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. A couple of Cup contenders and up-and-coming teams highlight the new Central Division. Lets have a look.
The Elite Suite – Patrick Kane could end up being the best American born hockey player in history. A resume that already includes two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe trophy, a Calder trophy, and a Cup winning goal will only get better. Expect him to follow up his top 5 campaign by climbing over the ledge to peer into the 90 point club.
Dependable Joe – Jonathan Toews, aka Captain Serious, is a Canadian legend in his own right and is ready to take the NEXT LEVEL SHIFT to a higher fantasy level. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa are mesh rippling, puck stealing, and mind reading Joes who put up a pace of 30 goals and 70 points every year. Duncan Keith has played more minutes for a Stanley Cup Champion than anyone in the NHL over the past 5 years. He is always in the action, contributing to winning, and is good for 45 points. Brent Seabrook is known for his defense more than offense, but unexpectedly contributes close to 10 goals and 35 points with good +/- every season.
Risky Plays – Corey Crawford won his first Jennings trophy with Ray Emery last season on route to a Conn Smythe worthy playoff performance. Crawford’s value is at an all time high after struggling in 2011-12, its hard to know which goalie will show up. Since you have to pay for the elite netminder potential, you may not get a good return on your investment. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy can contribute some offense, but aren’t reliable enough to be rostered in fantasy.
Sleeper Seeker – Brandon Saad broke into the league last season and served as a perfect compliment to Jonathan Toews. He will have to compete with Bryan Bickell for top 6 minutes, but his skill should give him enough opportunity to score 20 goals.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – After improving his AHL point totals for three straight seasons culminating with a league leading 75 point campaign in 2012-2013, Brandon Pirri has his eyes set on the vacancy left by Dave Bolland and maybe the prized 2nd line C role. Jeremy Morin has yet to pay dividends from the Dustin Byfuglien trade, but has been developing nicely in Rockford with a rugged goal scoring game.
Keep Eyes Peeled – An monstrous 9 playoffs goals for Bryan Bickell earned himself respect from the hockey world and a shiny new contract. If he reclaims a top line spot, it could be lights out for the 27 year old just hitting his prime. Another player who played big in the playoffs, Andrew Shaw is clamoring to prove his offensive skills and may see time with some top flight talent.
The Elite Suite – Unfortunately, the two elite players in this franchise are former Avalanche greats, the new head coach, Patrick Roy, and executive vice president of hockey operations, Joe Sakic, who rejoin forces to try to bring the Avalanche back to respectability.
Dependable Joe – Matt Duchene has wheels to burn and is starting to put his gaudy skill-set together. One of the most dynamite players in the league, Duchene can and will dance at high speeds. As he keeps the first line center spot warm for Nathan Mackinnon, Duchene will put up 30 goals and 70 points. A now converted winger, Ryan O’Reilly will play next to Duchene up front. Originally seen as a shut down center, O’Reilly is all over the ice in the offensive zone with another 55 point campaign coming.
Risky Plays – Semyon Varlamov has teased with impressive numbers in the past, but wasn’t sharp for a terrible Avs team last season. With a new head coach who knows what elite goaltending looks like, Varlamov has to be a key part of the turn around, otherwise Patrick’s patience will run thin. A long time minor leaguer, P-A Parenteau has proved his doubters wrong in the past with three productive big league seasons. Slated to start on the third line with Mackinnon, Parenteau may have a hard time living up to the new expectations. Paul Stastny has been on the decline the last few seasons and is the 3rd or 4th best center on this team now, he is a 50 point player and not the 75 point man of yesteryear. If you want to know why Seth Jones fell to 4th in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, look no further than former 2006 1st overall pick, Erik Johnson. Certainly an above average D man, but not able to contribute the offense expected from a top pick.
Sleeper Seeker – After being named the youngest captain in NHL history, Gabriel Landeskog not surprisingly suffered through a sophomore slump hindered by injury. He is as under the radar as he’ll ever be, and is an absolute fantasy monster in leagues that count hits and shots. Check out NEXT LEVEL SHIFT for more on Landeskog and other breakout stars for the upcoming season. Ever since Alex Tanguay scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in game 7 of the 2001 finals for the Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic lead Avalanche, he has been a consistent point producer. Now he enters a stronger top 6 than the one he played with in Calgary, and could surprise with a 60 point effort.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Nathan Mackinnon, from Coal Harbour, Nova Scotia, the home of hockey phenom before him, Sidney Crosby, was ready to play in the NHL on draft day according to coach Roy. Eased in slowly with a third line role, Mackinnon’s powerful strides and quick shot will get him onto the scoresheet once he gets his feet wet.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Desperate for offense from the blueline ever since a head scratching trade of Kevin Shattenkirk to the Blues, Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliot have the pedigree to make an impact. After a strong campaign with the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL, Mike Sgarbossa is on the fantasy radar.
The Elite Suite – The Stars have their Sears catalogues open, getting the furniture ready for when the young guns are ready to move in.
Dependable Joe – Jamie Benn is downright peeved that Hockey Canada didn’t invite him to the orientation camp this past August. Having a top 10 wrist shot and great mobility for a big man, you’d think Benn would garner a bit more respect. He will demand it this season in the form of 30 goals and 75 points. Benn’s running mate, Tyler Seguin, of Boston nightclub scene fame, is the new addition in Dallas. Relegated to 2nd-3rd line winger status on a deep Bruins team, Seguin will finally be given the #1 center role that he is destined for. Expect career numbers from Tyler, and check out NEXT LEVEL SHIFT for more.
Risky Plays – Sergei Gonchar is a nice addition for the Stars’ powerplay but shouldn’t be counted on as anything more than a sub on fantasy rosters. He has played more than 70 games only once in the past 5 years, but will produce when healthy. Shawn Horcoff was miscast as top line center in Edmonton, playing on the third line now, he will play the role he was meant for. Don’t expect much production from Horc. Erik Cole is hard to predict but can get you 60 points in his best season. There is a chance he lands on the top line and fulfills that potential, but he could underwhelm as he has competition from the rookies.
Sleeper Seeker – Ray Whitney is annually undervalued in fantasy but continues to put up point-a-game numbers. Kari Lehtonen is the undisputed number one puck-stop on an underrated team, and has always had a strong save %. Dealt for the now top end James Neal, Alex Goligoski sneakily put up his best PPG yet last season. With offense expected from the new arrivals, Goligoski has a case to breakout.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Valeri Nichushkin has been dynamite at Stars camp as his unstoppable frame imposed its will all over the ice. A revelation at the World Juniors, Nichushkin is going to get top 6 minutes from day one.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Stephane Robidas can factor in the goal column due to his hard slap shot, and contributes blocked shots and hits in leagues that count them. Brett Ritchie is a big part of the Stars’ future plans, and could be called up from the Texas Stars of the AHL at any time. Rich Peverely’s PPG dropped in Boston, but may return to his Atlanta levels with a second line center role. Alex Chiasson scored 6 goals in a 7 game stint with the Stars at the end of last year, so he could surprise again this time around.
The Elite Suite – Zach Parise’s point totals have dropped the past two seasons, but is primed to return to his elite 90 point ways with an influx of young prospects on the Wild’s roster. Forming a dynamic duo with Mikko Koivu, a full season with Jason Pominville will give Parise a chance to form chemistry like he had in New Jersey with Ilya Kovalchuk.
Dependable Joe – Ryan Suter had a Norris calibre first season in Minnesota and proved that he doesn’t need old pal Shea Weber to succeed. Expect closer to a 45 point pace rather than the 55 points he was slated to earn over a full season last year. Mikko Koivu can earn 70 points every year as a one man show, so having Parise around all but ensures consistent production. The population of Pominville gets a big boost from his top end linemates, akin to free trade between neighboring countries. With all the chops to score 25 goals and 70 points, Jason will continue to be the mayor of Pominville.
Risky Plays – A once 40 goal threat, Dany Heatley is on the decline and more of a burden at a $7.5 million cap hit. The name value will see him drafted earlier than he should, but he is counting on a few young players to breakout for him to be relevant.
Sleeper Seeker – Jonis Brodin surprisingly stepped into the NHL as an 19 year old and did not look out of place. His cognitive approach and impressive mobility will see him factor onto the scoresheet sooner rather than later. With a rapidly growing team in front of him, Niklas Backstrom could be the beneficiary of his team taking leaps this season. Expect his first 30 win season since 2008-2009, with an above average save %. Charlie Coyle had a decent rookie season with 14 points in 37 games, but was just scratching the surface of what he can do.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Mathew Dumba looks to be starting the season with the big club, and with a PK Subban style game, may stick with powerplay time in his horizon. A Calder favorite from a season ago, Mikael Granlund struggled in his first shot at NHL action. Still capable of being a two way force, Granlund looks to move in as the second line center.
Keep Eyes Peeled – After an abysmal 1 goal in his 55 game rookie season, Nino Niederreiter fell out of favor with his former club, the New York Islanders. Dealt to Minnesota in the off-season, Nino looks to carry his 28 goal AHL campaign into his first season with the Wild. He demonstrated offensive ability in the WHL, and could get hot in a top 6 role. Jason Zucker just got sent down but was nearly a point per game in the AHL, so could make headlines if called up.
The Elite Suite – Shea Weber is a Norris trophy waiting to happen, blessed with a combination of size, strength, and maniacal intensity. One of the rare defenseman who scores 15 plus goals with a pretty good assist total of 30. If Nashville’s offense ever improved then you could see those assists and points rise. Pekka Rinne, with Weber, form the backbone of Nashville’s perennially top ranked defense. The native of Kempele, Finland, Pekka is widely regarded as a top 5 goalie in the NHL with 35 wins and 5 shutouts written all over him.
Dependable Joe – You know what you’re getting out of Mike Fisher and David Legwand, they will anchor the top lines again and will put up underwhelming 50 point totals. In deep leagues, they are dependable contributors to turn to. Same goes for Patric Hornqvist, although there is goal scoring upside with Hornqvist as evidenced by his 30 goal season in 2009-10.
Risky Plays – The Preds already have the number one puck pounder from the point on the powerplay in Weber, the addition of Seth Jones makes it an embarrassment of riches on the back end in Nashville. Expectations are high and he is bound to perform exceptionally well in all elements of the game, especially for an 18 year old. These expectations should be tempered by the fact that previous elite D men in this system, like Weber and Ryan Suter, have topped out at 50 points. As a rookie, a 25-30 point season from Jones would be a success, but don’t value him as a 50 point D man just yet.
Sleeper Seeker – Under-the-radar behind Weber and Jones is Roman Josi, who has teased with double digit goal scoring potential and should reach 40 points at a discount to Jones. Former 7th overall pick, Colin Wilson was having a renaissance season with 19 points in 25 games before it was derailed by injury to both shoulders. Expect him to carry the load this season offensively with a breakout year in the form of 60 points.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Acquired for Martin Erat, Filip Forsberg has a legitimate shot to become the Preds best forward in time, but should produce now as he is already in a top 6 role.
Keep Eyes Peeled – A top flight player for the Windsor Spitfires and Hockey Canada as a Junior, Ryan Ellis has oodles of offensive potential. Trouble is he is behind a trifecta of offensive D men in Weber, Josi, and Jones. Never a star, Gabriel Bourque was hot down the stretch with 7 goals in his last 15 games, so watch him in the early season.
St. Louis Blues
The Elite Suite – Alex Pietrangelo is a minute crunching defenseman who controls the play on both ends of the ice for the Blues. On a team heavily favored to contend for the Cup, Pietrangelo will play a lead role by shutting down the oppositions best forwards, while tallying 60 points.
Dependable Joe – David Backes is an underrated centerman who makes life very difficult for his competitors. Good for 25 goals and 55 points, he is near the top in hits each year for fantasy pools that count them. Another tough customer, Chris Stewart is a top cheese sort of power forward who will get plenty of opportunity to fill the back of the net. TJ Oshie teases with top end offensive skills, but consistency has hindered him from taking the next step. He will be reliable with 50 points, but for those who have been waiting, he may breakout this year. Kevin Shattenkirk, aka Captain Kirk, puts all his offensive tools to work nightly and has settled in as a 45 point D man.
Risky Plays – Derek Roy may capture the attention of poolies for his 70 point seasons of the past, but his game has fallen off considerably and is on a deep roster where he could fall in the ranks. Both Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak have put up elite numbers splitting duties for the rising Blues. If you get both, then you will be set but keep in mind youngster Jake Allen could factor in at some point. If one of these goalies takes over then they will be highly valued, but a time share is the most likely outcome.
Sleeper Seeker – Vladimir Tarasenko’s point production could one day top the Blues as he displayed startling skills in putting up 19 points in 38 games of his rookie season. Another top ranked forward prospect, Jaden Schwartz has looked good in camp and should form a dynamic duo with Tarasenko. Jay Bouwmeester could very well be the best #3 defenseman in the league, and may go unnoticed by many. His first stint with the Blues suggested he may return to his 40 point ways, as he is surrounded by much more talent than in Calgary.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Ty Rattie was the third elite forward on display at this past year’s Memorial Cup, and is coming off a couple dominant seasons with the Portland Winterhawks. He may have to wait for a prime time role, but will be sure to contribute. Dimitrij Jaskin got his first taste of the North American game with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL, and turned heads with a 99 point season. Both these players will be vying for ice time with former Edmonton Oiler, Magnus Paajarvi.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen are reliable veterans who will play important roles for the Blues. If the Blues offense goes into high gear, these two could become relevant so keep those eyes peeled.
The Elite Suite – Funny enough, the ghost of Ilya Kovalchuk resides here as well, from the Atlanta Thrasher days. If you are counting those from “Winnipeg Jets” past, then the Finnish Flash, Teemu Selanne, haunts the streets as well.
Dependable Joe – The player with the most potential in Winnipeg is also the most controversial in dollar bill flashing Evander Kane. The Jets faithful should be more appreciative of their enigmatic potential superstar, as he is destined for 35 goals and 70 points. Two time Cup champ and former 4th overall pick, Andrew Ladd had his best regular season yet and could threaten with 65 points for the first time. Dustin Byfuglien came into camp fitter than ever, and is one of the few D men in the league with 20 goal, 60 point potential.
Risky Plays – Bryan Little is miscast as a number one center, don’t make the same mistake on your fantasy rosters. It’s possible he could have a 60 point season, but is likely to disappoint as he has only cracked 50 once. Ondrej Pavelec woos viewers with flashy saves, but a closer look at the numbers reveals a below average tender. Olli Jokinen is way past his prime and will be overtaken by rookie Mark Scheifele on the depth chart. A first line Jokinen is borderline roster-able, never-mind a third line Olli. Zach Bogosian may have projected as an offensive D man on draft day in 2008, but will be leap frogged by Jacob Trouba in 2013.
Sleeper Seeker – Like Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Campbell in year’s past, Tobias Enstrom will be the most undervalued D man in fantasy to start the season. Roster him as a 2nd or 3rd D man, and Tobias will score 50 points with potential for more. Blake Wheeler became a better player once he joined the Jets, and is proving to be a legitimate top line winger. He may still be unnoticed, but will threaten for 25 goals and 70 points this year.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – After almost sticking with the Jets the last two season, Mark Scheifele is finally ready to step in and make an impact. The all around performer and first ever draft pick for the new look Jets, Scheifele should continue to grow into a top line role. Extremely impressive in preseason, this towering American blue-liner, Jacob Trouba, is a serious threat for the Calder trophy.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Carl Klingberg and Paul Postma have at times put up numbers in the minors, though they aren’t the best prospects around, but you never know.
Please check out the METRO http://www.hockeylandcanada.com/2013/09/26/fantasy-hockey-whats-the-point-man-metro-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 PACIFIC http://www.hockeylandcanada.com/2013/10/03/fantasy-hockey-whats-the-point-man-pacific-division-preview-2013-2014-nhl-regular-season/ division previews as well.
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