It’s not often that a 24 year old gets drafted. At that point, if the player is good enough to be drafted, then there are 30 teams who could have just signed him at any time during the preceding few years.
But in 2004, the Red Wings were at it again, grabbing 24-year-old Johan Franzen 97th overall. His 30 points in 49 contests in the Swedish Elite League that year was a big jump from the six points that he had in the preceding campaign.
With the introduction of the salary cap, teams are putting more emphasis on the bargains. That is to say, there are a handful of undrafted players every year playing all around the world who are willing to sign with an NHL team for cheap – and they have the skills to compete at the top level. You’re seeing it happen right now with Fabian Brunnstrom, a 22-year-old late bloomer who came out of nowhere to post 37 points in the SEL.
In getting an older player like that, the team does not have to wait. In Franzen’s case, the Wings waited another year and then brought him over. He stepped right onto the team and played 80 games.
Next year will be his fourth season – the big breakout year for many skilled players. Considering the fact that Franzen has 22 goals 30 points in his last 24 games (playoffs and season), it is safe to consider him a huge sleeper pick for 2008-09. Think about it – 22 goals in 24 games!
I would treat him this offseason like a 65-point player when trying to acquire him and if I already owned him then I would treat him like a 75-point player if someone approaches me. If that someone pays the price, I’ll sell. If I can get him for a 65-point type, I’ll buy.
But this statistical run that he is on is stretching beyond the limits of a “trend” and is moving towards “indicator” status. I am starting to think that 40 goals and 70 points in 75 games next year are very reachable…
Martin Straka is showing that he still has some gas in the tank at the perfect time. An unrestricted free agent this summer, the 35-year-old has seven points in his last four games. He is a money player. An interesting fact: Straka has 57 points in his last 62 playoff games…
As Dominik Hasek continues to prove that he has lost a step, Chris Osgood becomes more and more of a huge fantasy option for next season. Osgood has allowed just five goals in 274 playoff minutes versus Hasek’s 10 goals in 206. You saw this during the season as well, but it was hidden by the fact that the Red Wings played better as a team in front of Hasek as opposed to Osgood. Look for Osgood to be the starter next year with a capable Jimmy Howard as the backup…
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