Looking Back…at February, 2009 Top Players

Darren Kennedy




We look at Marian Gaborik and how, just maybe, he has become underrated

Lately I've been pondering the term "Groupthink". For the uninitiated here is its definition from the great knower of all things, Wikipedia:

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.

Essentially it is a situation where so many people before you have thought a certain way that you simply decide to think that way as well. It creates this friendly environment in which everyone agrees with one another.

So why are we talking about groupthink? Well, we're talking about it because Los Angeles' prized trade deadline acquisition Marian Gaborik is reminding the collective fantasy hockey world that he might still be pretty. Pretty damn good, for that matter.

Through nine playoff games he is first in the NHL for goals (six), and has nine points and 25 shots on net. Naturally we'd assume sample size is an issue here, however, he ended the regular season with 16 points in 19 games.

Amazingly, despite being only 32 (I say "only" because let's face it 32 isn't ancient) years old he has been written off by many as "injury prone" or "inconsistent". Count me among the many that has used him countless times as a case study for bandaid boy-ness.

We've all thought of Gaborik has this colossal injury risk for so long that maybe, just maybe, we've all forgotten the value that a potential 40 goal, 275 shot player carries. When he's on his game how many guys are legitimately better assets? Off the top of my head I can name 12 or 13 I'd rather own. Of course Gaborik isn't the "14th" most valuable player in your pool. I'm by no means suggesting that. But he shouldn't be the 70th either.

For me it's a pure numbers game, in which you're playing the percentages. In the best case scenario (that probably happens 35 to 40 percent of the time) you're getting an elite scoring winger who can singlehandedly change the outcome of your pool. Conversely, there is a 60 percent chance Gaborik spends 20 to 30 games sitting in an injury spot.

But if you think deeper how significant is this risk? Remember all players COULD be hurt. So it's not as if anyone has a zero risk factor. Additionally, if Gaborik is hurt late in the season you're able to drop him for a waiver wire add. While not ideal, it's not as though he's costing you a full spot. So really, the only thing you fear is that after you've invested an early to mid-round pick you lose him in the first 30 to 40 games and don't recoup any value. How many times has that actually happened? You're likely dealing with a 20% risk factor at that point.

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