Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How NOT to win your Fantasy Hockey League!

I completely kid of course as my information that  I disperse out is completely trustworthy and is a reputable resource when differentiating the players you should target in your upcoming Fantasy Hockey draft. What I'm going to do is basically list five players that would be considered "sleepers" by the majority of hockey pendants and five players I would stay away from as a decrease in productivity is likely


1.T.J Brodie, Defenceman-Calgary Flames- A little earlier this summer, I advocated the Calgary Flames as one of the top teams coming into this season in my National League Preview. Brodie himself saw a +27 point production increase from 2012-2013 to 2013-2014  and a +10 increase into the 2014-2015 season.  The reason the selection of Brodie entices me is because with an expected Marc Giordano and a newly acquired Dougie Hamilton from the Boston Bruins, the widely believed speculation is that Brodie won' t be scouted as heavily from the opposition and can't because of the individual threats that exist in the aforementioned Giordano and Hamilton. Sometimes, the common opinion is that just because you don't see ice time on the first power play unit correlates that you won't get primo scoring opportunities but the reality(at least the blurred reality in my head) is that hiding behind PP1 onto PP2 will allow the avoidance of the oppositions top penalty killers. Brodie is a good play for all drafts, try to shoot for him in the middle rounds.

2.Jack Eichel, Forward-Buffalo Sabres- As has been mentioned thousands of times and something Jack has grown tire of is the comparison that will fall on Eichel's shoulders his entire career and that's with the 2015 NHL draft rival Connor McDavid. McDavid landed in a great situation with the Oilers as he will patrol the first line but what people fail to realize is that Eichel landed in arguably  a better situation in Buffalo. Tim Murray did a masterful job last season tearing down the dead weight in an effort of landing McDavid or Eichel and it worked as he landed the top American on the board. Eichel, similarly to McDavid will likely see time on the top line and could be paired with running mate and former Medicine Hat Tiger Tyler Ennis.  I could've and strongly considered including Ennis on the sleeper list but when it comes to the Sabres this team will ride or die on the back of Jack.  Ninety point season I can see in the cards. He's first round material in all drafts.

3.Mike Green,Defenceman-Detroit Red Wings- I struggled with the question, " Can Mike Green really be considered a sleeper?". Mike Green was a fantasy phenomenon four to five years ago suiting up for the Washington Capitals but some on ice struggles led to the apparent inevitability that a change of scenery was necessary.  The issue that begun to arise in Washington was that upfront we saw too many players that played a selfish style which didn't correlate with moving around the puck  efficiently which stung Green's statistics as on the surface he carried a pass first mindset. We're not quite sure the style new coach in Detroit Jeff Blaishill will enforce but what we do know is that he'll get more tangible power play time playing alongside team first players in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Nabbing Green in the fourth to fifth round would be advised.

4.Nikolay Kulemin,Forward-New York Islanders- Kulemin was someone that if I were writing this same fantasy preview a year ago I would've targeted as a sleeper back then but fast forward a year and I just suffice that he has so much more in the tank to deliver. Only accumulating thirty-one points last season I unequivocally believe he has the potential to surpass sixty this season. In the playoff series against the Washington Capitals, he started the series on the fourth line but by the end of it coach Jack Capuano instilled more confidence in the Russian and he started to flourish. By including him on this list the expectation is that he'll carry forward that confidence throughout the regular season.

5.Nathan MacKinnon,Forward-Colorado Avalanche- That overused classification of the "Sophomore Slump" can fittingly describe MacKinnon's campaign a year ago. What I saw in this individual a year ago, and it didn't take a genius to notice this but I am one so no harm, no foul and that is that he was pressing waaaayyyy too hard. MacKinnon dominated the 2013 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and what we saw their was a player that had through the roof confidence and internally felt that he could do no wrong. His speed will naturally create chances on it's own and their's NO way he resorts to another below fifty point season. I feel so strongly about MacKinnon rebounding that I would look for him late in the first round.

" Stay away from"

1.Tyler Johnson,Forward-Tampa Bay Lightning- This is a classic case of Brady Anderson syndrome. If you're not familiar with the story of Brady Anderson, Anderson was a member of the Baltimore Orioles and up until 1996, his yearly home run average hovered in the high teens only to explode for 50 in 1996 only to subsequently fall back to normalcy in 1997. Everything Johnson touched last season turned into magic and even the biggest Johnson/Lightning fan can't expect replication. He does seem to relate to the type of player that succeeds now a days having a Martin St.Louis-esque build but with Steven Stamkos in a contract  year, and this is important that the Lightning will do everything to accommodate the former Sarnia Sting's well  being even if that means cutting into the playing time of Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov. The pressure will be on you to select this Spokane,  Washington native high but I'm here to tell you to resist the urge.

2.Phil Kessel,Forward-Pittsburgh  Penguins- The indefinite reason for classifying Kessel as "do not touch" harkens to an entitlement issue. Kessel has always been the guy for every professional team he has suited up for and making the shift to the Pittsburgh Penguins will require him to transition into a secondary scorer, something I'm not sure Phil can resign himself to. He had a disappointing campaign a year ago only tallying only sixty one points but in fairness to Phil he was along side a bunch of ECHL wannabes otherwise known as the Toronto Maple Leafs. To summarize, I just don't think "Phil the Thrill" will adapt as easy as some closer to the precedings then I am think he will. The Pittsburgh Penguins are perennial Stanley Cup contenders, but don't think the contributors will be as cut and dry as you may believe.

3.Jason Spezza,Forward-Dallas Stars- Don't mistaken this for how I view the Dallas Stars as a whole because how I feel about Spezza's outlook and how I feel about the Dallas Stars organization are two different entities. This is no indictment on the former Ottawa Senators captain as I just don't buy that a Lindy Ruff coached team is adherable to prolonged fantasy success. The game has changed and so have Ruff's tactics but Lindy's penchant in years past has been to focus on the defensive angle first which does no favours for Jason. Secondarily to this concern, a lot of times last year Spezza didn't see the ice with premier players Tyler  Seguin and Jamie Benn so playing on a team that is very top heavy upfront will unfairly penalize Spezza's fantasy projections.

4.Derek Stepan,Forward-New York Rangers- I will never forget the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships in which Stepan led the way for the Americans if for no other reason than it was held in my home province. It was the Derek Stepan v Jordan Eberle show the entire way and in typical Pierre McGuire fashion, the over fascination pertaining to Stepan's game was received with the realization that it was "Pierre being Pierre". The backstory behind Derek Stepan is that he's always been a great leader off the ice, heralded as a future New York Ranger captain which I can cosign, but the leadership quality off the ice can often overvalue a players contributions on the ice,think Jonathan Toews. With the likes of Rick Nash right in the prime stage of his career and youngsters like J.T Miller and one of my favourites Chris Kreider already surpassing his offensive contributions, the intangibles may remain but his offensive prowess will begin to decline.

5.Michael Stone,Defenceman-Arizona Coyotes- Having went down to Glendale last Christmas I was extremely impressed with the reliable play of Michael Stone. Even going back to his days with the Calgary Hitmen, he's always been lauded for his renowned shot but what impressed me even more was the fortitude killing penalties as staunch skating abilities and the surname Stone never went hand in hand. What worries me now about Stone is two fold, for starters Arizona projects to be an atrocious team and if your league utilizes the plus/minus category, it's a death trap. Second, with the acquisition that brought in Stefan Elliot and the late season emergence of Connor Murphy may squeeze out playing time from Stone. I'm confident that Stone has the capabilities of being a NHL top four defenceman but with where the depth currently lies, that may have to be explored in a different market. Too much uncertainty doesn't make Stone a worthwhile fantasy selection.

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