Chris Kelly has seven goals and 21 points in 42 games this season. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
When Jason Spezza was sidelined with a serious knee injury, most expected the slack to be picked up by Mike Fisher. When Daniel Alfredsson suffered a long-term injury as well, we expected Alex Kovalev and Milan Michalek to fill the scoring void.
Aside from Kovalev’s five-point game Sunday, this has not been the case. What we have seen instead is improved production from Ryan Shannon, Chris Kelly and Peter Regin.
Shannon had been struggling all season long, seeing minimal ice time, but not taking advantage of it. The Sens expected 20 goals out of him this season, but trading one winger (Dany Heatley) and getting back two (Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo) really hurt Shannon’s ice time. When Alfredsson went down five games after Spezza did, coach Cory Clouston had nowhere else to turn. So Shannon saw 15 minutes in a game for just the second time this season. It’s only gone up from there and Shannon has responded with seven points in the five games Alfie has been sidelined. Sunday he was moved onto Kovalev and Fisher’s line and it sparked them.
As for Kelly, we saw his offense jump to nearly a point-per-game over a 20-game span back in 2007 after – you guessed it – Spezza went down with an injury. At the time Kelly was inserted on the Heatley/Alfredsson line and the result had poolies wondering where all the production came from. It’s déjà vu all over again as Kelly has nine points in the 10 games Spezza has missed.
The lowest amount of ice time rookie Peter Regin has seen in the past 10 games is 13:21, which is more than he’s had in all but four games this season. He has seven points in that span, which is a sustainable pace for him even when the Big Two return.
Meanwhile, the players we expected to step up have not done so. Kovalev had an eye-popping five points Sunday against the Flyers, but prior to that he had just four points in nine games. Fisher has been enjoying a career season, but he has regressed without the Big 2, managing just five points in the past 10 games. As for Michalek, I’m almost afraid to mention he has just one measly point in those 10 contests.
Until Spezza returns at the end of February, I expect each of these three unsung players to continue producing at their current pace, so pick them up if you can and enjoy the ride. As far as long-term goes, however, I think Kelly is capped at 40 to 45 points. Regin’s upside is more in the low-60s, but not for a couple of years. Shannon is the wildcard – we know he can get a point per game, as we have seen it on a couple of occasions before this, but we also know he can land in the doghouse. I think he can be a 70-point player, but then again he could also be just an American League star. He’ll do fine this year and I think he’ll surprise you by reaching 40 points despite his horrible start. But next season will depend on his effort – and a bit of luck.
Injuries, from a fantasy league perspective: Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks has missed four games with a lacerated leg. He is still day-to-day. But Corey Perry is really hurting from Getzlaf’s absence, going pointless with a minus-5 in that span.
Farm Report: Islanders prospect Kirill Petrov had an excellent World Junior Championship individually, even as Team Russia walks away disappointed. Petrov had four goals and eight points in five contests and was a plus-5. The Islanders are hoping to bring him over in the fall, where he would make an impact right away thanks to the team’s dire need for more offense. One drawback on Petrov is his fragility, so you may see an Alexander Semin type of career (lots of points when he plays, but misses too many games). Keep an eye out for contract progress over the next eight months.
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 throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.