It is no secret to poolies that the prototypical goon has gone by the wayside. Gone are the days of picking up enforcers in your pool to add some much needed penalty minutes to your squad. Not surprisingly, the NHL PIM race is littered with new names. Only four pure enforcers are amongst the top 20 ? Donald Brashear (Washington), Wade Belak (Toronto), Josh Gratton (Phoenix) and Brian McGrattan (Ottawa). The rest of the group is made up of aggressive defensemen such as Montreal?s Sheldon Souray or energy-line agitating types such as Rangers newcomer Sean Avery.
No longer will you see the likes of Phoenix?s Georges Laraque on the PIM leaderboard. His 46 penalty minutes put him on pace for just 73. Ditto for the ?Boogeyman,? Derek Boogaard ? his NHL numbers are a big drop from what he was doing in the American League. For the third straight season, Jody Shelley?s penalty totals will decline from a peak of 249 in 2002-03 to a pace of 106 this year. Fantasy owners are steering clear of them altogether. If one were to take a chance on an enforcer, there is a huge risk that said bruiser will be a healthy scratch on any given night (just ask Laraque).
This makes for a lot of new faces. The current leader is Philadelphia rookie Ben Eager. The 23-year-old has the potential to consistently tally 200 penalty minutes and 30 to 35 points ? a little weaker than Avery offensively, but similar numbers otherwise. The only other player on pace for 200 penalty minutes is another rookie. Fittingly, he belongs in the second category ? aggressive defensemen. Anaheim?s Shane O?Brien has the potential to be a fantasy owner?s dream. A defenseman who can pot 40 points and 180 penalty minutes helps rotisserie leagues in so many ways. OK ? two ways.
Vancouver?s Kevin Bieksa is under the radar in this category. The rearguard is looking at a possible 50-point season, but at the same time currently sits at 82 penalty minutes.
One final thought on this: A player to look at next season is Calgary?s Mark Giordano. The 23-year-old will round into a 35- to 40-point player who racks up 120 PIM?s a season?
Montreal?s big disappointment this season, Sergei Samsonov, has been waived. Free to a good home (that has cap space), now might be the time to snap him up from a sleeping owner as we all know what this player is capable of. A new team could see him switch it back into high gear?