Gabriel Bourque had 19 points in 43 games this season, but has five points through five post-season games. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
Alexander Radulov is the most skilled offensive player on the Predators. His track record in the post-season, back to when he was last with the team, is impressive. That’s all the background you need in order to project strong playoff numbers for 2012. And if he returns to play the 2012-13 season, it’s enough to put your finger on a pretty realistic range for the season (I’d use 67-82 points). But when it comes to Predators forwards, the easy projections stop at Radulov.
For years this team has performed the same act: Three players get hot, then a couple weeks later a different three skaters heat up. A couple weeks after that, another troika start hitting the scoresheet. In the end, you have five or six forwards in that 43- to 58-point range.
Nailing down a post-season Preds projection with any kind of accuracy is a fool’s game. After all, Joel Ward led the team in playoff scoring a year ago, while Nick Spaling was in a tie for fourth with the likes of Cody Franson and Jordin Tootoo.
This year it has been Gabriel Bourque, the 19-point rookie who was on absolutely zero playoff draft lists around North America. His production and performance has earned him a promotion to the top line with Radulov and David Legwand. And his ice time has jumped up above the 14-minute mark.
So is Bourque the real deal? Any potential? Naturally there’s potential, but the same can be said about 10 forwards on this team. Bourque had nine points in six games at the 2010 world juniors and was solid offensively throughout his junior career. He’s also playing with Radulov. So if Radulov returns next year and this chemistry continues Bourque will absolutely have significant fantasy relevance.
But don’t count on it. As noted above, Nashville players get hot in five- or 10-game bunches and it would seem this is Bourque’s “bunch.” When the opposition keys in on him, it will be the Mike Fisher or Nick Spaling line that soars…
FLYERS’ VORACEK PRIMED FOR BREAKOUT
With 49 points this season, Voracek disappointed a lot of fantasy owners. Sure, the 0.63 points per game was his highest average to date, but after four years in the league many had hoped to see a 60-point season at the very least. Some thought 70-plus was feasible.
But let’s not count him out yet. Aside from the excellent playoff performance so far (seven points in six games), Voracek also finished the season strong. He had 15 points in the final 15 regular season games. There’s no shortage of potential 60-plus point players on the Philadelphia Flyers, but I’m sold on Voracek joining the ranks in 2013-14.
BLUES’ BERGLUND FINDS GROOVE
Although he’s still young at age 23, St. Louis center Patrik Berglund reminds me of Vaclav Prospal in terms of his good year/bad year production tendency. After making a splash with 47 points as a rookie, Berglund followed up with a disappointing 26. Then he tallied 52 points in Year 3 before slumping to 38 this year. The price is cheap for Berglund in fantasy leagues and I think he would be a great acquisition. With linemate Andy McDonald, who has another year on his contract, finding his stride, Berglund could surprise.
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