Goalies can be notoriously difficult to rank and project for accurately. I give each starter projections but I might not bother trying to predict what kind of numbers a backup is going to offer unless I have reason to believe that they’re going to play enough to be worth owning. Most of the time, backups aren’t, but there have been some gems in the understudy group in recent years. Cam Talbot‘s stellar work behind Henrik Lundqvist last year helped ease the pain of the wounds Jimmy Howard’s 2014 campaign left me. Damnit, Howie! At any rate, Chad Johnson filling in for Tuukka Rask showed similar value. For the most part, though, backups are backups and largely worthless without a starter getting injured. Then we have the always wonderful goalie committees. Is there anything worse than goalie by committee? Yes, yes there is, but for the purposes of this post, no, no there is not. The Hurricanes look to provide a buttload of frustration for anyone willing to draft their way into that sad state of affairs again in 2015 with Anton Khudobin set for a bit of a regression and Cam Ward being, well, Cam Ward. On the flip side the duos of Brian Elliot and Jake Allen in St. Louis and Frederik Andersen and stud rookie John Gibson where if either guy is asked to go 60 starts their season would end up bleh, but limit them to around 40 starts a piece and they stay healthy and rested, the numbers stay sexy, and you stay happy with a cheap no. 2 tender. Anyhooze, lets get to the meat o’ the matter, Razzball’s 2014-2015 Fantasy Hockey Goalie Rankings:Please, blog, may I have some more?
And so it goes and so we goes! I’ve already covered our top 10, top 20 and top 50 for 2015, so with 30 days left before the first puck drops here’s the next 50 to round out the top 100 for our 2014-2015 Fantasy Hockey Rankings:
51) Jordan Eberle – has quietly established himself as one of the most consistent options on the right side in fantasy or otherwise. He’s only missed six games over the last three seasons, scored more than 30 goals once, nearly hit the mark again last year with 28 and so long as he stays on the Nuge/Hall line, he’s going to put up another solid 30 goal year. His plus/minus drops him out of the top 50 by a smidge, but just a tiny smidge. 2015 Projections: 30 G, 41 A, 71 PTS
52) Ryan Johansen – is capable of being a top 25 player but his contract concerns have me, well, concerned. He’s missing camp and that’s not good for team chemistry or his conditioning. Yeah, I’m sure he’s taking care of his conditioning on his own, but it’s just not the same. I’d have ranked him much higher if he was signed a while ago, but with just over a month left before the season all reports are that he isn’t close to signing a deal. His projections will get adjusted if he misses games due to the contract dispute, but if he starts the year and gets a chance to play 82 games, he’s going to take another step forward this season. 2015 Projections: 30 G, 42 A, 72 PTSPlease, blog, may I have some more?
21) Matt Duchene – had his breakout season last year posting nearly a point per game (0.99) posting 70 points in 71 games. I don’t see him ranked this high often and I’m not sure why. He’s the best offensive threat on a team loaded with talent up front. Lucky for him Ryan O’Reilly re-signed so expect Duchene to skate with him again after spending nearly 80% of his time on a line with O’Reilly last year. Don’t worry about the MCL injury he suffered last last season, he’s fine going into camp and should be a top fantasy asset this season. 2015 Predictions: 27 G, 48 A, 75 PTS
22) Nicklas Backstrom – found a new allergy medication in the offseason, or so I hope, because his value is nil if he gets caught with amphetamines in his system again. Meth? Adderall? Allergy Meds? Same stuff! But seriously, Backstrom was the heart and soul of the Caps offense and has been one of the most consistent scorers in the league since 2008-09 (9th overall in points, 7th in points per game). So long as he’s paired with Ovi all is well, but if for some insane reason they are broken up again (it happened for 18 games total last season and Backstrom tallied just 5A over those games), he could have trouble meeting expectations. 2015 Predictions: 16 G, 60 A, 76 PTSPlease, blog, may I have some more?
Figuring out the top 10 is pretty easy. You basically can’t go wrong slotting most of those guys in anywhere in those 10 slots, they’re so good that barring injury you’re going to be at least in the ballpark of correct. I have Tyler Seguin higher than most, but what do they know? No Geno, though? On noes! He’s the biggest question in the top 20 and I already had a few pings about why he wasn’t slotted in the top 10. See what I’m saying? I like Geno, I really do, but I don’t like those bum wheels of his and it gives me pause. That’s it? Really? Yes, that’s it. Corey Perry didn’t break my top 10 either but no one cares about that. Maybe that’s because Corey be throwin’ dem bows! Does anyone really like him outside of Cali? I doubt it. At any rate, lets keep at it. Here’s the rest of the top 20 for 2014-2015 Fantasy Hockey:
11) Jamie Benn – would have lead the Stars in goals, assists and points if it wasn’t for Tyler Seguin’s dominance. What’s more his numbers goals (34), assists (45) and points (79) were all career highs that I think he at least matches this season, with a slight uptick in assists but fewer goals. He should still break the 30 goal mark and easily keep a point per game pace all season. 2015 Predictions: 30 G, 52 A, 82 PTSPlease, blog, may I have some more?
With just a little over a month left before the puck drops it’s time to drop the rankings on y’all and get this party started! Last season saw the predictable end of Crosby leading the way yet again and guess what? Nothing changes this season. Well, that’s not true, a lot changes this season. Tons of new faces in new places and now the Central Division might be the toughest division to play in, maybe in all of North American sports. This season we’ll finally get a look at all-world rookie Jonathan Drouin and from the video I’ve seen the kid should be a hot commodity right off the bat, or off the stick, or… I get my metaphors mixed up sometimes. Anyway, there’s no need for a lengthy introduction here so lets get right to the top 10:
1) Sidney Crosby – remains king of the mountain going into 2014-15 and barring an injury he should be the only guy who breaks the century mark for a second straight season. That alone nets him the top slot again, but consider that last season he won the Art Ross by 17 points while putting up 1.3 points per game, the top mark in the league. The only guy who came close in points per was Evgeni Malkin at 1.2 points per game, and Geno isn’t trending up this season. Granted, had Steven Stamkos not broken his leg, he would likely have challenged Sid for the scoring title, which he’ll do this season, but inevitably Crosby remains the best player in the world. I would talk about who he’s going to skate with, but it almost doesn’t matter. I can’t imagine they’ll break up Crosby and Chris Kunitz, who he spent about 80% of his time with last year. Throw in a dash of Geno here and there and Sidney will be just fine. At 27 years old he could be poised to put up the best season of his career, the only question is whether or not the concussion bug will bite him again. He played 80 games last season, a career high, but the injury risk remains. Still, I doubt it stops him from making a run at another Hart Trophy. 2015 Projections: 35 G, 65 A, 100 PTSPlease, blog, may I have some more?
Back in 2010 the Chicago Blackhawks used the 24th overall pick to draft a talented but very young Kevin Hayes. At the time Hayes was still in High School and decided to go to college, spending the last four years playing for and often winning with Boston College. When he graduated this year the hockey world was rife with speculation about where he’d sign. Having been drafted by the Hawks you would think that he’d be happy to end up there, but they weren’t able to come to a deal and he became a UFA. Then, oddly, he decided to sign with the Rangers. Wait, what? A highly coveted prospect decided to spurn an original six team set up for perianal runs at the cup… for the Rangers? Yes, it happened. Turns out the Boston native had no desire what so ever to sign with the Hawks. I assume that has to do with the fact that he wouldn’t see NHL ice as a member of the Blackhawks, because, you know, they’re stacked and Hayes is seventh or eighth on their depth chart at best. So, instead of fighting his way through the AHL he went to school to improve his game and let his draft rights expire so he could sign elsewhere. Who cares? You care! Why? Because this kid has some decent hockey chops, or you’d think so given how excited folks seemed to get when this minor circus got kicked off with his recent graduation. Now that he has a home we have to wonder, just how good is Kevin Hayes?Please, blog, may I have some more?
Apparently all the free agents got together and decided that today was the day to sign a deal. Also, everyone had to sign with a central division team. Or demand a trade to a central division team. If I’m a fan of the Wings, Blue Jackets or any other team lucky enough to have escaped the west, I’m counting my lucky starts tonight because baby, the central is loaded. Normally I’m used to hearing news about a big contract here, a big name move there, but since the draft there have been tons of moves that sent ripples through the fantasy hockey world like so many pebbles being tossed into a still pond. Zen! Anyway, it goes without saying then (though I’ll say it) that y’all need to know who went where and for what and why. When? Yesterday! Today? Who’s on first?! The biggest non-contract move so far has to be Jason Spezza and Ludwig Karlsson going to Dallas for Alex Chaisson, Nick Paul, Alex Guptill, a 2015 second round pick and a bag o’ pucks. Couple that with Ales Hemsky inking a 3-year, $12M deal with the Stars today and they might have found a recipe for success in the west! When I initially found out about this deal I saw it as “Spezza/Karlsson traded to Dallas” and my damn jaw dropped. Come to find out its some guy named Ludwig. Really? People are actually named Ludwig? That’s too bad. Anyway, these moves should make the Stars an offensive powerhouse and I’d say Spezza (if he can stay healthy) and Hemsky (if he can stay healthy) get a decent boost in value for next season. Kari Lehtonen (if he can stay healthy) might be a goalie to target in 2015 now, too. I’m sensing a theme here. Huh, anyway, here are the rest of the big moves that matter so far this offseason…Please, blog, may I have some more?
Who says there’s no hockey now that the playoffs are done? The season starts in less than four months! Schedules are being released next week! Hockey will be back soon, and we will be prepared and to be prepared we must look to the future. Enter the the NHL entry draft, not only a time for young hockey players to make their initial foray onto the big stage, but also into fantasy owners’ hearts and minds. While most of any draft class doesn’t pan out and even fewer still become productive enough to garner fantasy attention in their first few seasons, there are a handful of prospects here you should absolutely be aware of and tracking closely. It’s not every year that a Nathan MacKinnon comes into the league, but tracking guys like MacKinnon make the difference between fantasy champ and fantasy chump. Are you a chump?! Then you’re reading the wrong blog. Or maybe the right blog given I’m trying to teach you how to be a champ! In either case, champ or chump, it’s a thin line and fantasy hockey is a fickle mistress, but we love her just the same. Personally that makes me lover her more, but I’m a glutton for punishment. Anyway, over the next few weeks I’m going to be profiling top prospects in this year’s draft and we’ll start my top prospect for this year, defenseman Aaron Ekblad.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Suddenly there’s lots of talk of some 22-year-old KHL winger getting lots of offers from NHL teams, twelve offers in fact, and it makes me wonder, who is Jiri Sekac? Jiri is a 22-year-old, 6’2”, 190lb left-winger from the Czech Republic who has recently become a hot commodity in a relatively shallow 2014-15 free agent pool. Why, you might wonder, is this guy seemingly the next big thing? First, he isn’t. His popularity has spiked just recently after a solid 2014 season for the KHL’s HC Lev Praha. How solid? Well, if you consider the KHL a step above the AHL and one below the NHL, not exactly mind-blowingly solid, but solid in a fundamentals sort of way. Ah yes, those valuable fundamentals. The fundamentals that lay the groundwork for future success in any activity one might engage in! The key term here is future, and it isn’t tomorrow yet. This year Sekac put up a line of 11 G, 17 A, 28 P, 18 PIM, + 12 in 47 GP in the regular season and followed up in the playoffs with 1 G, 7 A, 8 P, 24 PIM, + 1 in 21 GP. Wow, this is the guy that has “more than a dozen solid offers” from NHL teams? Maybe there’s more here than meets the eye? Lets take a deeper dive…Please, blog, may I have some more?
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 in his 16th game of the season. During October he posted just 6 assists with an anemic minus-6 rating. From there he decided to get his shiz together and he exploded 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 SeguinPlease, blog, may I have some more?