It’s early yet, but that doesn’t stop fantasy owners from getting excited/angry and over/underrating players based on the results. The off-season saw plenty of fantasy-worthy players move from one team to another and often you see an early injection of adrenalin as they look to make an impact in their new environment.
Here’s my take on some of the fast starts by players on new squads:
Mathieu Perreault, Anaheim Ducks - Heading into Sunday night’s game, Perreault was leading the Ducks in scoring. He’s really clicked well with linemates Jakob Silfverberg and Teemu Selanne. I’ve always considered Perreault to be a potential 65-point player, but that likelihood was fading with each year he stayed in Washington. Now on a new team, he could reach that potential as the second-line center. However, I would consider him a 55-point player when it comes to this season and leave room for growth in that department over the next two years.
Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Boston Bruins - Eriksson has…wait, what? Smith? Yikes. Okay, uh, Smith has really adapted well to his new digs, posting four points in his past four games and seeing his ice time slowly ease upwards with each passing game. Smith, brother of Detroit’s Brendan, has always struck me as a potential depth guy with the upside to perhaps get to 55 points on the second line. But his performance early on has me keeping an open mind about something more. Maybe another Rich Peverley?
Nathan Gerbe, Carolina Hurricanes - Long-time readers of my stuff know how I’ve felt about this guy over the years. I like the small, skilled guys and they don’t get any smaller than Gerbe. Not many get more skilled either. But injuries have hampered his development and NHL progression. If he can just play 75 games he’ll break through. I don’t question the production (six points in nine games) and I think it’s sustainable. I just question the durability.
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars - Everyone expected this breakout from Seguin, who has shown us in the past that he can do it. But much of his accumulating 10 points in eight games is the aforementioned “new team adrenalin,” as I highly doubt he’ll finish at his projected pace of 102 points. But if he were to get 85 or 90, I wouldn’t exactly fall out of my chair in shock. In my Fantasy Guide, I had him projected for 74 and it looks like he’ll get that by mid-March.
Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings - After just a point in four games, Alffy has eight in his past five. He’s only one half-season removed from 59 points, so getting to 60 points at the age of 40 is certainly achievable. The question with him is health. If the back holds up, he’ll get there.
Jaromir Jagr, New Jersey Devils - Throughout his time with Boston and into the playoffs – and now with New Jersey – you hear the play-by-play announcer often yell in excitement as Jagr creates a scoring opportunity that just about cashes in. Therein lies the problem. He’s still creating opportunities, but those that he would have easily put in at 30 are getting stopped at 41. The exciting moves that you’re still seeing from him on the ice are not translating into points. And what’s more, his groin is unreliable. Don’t count on more than 70 games and 50 points. The rest, if there is more, is a bonus.
Derek Roy, St. Louis Blues - Roy hasn’t been the same player since his major surgery in December of 2010 (quadriceps). But coach Ken Hitchcock is treating him like the player he is and not the player he was. So none of this first-line stuff. His ice time is held down and he’s given quality linemates (Chris Stewart, Brenden Morrow) and ample PP time with modest expectations. The result has been productive.
Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay Lightning - The 29-year-old is a proven 66-point player, but he does get hurt frequently. Provided he stays healthy, look for him to again eclipse the 60-point mark on this offensive team.
Dave Bolland, Toronto Maples Leafs - One of the better third-line centermen you’ll find in the NHL, Bolland has been clutch for the Leafs (two of his three goals were game-winners). His current 54-point pace is about what the upside is for him, but if he stays healthy (which has been an issue these past couple of years) he should finish in that 45- to 55-point range.
Mason Raymond, Toronto Maple Leafs - Bolland’s linemate and one of the reasons why Bolland has six points in nine games. Raymond has been a revelation for the Leafs, providing timely offense and subbing in on the first line when James van Riemsdyk was sidelined. But he’s a streaky player and with David Clarkson returning to the lineup from suspension in a few days, I would expect Raymond to slow. In the end, his numbers will trickle past the 40-point mark.
Mike Santorelli, Vancouver Canucks - Santorelli can put up the numbers if he’s given the ice time and right now his average ice time is at a career high 18:32 per game. I don’t trust the ice time or the numbers, despite the fact he scored 20 goals three years ago. I’m in “wait and see” mode with this one.
Mikhail Grabovski, Washington Capitals - Six points in eight games is a great start for Grabbo…but he got four of them in the first game. Our friend, the mind-bogglingly inconsistent Grabovski is back and he is now on the third line and off the top power play unit. His ice time last game was a season-low 12:40. Red flag. Looks like the 50-point player who seems like he could be so much more…actually is a 50-point guy.
Michael Frolik, Winnipeg Jets - With just a little more ice time, a slight upgrade in linemates and a teensy bit of power play time, Frolik is showing that he can be a 20-goal, 50-point player. If the Jets loosen the reins even further, there is more upside here yet.
Honorable Mentions (some other players to watch): Rich Peverley (Dallas), Andre Benoit (Colorado), Ryan Stanton (Vancouver), David Jones (Calgary), Damien Brunner (New Jersey).
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.