The Flyers sit 13th in the Eastern Conference with 27 points and recently replaced coach John Stevens with Peter Laviolette. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
A buy-low situation has developed in the City of Brotherly Love. The team has been losing enough games to cost coach John Stevens his job. Losers of eight of their past nine, including an 8-2 spanking against an Ovechkin-less Washington team, the Flyers have a slew of underachievers from the goaltender out.
As with my Blues column a couple of weeks ago, this time it’s the Philly players who see a low in their fantasy value that won’t be seen ever again. Let’s start from the back and work our way forward. Ray Emery and Brian Boucher are 1-2 between the pipes and, at least for now, Emery is the starter. He’s been blowing it lately, while Boucher hasn’t been all that bad. But with the likes of veterans Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen a part of the blueline corps, the goals-against are bound to slow down.
This is a playoff team and that means a lot of wins are on the way. So one of those two goaltenders will pile up the W’s. I would put my money on Emery, since he is prone to these cold streaks and was brought in to be the starter. He could be had for cheap and more likely than not will pay off. Boucher, on the other hand, makes a great dark horse. He does have the slight chance of stealing that job from Emery – it’s not like one is making $5 million more than the other. If Boucher is waiver wire fodder, pick him up and stick him on your bench. Again, the odds are slim, but you’ll have your answer quickly and can always dump him again in two weeks.
On defense, there are no buy-low candidates, except for perhaps Braydon Coburn. Matt Carle was overachieving and has come back to Earth, while Pronger and Timonen are projecting the way they should. Coburn hasn’t registered a point in four games, but he’ll certainly get himself back on track.
Up front is where you could really take advantage. Top scorer Jeff Carter was expected to build on, or at least match, last season’s 84 points. A slip to his current pace of 69 points is definitely within the realm of possibility, but I don’t think he’ll end up that low. The reason? If his teammates around him snap out of their slump, his production is bound to increase.
Mike Richards is on pace for 66 points and has just seven in his past 15 contests. He’s topped a point-per-game in each of his past two campaigns and, seeing as he hasn’t yet reached his 25th birthday, he’s only getting better. Richards does always seem to pick up a small injury during the season, so assume he’ll play about 75 games and garner 75 points, giving him a decent boost in offense over the final 55 games or so.
Scott Hartnell is on pace for numbers one would expect – close to 60 points. With just one in his past five, though, this is the best time to make a pitch. Of all the forwards in Flyerland, Hartnell would be the least of the bargains.
Rookie James van Riemsdyk has just one point in his past eight games. His pace of 61 also sounds about right, or perhaps it may even be a little high. That would depend on how new coach Peter Laviolette utilizes him. He is the one offensive forward who is not in a buy-low position and may actually be in a sell-high situation for those in one-year leagues.
Sophomore right winger Claude Giroux, with one point in his past six, is in a similar position as JVR; a lot will depend on how the new coach plays him. But his current pace of 48 points is lower than expected and the safe money is on him upping that to 60, making him a buy-low candidate. He had 11 points in nine games before hitting his current skid.
Next, we get to oft-injured Daniel Briere. His 0.85 points-per-game is his lowest since arriving in Philadelphia. In fact, it’s his lowest since the lockout, so it’s safe to assume his game will pick up. The only concern is his health, but since that is (or should be) factored into any trade negotiations, it will actually drive his price even lower. Of the 20 games he’s played, he was shut out in 10 of them. That is not the Briere we know and it’s bound to improve – he can’t sink any lower.
It may not happen for another week or two, but Philadelphia’s fortunes will turn around. Let’s hope you took advantage in time…
Injuries, from a fantasy league perspective: Simon Gagne is back in practice, but not taking contact. He is probably doubtful to return before Christmas. When he does return, it will depend on the new coach’s preference – either Giroux will slow down or JVR will.
Farm Report: Flyers prospect Patrick Maroon has made huge strides over the past year, capping a solid second half of 2008-09 with a very impressive training camp. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound giant is having a miserable November and December, however, managing just six points in 14 games. The entire Adirondack (American League) organization is struggling to find the net, though. Still keep Maroon penciled in as a decent possibility to make the jump next campaign. He can eventually be a second-liner.
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 first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.