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 one team at a time to identify players to pick and players to avoid. There are six categories of players covered and it’ll continue with the Atlantic Division. Plenty of stud players for fantasy poolsters to familiarize themselves with, so lets keep it going with the Florida Panthers.
The Elite Suite – For a team who’s leading scorer from last season, Nick Bjugstad, set a record for futility with the fewest total for any team in history, the Elite Suite is unsurprisingly spacious. With hesitancy, Roberto Luongo gets to keep the couch warm as the Panthers’ bevy of young studs take time to establish themselves. Bobby Lou is back home in the warm weather, and should put up respectable numbers on a growing team. It may take time for Roberto to eclipse the 35 win mark once again, but be sure GM Dale Tallon has this team on the rise.
Dependable Joe – A strong sleeper pick a few years back, Brian Campbell will rush the puck up the ice for dependable assists and powerplay points from the back end. He’s ripped off some 50+ point seasons before, so hope its one of those years as the forwards in front of him start putting more pucks in the net.
Risky Plays – If I’m playing a playoff elimination game, I want Dave Bolland on my side. On a fantasy roster in a land filled with centers on the other hand, not so much for Dave Bolland, so don’t be tricked by the cup winning goal memories. Playing with Eric Staal, then Evgeni Malkin, afforded Jussi Jokinen some strong 50+ point seasons in the past. Once you realize that Jussi has no one to play with of Malkin’s ilk, then you’ll start heavily tempering your expectations for this season. Before all the kids arrived, Tomas Fleischmann was miscast as a top line player, although he did produce admirably. With his role diminished to a more suitable 2nd-3rd line guy, Fleischmann won’t carry much fantasy hockey value this season. Expectations created by 43 and 33 goal campaigns in St. Louis have Brad Boyes as a sometimes sleeper candidate. Now turned into something of a journeyman, Boyes is coming off a 20 goal year, but don’t count on a ton of production as he starts to take a back seat to the youngsters.
Sleeper Seeker – The aforementioned triumvirate of young studs, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, and Nick Bjugstad are expected to lead this team for the next decade and beyond. Huberdeau was a sensation as a rookie and his offensive pedigree suggests he is a good candidate for a bounce back season after a tough sophomore slump. Taken ahead of Jonathan Drouin and Seth Jones, Aleksander Barkov was billed as NHL ready and delivered with a strong, if unspectacular rookie season. We saw some serious skills in his first year, and he will be given every chance to build on his fantasy repertoire. Don’t blame Nick Bjugstad for last year’s dubious record, as he utilized his massive frame and wicked wrist shot to good effect as a rookie. A step forward is expected of Bjugstad, and don’t be surprised if he pots 30 goals soon.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Often described as a man amongst boys in the junior ranks, Aaron Ekblad is about to feel what its like to be a boy amongst men. He has the frame and toolbox to compete from day 1, and only hope for powerplay time to keep his fantasy usefulness afloat. Cited as a key player by GM Dale Tallon, Vincent Trocheck proved he belonged in a short stint with the Panthers last season. A prototypical NHL player, Trocheck may be stuck behind Barkov and Bjugstad for the time being, but may still be able to contribute this season for deep leaguers.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Dmitry Kulikov has shown what he can do offensively from the blueline, as evidenced by his days with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL. A yearly bad plus/minus hints at the deficiencies in his game, but keep an eye on him if he gets some PP time. Never given a fair shot with the Blackhawks, Brandon Pirri has already established himself as a PPG player in the AHL, and that will translate into fantasy production for deep leaguers this year.
For Hockeyland Canada,