Up With Downie?

Dobber Sports

2009-02-05

 Mair Downie

 

Steve Downie – fantasy pariah or future fantasy savior? The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines pariah as one that is despised or rejected. Steve Downie has been both early in his NHL career. Despised by many hockey fans as a no talent goon; rejected by the Flyers and traded to hockey’s sunny Siberia, Tampa Bay.

 

I don’t recall any previous player starting his NHL career with a lengthy suspension (20 games) BEFORE playing even a single NHL regular season game. Obviously Colin Campbell and the league were sending a message to the shift disturbing winger. Suspensions of that length were previously reserved for only the most heinous of offences, not for something that made Wendel Clark a folk hero in Toronto.

Many of you reading already know my stance on the Downie suspension; suffice to say that I strongly disagreed with the league’s handling of the incident. Earlier this week, we saw repeat offender Denis Gauthier leave his feet, lead with his elbow and knock Gorgeous Gorges loopy. Gauthier sits five games for his fourth suspension in six years. Huh? Avery got six for talking and had never been suspended before!

But I digress; I’m here to discuss Steve Downie’s fantasy future. The kid is averaging less than ten minutes of ice time per game, but recently had a four game point streak. He also was a plus-3 and had eight penalty minutes during that stretch. Downie has been playing on a line with another Steve, this one you might remember as the first overall pick in last year’s entry draft. A little chemistry with Stamkos, who may be Tampa’s future franchise player if they deal Lecavalier, can’t be a bad thing for the 21-year-old Downie.

Don’t forget that Steve Downie is a former first round pick of the Flyers, who took him 29th overall in the 2005 entry draft. He has skill far superior than Dan Carcillo or Sean Avery and could one day lead the league in penalty minutes, yet he’s owned in only one percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues. Dobber has Downie with 70 point upside and I certainly won’t disagree with that assessment. He has great strength on the puck, creates offensive chances and isn’t afraid to mix it up with anyone.

We’re talking about a player who in his last year of junior hockey scored 92 points in 45 games, was plus-23 and still found the time to rack up a whopping 124 minutes in penalties. Compare that against some other young players in their final junior seasons: