Martin Havlat has played more than 75 games for the first time in his NHL career this season. (Getty Images)
You could spend your entire summer poring over every piece of hockey news you can dig up and you can run every statistic in the most sophisticated of programs, but some things in fantasy hockey can never be explained.
Weird things do happen – Martin Brodeur getting injured for the first time; Rich Peverley emerges as a decent secondary forward fantasy option; Vincent Lecavalier stumbles badly – but they can be explained. In Brodeur’s case, injuries happen; while Peverley obviously fits in nicely on his new team; and Lecavalier, as we see from this week’s news, has played with a bad wrist all year.
That said, no matter how many scenarios are taken into account, we’ll still always be blindsided by a few unexplainable things. Some anomalies are so weirdly consistent that we just accept them.
Here are the top fantasy anomalies of the 2008-09 season, in no particular order:
Who is Alexei Kovalev?
Poolies have learned to accept this guy for who he is: a talented, unpredictable player. He’ll get 47 points one year, 84 the next and then 60 or 65 following that. What will you get next year from Kovalev? Not even he knows. About the only thing you can be certain of is whatever point total you predict for him in 2009-10, you will end up being off by at least 15 points.
Todd White – the 40-point Band-Aid Boy
By the age of 33, we have White’s expectations nailed. He’ll play 60 to 75 games and give you 40 points, give or take. Oops.
The Ottawa Senators – subtraction by subtraction?
The only key players whom the Sens lost were goaltender Ray Emery and defenseman Wade Redden. But losing those two was supposed to be a good thing, so why were the Sens so bad? The fact they are playing so well right now really makes you wonder what happened in the first half. It’s more than just the coach or former No. 1 Martin Gerber. Why are Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher having, by far, their worst offensive season in years? To a song title from The Who – “I Can’t Explain.”
Scott Clemmensen – 25-win No. 3 goalie
A 31-year-old American League goaltender with eight career NHL wins and a season high of three was not drafted in any fantasy leagues last September. If Clemmensen was selected, it was by a drunken guy looking for a cheap laugh. Now that the season is over, it’s shocking to see him among the league leaders in so many goaltending categories. What next – Marc Denis wins 30?
Vaclav Prospal’s seasonal production – predictably odd
By now, most poolies know about this phenomenon. They bank on it. Prospal had 55 points in 2001-02. Starting with that year, his stats go up and down in a near-perfect pattern season by season: 55, 79, 54, 80, 55, 71 and on pace for 47 this campaign.
Martin Havlat – iron man
He has had three shoulder surgeries in three years. By now, one of his shoulders must be held to his body by a shoestring, a piece of gum and some spit. He has also struggled with groin injuries over the years. Heading into this season, he had played 389 games and had been injured for 195. This season he has played 75 out of 76. Yes, he is being more careful, but the fragile forward should still have sustained an injury of some sort.
Jonathan Cheechoo – 11-goal scorer
Was he 33 years old when he scored 56 goals? Cheechoo’s decline since 2006 is not unlike a veteran in the twilight of his career. He went from 56 goals and 93 points, to 37 and 69, to 23 and 37 to somehow doing even worse than that. The problem is Cheechoo was 25 when he scored 56. He should be in his prime now, having a career season. We have seen this decline for three years now, but that doesn’t make it explainable.
Rod Brind’Amour – is he aging or not?
We thought Brind’Amour was done, but then he tallied 70 points after the lockout (that anomaly is explainable – a year off did him a world of good). He followed that up with 82 points and he was back in our good books. However, he started 2008-09 with just 31 points in 63 games and an astonishing minus-30. At 38, he must finally be slowing for good. But not so fast. The Carolina forward has 17 points in his last 13 games and is a plus-10 in that span. It seems as though he was waiting for every one of his rotisserie owners to finally give up on and drop him, before throwing it back in their collective face!
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.