The Top 10 PIM players to own in fantasy hockey…
By Tom Collins
Even though there's a movement afoot to get rid of PIM in fantasy hockey, there are still plenty of leagues out there that include them. I'm currently in three dynasty leagues and PIM are included in all three of them.
I understand why people want to get away from the category. A player gets rewarded in fantasy hockey for something that is more often than not detrimental to that player's team in real life.
Of course, PIM have a tendency to overinflate the value of some players even with fighting on a steady decline. Guys who normally would never be taken in a hockey pool are chosen because they can rack up penalties. And guys who are good fantasy players become even more valuable when PIM are included in the mix.
Most of the guys on this list have already some fantasy value. And to keep it simple, we're focusing on guys who have multiple 100-plus PIM seasons under their belts.
Here are the top 10 PIM producers.
10. Zack Kassian
It will be fun to see if Kassian can continue an absurd PIM-per-game rate over a full season. He's cracked 80-plus PIM in each of the last two seasons despite playing in less than half the games (including 114 PIM in 36 games this year). Prorated over 82 games, his last two seasons would have seen him finish with 158 and 260 PIM (which would have easily been the highest this year by 83 PIM). Throw in the fact he averages about two to three hits a game, Kassian is going to become a fantasy darlings if he can play 65 games.
Dorsett is about as money as you can get in this category. He's been in the top 10 for PIM in five of the last six seasons and has led the league twice in that time span, including this past season. Chris Neil and Dorsett are the only players to be above 900 PIM total from 2010 to 2016. The fact he's not that great in any other fantasy category keeps him from being any higher on this list.
8. Chris Neil
Gone are the days that Chris Neil could score 10-plus goals and play a regular role on the power play. But he's still great in two categories: hits (about three per game) and PIM. The only time Neil had less than 144 PIM was 2014-15 when he played in just 38 games but still racked up 78 PIM. He may not be getting into as many fights as he used to but he's still an effective fantasy player in leagues with hits and PIM.
7. Tom Wilson
Wilson just finished his age 21 season and already has 486 PIM in three years. Only 19 players in NHL history have had at least 450 PIM by the time they were 21. The last was Ed Jovanovski back in the mid-1990s. So Wilson turning into something special, at least when it comes to PIM. Wilson's ice time has been increasing every year. There have been rumours that the Capitals want Wilson to be more like Joel Ward. Which would be great for Wilson's point totals, but not his PIM.
6. Radko Gudas
Gudas has only played two full seasons in the NHL but has had at least 100 PIM in each of them. Problem with Gudas is that he piles up most of his PIM in just a few games. Seventy-two of his 116 PIM this season came in a span of 18 games from Feb 2 to March 7. In roto leagues, it doesn't matter when you get the PIM. Just that you get them. But it takes away from his value in head-to-head leagues.
5. Matt Martin
We all know Martin is a heavy hitter, leading the league in hits for the past five seasons. But he's also routinely in the sin bin as well proving he's not a one-hit wonder. Martin has actually been in the top 10 in the league in PIM in each of the last two seasons and has hit the 100-PIM mark four times.
4. David Backes
When people talk about players who benefit greatly from PIM being a category, Backes is one of the first players everyone thinks of. And with good reason. He's been a good, not great, hockey player for a few years. He hasn't been a 30-goal or 60-point player since 2010-11. And he hasn't had 200-plus shots since 2011-12. But he does have five 100 PIM seasons, the latest in 2014-15, which inflates his value. Whether Backes can have another high-PIM season will depend on where he signs this offseason.
Simmonds is a bit of an odd case where he will get a 100-plus PIM season and follow that with 80 or less. This has happened every year of his eight seasons. So expect a down season next year. This past year he had 147 PIM (fourth highest in the NHL). Simmonds is the only player since 2011-12 to have a 30-goal, 60-point, 100-PIM season.
Byfuglien is in a league all of his own when it comes to fantasy hockey as he contributes in almost every single fantasy hockey category imaginable: goals, points, power play points, shots, hits, blocked shots and of course, PIM. This year was the second straight season that he led all defensemen in PIM but only the second time he's had 100 PIM. Instead of getting less PIM each season like many on this list, Big Buff is getting more as he gets older.
Hartnell is one of only five players to have five 100-plus PIM seasons in the last six years (the lockout season stops many of these players from getting to six) . He's a guaranteed 20-goal guy (with at least a third of those coming on the power play) and is usually good for at least 50 points, with the odd 60-point campaign thrown in. He's had 11 seasons with at least 100 PIM and doesn't seem to be in any danger of reversing that trend any time soon.
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