Greetings readers, welcome to Fantasy Hockey, What’s the Point Man? Honestly, what is the point man? The point man is the player who plays the point on the powerplay, near the blueline. They in many ways run the power play by acting as an outlet for forwards on the half walls, by setting up for seeing eye shots, and by being the last line of defense should the penalty kill counter. The point man could also be considered the player with the most goals and assists. Soldiers, politicians, and even entrepreneurs could play the part of a point man as well. But, What is the Point Man? The point is to dominate your foes at fantasy hockey to win cash and pain inflicting bragging rights. Here is where you can find the scoop to help you get to the top.
As part of Hockeyland Canada’s season preview, each division will be examined to identify players to pick and players to avoid. There are six categories of players covered and it’ll begin with the newly formed Metro Division. Tons of talent and intriguing players to kick things off right. Lets get started
The Elite Suite – The captain, Eric Staal, continues to stand alone for the Canes as the face of the franchise and only truly elite hockey player. Year after year, he puts up point-a-game numbers while doing everything else for his team. A lock for 70 or more points with 100 point upside, get this guy if the gettins good.
Dependable Joe – Jordan Staal isn’t named Joe, but he is dependable. Unfortunately, it seems that what he is dependable for is a 25 goal, 55 point scorer, pretty good but below expectation. With the move to a top 6 role next to his bro, the added defensive attention won out over the increased opportunity and he didn’t take the leap people predicted. He is dependable alright, but don’t count on elite upside. Cam Ward’s injury history could take him out of action at anytime, but when he is healthy, he is as steady as they come. The trick with Ward is that Carolina is up and down as a team, but you can count on 30 wins and a good save % from him most years. The D is painfully thin, so keeping the goals against low won’t be possible.
Risky Plays – An all world talent, Alex Semin, could finish anywhere from top 5 in scoring to being in the middle of the pack at 50 – 60 points with long scoring droughts. Given that Semin is coming off a strong first year with his new team, the price will likely be too steep to get good value so I’d avoid him. Jeff Skinner rode a torrid OHL playoff scoring spree into an award winning rookie year. Ever since, he has been battling injuries and inconsistency. Blessed with a sniper mentality and figure skating moves, he has the potential to do some serious damage, but the risk exists so be careful poolies.
Sleeper Seeker – Silently, Jiri Tlusty slipped in next to Eric Staal on the top line and produced some eye opening numbers last season with 38 points in 48 games. Still largely an under-the-radar player, you could steal him late and get a 20 goal and 50 point season, maybe more.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Taken 5th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Elias Lindholm brings a complete, mature game to the Hurricanes and has already earned praise from coach Kirk Muller. Lining up next to Jeff Skinner in preseason, and an obvious need for more offense in the top 6, it looks like Lindholm could make an impact. With Joni Pitkanen down for the count on the season, an opportunity exists for an offensive defenseman like Ryan Murphy to step up to fill the void. A top prospect who put up strong numbers in junior, he has the pedigree to do it.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Keep a watchful eye on post-hype sleepers in Zac Dalpe, Drayson Bowman, and Anton Khudobin. If they heat up, or an injury occurs to say Cam Ward, have these guys on the watch list so you can pounce.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Elite Suite – Marian Gaborik, the Slovakian sniper can be either a 40 goal man who seems unstoppable or an above average player who sometimes goes on scoring streaks. Being the man in Columbus, Gaborik will dazzle with his full complement of offensive wizardry to put up an 80 point season. Sergei Bobrovsky stepped onto the scene and locked it down with a Vezina trophy winning season. Determined to add to his resume and prove he isn’t a one hit wonder, agent Bob is on the case in front of a rising defensive unit and can be expected to put up at least 35 wins and sparkling numbers.
Dependable Joe – Nathan Horton will begin the season on injured reserve, but when he returns he will give you the typical power forward numbers, 25 goals, 55 points (prorated). The drop in talent around him should be offset by being higher up on the goal feasting pecking order behind Gaborik. Brandon Dubinsky is a solid C who will get you 45 – 55 points and a gritty hard nosed game. Jack Johnson has all the tools to be a top flight offensive D man, but inconsistency limits his numbers to a predictable 40 points.
Risky Plays – James Wisniewski’s salary and assumed role on the power play may make you think he is something he is not. Expect 10 – 15 power play points but an underwhelming 35 total points, with downside. A candidate for the top line, Artem Anisimov could easily lose the job to Dubinsky or one of the promising young players on the team. Don’t expect big things from Anisimov this season, unless he develops telepathy with Gaborik.
Sleeper Seeker – A once heralded top prospect, Ryan Johansen is starting to lose patience from his coaches and managers. An up and down season, culminating with an AHL playoff benching, makes it a big year for Johansen. He has flashed dominant stuff in the WHL and World Juniors, now he needs to bring it with the big boys.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Lauded for playing a mans game, Boone Jenner brings an added jolt to the Jackets and it will be hard to leave him off a team desperate for offense. Having his rookie season delayed one year due to injury, Ryan Murray has supreme poise for a young player and was pegged for full time duty the moment he was drafted.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Both Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson have put up numbers in the minors and in a limited sample on the big club, they are going to play and could get hot. Tim Erixon has been productive wherever he has played so he is worth watching, but he is held behind a bevy of offensive D men.
New Jersey Devils
The Elite Suite – Here is where the ghost of Ilya Kovalchuk resides, if he returns to the NHL one day, will he still be an elite player?
Dependable Joe – Cory Schneider is easily the most frustrated player in the NHL, trading bench spots behind Roberto Luongo for Martin Brodeur. Schneider is ready to dominate now, and likely gives his team the best shot to win on most nights. I’d expect 40-50 games with 25 wins, and the numbers will be there as the Devils have to play a defensive game to survive. Still going, Patrik Elias is one of the most underrated and unsung stars in the NHL over the past 15 years. Although losing Kovalchuk and Clarkson may hurt, he seems to always find a way to produce.
Risky Plays – Martin Brodeur’s save percentage and games played have been on the decline as he steps into the final year(s) of his career. With Bobby Lou’s old pal around, Brodeur will be limited to produce the numbers you’d expect based on name value. Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac have both benefitted from playing with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. With the elite suite empty, its doubtful these two can carry the offense and produce at a high level.
Sleeper Seeker – Adam Larsson was the top ranked defenseman in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and cracked the NHL as an 18 year old. No small feat for a defenseman, and now he is ready to take the next step by adding the offensive element to his game.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Near a goal-a-game in the OHL last season, Reid Boucher showed he can contribute at the pro level in his 11 game stint with Albany. He may start off in the AHL, but the Devils will eventually need him to light the lamp in New Jersey.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Eric Gelinas and John Merrill both can provide offense from the back end and they have some AHL seasoning as well. Gelinas’ nastiness and Merril’s complete game may force the Devils to get them onto the big club.
New York Islanders
The Elite Suite – John Tavares’ point trajectory has been going up since he was birthed in 1990. He is the franchise, newly minted captain, and freshest addition to the Super Elite Suite? Check out NEXT LEVEL SHIFT for more on Johnny T.
Dependable Joe – Matt Moulson deserves more respect from the hockey world, consistent 30 goal scorers with ironman streaks are rare. Bank on 30 goals and 60 points with upside from Tavares’ wingman. After initially opposing the Islander’s waiver claim on him, Evgeni Nabokov exercised free will in the offseason to return as a free agent and will continue to give poolies wins and percentages. An up and down player mostly due to injuries, Lubomir Visnovsky will be the main offensive option from the back end and should put up 50 points with healthy power play stats.
Risky Plays – Michael Grabner ends up on the highlight pack often, making you think he is a solid fantasy option when he isn’t. He may be a nice boost for goals in a very deep league but don’t expect more than 40 points.
Sleeper Seeker – A post post post hype sleeper, Kyle Okposo has flashed some goal scoring ability over the past 5 years. With a spot next to Tavares and Moulson his to lose, Okposo could take the next step to being a prominent power forward in Brooklyn.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Ryan Strome was a prolific scorer for the Niagara IceDogs, and all indications are that it should translate into a top 6 role. Johnny T will be buying him dinner not before long for taking some of the massive weight off his shoulders.
Keep Eyes Peeled – A stand out performer with the Oshawa Generals, Calvin De Haan needs to adjust to the pro game but will be a key offensive defenseman for the Islanders in the not too distant future.
New York Rangers
The Elite Suite – While King Henrik is still waiting on Glen Sather to show him the numbers, Lundqvist will continue to give poolies the numbers we need. A 35 win, 2.00 GAA, and 0.925 save % man, the King will backstop the blue shirts in his typical top class fashion.
Dependable Joe – Rick Nash, still yet to eclipse the 80 point mark, he seems poised to do so after a shortened first season in New York. Despite an extremely useful 35 goals and 70 points, Nash has kept the hockey world gasping for him to take the next step to the elite suite. The Rochester, New York born captain of the Rangers, Ryan Callahan gives you 20 goals and 45 points to go with his fiery game.
Risky Plays: Chris Kreider was not as productive as expected in his first year, touted as a top prospect, he will have to prove it before he is worth rostering. With all world skating, Kreider has the tools and character to make an impact, but his offensive game is unproven. Derek Stepan could very well be a Dependable Joe, but a no nonsense approach from the GM has him on the sidelines without a contract.
Sleeper Seeker – Brad Richards was scratched in the playoffs, massive contract and all. Other poolies may think he is done, but snatch him late and you could get the steal of the draft with an 80 point season. If Richards falters, Derick Brassard could take a prominent role next to Nash with Stepan out, so he could fulfill his long awaited potential of 60 points or greater. Michael Del Zotto remains the best offensive defenseman in the organization, and with a new coach who actually knows how to coach a powerplay, he could be due for a true breakout season.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Former 2011 first rounder JT Miller got a taste of the NHL last season, and should earn full time duty again this year. His gritty style and goal scoring ability will make him relevant at some point.
Keep Eyes Peeled – When a guy named Jesper Fast can skate extra fast, you know your eyes will be peeled trying to watch him. After scoring 18 goals in the grown mans league in Sweden, Fast may be a factor in New York.
The Elite Suite – Arch nemesis of Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux has taken over the city of brotherly love as the leader of a long list of Dependable Joes. Claude has lost the taste of 100 points from his days with the Gatineau Olympiques, but he wants it back. With the offensive hole left by Chris Pronger finally filled by Mark Streit, Giroux is in the running for top 5 in scoring.
Dependable Joe – Scott Hartnell, Vincent Lecavalier, Jakub Voracek, and Wayne Simmonds are all likely to give you 25 goals and 60 points. Voracek had a quiet breakout season last year and may provide the best value in drafts. The two veteran offensive defenseman, Kimmo Timonen and Mark Streit can be trusted to register 40 – 50 points on a team with many weapons.
Risky Plays – Philadelphia eats goaltenders alive, unless they eat other goaltenders alive like Ron Hextall. Ray Emery certainly has some fight and had an obscene winning percentage with the champion Blackhawks. Steve Mason has been a below average NHL goaltender since his rookie season, and is an unlikely bet to finally find it. The time share situation and general crease odour in Philly should be avoided.
Sleeper Seeker – Brayden Schenn has shown promise in the minors and during stretches of his NHL career. He has been through some nasty slumps but he could put it all together for a 50 – 60 point season. It could be that Vinny Lecavalier proves to be a better fit to play with than the departed Danny Briere.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – The Flyers went rookie heavy a couple years ago when they ditched Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Scott Laughton will likely remain on the horizon for next season.
Keep Eyes Peeled – A consistent performer with offensive flash, Sean Couturier will be limited to third line duty but could make a leap if somebody like Lecavalier goes down. Matt Read is also behind some serious depth, and could pop if he gets higher in the peking order.
The Elite Suite – Going to have to upgrade to the three bedroom Elite Suite in Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang. Sid is the best player in the world and could eclipse 120 points again for the first time since 2006 – 2007. As soon as Evgeni falls to a point per game pace, he drops in rankings, only to come back to haunt poolies with a 110 point season. With oodles of smarts and play making ability, Kris Letang benefits from splitting the rent with the big boys. A first time ever 70 point season could be in the offing for Letang.
Dependable Joe – Chris Kunitz and James Neal ride shotgun for the two best players in the world, but have themselves elevated their games to top tier status. You’re looking at 30 goals and 65 points from Kunitz with 40 goals and 80 points from Neal. Either player could be sleeping on Sid and Geno’s couch in the Elite Suite by season’s end.
Risky Plays – Marc-Andre Fleury has had an enviable career playing very well in front of a perennial Cup contender. A propensity to collapse in big games dating back to the World Juniors, Fleury is on thin ice after being the Pens‘ achilles heel on the way to the Cup. Pascal Dupuis’ past two seasons have been his best in his long career. With his value at an all time high, you run the risk of some good old regression to the mean.
Sleeper Seeker – Jussi Jokinen has scored 30 goals and 65 points in the past with much lesser talent. He has been lighting up the preseason with some prime playing time. He may be the 6th or 7th Penguin forward off the board, but provides great value.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – The homegrown winger that Pittsburgh has been waiting for is Beau Bennett, and he showed that he belongs with 14 points in 26 games last season. The departures of Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke all but assure him a roster spot, and he could hang in a top 6 role.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Tomas Vokoun is going to start the season on the indefinite injured list, but could chip in some solid starts during the stretch run. Simon Despres has some offensive ability, and if given a leash, could dance with Geno, Sid, and the gang.
The Elite Suite – The man, the legend, Alexander “The Great Eight” Ovechkin has shrugged off his naysayers and is poised to return to the 50 goal club. Before he gets to take over his mother country Russia, Ovy will be blasting away in rinks across North America. He may need to bring back an Evgeny of his own, as in Kuznetsov, to achieve his once proclaimed probability of a 70 goal season. At least he still has a premier setup man in Nicklas Backstrom, who has dominant stuff with a return to 90 points entirely possible.
Dependable Joe – Brooks Laich is going to be counted on for a strong comeback from injury last season with Mike Ribeiro gone. Martin Erat may not have the upside of the man he was dealt for in Filip Forsberg, but he has been a consistent performer on an offensively underwhelming team in Nashville. The changes will help both players approach a reliable 20 goals and 55 points.
Risky Plays – Braden Holtby has shown some very positive signs but needs to put it all together over a full season. With competition from Michal Neuvirth, and stuck on a team that may get into some shootuts, Holtby may not be worth the risk of where you have to draft him. Mike Green used to be the only 70 point D man in the NHL, but has fallen off considerably and needs to just stay healthy as a first step to proving he belongs among the elite.
Sleeper Seeker – John Carlson is the team’s best D man and has some hidden offensive talent. If the Capitals ever give him more prominent powerplay time, he could get paid serving it up to Ovy. A solid 33 points in 47 games in the lockout shortened season, Troy Brouwer could finally break the 50 point mark with 25 gritty goals. Mikail Grabovski is going to be a steal on draft day, as he will likely fill the offensive void left by Mike Ribeiro and not Laich. He looks to be meshing well in preseason and has a serious chip on his shoulder.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Tom Wilson is the type of rugged productive power forward the Capitals believe they need to get over the top. The former first round pick has been impressive in camp and could break the ice in Washington.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Each of Michal Neuvirth, Marcus Johansson, and Dimitry Orlov have the potential to fill big roles on this club if teammates go down so make sure you are on the pulse if they get hot.
Please check out the PACIFIC http://www.hockeylandcanada.com/2013/10/03/fantasy-hockey-whats-the-point-man-pacific-division-preview-2013-2014-nhl-regular-season/ , ATLANTIC http://www.hockeylandcanada.com/2013/09/28/fantasy-hockey-whats-the-point-man-atlantic-division-preview-2013-2014-nhl-regular-season/ , and CENTRAL http://www.hockeylandcanada.com/2013/10/02/fantasy-hockey-whats-the-point-man-central-division-preview-2013-2014-nhl-regular-season/ division previews as well.
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