Steve Downie has been a man possessed since arriving in Denver via trade. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Maybe it’s the change in altitude, but players who arrive in Colorado after a trade are not the same players who left their previous employers. It’s as if they step off the plane at Denver International Airport and get injected with Captain America’s super soldier serum.
How else do you explain the newfound production of Jamie McGinn, Steve Downie and Peter Mueller? It seems as though any player, who is underused, underappreciated or underperforming simply needs a trade to the Avalanche to get the ol’ career turned around. Just ask Tomas Fleischmann.
Let me ask you this – does ‘Flash’ get $4.5 million from the Florida Panthers if he doesn’t tally 21 points in 22 games with Colorado last season? What if he arrived in Denver and continued the pace he was on in Washington (10 points in 23 games)?
There are some exceptions, of course – Kevin Porter, Jay McClement and free agent signing Chuck Kobasew. But Porter isn’t a full-time NHLer, McClement is a checker and Kobasew has been injured so often in his career that his limbs are held together by shoelaces, duct tape and bubble gum.
But an astonishingly high percentage of stumbling skill guys are flourishing once they join this team. McGinn, who makes for excellent scoring depth on the third line, has six points in his first six games with the team, including four goals. He had 24 for San Jose in 61 contests. Downie was well on his way to another 40-point season with Tampa Bay before joining the Avs and finding his inner Marty St-Louis, notching 10 points in nine games so far.
Mueller was coming off a run of 53 points in 126 games for Phoenix before notching 20 in 15 upon joining the Avs to close out 2009-10. A concussion kept him out of the lineup for the better part of two seasons so it’s understandable why he got off to a slow start. But he has six points in his past five games, and slowly finding his pre-concussion form again.
So the big question is – do these magical powers last? Kyle Quincey owners would say no. Quincey had eight points in his first nine games with Colorado, but just 45 in his last 145 with them.
Maybe it’s the air. Maybe it’s the coach, Joe Sacco. Or maybe GM Greg Sherman just has the Midas touch. But these results are fascinating and while I doubt they will continue at this pace (other than Mueller), I’ll be interested to see how these players produce down the stretch and into next season.
Rumors are flying around the Twitterverse like crazy these days regarding the possible return to the NHL of Kontinental League superstar Alexander Radulov. Such a move would make sense for the player, because he is still obliged to fulfill the final year of his entry level contract with the Nashville Predators. Said contract pays him very little, but he would fulfill his contract by playing out the rest of the season in Nashville, then become a restricted free agent. He would be eligible for the post-season, making the Predators a real Stanley Cup threat.
I feel the Preds are already a Cup contender. Their moves at the deadline to get bigger (Hal Gill, Paul Gaustad), add scoring punch (Andrei Kostitsyn) and win faceoffs (Gaustad) added to an already deep lineup. The moves allowed them to scratch some talented rookies, including Ryan Ellis and Craig Smith. What they are lacking is an elite scorer and Radulov gives them that. He is good enough to boost his potential linemates’ point totals, improving the Preds’ fantasy value across the board.
Radulov, in fulfilling the final year of his ELC, would also increase his odds of playing in the NHL next season. After all, the Predators would be free to offer him the big money that he wants in order to stay. If he does come over this week, I am fairly confident in considering him a 70-point player for next season and acting accordingly. One strong word of caution though – Radulov is dealing with a knee injury that has been nagging him for some time now. There is a realistic chance that if he plays in the NHL this season, he will miss some time to recuperate.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.
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