The "other" multi-cat forwards
Among the most coveted of all fantasy hockey forwards are "multi-cat" guys - forwards who might not put up many goals and assists but who give you lots of secondary value in categories like PIMs and hits. In certain leagues, some of these forwards can be even more valuable than other players who might score a lot more points but barely see the sin bin and don't throw their body around. But what if your league - like mine for many years - doesn't count PIMs and hits, and instead tracks different secondary stats like +/-, Power Play Points, Game Winning Goals, and/or Shooting Percentage? The good news is there are also forwards who don't score a lot but can still help you in these secondary categories – what I call the "other" multi-cat forwards.
Below is a list of forwards who scored fewer than 50 points overall last season, but were in the top 125 among all NHL forwards for each of +/- (+4 or better), Power Play Points (10 or more), Game winning Goals (three or more) and shooting percentage (11.4% or better). I set the cutoff at 50 points, since most players above that are already likely to be drafted on that basis. And I looked at only the top 125 in the four categories to strike a balance between finding players who not only might be off the radar but also could actually help GMs in most leagues that track these categories. It turns out that only these six forwards had fewer than 50 points and met the top 125 criteria for all four categories last season. Here they are in order of points scored:
Alex Tanguay - 49 total points (+7, 15 PPP, 3 GWG, 15.5%)
Tanguay missed a chunk of games last season, otherwise he would've scored enough points to not be on this list. Seeing him here is a nice reminder that he is a fairly complete player, but the issue at this point in his career is that even when healthy his stats likely will no longer match his "name" - that is, he's one of those guys who tends to be drafted earlier than he probably should because fantasy GMs not only are familiar with him, but also because they think he has a good shot to get back to the 70+ point mark. In truth, he might be poised to do that, what with having put up 69 points just 2 seasons ago and with Mike Cammalieri set to be in Calgary for a full year. Tanguay certainly should be drafted in all but the most shallowest of leagues; just make sure you don’t overreach and take him too early, especially in a keeper.
Matt Read - 47 total points (+13, 11 PPP, 6 GWG, 15.5%)
Playing in the hockey hub that is Philly, Read received a great deal of attention and turned a lot of heads during his rookie season. But many GMs in keeper leagues are now keying in on the fact that he's already 26 and, as has been covered on Dobberhockey, forwards are more likely to suffer from a sophomore slump when they enter the league older than 21. But looking at these stats for Read, it's hard to envision a step backwards, as he was very solid across the board. He likely won't come too cheap though, as Flyers players are well known and tend to be on the radar of most GMs. But Read might actually be worth overvaluing slightly - he's that complete. Or you can hope he starts the year a bit slow so you can pry him away from a frustrated GM who doesn't fully appreciate what Read will likely end up giving a team in terms of across the board contribution.
Patrick Hornqvist - 43 total points (+9, 10 PPP, 3 GWG, 11.7%)
Most fantasy GMs will see Hornqvist's three seasons of declining point totals (51 in 2009-10, 48 in 2010-11, 43 in 2011-12) and think he's a guy to start avoiding or at least devaluing. But these secondary numbers confirm that he's still someone who can contribute in many categories. Yes, it's true that he's not likely to explode to 70 points while playing for Nashville, if at all. But as long as he's with the Preds he will be counted on for offense and should continue to be a well-rounded asset to fantasy teams, especially ones in deeper leagues. Plus, there's a lot better chance that he'll rebound to get you 50+ points than there is of him sliding below 40, so he's a pretty safe pick from a reward/risk perspective.
David Perron - 42 total points (+19, 10 PPPs, 4 GWGs, 18.4%)
Like Tanguay above, Perron is only here because he missed enough games to keep his points below the 50 threshold, and you can be sure most fantasy GMs realized that he was quite productive upon returning to the line-up last season after missing all but 10 games in 2010-11. But these stats show just how impactful his return was and how much he contributes in categories beyond pure points. Of course the concern, as is the case with players on deep teams like Boston and Philly, is whether Perron will get the ice time to allow him to produce, what with so many St. Louis forwards capable of playing top six minutes and lining up with the man advantage. In my mind, GMs should safely expect him to get plenty of top minutes, since he's got an offensive spark that no one else on St. Louis, other than perhaps David Backes, has. And that will allow him to put up numbers - including in these secondary categories - that should easily eclipse his career bests. Just hope the other GMs in your league overlook Perron because of his partial year stats and out of fear of recurring concussion problems, so you can grab him and reap the rewards.
Colin Wilson - 35 total points (+5, 12 PPP, 5 GWG, 13.2%)
Aside from the next person on this list, Wilson was the biggest surprise to me, as I would've never pegged him and his seemingly unremarkable 35 points to meet the criteria for all four categories, but in fact he's solid in each of them. Yes, he's unlikely to have one-third of his goals be game-winners again, but there's no reason to think he can't perhaps even improve upon his power play points with the somewhat depleted Nashville top six. What's more, he's entering his magical fourth year, so it's possible that his points could see a nice spike, though he doesn’t realistically project to be a huge scorer. But he's got a shot at 50+ points, if not next season then perhaps very soon. The fact that Wilson is such a hidden gem might make it easier for you to steal him in a very late round in your draft, so be careful not to grab him too early. Another option might be to roll the dice and wait to get him on the waiver wire in place of your first injured forward, or even to try to snag him in a trade from a GM who is not capable of looking past his 34 and 35 point totals for the past two seasons.
Jason Arnott - 34 total points (+13, 14 PPP, 3 GWG, 12.0%)
At first glance, Arnott’s 34 points last season is hard to consider anything but a huge failure - a sign that of aging veteran finally hitting the end of his career. But in compiling those 34 points, the now nearly 38 year old Arnott put up close to half on the power play, was a very respectable +13, and clearly made his shots count. Seeing this, it's all the more baffling that no team signed Arnott as a UFA this off season. Yes, he's now several years removed from even his last 50+ point season (2008-09) and he hasn't played 70+ games since 2007-08, but these stats suggest he still could make meaningful contributions to a hockey team, perhaps occupying a role where he plays mainly 3rd or even 4th line minutes at even strength but also logs time on the power play with the first or second unit. What about him stepping into the role Steve Sullivan occupied on Pittsburgh last season, or a team giving him playing time along the lines of what Tomas Holmstrom has received in Detroit for the past few years, or having him (alongside Ryan Smyth) act as a veteran mentor to the young crop of forwards in Edmonton? Jason - if you’re reading this, let me know if you'd be interested in hiring me as your new agent!
Some good “other” multi-cat forwards
Hopefully you can grab one of these six guys (maybe not Arnott, unless he signs) in your league and reap the dividends. For those whose leagues might not count all four of these secondary categories, here are a few forwards who scored fewer than 50 points and met the criteria in only three of the four secondary categories. You’ll see a good mix of players, plus a couple of superstars who are only on here due to missing big chunks of the past season to injury:
Chris Kelly - +33, 6 GWG, 16.4% (top 20 among forwards in each category!)
Curtis Glencross – 13 PPP, 3 GWG, 23.6%
Mathieu Perrault - +9, 4 GWG, 26.7%
Sergei Kostitsyn - +8, 3 GWG, 17.5% (just missed overall list – 9 PPP)
Sam Gagner - +5, 12 PPP, 12.1%
Matt Cooke - +5, 4 GWG, 12.9%
Tim Stapleton – 11 PPP, 3 GWG, 14.9%
Vincent Lecavalier – 11 PPP, 5 GWG, 12.1%
Michael Cammalieri – 12 PPP, 4 GWG, 11.4%
Bryan Little – 13 PPP, 6 GWG, 14.8%
Cody Hodgson – 14 PPP, 3 GWG, 12.3%
David Clarkson – 16 PPP, 7 GWG, 13.2%
Wayne Simmonds – 16 PPP, 4 GWG, 14.2%
Niklas Backstrom – 19 PPP, 4 GWG, 14.7%
……….Oh, and some guy named Sidney Crosby – +15, 11 PPP, 3 GWG
This is the first I've heard of a league that counts shooting percentage... interesting.
I'd be wary on boosting a player's value due to shooting percentage though, as most players who shot high are due for a regression in the following year. It might be interesting to look for players who had a low shooting % this year and target them at the draft table - many should be in for a boost not only in their shooting percentage, but in goals as well.