to see the “week-to-week” tag put on one of their fantasy players either. Hopefully this doesn’t turn out like the Semin fiasco’s of earlier this season where he isn’t reserved until his last missed game. Hurry back Sergei. We (or I) can’t take it much longer.
Fantasy Flashback: Your weekly reminder that fantasy hockey is a rollercoaster.
Anaheim Ducks, 3rd Pacific
Don’t be fooled by this team’s place in the Western Conference standings. Despite their current position of 5th, they have played as many games as any team in the NHL with 56 already.
2006-07: 56 GP, 33-15-8, 74Pts
2007-08: 56 GP, 27-22-7, 61Pts
They are still 13 points off of last year’s pace despite their surge when Niedermayer returned. Last season, the worst total to make the playoffs was 92 points for the Islanders. The worst total to make it in for the Western Conference was Calgary with 96. A certain well-known hockey magazine announced Anaheim’s return to dominance in their most recent edition, but the Ducks have one point in their last six games and time is running out. This not only demonstrates a weakness in print media, but it emphasizes the need for Selanne to be himself right away if they are going to make the playoffs this year. They will need 31 of the possible 54 points in 26 games to reach last year’s minimum. It will be close.