The Contrarian – The Unforeseen Ups and Downs

by Demetri Fragopoulos on December 6, 2015

Let's compare the top 10 scorers so far this season to the top 10 scorers at the end of last season.

This week I am going to do a recap of the top players of this year and of last year. It just so happens that there are 13 players that make the top 10 in both seasons.

So far only four players from last season’s top 10 are in this year’s top 10. They are:

Jamie Benn – His hip injuries have not hindered his performance in any way this year.

Tyler Seguin – He continues to be dominant leading the Dallas Stars to the playoffs.

Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin – What can one say about the wonder twins other than they still have it in them to work some beautiful magic.

Because of the duplication, that leaves 18 players, nine from each season.

Starting with last year’s players, last year’s rank in ():

John Tavares – (2nd) At the time of this writing he was ranked 31st overall with 22 points. Even though he technically is not in the top 10 right now, he is within striking distance. Slightly performing under a point-a-game pace, there is not much that you can really complain about.

Sidney Crosby – (3rd) If he was not picked first in the majority of fantasy drafts this year, he was still selected very early in the first round. A disappointing start with 15 points and ranked 110th overall, this is an extreme shock to his owners. Yet the Pittsburgh Penguins are in playoff contention.

Jakub Voracek – (T-4th) Like Crosby he has 15 points this year. Unlike Crosby, he has not been a consistent point producer so some owners would have been cautious in nabbing him too fast. Some owners…

Alexander Ovechkin – (T-4th) So he is not in the top 10 right now. No big deal. One hot week and he hops, skips and jumps over a baker’s dozen of players to land back in the top group. He is only three points away from doing so.

Nicklas Backstrom – (6th) Guess what? If Ovechkin is going to streak by everyone else, then Backstrom will be going along with him. He is only five points out of the pack.

Jiri Hudler – (T-8th) Another surprise performer that is not doing so well this year. He is not doing terrible with 16 points, but the Calgary Flames are burning down and you have to wonder if they were a bit too overconfident to start this season.

Claude Giroux – (T-10th) Like Tavares, 22 points, and in range to jump up. The Philadelphia Flyers have struggled but are improving.

Vladimir Tarasenko – (T-10th) Still doing an amazing job. Only one point away from joining the rest of this year’s elite players.

Nick Foligno – (T-10th) If Voracek and Hudler were players some felt were overinflated, then Foligno was the likeliest to return back to where he averaged. If you bet on him it was probably because you had Ryan Johansen or love the Columbus Blue Jackets, and there is no cure for that.

Those were the nine from last year.  I give six of them a chance to assert themselves into the scoring race and yes I frightfully include Crosby in that group.

Now this year’s nine pleasant surprises, current rank in ():

Patrick Kane – (1st) If it was not for his legal issues, he would have been considered by everyone to be a first round selection. He had 61 points in 64 games last year and was a proven commodity. If you passed on him because of the summer trouble you were not the only one. Those that were able to acquire him are laughing… for now.

Erik Karlsson – (T-4th) If you did not rank him as the best defensemen then you had him listed below P.K. Subban. That he has 29 points and is a top point producer amongst all skaters is a bit of an added bonus but not shocking.

Mike Cammalleri – (6th) This New Jersey Devil has resurrected himself from his 42 points in 68 game season last year. Coach John Hynes is letting this 33-year-old, 5’9”, 180-pound player be the Devils’ best player. What a concept!

John Klingberg – (7th) Another Star makes the list and is a large reason why they lead the Western Conference. If you had your eyes on him after his 40-point performance over 65 games, then you did very well for yourself. Those that passed Klingberg off can lament why they selected Mark Streit and Mike Fisher around the same time.

Blake Wheeler – (T-10th) He has flirted with a 70-point season but never got it. Now he is on pace for an 82-point season at age 29. Now the question is, will he maintain that pace into future seasons or will he slip back into his norm like Hudler has?

Evgeny Kuznetsov – (T-10th) He had large expectations on him the year before but only managed to generate 37 points in 80 games. That might have left a bad taste with those fantasy owners. If you were able to pick him up in your draft or by trade then you’ve done well. At 23 years old he will be in his prime years, but is this a fluke or will it be sustainable? I think a lot will tell from what kind of playoff performance he and the Washington Capitals will have this season.

Taylor Hall – (T-10th) A former top 10 player, this is not a huge shock even though he had a terrible year in 2014-15. In fact, this performance was expected with the arrival of Connor McDavid. That Hall has managed to continue to score despite McDavid’s injury is great news.

Artemi Panarin – (T-10th) At the end of April, you may have not noticed that he was signed to a two-year contract. You might have researched him during the summer and bristled at his 5’11”, 170-pound physical attributes. That he was undrafted and came from the KHL might have also prevented you from drafting him. Surely you will not let him pass you by next year.

Johnny Gaudreau – (T-10th) Another physically small player but with a big hockey heart. I know owners who are either gung-ho about him or do not want to touch him with a ten foot pole. His seasonal point totals might bounce around like another former Calgary Flame great, Theoren Fleury, but I think he has proven himself to be the real deal.

A bit past the quarter point, it seems that the big shockers from last year have come back to earth. Will the same be true for this year’s group?