Jamie Benn was picked in the fifth round (129th overall) in 2007 by Dallas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Dallas sophomore winger Jamie Benn has been a highly sought after commodity in keeper leagues for a couple years now, so it’s almost certainly too late to acquire him for a discounted “young-up-and-comer” price. He’s arrived.
The 21-year-old from Victoria, B.C., had a solid 41 points in his rookie campaign. But Patrick O’Sullivan had a nice rookie campaign as well, so naturally poolies play it safe with sophomores by considering them promising, but by no means a certain asset.
Just past the midway point of this season, however, it’s looking pretty darn certain Benn is going to be a star in the NHL. With 33 points already, he’s projected to flirt with 60 - so much for a sophomore jinx. He has 17 points in his past 17 games and nine in his past seven. His ice time is consistently in the 16- to 18-minute range and he is also seeing some power play time.
I think in Year 3 he’ll really be something special. If Brad Richards moves on, Benn could be in the mix with Loui Eriksson as Dallas’ top scorer. Down the road, I think Benn’s upside is superior to Eriksson’s - who is on pace to clear 80 points this year - as well as James Neal, who I see as more of a low-70s producer.
That’s my opinion of Benn, but it’s clear most poolies feel the same way - try acquiring him in a trade and see what the other fantasy owner says in response. You’ll quickly learn the discount window has definitely closed for this guy.
A side benefit of having Kyle Okposo back in the Islanders lineup is the ripple effect it has on some of the other offensive players. Michael Grabner, ironically, has seen his ice time actually increase with the return of Okposo by as many as two minutes per game. He’s been playing on the left wing with Frans Nielsen in the middle. Grabner, who was on a fairly decent run beforehand, now has points in his past six games. He has five goals and two assists in that span and his short tenure with the Canucks indicated he could go on some really nice hot streaks. He’s worth owning for two weeks, after which you should re-evaluate his production.
The Marchand March
Boston’s Brad Marchand popped onto my radar last week, but I had my doubts he could keep things up so I left him out of the column. Oops. That four-point game Saturday (and plus-4 rating) could have been on your team if I had a little more faith in the recommendation. But the faith is there now. The downside to owning Marchand is still pretty easy to stomach - perhaps he stops producing the points (he has 13 in his past 16 games), but his plus-minus is very solid at plus-21 and his shot total is inching upwards. So these other categories will still help you even if the goals and assists run dry.
The Big-Name Stars Return
How to play the Peter Forsberg and Evgeni Nabokov situations:
1. Acquire Forsberg off the wire if you can. If not, forget about it.
2. If you succeed or you already own Forsberg, trade him. The buzz is pushing his value sky-high and the bottom line is he’ll do you more harm than good. Granted he’ll produce, but when? In a typical 10-game span, he’ll play six games and get you six points. But he’ll miss two games you weren’t expecting him to and he’ll also play two games you expected he wouldn’t. The result could mean dressing/benching him at the wrong times, thus hurting your team. Trade him.
3. Acquire Nabokov off the wire if you can. If not, forget about it.
4. If you succeed or you already own Nabokov, trade him. The hunch here is that he remains Islanders property. They have no reason to waive him and they understand trading him will require waivers as well - and he won’t get through waivers. I think he either plays for the Isles or he sits. Whether it’s option A or option B, you won’t see a whole lot of Ws. So the play here is to trade him for the excellent return he will bring. Just like with Forsberg.
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.