September 10, 2009
(Ed. Note: As we get closer to the NHL season, we're bringing some back some features and debuting some new ones. This would be a new one: Sleepers, Keepers and Clowns, a weekly fantasy hockey column written by Darryl "Dobber" Dobbs, an honest-to-goodness expert on such matters and founder of DobberHockey.com. His column will run here on Puck Daddy every Thursday.)
Everybody loves a good countdown and this is especially true for the stats nerds who play fantasy hockey. There's just something about seeing a list that makes our heart race with excitement -- more so if we see a player who we own on one of our seven fantasy squads. "Awesome... Iginla is ranked ahead of Heatley... I have Iginla." It doesn't matter if nine other lists have it the other way around, the list that favors your particular team the most is the one you will be referencing until you trade the guy.
For DobberHockey's inaugural Puck Daddy Blog, it's only fitting I kick things off with a countdown.
Now that we're into draft season -- and I love being negative -- let's run though 10 guys who I won't be taking in a draft this year.
To explain... I'm not an idiot (just ask my mom). Of course he is a top player to own in a keeper league and he's a pretty good one to own in a one-year league. But to be able to select him in the draft you will have to beat out the prospect geeks. These are the ones who will be drafting Ryan Ellis in the ninth round of a one-year league to be their No. 3 defenseman. These are the guys who, in their keeper league, have sat on Igor Grigorenko(notes) for seven years in hopes that he gives the NHL another shot. The prospect geeks will see Tavares and Vinnie Lecavalier both available and they'll jump on JT. I'm not going to beat the prospect geeks to this guy and if you are smart neither will you.
A solid player, but his name still carries too much weight. Another weakness of poolies is nostalgia. His 91 points was three years ago, yet we remember it like it was yesterday. It's time to let go. His points-per-game has been remarkably consistent over those three years -- between 0.84 and 0.86. Those who look past that and see only those 91-point days are the same people who feel Dany Heatley(notes) will play out his career in Ottawa.
I'd probably take this guy if I already own four wingers. But he won't fall that far in a draft. Someone could really make out like a bandit here by making Gaborik their first or second winger later in the draft than a player of his caliber deserves. It won't be me. An executive member of the Band-Aid Boys committee, Gabby will never be on Team Dobber. Just once in the last five years has he topped 65 games played.
Also see Havlat, Martin.
Yes, he's in his prime and yes, he's coming off a career-high 42 points. He was also a healthy scratch twice and had his ice time cut on a couple of other occasions. These are red flags -- it seemed as though the Sharks were reluctant to use him, but due to a lack of depth on the blue line they had to give him 20 minutes a game.
Another red flag? He was a minus-12 when all other regular defensemen on the team were comfortably above zero. He's not an Alain Vigneault kind of player. Fortunately Sami Salo(notes), Kevin Bieksa(notes) and Mathieu Schneider(notes) won't be winning any iron man awards in the near future, so Ehrhoff could again be in a situation where the coach has little choice but to play him. Leave that for someone else to gamble on.
It's always amusing to watch poolies froth at the mouth when a player joins a new team and he seems to be a perfect fit on their top line. "Samuelsson's a Swede. The Sedins are Swedes. Therefore Samuelsson is a great dark horse for 70 points because he'll obviously play with them."
No, he won't. Get 70, that is. Sure, he may line up with the sisters, but much like Ruslan Fedotenko(notes) didn't magically become a 70-point player alongside Evgeni Malkin(notes), Samuelsson will also fall short of the mark. I'll go you one better - he won't even get to 50. His career high is 45... and 45-point players don't soar to new heights regardless of who is on their line.
One of the best goalies in the league last campaign, he now feels like a 140-pound pretty boy stepping into a prison shower for the first time. I'm not sure what kind of system Todd Richards will bring, but I do know it won't be Jacques Lemaire's. For the last four years, the Wild's penalty killing has finished no lower than fourth in the league. A new coach will impact that. The team won't win as often, either.
His list of injuries is almost as impressive as Gaborik's. Even if he's healthy, he's only had one solid year - and that was in a Ken Hitchcock system. I'll be honest with you: if it was the 16th round and I needed a third goalie and the only decent goaltenders left were Leclaire and Brian Elliott(notes), I would take Elliott.
He's softer than bathroom tissue. Not the no-name stuff that has you walking funny for the rest of the day. I'm talking about the three-ply, satiny stuff that only rich folk have access to. Declining goal totals and declining points-per-game averages in his first three seasons. Probably due to teams realizing they can slap this guy around and take his lunch money. I don't care if he is entering a common breakout year -- his fourth one. I'll put my money on that not happening.
I'm always predicting a decline for this aging Russian. In 2007-08, I got to smugly say "I told you so". In 2008-09, he wiped that smug grin off my face. I don't like players who post 80, 41 and then 76 points. Poolies like nice straight lines on their graphs, not spikey ones like Kozlov gives.
It's time to stop wondering what the hell happened to the former 56-goal flash-in-the-pan and start accepting reality. At this point, it's clear that he couldn't hit the broad side of Kyle Wellwood's(notes) gut. Who cares why? Move on.
Darryl Dobbs is the founder of dobberhockey.com, a fantasy hockey community with over a dozen columnists, a daily blog and in-depth fantasy player rankings. His always accurate opinions can also be found over at The Hockey News in their fantasy section.