September 29, 2011
Dobber checks in every week to force-feed you the latest fantasy hockey trends. The founder of DobberHockey.com and a columnist for The Hockey News website, he long ago immersed himself into this roller-coaster world and is unable to escape.
Moving a guy up or down your draft list by two or three spots may seem trivial, but it changes the entire face of your team. If you chose ninth overall last summer and you bumped Corey Perry(notes) from 18 to 15 on your list, you get him in the second round (12-team draft) — and how much would that have helped?
Give these guys a nudge upward
Dany Heatley(notes), Minnesota Wild — It was hoped that he would click with Mikko Koivu(notes). Well, he's done that and more so far in the preseason. Stat-heads will look at the career-low of last season and the fact that he hasn't beat a point-per-game in three years and draft him as a 65- to 70-point player and 30 to 35 goals. He's still only 30 years old — lots of hockey left.
Mikhail Grabovski(notes), Toronto Maple Leafs — Grabo is picking up where he left off last season and is leaving little doubt that it was no fluke. He has six points in four preseason games and even has a shorthanded marker for good measure.
Zac Dalpe(notes), Carolina Hurricanes — I know I mentioned him here last week and I also noted in The Hockey News that he was my Calder favorite. But, as with any columnist, I love beating a dead horse. He is now being tried on a line with Eric Staal(notes). I doubt the line combo sticks, but still — it shows you how he's held in high regard and you know he'll be tried on that line again in a couple of months. After all, coaches change lines like they change their socks.
Tomas Fleischmann(notes), Florida Panthers — He's still being drafted far too late in the drafts I've been involved in. The 'Flash' has a huge contract and he is getting ice time accordingly. And that pesky life-threatening blood clot thing is a problem long solved. He should also have dual-position eligibility in most leagues, if not already.
Evgeni Malkin(notes), Pittsburgh Penguins — Now I'm taking him second overall after Alex Ovechkin(notes). His conditioning is superb, the knee seems to be in top form and he's entering his prime. Fantasy freaks may have forgotten -- because when we avidly refresh the hockey sites for up-to-the-minute news on some third-liner's hangnail, two years ago seems so far away -- but this guy won a scoring title. Malkin falling to eighth or ninth in any draft is ridiculous.
Devin Setoguchi(notes), Minnesota Wild — The line of Koivu, Heatley and Setoguchi has been absolutely flying. The last time Setoguchi clicked on the top line, he pounded out 65 points. Banking on that is obviously aggressive, but you can bank on 55 with pretty good odds of more.
Matt D'Agostini(notes), St. Louis Blues — The Blues are a deep team and D'Agostini got about as much respect as a Blackberry in the Apple home office. When five forwards are injured, then sure, they'll turn to that guy who's been scoring like gangbusters despite 10 minutes of ice time each game. But in the preseason, with everyone healthy, D'Agostini has surprisingly still been used a lot on the power play. So topping last year's 46 points may not be a stretch after all.
Tweak these guys downward
Brad Boyes(notes), Buffalo Sabres — Three good seasons on his resume and three bad. No discernible pattern, it just seems pretty random. But the Sabres have players taking a step forward. Tyler Ennis(notes), Nathan Gerbe(notes) and newcomer Ville Leino(notes) are climbing the ladder, stepping on Boyes' head on the way by.
Ales Steen, St. Louis Blues — While D'Agostini is seeing more PP time, Steen is getting less. Steen was playing the point on the power play pretty often, but he lost much of that when the team acquired Kevin Shattenkirk(notes).
Scott Hartnell(notes), Philadelphia Flyers — Heart jokes aside, the Flyers move a couple of centermen and brought in more wingers. Hey, Hartnell's a winger! Looks like the pie needs to be cut up into smaller pieces. This becomes exasperating if the surging Matt Read(notes) makes the team.
Nikita Filatov(notes), Ottawa Senators — Filatov is showing the razzle-dazzle that gave Ken Hitchcock an aneurism makes him one of the more exciting young prospects in the game. The hockey sense is also clearly there. But the confidence and poise doesn't seem to be. Growing pains to say the least. He'll get there, but it will take a couple of years.
Jakub Voracek(notes), Philadelphia Flyers — With so many wingers in Philadelphia and the surging Matt Read taking advantage of every opportunity, I fear Voracek may see fewer points — not more — as a Flyer than he did as a Jacket.
David Rundblad(notes), Ottawa Senators — Offense? Check. Defense? Uh… that could prove his undoing. And if he doesn't make the squad, he could go back to Sweden. Then you'll be left with a goose egg on your roster instead of a nice dark horse. Should only be drafted for your bench.
Sean Bergenheim(notes), Florida Panthers — Yeah, that playoff performance in the spring was impressive. But so far I haven't seen him used on the power play. The Panthers are looking to overpay someone else elsewhere for PP help.
Patrick O'Sullivan(notes), Phoenix Coyotes — Awesome preseason. Six points in four games. Last season's terrible outing could be blamed on personal stuff (his wife had a baby). Or not. The thing is, don't be dazzled by the preseason numbers here. Not when you can just grab him off of waivers in two weeks if he makes the team and continues to produce.
Tom Gilbert(notes), Edmonton Oilers — Two points in four preseason games, a decent finish to last campaign and a better team around him. A winning recipe? Or a vortex of evil waiting to suck you in and make you suffer through four months of hell before he shows up right after you drop him in February to start laying the trap again for next year?