Chris Stewart was the 18th overall pick in the 2006 draft. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
When I was asked recently about my preference on the wing between Colorado’s Chris Stewart and Toronto’s Kris Versteeg (for strictly a points league), my immediate instinct was to give the nod to Stewart; it was a fast and easy decision. But why is that?
I predict (in my Fantasy Guide Versteeg will get 62 points and Stewart will get 60. I also feel that because Versteeg is more established, he is more of a certainty. Not only that, but on a new team in Toronto, he goes from second/third line ice time to first/second line ice time. This is how I rationalize my objection and yet it doesn’t sway me. So again – why?
Pedigree is part of it. A first round pick gets more buzz than a fifth round pick (Versteeg was taken 134th overall in 2004) - not just on draft day, but throughout the first-rounder’s career in the minor leagues and early on in his NHL career. He’ll receive more attention from scouts, coaches and the press. This buzz resonates in fantasy circles, too. If we hear more about Player A than we do Player B, we tend to prefer to own Player A. So psychology is part of it.
Another angle is upside. The two players have similar upside, yet because we’ve only seen Stewart for one full season in which he tallied 58 points in his final 59 games, we’re intrigued. Meanwhile, we’ve seen Versteeg for two full years (and change) now and he never went on any runs like that.
And finally, it’s the trajectory of their stats. Stewart saw a nice increase over his partial season in 2008-09, while Versteeg took a step back after his Calder-nominated campaign. We see one on the rise and the other on the decline and our instinct rightfully leads us to the former - and I’m as much a victim of that psychology as the next guy. The point is, right or wrong it’s hard to eliminate some of these influences, but I think it’s in a fantasy owner’s best interest to at least acknowledge they are there...
One reason why I like Philadelphia’s Ville Leino for this year is the fact he has shown some success without Daniel Briere on his line. While Briere has been on the shelf (illness), Leino clicked nicely with Jeff Carter. Granted, they were playing the equivalent of an American League team when the Islanders iced a group of no-names, but the chemistry was there and so was the production...
Injuries, from a fantasy league perspective: With Kyle Okposo on the shelf for an extended time (shoulder), I am looking right at Blake Comeau to pick up the slack. Comeau had a strong run in the final quarter of last season and could surprise. If he can manage 25 points in 30 games to start the year in Okposo’s absence, he’ll secure his spot on John Tavares’ line even after Okposo returns. Brilliant careers have been forged on weaker opportunities than this one.
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.