Bryan Bickell scored one point in four playoff games with the Blackhawks last season. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Most power forwards take seven or eight years to really find their stride in the NHL and it’s a wonder more poolies haven’t caught onto that fact yet. But in the impatient world of fantasy hockey, giving up on a player in his early-20s is commonplace. That said, write Chicago left winger Bryan Bickell off at your own risk.
The 24-year-old has a great pedigree. Not only was he drafted 41st overall in 2004, he’s built like a tank at 6-foot-4, 223 pounds. I have found teams tend to give players who are drafted in the first couple rounds a few more chances than they would a lower draft pick. By the same token, it’s well known a bigger player will have more of an opportunity to thrive than a smaller player. Furthermore, in Bickell’s final season of junior hockey he posted 83 points in 67 contests.
However, on the whole, his pro numbers have been underwhelming, in part due to injury. As a rookie, he posted 25 points in 48 American League games for Norfolk and even had a cup of coffee with the Blackhawks. That’s a promising start, but after a ho-hum sophomore campaign his 2008-09 season was stalled by a broken thumb sustained in a fight - and that’s about when fantasy owners lost interest. But when we’re looking at power forwards, that kind of thinking is erroneous.
Twenty-two-year-old power forwards should not be written off. In fact, that’s about when you should start taking notice of them. Generally speaking, forwards who play a power game tend to break out between the ages of 25 and 27. If that sounds familiar to you, remember I said something similar about small offensive dynamos a few weeks back. But it’s true here as well. A great example is Todd Bertuzzi, who had a career high of 50 points at the age of 25, but by the time he was 28 he had posted seasons of 85 and 97 points.
Bickell will not be an 85-point player, but I think 55 points for next season is achievable. And who knows where the Blackhawks will be in 2013 when he’s in his prime? With some cap-induced player movement and the right linemates, Bickell has the hands to be a 70-plus point player. In the meantime, look for continued sporadic hot and cold streaks as this underrated NHL rookie adapts to the faster game.
As noted in my most recent column, Buffalo rearguard Andrej Sekera has shown signs he can still be that solid offensive rearguard we thought he would be. I also indicated that, for this season only, his hot streak would stop as soon as Jordan Leopold returned to action. But that has not been the case: Sekera has posted four points over the two games since Leopold has been back. In fact, Sekera has now posted two points in five consecutive games. That nearly doubles his point total of the 56 games prior. Only one of the 10 points have come on the power play, but Sekera has found himself manning the other point, along with Leopold, when the Sabres have the man advantage.
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Curtis Glencross has a career high of 40 points, but he already has 37 this season. The Calgary left winger is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer and is doing everything he can to push his value up. He has 20 points in his past 20 contests and 25 in his past 27. All four of his game-winning goals have come since Feb. 7. With ice time inching up to 17 or 18 minutes per game, it’s hard to imagine he’ll fall short of 50 points.
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. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.