Top 10 Keeper League Combo Players

Jeff Angus



It took me a while to figure out how to tackle this list. The selection process for my previous four keeper lists – top ten centers, left wingers, right wingers, and defensemen – has been relatively straight forward. Using a one-to-three season window, the best talents at each position were ranked (according to standard fantasy hockey categories). Secondary statistics, like shots on goal, plus-minus, and penalty minutes, are much easier to fill with the later round picks (in my experience, at least). With your top guys, you generally want to get the players who will maximize your goals and assists categories.


Most leagues would place more value on a 120 point player who only gets 20 penalty minutes as opposed to a 70 point player who gets 100 penalty minutes, but for this list, the penalty minutes part of the combination has been weighed a bit more heavily in order to eliminate the obvious players like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Evgeni Malkin (all three play with enough of an edge to be considered 'combo' players).


Penalty minutes tend to fluctuate from year to year for most players, and there are many reasons as to why this happens. Sometimes it is because a player has changed roles with his respective team. Brenden Morrow is the perfect example of this. Morrow started his career with Dallas in 1999. Between his rookie season and the 2005-06 campaign, he played in 451 regular season games, and racked up 789 penalty minutes (1.75 penalty minutes per game). However, in the summer of 2006 he replaced Mike Modano as captain. Becoming captain meant Morrow had to change his game. Staying out of the box was something he diligently worked on, as he was too valuable a player to be sitting in the box for about two minutes each game. From the 2006-07 season up to the end of the most recent one, Morrow recorded 256 penalty minutes in 216 games (1.18 penalty minutes per game). Over the course of an 82 game season, the difference between Morrow's totals before and after being named captain is 48 penalty minutes.


Alex Burrows could follow a similar path as Morrow. He won't be named captain of the Canucks any time soon, but as a top line scorer, he is much more valuable on the ice than in the box. His time in the sin bin has declined from 179 in 2007-08, to 150 in 2008-09, to 121 this past season. There are countless other examples of the inverse relationship between production and penalty minutes.


I only started playing fantasy hockey seriously in 2001, so I missed out on a lot. I never got to experience the Wayne Gretzky rule (ineligible to be drafted because he was too dominant). One player who I really would have loved to own in a league that counted penalty minutes is Pat Verbeek. Verbeek's four most "productive" seasons (from a 'combo' standpoint): 1987-88 with 46 goals, 77 points, and 227 penalty minutes, 1989-90 with 44 goals, 89 poin