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 Central Division. Plenty of stud players for fantasy poolsters to familiarize themselves with, so lets keep it going with the Nashville Predators.
The Elite Suite – The Sicamus, British Columbia native, Shea Weber has the most monstrous slap shot in the league, netting him a career high 23 goals and 56 points last season. A Norris trophy seems inevitable for this perennial top defender, earning every penny of his $110 million, 14 year deal. In fantasy, he gets you goals, powerplay points, hits, blocked shots, and elite shots on goal from the backend as he often blasts away.
Dependable Joe – On a team in transition, the Predators don’t have many dependable commodities this season outside of Craig Smith. Many may contribute, but Smith is safest to deliver on expectations of a 25 goal, 50 point season with upside. His +16 stands out on a team full of minus players, and he generates plenty of shots on goal. Another young player who had a breakout year was Roman Josi as he has effectively replaced Ryan Suter as Weber’s D partner both at even strength and on the powerplay. With 13 goals, 40 points in 72 games and an upward trajectory, Josi is poised to be a reliable offensive defender in fantasy for years to come.
Risky Plays – Pekka Rinne is coming off his worst season in which he struggled with injuries and consistency. He is often considered one of the best goalies in the league when he’s on, and with merit, but we don’t see his stock falling enough to make it a worthwhile investment in fantasy. The departure of defensive oriented coach Barry Trotz is another cause for concern. Acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins, James Neal is no doubt ranked highly in fantasy leagues for his youth and gaudy goal totals of recent years past. Sure, 25 goals and 50 goals seem reasonable, but Neal isn’t potting 40 goals and PPG numbers anymore, now that he’s without Evgeni Malkin lining up in the middle. Be wary of expectations when it comes to the Geno-less Neal.
Sleeper Seeker – Seth Jones may not have lived up to the hype in year one of his NHL career as he recorded just 25 points, and a nasty -23 rating. When you consider the team around him wasn’t strong, and that all rookie defenders have growing pains, you come away seeing the positives in Jones’ game. He was able to record a healthy 6 goals, and handled a fair deal of ice time, so watch for Jones to continue to grow his game and chip in double digit goals this season.
Rookies Ready to Break the Ice – Calle Jarnkrok is a highly touted prospect who came out of the vaunted Detroit Red Wings developmental system. He has held his own in the AHL, and recorded an eyebrow raising 9 points in just 12 games when he joined the Predators late last year. Some of the offseason signing make it tougher on Jarnkrok, but he should get top 9 minutes and contribute. Filip Forsberg has long been viewed as an all around talent, who can especially bring the offensive element. Forsberg has come into camp with a purpose, and has a good shot of sticking in the team’s top 9, possibly on a line with Jarnkrok. These two are very much the future up front in Nashville, and could be some of the best forwards offensively that they’ve ever had.
Keep Eyes Peeled – Colin Wilson showed serious promise by improving his PPG every year for his first three seasons in the league. This, coming off of being drafted 7th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and ripping up college hockey. Despite a down year in which Wilson didn’t take a step as expected, he remains a young, talented player who may be finding his way and worth a flyer late in deep leagues. Often doubted for his size, Ryan Ellis held his own over 80 games last season by putting up an impressive +9 rating and 27 points despite limited PP time. With one of the higher offensive ceilings among defenseman in the league, you’ll want to jump on board if Ellis gets hot.
For Hockeyland Canada,