Never drafted, Raphael Diaz was scooped up from the Swiss League by the Habs. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
There’s a defenseman in Montreal who is slowly entering the fantasy scene. Actually, “slowly” is a relative term, given he was pretty much an unknown player just three months ago. But Raphael Diaz has steadily progressed and is clearly getting more comfortable with his new league.
The undrafted 25-year-old (he turns 26 on Monday) was plucked from the Switzerland professional league, signing as a free agent in May. He had just finished posting 39 points in 45 games for Zug, a team that boasted former Habs Paul DiPietro and Glen Metropolit.
When Diaz made the NHL team, poolies did a double-take. Who? But after impressing with his stats in the Swiss League, he surely showed up on more than a few radars. He had seven points in his first 32 games and was forgotten. When Montreal acquired Tomas Kaberle, it became clear there were only so many pieces of the pie to go around. Kaberle, P.K. Subban, Yannick Weber and Chris Campoli would all want their portion of power play time. And what about when Andrei Markov returns?
But hold on a second. Weber and Campoli have been scratched, Markov’s return is becoming a running joke in fantasy circles and Diaz now has six points in his past six games.
So what kind of player do we have here? I like patterns. I like using a blueprint - and to find a good one you need look no further than Mark Streit of the New York Islanders. Unlike Diaz, Streit was actually drafted; though, at 262nd overall, he was taken in a slot that no longer exists in today’s drafts (they now end after seven rounds). But the similarities between the two are staggering:
- Both were signed by Montreal.
- Both defensemen are Swiss born and trained.
- Streit had 79 points in his last 92 Swiss League games. Diaz had 70 in 94.
- Streit is 5-foot-11 and 193 pounds. Diaz is 5-foot-11 and 194 pounds.
- Both came over to the NHL when they were well into their 20s (Streit was 27).
Streit’s first two seasons saw him post 11 and 36 points and he was a minus player in both of them. Diaz is ahead of Streit’s pace in his first season, although it looks as though he’ll finish the year with a negative plus-minus rating as well.
This is not to say Diaz will be a 62-point player, as Streit was in his third NHL season. After all, situations and responsibilities change with every game and so much relies on coaching and the health of teammates. But Diaz’s performance does indicate, with a couple years of experience, he should be a pretty good fantasy own. Depending on when Markov returns, I think Diaz can top 35 points in 2011-12.
Dennis Wideman was really slumping there for a while and at one point managed just four points in 16 games with a minus-14 rating. But he has 13 points in his past 12 (with a plus-5 rating) and even with Mike Green back the production should continue. You see, Wideman has registered a point in each of the nine games Green has been in the lineup this season. The 28-year-old Wideman should easily top his career high 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. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.
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