Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo have picked it up of late, allowing others on the Islanders roster to thrive. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
You may have noticed something subtle in your fantasy hockey league. That team that has crept up the standings over the past month, well, that team's owner has several Islanders. After watching New York for the past several years, it seems almost unwholesome to state its players are actually helping in fantasy leagues, but it’s true.
In the past 14 contests, this perennial bottom dweller has pounded out 52 goals. Average that over 82 games and you’d have 305 goals, which in many years would lead the NHL. Leading the way for the Islanders, of course, is John Tavares. But it’s not just him. In fact, the reason for his recent surge (15 points in 14 games) is because of the emergence of secondary scoring.
Rookie Michael Grabner is finally showing some consistency, which was a concern when Vancouver traded him away to Florida, who subsequently waived him. Blessed with speed few can match, Grabner just needed to put forth a consistent effort and hope his hands would one day catch up to his wheels. He has 23 points in his past 21 contests.
And isn’t it a coincidence power winger Kyle Okposo returned to the lineup 21 games ago? With speed on one side and power on the other, the steady two-way presence of Frans Nielsen is the final piece on that secondary attack. Nielsen will never be a 70-point player, as either of his linemates could be, but he represents a solid potential 60-point player who is responsible defensively. As a bonus, he and Grabner represent the greatest shorthanded threat in the NHL, combining for eight goals on the penalty kill.
Having this solid second line means two things: One, the line of Tavares, Matt Moulson and P-A Parenteau can flourish. And two, a capable goaltender can start compiling some wins, which, as you may have noticed, Al Montoya is doing.
The Isles will probably finish 26th in the league this season, but they’ll crack the top 20 in 2011-12. As the youth gains experience, the depth on the team grows. Keeper league owners should snag a few of these players in the off-season while their value is low.
After he was made a healthy scratch for three games at the end of February, we may finally have that bone. Sekera has two points in each of the three games since his stint in the press box. He’s been replacing Jordan Leopold, who is out with an upper-body injury, so when the Leopold returns, Sekera’s production will slip. But at least we’ve seen a little something to give us hope for next year.