Looking back at January 2008 and one the best young centers in fantasy hockey – Paul Stastny
There are many, many reasons to love fantasy hockey; the draft, hours spent scrolling through box scores, living and dying with a meaningless blocked shot on Tuesday in mid-November. For many of us it has grown from a simple activity to a lifetime hobby.
For me, the best part, the thing that keeps brining me back, is the endless search for the "next" big thing. That feeling of satisfaction when you manage to land a star forward at age 21, just as he makes the leap into the fantasy elite. Knowing that you've found an asset who will be a huge part of your team for the next five our more years.
Because fantasy sports is – at its core – unpredictable, we all crave stability. Drafting Crosby in 2007 and knowing that you'll never have to worry about finding a centerman until 2020. Or taking a flyer on some kid from Sweden named Lundqvist in 2006 – solidifying your goaltending for a decade. We all sleep easier with the comforting knowledge that our roster is secure, manned by players either in or approaching their prime years.
This search for the "next" one is why many of you reading this would have had your heart broken by Paul Stastny. He WAS one of the next ones – until he wasn't.
His career began with a near point per game season in 2006-2007 – 28 goals and 50 assists in 82 games. Sure, it was the post-lockout NHL that was affording teams countless powerplay opportunities, and Stastny was a beneficiary of that. 31 of his 78 points were scored on the man advantage. Still, finishing 29th in scoring as a red shirt rookie had the fantasy world beaming.
As a follow up he had an even better 2007-2008, ending the year with 24 goals and 47 assists in just 66 games. Extrapolated over a full season he was on pace for a staggering 88 points. There were whispers that Stastny might be developing into one of the 10 best players in hockey. They weren't wrong.
Understandably, the Avalanche center was shooting up fantasy rankings. In January of 2008 he was 22 years old and already had two seasons with over 70 points. There were of course some warning signs; an over reliance on the powerplay and unsustainably high shooting percentages (15.1% and 17.4%). But it's hard to temper the expectations of poolies when they're on their way up the roller coaster. It's just too much dang fun.
Dobber had done a nice job of balancing reality with potential when he released his rankings in January of 2008. Stastny came in at number 19, just a few slots behind the likes of Zetterberg, Datysuk, St.Louis and Staal. He was in the midst of his coronation as a member of the fantasy elite.