The fantasy season is over and the real playoffs have been fantastic but just because the fun is done in fantasyland doesn’t mean we log off and skate into the sunset until next season, oh no! After a short hiatus I’ve returned to drop more hockey knowledge and start preparing you for victory next season. Before we look ahead, we must look behind and see who did what in the 2013-14 season. Without further ado I present to you the Razzball Fantasy Hockey Player Awards!
Fantasy MVP – Sidney Crosby
This is a pretty easy call; after all there was only one guy who managed to eclipse the elusive century mark with 104 points in 80 games. Yes, Sidney Crosby gets the MVP crown as much as I don’t like it, and I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I think Crosby is the best player in the world right now, and I’d draft him and profit from that talent, but even then I’d find it hard to root for the guy. I’m not sure if it’s Pierre McGuire’s creepily boundless adoration for Sid that makes me think ill of him, or maybe it’s the flops. Yeah, I said it! He flops more often than M. Night Shamalamablahblah flicks, y’all! Who funds that man’s movies by the way? Why? Is anyone watching them? These questions vex me. I’m terribly vexed. At any rate, Crosby had one hell of a season! In 80 games he potted 36 goals, good for 7th in the league, and no one matched his league leading 68 helpers to go with those delicious goals. Need power play points? Sid’s got you covered with 11 goals and 27 assists on the man advantage. Sprinkle in 46 PIM, a plus-18 rating and a whopping 259 shots and you’ve got yourself an MVP! He’s a floppy MVP, but an MVP nonetheless. I would compare his numbers with Giroux or Getzlaf, but there is no real comparison to make, Crosby was that far ahead of the pack. So, I’m forced to say We Hart You, Sidney Crosby! (Not really)
Runner up: Claude Giroux
A lot of other ‘perts are going with Corey Perry as the runner up here, but I’m a different kind of ‘pert and I say it’s Giroux. Folks might be thinking his horrible start disqualified him from contention, but I think it’s the reason he belongs here. Claude didn’t put his first biscuit in the basket until November 9th, his 16th game of the season. In October he posted just 6 assists with an anemic minus-6 rating, but from there on out he decided to get his shiz together and exploded. His scoring by month; 12, 19, 13, 7 (Olympics) 21, 8 (in just 8 games in April). In his first 26 games he was only able to muster 18 points, he then posted 59 points in his next 56 games to finish with 86 points in 82 games played with a plus-7 on 223 shots on goal. If Giroux didn’t get back on track the Flyers would have never made the playoffs, hell they wouldn’t have even sniffed at the chance, and for that, he comes in second in my fantasy MVP voting.
Honorable mention: Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Tyler Seguin
Fantasy Defenseman of the Year – Erik Karlsson
I really wanted to go with Shea Weber here in a bad way, not because of my man crush (I have a lot of man crushes, I’m a whore! Oh the shame!) but after I stared at the numbers for longer than I care to admit I had to go with Karlsson. I mean, who else would it be? 74 points in 80 games is a nice season from most forwards, but this guy does it from the blue line! Do I sense another mancrush coming on?! You betcha! 20 goals powered that 74 points on a beastly 257 shots on goal which was good for 16th in the league overall, first among defenseman and just one shot ahead of Big Dustin Byfuglien’s 256. That’s about all Buff did right this season and despite getting mentioned here, it’s not an honorable mention. It’s a dishonorable mention. Well, maybe that’s harsh, Buff did deliver serious value with 56 points good for second overall among defensemen, but that minus-20 rating was as brutal to your team’s rating as a Don Cherry suit is on the eyes. The big fella wasn’t alone in sporting a horrible plus/minus from the point, in fact, just three of the top ten defensemen sported a plus/minus in the plus; Duncan Keith (2nd overall) with a sexy plus-22, Victor Hedman (5th overall) sporting a plus-five and Alex Pietrangelo (8th overall) with a plus-20. Where does Karlsson fall? Minus-15. You read that right, minus-15. A guy who posted 74 points in 80 games as a defenseman ends up as minus-15?! Damn you, Craig Anderson!
Runner up: Shea Weber
Honorable Mention: Duncan Keith, Victor Hedman, Alex Pietrangelo
Fantasy Rookie of the Year – Nathan MacKinnon
It might seem like I’m just picking the top scoring guy in each of these categories, but really it just so happens that the top scoring guys were the most valuable fantasy assets in their respective categories. Go figure? Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon is no different posting 24 goals and 39 assists for 63 points in a full 82 games. Not convinced? How about 241 shots on goal, a plus-20 rating, 5 game winning goals and 17 points with the man advantage? No? Ugh, there’s no pleasing some people. Okay, so seeing these numbers in a vacuum without context means nothing, so who challenged MacKinnon for the Calder? I want to say Chris Kreider so badly, but he didn’t even top 40 points though that’s mostly due to injuries, but still, it is what it is. Ondrej Palat was the biggest challenger to MacKinnon’s rookie crown with 23 goals and 36 assists for 59 points in 81 games with a crazy plus-32. That rating alone might have been enough to push Palat above MacKinnon, but Nate did it all from everywhere and he did it all season and for that, we say to thee, we heart you! As my Great Uncle Angelo often said while fishing; he’s a keeper, y’all!
Runner up: Ondrej Palat
Honorable Mention: Torey Krug needs some love here because he’s so tiny! No, seriously, he had a monster rookie season for a defenseman posting 40 points in 79 games. This wasn’t a Duncan Keith 40 points (1 goal, 39 assists) either, as Krug potted 14 goals and notched 19 points with the man advantage, best among rookie defenseman in 2014. In fact, Krug was the only defenseman in the top 10 for scoring among rookies, and so we mention him honorably. If you own Krug in a keeper, do I need to tell you to keep him? Lets just be safe, keep him. Seriously. Forever. Or until he stops producing. We’re a fickle bunch, we fantasy hock—uh, fantasy hockeyers? Fantasy hockeyests? Bah.
Fantasy Scoring Goon of the Year – David Backes
There are few players more valuable in fantasy hockey than a scoring goon. What’s a scoring goon? A guy who gives you at least 50 points and 100 PIM, and they’re more rare than you might think. In fact, just three guys reached both marks; Backes, Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell. It’s fitting that the Flyers would sport two of the top three in this category, but that’s neither here nor there for now. Perhaps a guy who spends more than 100 minutes in the sin bin shouldn’t be labeled a goon per se, that’s usually reserved for guys who love to fight, but I didn’t know what else to call it so here we are! Speaking of love and fights, I’d say the single greatest fight in NHL history has to be Evander Kane vs. everyone’s favorite piece of garbage Matt Cooke. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Check it out! Ah, so satisfying. Whenever I’m feeling disillusioned with life I just watch this clip and everything comes back into focus. I start watching and I’m sad, and by the time Cooke is flat on his back I’m right as rain, it’s as good as cocaine! Cokane! Eric Clapton would be proud. Anyway, going into the season Kane was high on my list of scoring goons, or “Scoons” as we’ll call them, but unfortch for him and his owners he was basically terrible all year. Injuries, yeah, but what do excuses win you? Squat, that’s what! Anyway, Backes was a beast this season. Amongst the league leaders in PIM he finished the year at 17th overall with 119 PIM, that’s nearly two hours in the box! How about a side o’ scoring with those juicy, medium rare PIM? 27 goals and 59 points with plus-14 rating in 74 games should do the trick, eh? Throw in 150 shots and 15 power play points and you’ve got King David Backes, first of his name, King of the Scoons and the Sin Bin, long may he reign!
Runner up: Wayne Simmonds was basically on par with King Backes save one glaring misstep, a minus-4 rating compared to His Grace’s plus-14. Simmonds nearly topped the 30 goal mark with 29 while sporting 106 PIM over 82 games, but the Flyers’ slow start and general Flyeriness cost Simmonds the crown. You might think this makes him a prince, but coming in second is the first loser! Eat it, Simmonds! (I’d still draft him next season)
Honorable Mention: Scott Hartnell
Fantasy Goalie of the Year – Semyon Varlamov
You might have seen Varlamov’s name here and thought “Heresy! Sacrilige! Lies and Slander! No one owned the crease better than Tuukka Rask and his fits of rage!” Well, first, calm down! AH! At first glance it might seem like Rask was the best goalie in the league and if you glanced that you glanced right! In reality, no one matched Tuukka and his various, hilarious and generally unsuccessful attempts to break his stick, but in Soviet Russia, puck stops goalie! Wait, that doesn’t make sense. Anyway, Why Semyon? Simple, he led the league with an insane 41 wins. For you math majors he won half the season! Baller. Rask finished up with 36 wins, likely robbed of a few W’s by upstart Chad Johnson, but it is what it is and Varlamov ended up with more wins. Beyond that, their peripherals were so close that the edge in wins gives the nod to Semyon. Don’t believe me? Scope out this dope chart and get the knowledge dropped on ya!
Rask’s seven shutouts account for the nearly half goal difference in GAA, but the SV% doesn’t lie. Varlamov faced a league leading 2046 shots while Rask kicked back in his crease with a Mojito and this month’s issue of Playboy and only faced 1641. You can attribute much of that difference to staunch B’s D vs. the young and sometimes absentminded D of the Avs, but again, it is what it is. Facing over 400 more shots than Rask in just four more starts while still managing to stay within .003% of Rask’s SV% marker? Ballerific! With five more wins and one fewer loss to add to the edge, the nod reluctantly goes to Semyon. Why reluctantly? Because Patrick Roy.
Runner up: Tuukka Rask
Honorable Mention: Carey Price, Ben Bishop
Biggest Fantasy Bust – Henrik Sedin
My hate-hate affair with Craig Anderson is well documented. I don’t hate him in the way that I’d hope bad things happen to him, but there is no love loss when that fool steps on the ice. I told everyone to avoid Anderson going into the season and not many listened, but back then I wasn’t writing for Razzball and I think I may have been yelling this advice at random people on the street. I guess I should be grateful to Anderson’s mediocrity, the worse he looked the better I did! Why am I talking about Anderson? He could have been considered a bust, but that would mean he had expectations of success going into the season. Did you really expect him to be more than he was? You did? Maybe you should try Fantasy NASCAR or something, eh? Anderson doesn’t earn this dubious crown, Henrik Sedin worked hard, or not really, to earn the biggest bust of the season award. Since 2005 Henrik has been the twin you draft and he’s put up nearly or better than a point-per-game a season since then. There was no reason to think after a strong lockout shortened season that Sedin would decline so rapidly, but after posting 45 points in 48 games in 2012-13, he could muster just 50 points in 70 games in 2014. Worse, he only scored 11 goals. I could score eleven goals. You could score eleven goals. My cat could score eleven goals! Come on! He managed to keep his rating north of negative with a plus-2, but failed to break the century mark in shots with just 97. He wasn’t shooting, he wasn’t scoring, he wasn’t passing, what the hell was he doing out there? Knitting a quilt?!
Runner up: Dany Heatley
Dishonorable Mention: Rick Nash, Craig Anderson, Cam Ward