Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik are finding chemistry on the top line. (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
Call them whatever you like – the ‘GAS’ line, or the ‘MAD’ line – poolies don’t care. All that matters is Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov are piling up points.
After about 11 games of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, coach John Tortorella realized Brad Richards does not mesh well with Gaborik, no matter who you put on the other wing. Meanwhile, the sophomore Stepan and third-year player Anisimov were stumbling with reduced opportunity. Here are some numbers after the first 11 contests (games played, goals, assists, points):
And here are their points in the four games since the new arrangement put together:
Richards will be fine. He’ll get his points regardless of who he plays with (recently it has been Ryan Callahan and Brian Boyle). But the same can’t be said for young, lesser-proven players such as Stepan and Anisimov, so the move to put this line together has been a godsend for their fantasy owners. In fact, this could mean the difference between the 35 to 40 points that was in Stepan’s future for this season and the 50 to 60 points that he may now get if this line continues to click. And, of course, if Gaborik stays healthy. But that’s another column for another day.
Five of the top 15 defensemen in scoring from last season are completely out of the mix so far this year. Six, if you count James Wisniewski, who missed the first eight games due to suspension. Lubomir Visnovsky (first last season with 68 points, out with a broken finger), Tobias Enstrom (sixth with 51 points, out with a broken collar bone) and Alex Goligoski (15th with 46 and out with a broken thumb) are all injured. Brian Rafalski (12th with 48 points) retired and Tomas Kaberle (13th with 47 points) seems to have lost the magic and frankly I don’t think he’ll get it back. The three injured players have certainly had an impact on the leaderboard of most leagues, but at the same time they have opened up some opportunities on the waiver wire. Anaheim will look to Kurtis Foster to replace some of Visnovsky’s offense, Stephane Robidas will see his PP time in Dallas suddenly reappear, and Zach Bogosian has seen his ice time in Winnipeg jump from about 22 to 26 minutes per game with Enstrom on the shelf.
It’s still early, but Nick Leddy is making a strong case for himself as a mainstay on Chicago’s top PP unit. As the points pile up, his PP time with Duncan Keith will increase while Brent Seabrook’s will decrease. It hasn’t really happened yet, but the longer Leddy continues to double Seabrook’s production, the more obvious such a move will be. Leddy was a high school sensation whom the Minnesota Wild drafted 16th overall in 2009. The Hawks later acquired him for one of their own first round picks in Cam Barker. When it comes to prospects that play high school hockey, it is extremely difficult to know what kind of player they will turn out to be. The level of competition isn’t as strong as that of junior or college hockey, so it’s the real-life version of a “boom or bust” pick. Clearly, Leddy is a “boom” and you can put an exclamation point on that with the news of Seabrook suffering a “lower body” injury Sunday.
Islanders prospect Ryan Strome is enjoying a 13-game point streak for the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario League. During the run he has potted 11 goals and nine assists. What’s more those are the only 13 games he’s played this season. He got there late thanks to initially making the Islanders. I have a hard time believing he won’t be in an Islanders uniform for the duration of 2012-13. He had three points in Team OHL’s game against Russia on the weekend in the Super Series.
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.