Eastern Eight to Watch in 2007-08

Russell Miller



Following Angus’ lead, this week I’ll offer eight players from the East that bear watching this season.  The differences of opinion on how many points these players will produce are many. Here are eight nuggets for you to sift through (in order, lightest to heaviest), you decide whether or not they’ll be fantasy gold or fools gold:


Nicklas Backstrom
Weighing in at a svelte 183 pounds is the favourite to win this year’s Calder trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.  After recording 40 points in 45 Swedish Elite League games, Backstrom will be under pressure to perform in his first NHL season.  The Caps have brought in a number one centre and fellow Swede in Nylander to help lessen the pressure on the young pivot.  No question, the talent is there, but predictions of 55 to 75 points have been made for this season.   He’ll likely be closer to 55 than 75 this season, but will be golden for keeper league owners in the very near future.


Cory Murphy
Murphy has been drawing comparisons to Brian Rafalski. Both are undersized defencemen who played college hockey, followed by several years in Europe. In his final year in Finland, Rafalski scored 53 points in 53 games.  Murphy’s last year in Finland, 50 points in 45 games.  Murphy played well on the Canadian World Championship team scoring seven points in nine games on a team loaded with NHL players.  One thing to consider, in Rafalski’s first NHL season, he had 32 points in 75 games.  Don’t expect more than 35 points from Murphy this season. 


Sean Avery
And in this corner, weighing 185 pounds, the NHL’s most despised hockey player and detriment to his team… That was basically what the Rangers said about Avery at his arbitration hearing this summer.  Avery shouldn’t have been too shocked, his comments prior to the playoff series against Buffalo may have actually motivated the Sabres.  Avery gets under the skin of everyone, including his own team mates.  The question is, can he improve upon seasons of 28, 39 and 48 points?  He went 29-8-12-20 after the trade to the Rangers, good for 56 points over a full season.  Will his attitude be a distraction?  It shoul