by Johnny Fantasy
This week we got a peek into Edmonton’s developing reserve of talent, we learned to laugh with (at?) the Ducks and we’re starting to think that maybe certain unexpected accomplishments last season can be repeated.
The Youth Movement Keeps Moving
The one thing the Edmonton Oilers have more than all other teams (other than the most first overall draft picks in the last 10 years) is a wealth of raw (i.e. inexperienced) young talent. But, now that all of these kids have a couple more years under their belt, we are beginning to see what will become a very scary Oilers team in a few more years. And the scariest part (other than obviously this guy) is the depth that they are going to (or already) have from their young guys. Leon Draisaitl was called up this week (himself a first round, third overall pick) and has 3 goals and 5 points in his first two games this year. Also recently called up was rookie defenseman Darnell Nurse (another first round pick, but following Edmonton’s “good year” where they picked all the way down at 7th overall), who has 2 points in his first 3 games this year and is already being given almost 20 minutes per night. If these two stay with Edmonton for the season, I can see them being fantasy relevant and or at least solid grabs for keeper leagues.
The Continuing Tragedy of the Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks season is such a tragedy that it’s actually turning into a comedy. The Ducks are 1-7-2 and on top of that their captain is now out with appendicitis. This leaves an already struggling Ducks team without its arguably best player for 4-12 days (and as of today, it’s looking like closer to 12, which leaves the Ducks without Getzlaf for another week or so). When something like that happens after having only one win in their first 10 games, being shut out 5 times, and having a continuous stream of articles pointing out which individual players have more goals than the entire Ducks team so far this year, you have to just start laughing at it. Ducks alum Teemu Selanne is even offering his former team some helpful pointers. Hey Teemu, you haven’t packed away your favourite hockey-watching outfit have you? I think the Ducks could use a hand…
Fantasy-wise, owners of the team’s stars will probably just need to suffer this out until the Ducks get on track, lest they sell low and possibly regret it later. The lone shining fantasy bright spot on the Ducks continues to be Frederick Andersen (if your league doesn’t count wins), who’s been excellent with 2.05 GAA and .932 save percentage (and only one sub-.900 game).
Other (Fantasy) Underperformers
A team that is doing decently well but is a bit of a fantasy disappointment is the Tampa Bay Lightning. After last season, the bar was set very high and everyone expected that nearly half of Tampa’s roster would be fantasy relevant. But, everyone except Victor Hedman seems to be struggling a bit. The triplets have not yet ramped up their production to last year’s levels – Kucherov especially has only 3 goals and 2 assists (although more than half of those points have come in the last 2 games), and Johnson and Palat are also underperforming with 6 and 5 points, respectively each in the Lightning’s first 12 games. Johnson is dealing with some kind of injury and sat out Saturday’s game as a result (although he was back Sunday night with 1 goal in just under 16 minutes played, so perhaps he was just getting over something. But Tampa’s other top line is also failing to put up the points we’ve been expecting. Jonathan Drouin is now getting consistent and regular time on the top line, but after 6 points in his first 5 games, he went pointless in the next 5 and sat out the next 3 with a lower-body injury. You have to start to wonder how much of a break out this season this will really be for him. Perhaps 50-60 points? That’s certainly an improvement from the 32 he put up last year, but with his weak peripheral stats (he’s averaging about 1 shot per game) he may not be worth owning this year, depending on the depth of your league. Finally, Steven Stamkos hasn’t been living up to his (no doubt) high fantasy draft position with only 6 goals and 8 points in 12 games. That would be fine for most players, but then again most players weren’t (on average) drafted ahead of guys like Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Patrick Kane (all of whom have (nearly) double the points). With a start like this, last year’s 72 points in 82 games (the only season after his rookie year when he failed to score at a point-per-game pace) is looking less like a statistical outlier and more like a trend. But, I’m probably just catastrophizing a bit. The season is still early, and there have been other superstars that have had a sub-par season and then returned to form.
The Dallas Stars: Patrick Sharp has Arrived, and You’re Going to Have to Pry the Art Ross Trophy Out of Jamie Benn’s Cold Dead Hands
Speaking of returning to form, Patrick Sharp owners are finally seeing the production from Sharp that they were betting on this year. There’s always risk with a change of scene, and Stars are certainly not the Blackhawks, but playing alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin is just about as close as you can get (if not better in terms of raw scoring potential). Sharp has 4 goals and 5 points in his last 3 games. Sharp is getting older, and his best seasons are probably behind him, but it seems as if he will have a fairly productive season alongside those two, this year at least. And speaking of Jamie Benn, guess who’s sitting at the top of the NHL scoring race? Mr. No-way-he-can-repeat-for-the Art-Ross-again, Jamie Benn, with 17 points in 11 games. He’s being trailed by his linemate Tyler Seguin, but after that there’s not a lot of big names that are close to him in the race. David Krejci won’t be able to keep up his current pace all season. Ditto Blake Wheeler. Zetterberg could if he stays healthy, but that’s getting less likely with his age. Patrick Kane is the main challenger right now (3 points behind, with 14). Granted, we are still very early into the season and guys like Alex Ovechkin and John Tavares are just a few more back (12 and 11 points, respectively), so that lead can be made up with a few games. I guess we’ll have to check in and see where everyone stands in another week.
 8 at the time Getzlaf left the team to deal with his ailment.