In these first few weeks of play it is always humorous to see the panic button being mashed to oblivion in the forums. It only takes about two games for the posts to start racking up with frantic owners on red alert. Patience is at an all-time low in the modern era so in an effort to both alleviate and make recognition of real deal players let us look at a few personnel you should always start with confidence.
There may not be a less appreciated player in the league than Mr. Skinner. Only coming in as the sixth best goal scorer last season with 37, he seemingly always finds himself as a draft day pariah going at an ADP below his worth. Let’s get this straight right here right now; Jeff Skinner is dangerous.
Goodness gracious can you say howitzer in the video above. Not only was that an absolute rocket that Mike Smith had no prayer on but take notice of Skinner’s ability to absorb that shove by Michael Stone that would’ve put many on their bums. With a Corsi For % of 50 or higher every season of his career, more likely than not when Skinner is on the ice the play is going in the Hurricanes favor. As the straw that stirs the drink in Carolina, the Hurricanes will go so far as he takes them being the bonafide goal scorer numero uno on the roster. Any fears of decreased ice time and third line duty were alleviated by game three. If you own Skinner consider yourself lucky to have the most underappreciated sniper in the game and deploy with confidence as he has picked up from where he left off last year. Boasting elite shots with his goal scoring prowess many an intellectual owner would clamor to possess him.
All the attention always goes to the players putting 65+ points in a season but there is plenty to celebrate in a guy who you can plop down a lot of money on getting you 55 points year-in and year-out. What Stepan brings and more owners need to value is consistency. Many were scared off by his move to Arizona this offseason especially with the horrendous season they had in 2016-17. But the mistakes of others shall bear fantasy fruit for those whom looked past this in drafting Stepan. With a PDO of 1000 or more every season of his career and a Pts/60 of 2.0 or more throughout as well he is all but guaranteed to be a fantastic option for your squad. Added bonus if you count faceoffs as he will get you a healthy chunk of those.
Where many went wrong is not taking his new situation into account. He is the uncontested number one center for the Coyotes flanked by two immense young talents in Max Domi/Clayton Keller. So far he is being deployed in the offensive zone 65% of the time so when he crosses 60 points this year for the first time in his career you’ll look like a genius for scooping him up. As a devout Rangers fan I cannot tell you how much I miss Stepan’s presence and it shows in their record thus far.
When it comes to multi-category leagues there are times when Dubinsky is the most valuable player on your squad by a mile. Last year he had 41 points, 91 PIM, ATOI of 17:54, 770 FOW and 248 hits. That is absurd category coverage and he is treated like dirt. Though one can wish to see him playing with higher-end offensive linemates his current deployment with Pierre Luc Dubois and Josh Anderson lends a hand to his gritty style of play. One need not fear Dubinsky’s ice time ever plummeting into 10-minute territory as he holds a special place in John Tortorella’s heart from their Rangers era together. With only one assist so far, many an owner is probably debating dumping him. Know that you’ll still be provided with peripherals despite the lack of points and when the hot streak hits for him eventually you’ll be happy you retained your multi-cat stud.
Everyone will go right to Lee’s shooting percentage both this year and last season in an attempt to discredit his goal scoring prowess. Sure, his current 23.8% is unsustainable but in 81 games last year he maintained at 17.8% so the falloff should not be all that drastic. And this is because of the way in which Lee scores the majority of his goals, in close. Possessing exceptional hands and playing alongside John Tavares he is not sniping from thirty feet out but getting to the dirty area in front of the net winning battles. Lee should be viewed now as one of the games better goal scorers and any cold spells should be endured knowing he will find twine once again. Stop clamoring over Jordan Eberle’s potential, Lee is the linemate of Tavares to own.
Shame on all for letting one down season discredit this man to the point where his ADP on ESPN was 183rd in drafts this year. The third overall pick of 2009 is all of 26 years of age and possesses tantalizing skill that everyone should’ve considered first and foremost. Even if he really wants out of Colorado he’ll have to play at a phenomenal level in order to showcase himself yet nobody could look past the soap opera drama of the season prior in Colorado. Yes, last season was a dumpster fire but this team has some offensive depth despite injuries to Tyson Jost and JT Compher. Now finding himself paired with Gabriel Landeskog, Duchene is lending his hand in leading the way for the Avalanche. Never again throughout his prime shall his draft price come at the bargain it did this season so to those savvy enough to have maintained the faith do enjoy his contributions.
Poor Little is almost in Nicklas Backstrom territory for underappreciation. Yes, injury concerns are going to be valid with him but his points per game each season starting in 2013-14 through last season goes as follows; 0.78/0.74/0.74/0.80. Whether he is made of glass or not, the fact is the man can hockey. With an ADP of 152 on ESPN anyone lucky enough to have drafted him definitely had a sly smirk on their face as they clicked the button. The perfect example of a quality asset buried in the shadows of a youth movement a la James van Riemsdyk in Toronto, it’s truly unfortunate how unheralded he is year-in and year-out. Surrounded by serious offensive talent the production will surely be there again this season barring no injuries to keep him off the ice.
Two players to proceed with caution on are grouped together. Both are also in similar situations playing alongside superior linemates who are driving the play and they just so happen to be reaping the rewards in points. Not to say either is a slouch but early on these two are providing elite production nobody expected. I am sorry but Pominville is not maintaining his current shooting percentage of 27.8 with a career high of 16.7% in his age 30 season. Brown currently sits at 16.7% which makes his production seem more realistic but this is a player who was dormant for years and came flying out of the gate. He maintains this torrid pace for a third of the season then we can start talking about a rebirth but for now one must still assume he will cascade off the cliff as the year progresses.
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