Top 10 first half surprises (and can they keep it up?)

Tom Collins

2017-01-16

Top 10 surprises of the first half, and can they keep it up?

 

The halfway point of the season is always a good time to take a second to contemplate on what we’ve witnessed so far this season. Most of it is routine. But there are always surprises. This year has been chock full of them.

But the most important aspect isn’t figuring out who was the biggest first-half surprise. It’s whether the player can keep up the scoring pace that made him such a surprise in the first place. Below are the top 10 surprises so far and whether their second half can match the first 40 games.

 

10. Phil Kessel

After a couple of subpar seasons, many fantasy general managers lost faith in Kessel. But he’s been his own self this season. Kessel has 41 points in 42 games and is on pace for 80 points. And he amazingly has 18 power play points already (tied for third most in the league). The only real concern for Kessel is the fact his shot total is down (he’s on pace for 232 shots: that would be by far his lowest since the lockout shortened season of 2012-13). But he is playing regularly with Evgeni Malkin and is playing almost 70 per cent of the Penguins’ power play ice time so he should have no trouble keeping up this pace.

 

9. Bo Horvat

Horvat is quickly becoming a must own in fantasy hockey. The only Canuck that is fantasy relevant, Horvat started the season slow with just four points in his first 12 games. He has 26 points in 34 games since. That’s a 63-point pace over 82 games. Imagine what he could do with more ice time and some time on the top power play unit. He’s only one Henrik Sedin injury away from getting that ice time.

 

8. Brad Marchand

No one expected Marchand to be one of the league’s elite fantasy producers. But here we are. He’s on pace for 77 points. He’s the first player since 2013-14 to have two five-point games in the same season. He has points in 31 of Boston’s 46 games. And he’s a shoo-in to keep this up. He’s getting lots of ice time for someone not on the top power play unit. His 12.7 per cent shooting percentage is the lowest of his career. And he’s been getting points while playing with the Patrice Bergeron (snake bitten most of the season) and Davis Pastrnak (one goal in the last 16 games).

 

7. Conor Sheary

Sheary first came onto the radar for many fantasy general managers during Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup victory last year. Sheary has been quietly putting up points this year and has 11 goals and 25 points in 35 games. That puts him on pace for 24 goals and 54 points. No one expected that. It helps that his most frequent line mate is Sidney Crosby. He’s even getting a little bit of power play time. Whether he can keep this up depends on whether he continues to play with the best player in the world.

 

6. Thomas Vanek