Taking a look at the Top 10 second-half players

There's been a great myth about Eric Staal the last few years about how he's a great second-half player.

Some fantasy GMs will overpay a little for Staal thinking he's in for a great half. I know I've traded away Staal in the middle of a season based on this selling point. But I've never believed it and his last few years bear this out.

In two of the last three years, Staal's point-per-game average in the second half of the season is lower than the first half. The exception was last year, when it went up by 0.01 %. The other two years it was significantly lower.

But there are plenty of players who do turn it on in the second half, and they have recent history to back it up.

Here are the top 10 second-half players.

 

– – – – Get full second-half projections and analysis. Pick up Dobber's 9th annual Midseason Fantasy Guide HERE – – – – 

 

10. Jamie Benn

Benn has found an extra gear in the second half since Tyler Seguin came on the scene. Although his hot second half last year had nothing to do with his superstar teammate. Look at his last two years:

2014-15: 35 points in 40 games (0.88 PPG), followed by 52 in 42 (1.24 PPG)

2013-14: 37 points in 44 games (0.84 PPG), followed by 42 in 37 (1.14)

It's pretty tough to imagine Benn picking it up even more in the second half as he has 53 points in the first 44 games. But given his recent history of turning it on late, we can't discount anything with Benn.

 

9. Scott Hartnell

The Blue Jacket finds himself in a great opportunity to have a great second half.

2014-15: 23 points in 33 games (0.70 PPG), followed by 37 in 44 (0.84 PPG)

2013-14: 22 points in 39 games (0.56 PPG), followed by 30 in 39 (0.77 PPG)

This year he has 30 points in his first 42 games, which is a little higher than he usually has at this point of the season. Still, there's lots of opportunity for Hartnell, especially with Ryan Johansen traded and Nick Foligno injured.

 

8. Ryan O'Reilly

It's a bit of a surprise that O'Reilly is in the top 25 points at this stage of the season. If his record of being a second-half guy continues, he could be top-15 by year's end.

2014-15: 23 points in 41 games (0.56 PPG), followed by 32 in 41 (0.78 PPG)

2013-14: 28 points in 42 games (0.67 PPG), followed by 36 in 38 (0.95 PPG)

So far his year, O'Reilly has 36 points in 42 games and is well on his way to setting career highs.

 

7. Nail Yakupov

Yakupov is owned in just 37 percent of Yahoo pools. But now may be the time to pick him up.

2014-15: 9 points in 41 games (0.22 PPG), followed by 24 in 40 (0.6 PPG)

2013-14: 17 points in 44 games (0.39 PPG), followed by 7 in 19 (0.37)

2012-13: 12 points in 24 games (0.5 PPG), followed by 19 in 24 (0.79 PPG)

Don't forget that he had great chemistry with Connor McDavid before McDavid's injury. With McDavid back any day now and Yakupov not too far behind, there's plenty of chances for Yakupov to pick it back up.

 

6. Phil Kessel

Many people may forget this because of the last 12 months, but Kessel is still an elite player. Last season's second half was an anomaly as a new coach in Toronto destroyed every fantasy aspect of the Leafs. But before that? Just look at the numbers:

2013-14: 39 points in 45 games (0.87 PPG), followed by 41 in 37 (1.11 PPG)

2012-13: 23 points in 26 games (0.88 PPG), followed by 29 in 22 (1.32 PPG)

This year he's had a slow start. But so has everyone in Pittsburgh. Kessel has just 24 points in 41 games. It's very easy to imagine that as Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Pens start to turn it around, so will Kessel.

 

5. Mikael Granlund

Granlund has only been in the NHL full-time for two seasons, so there's not as much track record to look at as others on this list. But in those two seasons, it's obvious he gets better as the season gets older.

2014-15: 15 points in 32 games (0.47 PPG), followed by 24 in 36 (0.67 PPG)

2013-14: 16 points in 33 games (0.48 PPG), followed by 25 in 30 (0.83 PPG)

This season has been his best first half-yet with 24 points in 41 games. He spent much of the first half getting top six minutes and on the team's top power play.

 

4. Jason Spezza

2014-15: 28 points in 40 games (0.7 PPG), followed by 34 in 42 (0.81 PPG)

2013-14: 31 points in 40 games (0.78 PPG), followed by 35 in 35 (1.00 PPG)

2012-13: Only played five games because of injury

2011-12: 41 points in 41 games (1.00 PPG), followed by 43 in 39 (1.10 PPG)

In every non-injured season of the past four years, Spezza owners have seen an increase in his production as the season moves on. Although mostly small increases, it's still noteworthy. What are the chances he does it this year? He's playing on the most dynamic teams in the league. So there's a pretty good chance.

 

3. Jarome Iginla

Iggy has garnered a reputation over the years as being much better in the second half than the first half. Recent history has borne this to be true also.

2014-15: 27 points in 41 games (0.66 PPG), followed by 32 in 41 (0.78 PPG)

2013-14: 29 points in 44 games (0.66 PPG), followed by 32 in 34 (0.94 PPG)

2012-13: 19 points in 23 games (0.83 PPG), followed by 14 in 21 (0.67 PPG)

2011-12: 32 points in 42 games (0.76 PPG), followed by 35 in 40 (0.88 PPG)

That one year when he suffered? Not only was it the lockout year, but it was the year he was traded to Pittsburgh. He struggled before the trade, but after the deal he had 11 points in 13 games. This year he has 23 points in 43 games. It's conceivable that he could get 30 the rest of the way.

 

2. David Desharnais

Truthfully, there were two other Habs players that could have been in this spot (Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban). But Desharnais' points-per-game increase is nuts.

2014-15: 21 points in 40 games (0.53 PPG), followed by 27 in 42 (0.64 PPG)

2013-14: 21 points in 43 games (0.49 PPG), followed by 31 in 36 (0.86 PPG)

2012-13: 14 points in 25 games (0.56 PPG), followed by 13 in 23 (0.57 PPG)

2011-12: 25 points in 40 games (0.63 PPG), followed by 35 in 41 (0.85 PPG)

This year Desharnais has just 21 points in 43 games. Desharnais is a streaky player, and it's plausible he'll go on another crazy streak at some point this year.

 

1. Roman Josi

Josi is the only defenseman to make this list, and one of only two players to have a better points-per-game in the second half of each of the last four seasons. Admittedly, one of those seasons is very minute but it's still worth noting.

2014-15: 27 points in 40 games (0.675 PPG), followed by 28 in 41 (0.682 PPG)

2013-14: 14 points in 35 games (0.40 PPG), followed by 26 in 37 (0.70 PPG)

2012-13: 7 points in 25 games (0.28 PPG), followed by 11 in 23 (0.48 PPG)

2011-12: 5 points in 19 games (0.26 PPG), followed by 11 in 33 (0.33 PPG)

That's a pretty good track record. This year he has 31 points in his first 42 games. He's yet to score 30 points in a second-half, so the odds seem to be stacked against him. But don't put it past him.