Welcome to Razzball, the hockey edition! My name is Dan and I’m one of the rarest of rare human beings on the planet – A hardcore hockey fan who was born, raised, and currently living in Southern California. For those of you not familiar with hockey it actually doesn’t involve a ball at all. Apparently they use a psychopathic, gay-bashing cast member from the original “Real World”. Seriously though, I love hockey. It has the physicality of football, the nonstop back and forth action of basketball, and as a fantasy game its very similar to baseball (in that there are 2 separate categories altogether – Pitching & offense compared to Goaltending & offense). In general, offensive scoring has some combination of these statistics: Goals (G), Assists (A), Power Play Points (PPP), +/- , Shots on Goal (SOG), Penalty Minutes (PIM), Hits (H) and Blocked Shots (BS). Goalie stats: Wins (W), Saves (S), Save % (SV%), Goals-Against-Average (GAA) and Shutouts (SO). Personally I don’t play in leagues that count Hits and Blocked Shots, and my rankings reflect that. It opens up the player pool to a bunch of guys that don’t matter IMO (so does Penalty Minutes but whatever I like fighting). For those of you that do use those stats, well, then you probably know more than I do anyway so what are you using my rankings for? I’m going to start with my Top 30 overall (countdown style), which will be rolled out over the next few days. After that it’ll be a Top 20 at each position for the remaining players. And of course some sleepers, busts, prospects, and other general stuff mixed in between. So without further ado, here are numbers 30-21 of my rankings for the 2011-2012 fantasy hockey season.
30. Kris Letang – D (Pit): Letang’s fantasy value is contingent upon the health of Sidney Crosby (much like every other Penguin). Last year with Crosby, in exactly half a season (41 games), Pooty-tang had 6 goals, 30 assists and was a +23. The other half of the year? 2 Goals, 12 assists and a -8. Meaning when Crosby plays, Letang is Nicklas Lidstrom circa 2005. When he doesn’t, he’s Rory Fitzpatrick.
29. Alexander Semin – RW (Wsh): Huh huh huh, semin… This little swimmer is one of the more talented goal scorers in the game. His career shooting percentage (goals/shots) is 14.6% (for reference, his teammate Ovechkin’s career shooting % is under 12). BUT, he is one of those perennial nagging injury guys and has averaged 14 games missed per season during his career. Throw in the fact that his coach “Flabby Gabby” Boudreau all of a sudden loves him some defense (which will be a recurring theme with Washington Capital players) it could be another down year for Mr. Semin.
28. Claude Giroux – RW (Phi): One of the reasons the Flyers felt they could trade Carter and Richards was because of the emergence of this guy (and of course because they’re obsessed with finally obtaining that “franchise goalie”). Giroux broke out last season with 76 points and a +20 while spending much of the season outside of a Top 6 forward spot. Detractors will say that the loss of Carter and Richards will hurt his value this year, but I call BS on that. If anything it will open up a spot for him on the top Power Play unit, meaning more scoring.
27. Ilya Kovalchuk – LW (NJD): THE Russian Sniper. It’s been a bumpy road for Ilya since landing in New Jersey. He was loved, then hated, then hated some more and now most Jersey fans will tell you they are somewhere in between. It all hinges on what he does this year. Prior to 2010-2011, Kovy had put up at least 41 goals in 6 straight seasons. Last year? 31. In fact, across the board it was the worst season of his career. The positive? He had 21 Goals in the last 40 games and is still just 28 years old.
26. Bobby Ryan – LW (Ana): You want a guy who could pull a Corey Perry this year? Look no further. Bobby Ryan is infamous for being the first guy drafted after Sidney Crosby back in 2005, meaning most years he would have gone #1 overall – and with good reason. He’s been improving steadily and now at 24 heading into his 4th full season, he (like Kovy) is one of the few legitimate snipers in the NHL. The only thing holding him from 40+ goals are his linemates. Peanut head Carlyle has a fetish for splitting up the absolutely dominating Getzlaf-Perry-Ryan line in order to “spread the scoring around”. What a jerk.
25. Rick Nash – LW (CBJ): I’ve always felt like Nash is the Randy Moss of hockey. He’s got all the talent in the world but seems to shut it down when he’s not interested. HOWEVA – The trade for Jeff Carter gives him a legitimate playmaker on his line for the first time in his career. I expect an uptick in +/- and assists with the usual 30+ goals and 250+ shots.
24. Carey Price – G (Mon): I’ve been hearing about this guy’s greatness ever since he was drafted 5th overall in 2005. He is the prototype for the new NHL goalie: 6’3”, 220lbs with great quickness and lateral movement. Last year he finally broke out with 38 Wins (70 Starts), 8 Shutouts, 2.35GAA and a .923SV%. I could easily see him atop the Goalie rankings at season’s end, he’s that good (so lay off him you crazy Montreal Canadian fan – he’s one of the best in the world!)
23. Keith Yandle – D (Phx): Kinda going out on a limb with this one, but I’m a believer. Yandle broke out last year: 11G/48A/+12/26PPP’s/198S — and I think he can get better. This will be his 4th full season and he’s only 25. Throw in the fact that he’s the Quarterback of the Phoenix power play and I see a stud #1 Defenseman in the making.
22. Pekka Rinne – G (Nsh): This guy was awesome last year (33Wins, 6SO, 2.12GAA, .930SV%). Detractors will say he’s already 28 and only started more than 60 games once in his career, but the bottom line is this guy has skills to pay the bills, great defensive Defenseman in front of him (Suter-Weber), and the ultimate defensive minded coach (The *Trotz).
21. Nicklas Backstrom – C (Wsh): Another victim of flabby Gabby’s defense first approach, this pure-faced Swede (aren’t they all?) took a step back offensively last year (just 65 points in 77 games). But in 2009-10 Nickel Back put up a ridiculous 101 point season as a 22 year old. Very few players in the history of the game can claim that. For this year I’d imagine something in between the last 2, as in 80+ points and a great +/-.