John Tavares, the first overall pick in last summer's draft, has nine goals and 20 points in 25 games. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
When John Tavares was drafted by the Islanders this past summer, poolies were all over the map with their expectations. Some figured his impact would be similar to Steven Stamkos (46 points as a rookie), others were thinking as high as Sidney Crosby (102 as a rookie). As things stand now, the 19-year-old is probably going to flirt with the 70-point mark and we can reasonably extrapolate from that a future as a 100-point player. But it is his linemates – Matt Moulson and Trent Hunter – who become excellent dark horses as a result.
Regardless of where you saw Tavares as a producer, somebody in your keeper league rates him as a future top-five forward to own in the NHL. So he was drafted relatively early – likely first overall, depending on the rules of your league. Moulson, on the other hand, was probably not drafted at all. Hunter may belong to someone in deeper leagues…just not in any of mine (I’m in three) and he was actually dropped in one of them.
I like this situation with the Islanders because it’s working. In Pittsburgh, with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Pens’ strategy has been to stick waning veterans on their wings, shuffle them around a bit and wind up with a handful of 50-point players (see Petr Sykora and Ruslan Fedotenko for details). It works for the Pens, since they won the Stanley Cup and that’s what it’s all about, but it doesn’t do poolies any good.
The Islanders, on the other hand, have stayed the course with their rebuild and have tried other blossoming youngsters with Tavares. Moulson, a 26-year-old late-bloomer, has clicked with him from Day 1 in training camp. Through streaks both hot and cold, Moulson and Tavares have been a formidable 1-2 punch. Coach Scott Gordon has been steadfast with this and it means that whatever J.T. ends up with (say, 70 points), M.M. will be a step behind (say, 65). I’m confident the duo will still be working together come March and as such the Isles will probably extend Moulson’s contract.
That makes him a nice keeper asset.
The veteran Trent Hunter, whose career high is 51 points, has played with the duo much of the time since his return from a chest injury Nov. 11. He had eight points in his past eight games heading into the tilt against the Pens Friday. The 29-year-old’s contract runs through 2013, so if his chemistry with Tavares holds, he could bury his career high with each passing season.
For the time being, Moulson and Hunter hold much higher fantasy value than their names would normally carry. It’s those future seasons – the ones where Tavares gets to 90 or 100 or more points – that make the potential of these two all the more intriguing…
The Preds have won seven games in a row (heading into Friday) and there is one major reason for that – secondary scoring. It’s kind of hard to win games with any regularity when only one line is scoring. Welcome back, Martin Erat and David Legwand, glad you could join us. Erat had five points in his past three games, while Legwand had seven in five. Both players should land in that 50- to 60-point range, so they have a lot of ground to make up – enjoy the hot streak as they play “catch up”…
Injuries, from a fantasy league perspective: Patrick O’Sullivan is suffering from the loss of Oilers linemate Mike Comrie (mononucleosis). With Comrie in the lineup, O’Sullivan has 11 points in 16 games. Without him, that ratio slips to two in nine (as of Friday). There is no return for Comrie on the horizon, but with all the injuries hammering the Oilers, look for him to be rushed back as soon as he is remotely able.
Farm Report: Toronto prospect Viktor Stalberg is second in points-per-game among American League rookies who have played at least 10 contests. His 13 points in 11 games, coupled with a monster training camp, should pretty much ensure he will be back with the big club at some point this season. San Jose prospect Logan Couture is tops with 15 in 10.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.