Radim Vrbata has found chemistry with Ray Whitney in Phoenix. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
Don’t you hate it when you’re really high on a player and you stick with him through thick and thin, far longer than most people in their right mind would have before finally giving up on him, only to see him arrive as a point producer later on? Radim Vrbata, where have you been?
My Vrbata love-in over the years:
March 31, 2006
I noted he had 24 points in 30 games with Chicago and called that 66-point pace something that we could expect the following season. Uh, nope.
October 18, 2006
After starting with seven points in five games, Vrbata was making me look like a genius. Unfortunately, NHL seasons continue beyond the five-game mark. In the column a week later, I noted Vrbata was up to 12 points when Martin Havlat got injured…
December 6, 2006
I observed Vrbata had only eight points in 18 games while Havlat was on the shelf. At that point, it should have been pretty clear he leaned on his linemates for production.
February 22, 2008
Vrbata had 40 points in his last 36 games. I said: “If he can stay healthy for 75 games next season he is a great dark horse to turn in his first 80-point season.” Whoa – those must have been my drinking days. Of course, if he does it this year I’ll flaunt this link around like I’m Nostradamus.
October 10, 2009
Here’s a funny one. In researching my old notes, I found this piece that featured Vrbata. The title? “Radim-ing himself.” Yep, I’ve confirmed that I’m unoriginal. In this piece I acknowledged his 40-goal potential and also stated he had “head-thumping cold spells.” After this piece, I finally shut up about him. One cold spell too many, I guess. If a player is 28 and still hasn’t stopped teasing, it really is no use holding out any hope.
That was Fantasy Pool Look No. 495. Today, in No. 655, I present to you - again - Radim Vrbata. He’s 30 years old and he’s found that old Havlat chemistry, this time with Ray Whitney. Vrbata’s current pace after 34 games is 38 goals and 69 points. In his past 26 games he has 15 goals and 26 points. As long as both he and Whitney remain healthy, I’m going to go out on a limb one last time. I’m back on the Vrbata wagon and this time it won’t be a curse. Really.
Mark him down for his first 35-goal, 65-point season and call it a correct Dobber hunch that was just, oh, two or three years late…
DEREK'S STEPAN IT UP
Marian Gaborik is not an iron man. That’s straight from the Encyclopedia of the Obvious. But he has been known to, every so often, get 75 games in. If he does that, he’s a shoe-in for 80 points. Coach John Tortorella is finally using sophomore Derek Stepan as a 1A or 1B center instead of miscasting Brandon Dubinsky in that role. Playing on this line all season, assuming Gabby’s health (big if), Stepan will reach 70 points.
FANTASY FARM REPORT
Blackhawks prospect Brandon Pirri has leapt to the head of the class. In the fantasy hockey world, Pirri’s value in Chicago has surpassed Kyle Beach, Jeremy Morin, Mark McNeill and even Brandon Saad. Pirri has 21 points in his past 15 American League games, forcing a call-up Wednesday. He proceeded to tally an assist later that night. Look for him to make enough of a splash to have a real shot at full-time duty next year. Potential top-sixer.
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.