We’ve seen enough signs from these players to know they can do it. In fact, some of the players listed below have already done it. But at the end of 2013-14, fantasy owners were found wanting. In some cases, there was hope for good things to come after what has pretty much been years of waiting. In other cases, the player took such a big step back that you wonder if he’ll ever recover.
Here are eight players who will either fulfill (or re-fulfill) their promise…or else they’ll reinforce their rather low window of production
Patrik Berglund, St. Louis Blues
After a 47-point rookie season and then posting 52 points in his third year, Berglund was well on his way to fantasy-hockey stardom. But stumbling to just 95 points in his next 208 games, the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Berglund has fallen off the radar of most fantasy owners. Expectations are low, to the point that if he were to reach the 60-point mark in 2014-15, poolies would fall out of their office chairs in shock. But that’s exactly what he needs to do if he’s going to be taken seriously in fantasy circles and I don’t believe he can do that on a deep St. Louis team that can look to a dozen other players for offense.
Derick Brassard, New York Rangers
At 26 years of age, Brassard has been around the league long enough to have established a range of production. His career high is 47 points and he has tallied between 41 and 47 in three of the past four years. His chemistry with Mats Zuccarello – which really took off around late November – suckers me into thinking that 60-plus points is still doable. If Zuccarello takes another step into stardom, which certainly looks promising, he’ll pull his linemates along with him. If we don’t see this next year, then it’s safe to conclude that he really has peaked. As I’m sure 90 percent of poolies have already concluded.
Troy Brouwer, Washington Capitals
Brouwer, a former point-per-game player in the American League, will be 29 in the fall. Generally speaking, if a player is going to reach a number he’ll have already reached it. But with power forwards you can cut them a little more slack. Brouwer is coming off of a career high 43 points, which is surprising considering his absolutely terrible start. After six points in 22 games, he finally found his mojo and picked up 37 in 60 (51-point pace). With 92 PIM and 12 power play goals, he’s established himself as a pretty good multi-category option. So if he can become a 55-point player it would make him invaluable in most leagues.
Damien Brunner, New Jersey Devils
It looks as though Brunner chose the worst possible team to sign with. The Devils looked like a good fit and in a way they probably were – but Brunner isn’t really a Peter DeBoer kind of player. I’d like to see how Brunner would do on another team under a different coach. Because if he stays, I have a difficult time believing that he can reach 40 points let alone the 60-plus that he’s capable of tallying. If he doesn’t rebound in 2014-15, it’s not only safe to write him off from fantasy hockey – but he’ll like go back to being a star over in Europe.
Michael Frolik, Winnipeg Jets
When Frolik was traded to Winnipeg last summer, all poolies wanted to see was some signs of life. More ice time, more power play time, and a rebound season production-wise. All Frolik did was deliver. Posting 42 points put him within the range of his first two NHL seasons with Florida. But fantasy owners are a demanding bunch and 40-point players are a dime a dozen. Does the 26-year-old have it in him to flirt with 60? Frolik will be drafted in fantasy leagues with an expectation of at least 50 points and a hope for 55 to 60. Failure to deliver will solidify him as waiver-wire fodder, along with so many other established 40-point forwards.
Sam Gagner, Edmonton Oilers
Just reading his name no doubt made more than one reader chuckle. Perhaps the chuckle was accompanied by a shake of the head. Gagner’s career high of 49 points was achieved as an 18-year-old rookie. Since then, it’s been six seasons of stagnation. Sorry – five seasons and 81 games of stagnation (we can’t forget that big eight-point game he had, his fantasy owners won’t let us). But even the biggest Gagner apologists can’t defend him after seven seasons of sub-50 points.
Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers
Read is a talented two-way player with some offensive upside, but he has been generally employed as a defensive specialist with the Flyers. Occasionally, he sees time on the Claude Giroux line, but it seems as if every time that happens he suffers an injury. When he returns from injury, he’s back in a checking role. Sustained time on that top line is what is needed for him to gain fantasy relevance if he does not see it in 2014-15 as a 28-year-old, he never will.
Derek Roy, St. Louis Blues
An injury to Roy’s left quadriceps tendon in early 2011 led to season-ending surgery. Prior to that, Roy had 35 points in 35 games. In fact, he had 255 points in 275 games. But since the surgery, he has managed just 109 points in 197 contests. It’s obvious that Roy is no longer a No. 1 center, but at just 30 years of age has he become completely fantasy irrelevant?
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.