I’ve heard that dogs can smell fear. The same is true of great fantasy hockey owners. Are you that shivering nervous little Chihuahua, afraid to make a move for fear of getting eaten alive by the big bad dogs of your pool? Top dogs can sniff out a potential meal. You need to be able to swiftly identify those players that are under-performing and go after them. Here are some early season morsels to chew on from the Eastern Conference.
The old dog himself, Brendan Shanahan is one of several Rangers I’d be looking to scoop. He’s getting his chances as evidenced by the high number of shots on goal. Prior to last night’s game, Shanahan was second in the NHL in shots on goal and is averaging over twenty minutes a game. Fun Fact: Ranger’s rookie defenseman Marc Staal was born in 1987, the same year Shanahan was breaking into the NHL as a rookie with the Devils.
To say Scott Gomez is not clicking with his new team mates would be a huge understatement. Gomez is just too good of a player to let this continue for very long. He’s averaging over 20 minutes a game, but he’s pressing too hard right now. Gomez went into last night’s game on a five game pointless streak, 11-2-1-3 for the season. Once things settle down and he starts to figure out where his new line mates are going to be on the ice, the points will come. Even with this bad start, I think he still finishes with 65-70 points. If you can pry him away for a lesser player, you should.
Heading into last night’s contest, Marian Hossa was on pace for 30 points (8-2-1-3). The fact that he’s had four seasons in a row of 80 plus points and six straight seasons of 80 or more games played are reason enough to go see if his current owner is flinching at his poor start. The 28 year old Hossa has the added incentive of being an Unrestricted Free Agent after the season.
Bryan McCabe is getting booed mercilessly by the Maple Leaf faithful. I don’t know if it’s his poor defensive play or the fact that he’s making really large coin that has created unrealistic expectations for the 32 year old rearguard. The fans should cut him some slack, everyone knows you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Over the last three seasons, McCabe has averaged 17 goals, 59 points (35 of those on the power play) and 105 penalty minutes. Enjoy him for what he is, an offensive defenseman with nice penalty minutes who makes the odd gaffe in his own end.
Martin Brodeur simply did not get this dog gone bad over the summer. It has everything to do with the Devils losing their top defenseman and top centre. Combine that with a new coach, a new system and a nine game road trip to begin the season and their poor start should not have come as a big surprise. Have a little faith in Brodeur. Not only did he win the Vezina trophy as the league’s top goaltender last year, he set the NHL record for wins in a season with 48. Brodeur also topped the league in shutouts with 12 (next closest had 8) and finished third in goals against average (minimum 27 games played).
The Devils new coach, Brent Sutter, is a two time Stanley Cup winner, a former NHL team captain, and a very successful junior hockey coach. He coached Canada to consecutive gold medals at the 2005 and 2006 World Junior Hockey Championships. Both teams went undefeated. Sutter is a proven winner and will coax the Devils players to play much better hockey.
Other underachievers from the East worth considering are Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, Thomas Vanek, Slava Kozlov, Michael Ryder, Miroslav Satan and Tom Poti. If you can grab them at a bargain basement price, there’s a good chance they will reward you. Get’em while they’re cold, before these guys start heating up and their owners come to their senses.
Next week, I’ll name some guys that are overachieving. They might look like keepers now, but they likely won’t help you win best in show come the end of the season.
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