15 Points to Consider – January 18th

Jeff Angus




Elliotte Friedman's weekly 30 Thoughts column on the CBC website is the best read in hockey. Friedman is insightful, articulate, knowledgeable, fair, and most importantly, interesting. He has sources and contacts in the hockey world that most could only dream of. Most importantly, has an ability which is rare in this day and age – providing a balanced and reasonable opinion on the league, the players, and all 30 of the clubs.


Each week I will post my own observations (I couldn't completely steal Friedman's idea so I'll pick a number other than 30) with a heavy emphasis on the fantasy side of hockey, of course. Prospects, goalies, sleepers, busts, it will all be covered each week.


1. I absolutely love it when players step up their performance after signing a big contract extension. Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley signed a massive six-year pact a few weeks ago, to the surprise of many. For a team with ownership issues, to lock up an above average (but not great) defenseman to a career contract came as a bit of a surprise. Not to mention the fact that their best player, Brad Richards, is an impending free agent.


Since signing the contract, Daley has been on a tear. He has three goals and three assists in seven games, along with 12 shots on goal and almost 25 minutes of ice time per game. The most important part is the fact that Dallas is 6-0-1 over that stretch. Daley has always been a bit of a question mark from a fantasy hockey standpoint. He skates very well and moves the puck with great efficiency, but he doesn't produce much offensively. With a new contract and a growing role with a good team, don't be surprised to see him set career highs this season.


2. Four of David Clarkson's eight goals have come in the last six games (as of January 16th). The scrappy winger was the victim of an early season numbers game in New Jersey, but he is starting to see some more time in offensive situations thanks to the trade of Jamie Langenbrunner to Dallas. Clarkson is second on the team in shots on goal, only one behind Ilya Kovalchuk. He's lining up on the fourth line with Rod Pelley and Tom Sestito right now, but he'll find his way into a scoring role either this season or next.


Clarkson scored 17 goals in a full season back in 2008-09, and he scored 11 in only 46 games last year. He's on pace for another season with more than 150 PIM. If he can keep his recent goal production up, a 20-goal season isn't completely out of the cards.


3. Skilled players who lack heart/desire/intensity are the ultimate teases. They usually end up getting traded, and then people renew their optimism in the player and hope that a change in scenery will be the catalyst for change. It never is. Two recent examples are Nathan Horton and Wojtek Wolski. Both players have the size and skill to be dominant NHL forwards, but they simply don't bring the effort on a nightly basis that is required from top end players. Horton in Boston seemed like a lock for 35 or 40 goals.


Horton has scored four goals since November 15th, and he's on pace for only 22. Wolski has had goalless streaks of 10 games, eight games, and eight games respectively this season. Take a shot with Wolski in a one-year league as his production will improve in a better situation, but don't have your judgment on these types o