Dobber launched his fantasy hockey website DobberHockey back in 2005 and has been Puck Daddy’s resident fantasy hockey ‘expert’ since 2009.
We’re heading into the last week of the NHL season and you know that means. That’s right – it’s time for the fluff pieces! Your fantasy squad won or lost the championship thanks to some of the below names. This column kicks off about 13 days of “best of” and “playoff primer” articles that will be all over the Internet. I’m happy to be one of the first; perhaps I can desensitize you to it a little bit.
Top 10 Pleasant Fantasy Hockey Surprises
10. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins (72-35-20-55, plus-19, 90 PIM, 231 SOG, 8 PPPts)
Marchand has slowed down significantly, otherwise he’d be closer to the top of the list. As things stand now he is on pace to finish with 59 points, which isn’t too far above his career high. But it’s his 35 goals that is the surprise. Brad Marchand, 40-goal scorer. Does that sound weird?
9. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets (77-20-49-69, plus-4, 47 PIM, 239 SOG, 16 PPPts)
Wheeler has now tied his career high and he’s certain to reach 72 or 73 points. Normally that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow, but consider that scoring is down this year. Instead of looking at his total points, look at his ranking in the scoring race: 11th.
8. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks (77-18-56-74, plus-27, 54 PIM, 115 SOG, 25 PPPts)
Do you remember back in the day when Jumbo Joe was getting 100-plus penalty minutes? Me either. He’s about to return to his highest PIM level since 2008. But the real surprise is the point total, which is set to be his highest since 2010. More impressive? The 36-year-old started the year with 16 points in 29 games. That means he had 58 points in his last 48 games.
7. Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers (73-25-33-58, plus-17, 44 PIM, 132 SOG, 10 PPPts)
A 60-point season at the age of 44? Amazing. Anyone who drafted him in September was just hoping for 45 points and a tolerable plus/minus.
6. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (77-39-55-94, plus-12, 30 PIM, 267 SOG, 32 PPPts)
Sure, there may have been some of you who projected Kane to win the scoring title this year. Not many of you, but some. However, his first half of the season was really something else. He’ll win the Art Ross with relative ease, going from wire to wire. Remember that back in September you were hesitant to even draft him due to his legal troubles.
5. Jussi Jokinen, Florida Panthers (75-17-41-58, plus-23, 42 PIM, 142 SOG, 12 PPPts)
The 32-year-old is coming off of a 44-point season and some of the kids with the Panthers were starting to take over. But rather than decline, Jokinen is having his best season ever. He already has his second highest point total and PIM total, and he’s set career highs in both assists and plus/minus. He’s tied for 29th in NHL scoring.
4. Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks (36-21-4, 2.25 GAA, 0.919 SV%, 5 SO)
In terms of how his numbers rank in fantasy hockey, Jones sits third among goaltenders. Last summer many poolies (including myself) didn’t completely rule out Alex Stalock in a 1A/1B situation. Jones was considered a risk to have half of his starts cannibalized.
3. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals (76-20-54-74, plus-28, 30 PIM, 169 SOG, 19 PPPts)
Most poolies thought that Kuznetsov could do this. Just not this year. Simply consult your fantasy guides from last summer and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any projection higher than 55 points.
2. Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers (58-16-26-42, plus-8, 20 PIM, 139 SOG, 21 PPPts)
Only drafted in keeper leagues, ‘Ghost’ took the fantasy world by storm. Especially during his 15-game points streak back in February.
1. Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks (75-25-39-64, plus-2, 32 PIM, 171 SOG, 18 PPPts)
Undrafted free agents from Europe almost never work. For every Niklas Backstrom there are five Fabian Brunnstroms. Taking a flier on one has, until now, never really helped your active roster. Sure, maybe a couple of years later a Ville Leino will help you, but immediate help? Nope. That is, until Panarin arrived. His late-season swoon will stop him from getting 70 points, but he’ll still top 65 and possibly take the Calder Trophy.
Top 10 (Bottom 10?) Biggest Fantasy Hockey Disappointments
10. Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning (56-15-20-35, plus-12, 16 PIM, 106 SOG, 5 PPPts)
His current streak of eight points in five games is too little, too late. After a 59-point rookie season and a 63-point sophomore campaign, fantasy owners were hoping for something closer to 70. Granted, injuries played a big part of it, but even if he played those 20 games he missed things would still be disappointing. His line ‘The Triplets’ was so disappointing that they were broken up for a time, with Nikita Kucherov moving up to the Steven Stamkos line.
9. Radim Vrbata, Vancouver Canucks (63-13-14-27, minus-30, 12 PIM, 199 SOG, 9 PPPts)
Most poolies expected a small decline from last season’s 63 points, but this is ridiculous. He’ll be 35 next season so don’t expect a huge rebound from this train wreck of a campaign.
8. Eric Staal, New York Rangers (77-13-25-38, minus-1, 34 PIM, 7 PPPts)
As a rookie in 2005-06, Staal tallied 31 points. Since that time he’s never finished with fewer than 53 points – and that was during a lockout-shortened year!
7. John Tavares, New York Islanders (72-27-32-59, minus-1, 36 PIM, 231 SOG, 17 PPPts)
Okay, so he’s learning to play a more complete game. Great. Now how does that help me, the poor sucker who drafted him expecting 85 points?
6. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators (32-20-10, 2.44 GAA, 0.909 SV%, 4 SO)
On one hand, Rinne should still finish with 35 wins. That still helps a lot of owners. But on the other hand, his save percentage is atrocious and his goals-against average is subpar. Things were even worse back in February though. He’s actually pushed his numbers towards mediocrity thanks to a 0.922 SV% since February 22.
5. Rick Nash, New York Rangers (54-14-21-35, plus-7, 24 PIM, 172 SOG, 7 PPPts)
After a 69-point season Nash is going to be lucky to hit 40 this year. He’s missed 22 games, but production is still down.
4. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets (13-18-1, 2.73 GAA, 0.909 SV%, 1 SO)
He killed any fantasy team that drafted him to be their No.2 goaltender. Hopefully some of you recovered by grabbing the rare waiver help that was available such as Louis Domingue or the second-half Cam Talbot.
3. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins (76-23-31-54, plus-7, 18 PIM, 251 SOG, 15 PPPts)
Widely considered this year’s most overrated player, thanks to his recent surge Kessel could still salvage a 60-point season. So while that hurts his fantasy owners, it at least contributes. A little.
2. Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning (63-14-23-37, plus-6, 16 PIM, 154 SOG, 13 PPPts)
After getting 72 points last year in the regular season and another 23 in the playoffs, the young Johnson was expected to at least match. Not even close. But thanks to a solid last three or four weeks he has a shot at 40 points – which is still pretty sad, even considering that he missed 13 games. Sure, he played injured and kudos to him, but how does that help his fantasy owner?
1. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (10-2-0, 2.06 GAA, 0.934 SV%, 2 SO)
The best asset to own in all of fantasy hockey has been injured since late October. He won all three games during a brief return in November but has otherwise been on the shelf. Most of his fantasy owners took him with their first or second round pick. Most of his owners are out of the running this year. Some would argue that an injured player shouldn’t be considered a ‘disappointment’. Well…I’m disappointed that he was hurt, aren’t you?
Top 10 Rotisserie Hockey Players
Based on G, A, +/-, PIM, SOG, PPPts
This is the actual Top 10 based on numbers run through Wednesday, though I did have to manually insert the goaltenders where I thought they should be.
Honorable Mention: Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals (76-20-54-74, plus-28, 30 PIM, 169 SOG, 19 PPPts)
As I already noted in the surprise section, Kuznetsov has been quite the revelation. We thought he could do this, we just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.
10. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (75-29-34-63, plus-11, 49 PIM, 263 SOG, 24 PPPts)
In his pre-concussion days, Bergeron was a 30-goal, 70-point, 300-SOG player. Now he’s on the verge of getting back there and has a career high for PIM to boot.
9. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks (35-18-4, 2.32, 0.926, 7 SO)
If not for his current injury (upper body, possible concussion), Crawford would be knocking on the door of 40 wins.
8. Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks (77-26-45-71, minus-4, 53 PIM, 332 SOG, 28 PPPts)
Drafted last September as a consolation prize for missing out on Erik Karlsson, Burns has rewarded rotisserie owners by actually out-producing Karlsson. And this is Karlsson’s best season! Burns has more power-play points, more shots on goal, more goals and more penalty minutes, while only falling short on points by five. Karlsson outdoes Burns in BLKS (163-133), but Burns has the edge in Hits (96-83).
7. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks (77-18-56-74, plus-27, 54 PIM, 115 SOG, 25 PPPts)
God bless you, Joe. The 36-year-old started the season so poorly that I was laughed at by another fantasy owner when I tried to acquire Derrick Brassard for him back in December. Since then, Thornton has 58 points in 48 games and I have the satisfying pleasure of emailing that owner, rubbing it in and getting the last laugh.
6. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (75-32-47-79, plus-18, 38 PIM, 229 SOG, 21 PPPts)
Now up to third in scoring, Crosby was sitting close to 200th in scoring early on in November. It took until January before he had worked his way up to a reasonable spot in the scoring race. Still too late for him to win the Art Ross, though.
5. Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks (77-37-38-75, plus-27, 26 PIM, 213 SOG, 27 PPPts)
How great is Pavelski to own? He doesn’t get hurt, and this is now his third consecutive season in which he posts close to 75 points and at least 37 goals. Gold.
4. Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (74-44-20-64, plus-17, 49 PIM, 367 SOG, 23 PPPts)
This is considered a poor season in fantasy hockey for Ovechkin, who has tweaked his game to become more of a complete player. Fantasy owners don’t get points for completeness though. His numbers are still good enough to land him fourth in the league, third among skaters in the fantasy categories.
3. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals (46-9-5, 2.17, 0.924)
Holtby’s save percentage is slightly below Crawford’s and Holtby only has three shutouts to Crawford’s seven. In many fantasy hockey leagues, a shutout rewards almost as well as a forward having a five-point game. But in the end, it is Holtby’s record-breaking wins pace. If he can make it to 49, he’s done what no other goalie has ever done.
2. Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars (77-39-46-85, plus-9, 62 PIM, 236 SOG, 27 PPPts)
The defending NHL scoring champ is the only player with even an outside shot at catching Kane.
1. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (77-39-55-94, plus-12, 30 PIM, 267 SOG, 32 PPPts)
For Benn to catch him, Kane would have to be held without a point the rest of the way and Benn would have to post at least two points per game.
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