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. The Pacific Division features a trio of Western Canadian teams, a trio of California teams, and the suddenly stable Phoenix Coyotes. Wins will be tough to come by in this division, but many a fantasy performer may be found.
The Elite Suite – New head coach Dallas Eakins removed the pictures of the Oilers past Elite Suite residents from their dressing room. Its time for the Young Oil Drops to form their own identity.
Dependable Joe – Taylor Hall proved to be the Oilers’ best player in the shortened season, and is expected to take over as the top left winger in all of hockey. Check out NEXT LEVEL SHIFT for more on Hall’s breakout potential. Jordan Eberle had a bit of a down year after his 2011-12 breakout season. Integral to the Oilers offense, Ebs will score 30 goals again this year, and stands to turn it into high gear once Ryan Nugent-Hopkins returns. In the meantime, David Perron arrived from St. Louis to form a pairing with Eberle on the second line. Perron has teased with 30 goal potential as well and his highly skilled, gritty game fits in with the young pieces in Edmonton.
Risky Plays – Sam Gagner is starting the season on injured reserve, but should recover full health before returning. He has potential to produce this year, especially if he lines up between Perron and Eberle, but keep in mind he has never cracked 50 points before. Devan Dubnyk could be a sleeper candidate if the Oilers turn into playoff contenders, and usually provides a good save %. Unfortunately for fantasy owners and Edmonton faithful alike, his propensity to let in deflating goals at the worst times will limit his, and the Oilers‘ potential. Ryan Smyth is past his prime, and is expected to hang up his skates one of these days (except for an occasional skate at Hawrelak park of course).
Sleeper Seeker – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov are former 1st overall picks, and you know what that means, they are dripping with elite point scoring potential. RNH suffered through a sophomore slump and was derailed by a recurring shoulder injury. With vision not seen around Edmonton since the Great Gretz, RNH is sure to establish himself as a premier assist man this year. Oilers fans are clamoring to see Nail Yakupov get more big minute offensive opportunities, and may be a fit on the top line if Eberle and Perron form chemistry. It would be lights out if Hall, RNH, and Yakupov play on a historic all 1st overall top line, and this could be the year. Justin Schultz was slowed by fatigue last season as a result of playing his most number of games ever. He is just about all the offense from the backend in Edmonton, and should score close to 15 goals, 40 points, and healthy power-play numbers this season.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Due to injuries to RNH and Gagner, Mark Arcobello gets to open the season as 2nd line C. He may be a temporary option in deep leagues as long as he is playing with Eberle and Perron.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Ales Hemsky has fallen so far from his 71 point season in 2007-08 that the Oilers couldn’t deal him in the off-season, despite publicly announcing his availability. He may be counted on early to fill an offensive void, and especially if dealt, will give good value in deep leagues as an undervalued option. Jesse Joensuu brings a refreshing style of battle and determination to the forward group, and is seeing time in front of the net on the power play.
The Elite Suite – Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry continue to lead the Ducks with many of the bodies around them changing. Both re-upped with long term deals, and will start earning those $8 million plus deals with point-a-game numbers. Corey Perry established his career high at 98 points in 2010-11 when he won the Hart and Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophies. Getzlaf has still yet to win any shiny hardware of his own, but is due for a dominant season in this Olympic year.
Dependable Joe – Teemu Selanne returned in classic fashion as the frustrations of the golf course couldn’t compare to life in the NHL. Having been in decline the past few seasons, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Teemu bounce back to the 60 point level especially with Bobby Ryan gone.
Risky Plays – Jonas Hiller’s value took a significant hit with a hot start to last season from Viktor Fasth. Both seem to be potentially game changing goaltenders, but until one is traded away they will handcuff each other’s value. Best case scenario for each is 20 wins, so great for a backup but not to be counted on in fantasy. Dustin Penner has a history of performing on this top line, but is maddeningly inconsistent and has stiff competition. Saku Koivu is way past his prime as the 2013-14 season may be his swan song with fellow Fin Teemu Selanne.
Sleeper Seeker – The main piece in the Bobby Ryan deal, Jakob Silfverberg scored just as many goals last season as the man he was dealt for. Still adjusting to the North American game, Jakob could pay immediate dividends for the Ducks. Kyle Palmieri has been productive in the AHL for the past few seasons, and showed his 20 goal potential in his first NHL season. The third young winger for the Ducks is Emerson Etem, who once scored 60 goals in the WHL and has speed for days. Whichever one of these three wins the job next to Getzlaf and Perry will be big time difference makers in fantasy. Cam Fowler has been in decline since his rookie year, but as he develops in the defensive end, he is bound to bounce back to the 40 point level.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Hampus Lindholm has cracked the Anaheim Ducks roster at least to start the season. A former 6th overall pick, his 3 power-play goals and sound defensive play in preseason suggests the Ducks have a role for him to fill.
Keep Eyes Peeled – With a strengthening developmental system, the Ducks have a slew of productive forward prospects playing for their minor league affiliate in Norfolk. Nick Bonino looks to stick in a 2nd line center role out of camp, while Rickard Rakell, Patrick Maroon, and Peter Holland will bide their time waiting for a call up.
The Elite Suite – Times are tough in Southern Alberta as the Flames kissed goodbye to two longterm stalwarts. Miikka Kiprusoff is retired and Jarome Iginla joined his one-time snub, the Boston Bruins. It will be some time before Calgary sees another elite player.
Dependable Joe – Dennis Wideman brought his dependable game to Calgary last season in an ill advised signing. He will be most of the little the Flames have on the power-play and should get you 40 points this year. Michael Cammalleri has the ability to flat out snipe goals, and always puts up 25 goal, 50 point numbers when healthy. A trade to a contender and better line-mates could make his value shoot upwards.
Risky Plays – Karri Ramo may be on some people’s sleeper list, but a goalie on the projected worst team in the NHL is not going to get you over the top in fantasy. Sure, Matt Stajan is a first line center in the NHL but he won’t put up more than 45 points.
Sleeper Seeker – After dealing their D strength away over the years, TJ Brodie arrives with praise to fulfill a top pairing role in place of the departed Jay Bouwmeester. Sven Baertschi’s attitude was brought under fire in training camp as he was demoted to the AHL. Desperate for offense, Brian Burke could change his tune after he witnesses his abysmal team fail to produce. The former 2 PPG WHL scorer should get called up if he puts his head down and works.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Sean Monahan is one of the few beacons of hope in Calgary, and has earned the right to start the season in the big leagues. On a team going nowhere, don’t be surprised if the Flames play it safe and send him back to the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Mark Giordano takes over as captain and may have to do his most important leading by chipping in more than usual offensively. He has hit double digit goals and 40 points in the past, so look out for him in the box score. Curtis Glencross has hinted at 30 goal potential the past two seasons, and could finally achieve it in an expanded role on the top line.
Los Angeles Kings
The Elite Suite – Jonathan Quick had a down season last year, but still recorded respectable numbers. Having turned it around in the playoffs in dominant fashion, Quick is good for 35 wins, 5 shutouts, and outstanding numbers. Consider him a favorite to win the Vezina trophy this season.
Dependable Joe – Anze Kopitar is a complete player who registers a dependable 25 goals and 75 points each year. Some of us expected 90-100 point potential from Anze, but on a generally anemic offense in LA, its hard to see happening in 2013-2014. Jeff Carter is a very reliable goal scorer as he potted 26 in 48 games last season. Shockingly, Carter also only managed 7 assists, which highlights his limitation as a point producer. Mike Richards seems to have peaked offensively in his 3rd-4th NHL seasons, and has settled into a 60 point man with all those intangibles. Justin Williams is an underrated component of the Kings success the past few seasons. He is a 20 goal, 60 point threat on the top line with Anze. From the vaunted 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Dustin Brown is a fantasy monster in leagues that count hits as he is crushing the competition all over the ice. Even in regular leagues, he will be serviceable by scoring 25 goals and 55 points.
Risky Plays – Drew Doughty is one of the small handful of elite defenders in the NHL, but don’t let that be confused with an elite fantasy player. He is very good with double digit goal scoring, but produces merely 40 points yearly. If the Kings find an injection of offense, then Doughty could have a case to live up to those lofty expectations.
Sleeper Seeker – Slava Voynov paid his dues in the AHL while displaying his goal scoring ability. On the rise, and after a breaking out party in the playoffs last season, Voynov is ready to establish himself in the NHL.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Tyler Toffoli is often compared to former LA Kings great Luc Robitaille in that he is a pure goal scorer but is said to be limited by average skating. With a high hockey IQ, Toffoli is able to overcome and produce as evidenced by his 0.5 PPG stint in the regular season and playoffs last year.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Matt Frattin was a key piece in the Jonathan Bernier trade, and has won the 2nd line spot with Richards and Carter to start the season. His obscene 36 goals in his final year of College suggests he could be a late bloomer. A former first round pick, Tanner Pearson has scoring pedigree that could be needed by the goal starved Kings.
The Elite Suite – Built from the defense out, the Coyotes haven’t seen an elite player in a long long time. Some of their young players, particularly D men could step up.
Dependable Joe – Keith Yandle hasn’t missed a game in 4 years, and has recorded double digit goals each of those years including the lockout shortened season. Another 60 point season from Yandle and he will be in the elite discussion. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is one of the most promising young D men in the league, and is on a constant upward trajectory. For fantasy, a healthy 40 points can be expected. Mike Ribiero has proven to be a near point-a-game player at a number of stops around the NHL, although the Coyotes are likely the worst offense of the bunch. Radim Vrbata on the other hand, seems to only have success in Phoenix with a 35 goal season on his resume in the last full season. Shane Doan is the heart and soul of the franchise, and is a decent piece in fantasy for 20 goals and 50 points.
Risky Plays – Mike Smith is a talented goaltender but only truly has one very good season under his belt. He could be great as a third goaltender but I wouldn’t rely on him as a top back stop. Derek Morris is on the decline and nothing more than a 5th-6th D man at this stage.
Sleeper Seeker – The new right handed power play specialist in town is David Rundblad from Skelleftea AIK fame in the Swedish Elite League. Rundblad put up nearly a point a game as a 19 year old defenseman in 2010-11, nearly unheard of. After struggling to crack the NHL due to defensive lapses, he grew his game into an AHL all-star season last year with 39 points in 50 games.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Brandon Gormley is likely a year away mostly due to the Coyotes depth on defense. Being just a phone call away in the AHL, he could make his NHL debut should injuries occur.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Thomas Greiss settles in as backup to the established Mike Smith, but has shown good skill in the past. With a system known to glorify goaltenders, Greiss may be another puck-stop who thrives in Phoenix. Mikkel Boedker catches your eye with good offensive moves when you watch him, but has yet to turn into a consistent performer.
San Jose Sharks
The Elite Suite – The Sharks have a few players exiting the Elite Suite, while the next generation prepares to move in.
Dependable Joe – Talk about a Dependable Joe, “Jumbo” Joe Thornton is a great regular season performer and is sure to anchor your fantasy lineup with assists in bunches. Patrick Marleau refuses to slow down and gets you 30 goals and 70 points with the potential to turn the tide for your team with huge goal outbursts. Dan Boyle continues to anchor the power-play, after Brent Burns proved to be better suited to playing wing on the top line. Boyle is again a 50 point performer, take it or leave it. Logan Couture is ready to breakout and take over the Elite suite in time, check out NEXT LEVEL SHIFT for more. Antti Niemi turned in his best season last year, and with a repeat performance, could beat Logan to the Elite Suite.
Risky Plays – Joe Pavelski is a clutch playoff performer who is a key piece to the Sharks attack. Very likely the best third line C in the league, Pavelski may be limited to achieve his regular 60 points by not being in the top 6. Martin Havlat is yet again injured to start the season, save yourself the roller-coaster ride as the upside just isn’t there anymore.
Sleeper Seeker – Brent Burns could prove to be extremely valuable in leagues this year that still have him D eligible. Top line winger minutes could lead to top line winger numbers from a guy who you can play on D in fantasy. Consider him in the discussion with Subban and Karlsson for fantasy value if this experiment works, a 25 goal D man?
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – The Czech born center, Tomas Hertl landed the left wing job on the top line next to Jumbo Joe and caveman Brent Burns. With a big body creating space and a gigantic wizard finding him with the puck, Hertl could make a splash into the NHL.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Tyler Kennedy seems to have rubbed off some super powers from Crosby and Malkin in Pittsburgh. Underrated, he is again in a second line role and could score 40 points, which is useful in deeper leagues.
The Elite Suite – Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin have dipped a bit from their 90 point days, but should rebound with pal Ryan Kesler back to handle the tough matchups. You can look at these two as interchangeable points wise, Henrik gets you more assists while Daniel is the trigger man. Roberto Luongo is back to being the top dog in Vancouver, and is once again a 40 win threat. With his reputation and chance to represent Canada at the Olympics on the line, Bobby Lou will turn in one of his best seasons for new coach John Tortorella.
Dependable Joe – Finally back healthy, Ryan Kesler resumes his role as 2nd line C and the heartbeat of the Canucks. Again expected to see first power play time with the Sedins, Kesler will do it all in fantasy with 30 goals, 70 points, and healthy ancillary stats like hits, shots, +/-, and PIMs. Alexandre Burrows’ versatility keeps him off the top line at times, but is a pretty sure bet for 25 goals, 50 points, and 100 PIMs each year. Having assumed the powerplay quarterback role on the Canucks, Alexander Edler is a top flight fantasy defenseman whom you can rely on for 45 points.
Risky Plays – David Booth’s concussion at the hands of Mike Richards on Oct 24, 2009 was one of the catalysts for increased attention towards head shots in hockey. Ever since, the former 30 goal scorer has yet to find his game despite ample opportunities. You may think there is upside in a second line Chris Higgins, but consider his numbers haven’t been great the past few seasons in the same role. The Canucks defense is fairly balanced as everyone in the top 5 can chip in offense. In a given year, either Kevin Bieksa or Dan Hamhuis may be worth owning but its a role of the dice without a juicy reward.
Sleeper Seeker – Among the top 5 D men, Jason Garrison may provide the most value as his heavy shot factors in often, to the tune of 15 goal potential. Acquired from the Buffalo Sabres for Cody Hodgson, Zach Kassian is pegged for top line duty once he returns from his 5 game suspension.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Nicklas Jensen is one of the few top prospects the Canucks have, but will start the season on injured reserve due to an upper body injury. He may spend time in the minors before being called up, but the Canucks will need his youth and goal scoring at some point this season.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Recently extended to an affordable $2.5 million cap hit, Jannik Hansen has improved slightly each year, and will benefit from the return of line-mate Ryan Kesler.
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 CENTRAL http://www.hockeylandcanada.com/2013/10/02/fantasy-hockey-whats-the-point-man-central-division-preview-2013-2014-nhl-regular-season/ previews as well.
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