Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fantasy Boom or Bust Review - Western Conference

With approximately one third of the NHL schedule complete, Just Fantasy Hockey is taking a look at some of the fantasy booms and busts from the first 27 games. We will start our focus on the Western Conference.

Anaheim – The Ducks continue to struggle and look better on paper than they are actually playing. With weaker than average goaltending, the Ducks continue to trim the fat by waiving the dead weight.

Boom – C Perry – Leading the charge with a 19 game point streak, Perry is a fantasy treasure.

Bust – S Koivu & J Lupul – With only 10 points in 20 + games, they are offering no secondary scoring.

Calgary – Tops in their division, Calgary offers a defence first approach that finds them on the right side of winning most nights.

Boom – R Bourque – Averaging a point per game pace, Bourque has added much needed secondary scoring. Look for Bourque to continue putting up good numbers all season when he returns from his injury.

Bust – D Phaneuf – 2 seasons removed from a 60 point season, Phaneuf’s name is stronger than his play. Still a hard hitting d-man, he may no longer be the big point and PIM guy he once was.

Chicago – The Blackhawks are primed to make a deep run in the playoffs and have showed a combination of speed and skill this season. A wealth of fantasy options are to be had on this team.

Boom – D Keith – On the verge of announcing a long-term deal in Chicago, Keith has played his way into consideration for team Canada and has produced at close to a point per game status.

Bust – C Barker - The young rearguard bust into the league last season recording 40 points in 68 games and was a threat on the powerplay. This season, Barker has quietly fallen into anonymity in such a star studded Hawks team.

Colorado – The Avalanche have surprised the entire league. With a young and aspiring team, Colorado is in the playoff hunt and gives an all around effort most nights.

Boom – C Anderson – The main reason the Aves are in the position they are in now is because of Anderson. He has single handily led Colorado into a respectful team when most people never gave him a chance. Look for Anderson to continue to play over his head for the rest of the season.

Bust – M Svatos – Once looked at as a sniper, Svatos’ injury problems and inability to finish has killed his fantasy value. A change of scenery would benefit Svatos.

Columbus – Once thought of as a defensively tight, the Blue Jackets have become as porous as a teenager. Fantasy owners are feeling the pain of owning Calder winner Steve Mason and are left wondering if it will last all season.

Boom – A Vermette – Never regarded as an offensive threat, Vermette is hovering at a point per game rate and a plus 2 on the season. He is proving to be a sleeper fantasy option.

Bust – D Brassard – Oozing with potential, owners of Brassard were expecting an outpouring of offense. Pegged as Nash’s centerman, Brassard has struggled thus far netting 16 points in 26 games.

Dallas – The Stars have returned to respectability after an injury plagued season last year. Staying healthy and having their young players develop quickly has allowed the Stars to remain in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Boom – J Neal – Neal has managed to avoid the sophomore slump so far. With 22 points in 23 games, 11 of them goals, Neal is second in Stars scoring and has be a pleasant surprise to fantasy owners.

Bust – M Niskanen – Hoping Niskanen would be their powerplay quarterback, he has statistically disappeared. With 8 points in 26 games, Niskanen has taken a step back and is not a fantasy option any longer.

Detroit – The defending Western Conference champions look to be finally coming back down to earth. The loss of key components, injuries and father time not on their side, Detroit will continue to struggle.

Boom – H Zetterberg – Locked up long-term, Zetterberg is the only Wing to be playing at a point per game basis. It’s hard to deny his talent and Zetts should continue scoring, even if no one else is.

Bust – The rest of the team – Owners of Red Wing players have lived through many fantasy rich seasons. With Lidstrom, Rafalski, Osgood and even Datsyuk struggling, owners are left holding their breath waiting for them to snap out of it. It can’t go on forever right?

Edmonton – With coach Quinn at the Helm, things looked bright for the Oilers early on. That was until the wheels fell off and injuries had decimated the club. Quinn has the young Oilers playing well but are mired in a deep slump.

Boom – D Penner - This could be Penner’s year to finally reach his potential. With 30 points in 27 games, 15 of them goals, Penner is a fantasy option once again.

Bust – S Horcoff – Pegged as the number one center, Horcoff has 11 points in 23 games and is a horrendous -10. He should only be considered as a reserve player in the deepest of leagues.

Los Angeles – The Kings have pieced together an impressive group of talented youth and veterans. Poised at making a playoff run, the Kings need to learn how to break out of a scoring slump that has hit them since Smyth’s injury.

Boom – R Smyth – Never shying away from a physical game, Smyth has ignited young sniper Kopitar and is playing at a point per game pace as well. Look for Smyth to continue playing well once he returns from is injury.

Bust – A Frolov – Not a favourite of coach Terry Murray, Frolov has been in and out of his doghouse all season long. With 18 points in 27 games, Frolov has played on all three lines and has failed to find chemistry with any of them.

Minnesota – Fans in Minnesota were excited to learn about the new direction that the team was going to go in the off-season. A high tempo, fast paced and less trapping game has left fans scratching their heads wondering what went wrong.

Boom – A Brunette – An always consistent Brunette is once playing close to a point per game pace. With 21 points in 26 games, he is one of the few Wild players playing well.

Bust – M Havlat – With 9 points in 21 games, a – 16, and injured again, Havlat may just be the biggest bust in the entire league. Jump ship now on Havlat as it appears he will not get any better.

Nashville – One of the lowest scoring teams in the league, Nashville is as only as good as their goaltending. The Predators could use a goal scorer to add feeble scoring, so until they can get a scoring boost they will be a hot and cold team.

Boom – JP Dumont – Has always been a silent scorer, Dumont leads the Preds in scoring with 19 points in 21 games. A brief injury sidelined the winger for a bit, nut he has returned and is consistent.

Bust – M Erat – Never a high scoring threat, Erat has always been a decent depth player, until now. With 10 points in 24 games, Erat has fallen down the Predators depth chart and most fantasy rosters.

Phoenix – The turn-around from one of the worst teams in the league to respectability is under way. Even though the fans aren’t coming out, the Coyotes currently sit 7th in the West and should challenge for a playoff spot all year.

Boom – I Bryzgalov – The lifeline for the Coyotes, Bryzgalov has an impressive 14-8-1 record with a 2.12 GAA. He is a must have on any fantasy roster if he can remain white hot.

Bust – P Mueller – With only 4 points in 24 games, Mueller could use a change of scenery. Even though he had loads of potential, Mueller offer little in the way of fantasy value.

San Jose – The President’s Trophy winners last season are up to their same old tricks. The high flying Sharks are deep and dangerous. The young prospects have played well thus far and the veterans are tops in the league in scoring.

Boom – P Marleau – After being stripped of his captaincy in the off-season, Marleau has rebounded and is off to an incredible start. With 33 points in 29 games, he leads the team in goals scored.

Bust – ME Vlasic – With a dismal 9 points in 29 games, Vlasic has lost powerplay time and confidence along the way. On pace for 25 points, Vlasic should not factor in as a fantasy option this season.

St. Louis – Possessing a wealth of potential doesn’t always equate into winning hockey games. The Blues are loaded with very talented young players and key veterans that do not seem to be finding chemistry yet.

Boom – E Johnson – Healthy once again, Johnson leads the Blues in scoring and averages 22 minutes of ice time a games. Johnson should continue to be in the top 10 of defensive scoring.

Bust – P Kariya – Although none of the Blues players are living up to potential, a healthy Paul Kariya was supposed to offer up somewhere close to 7o points. With 11 points in 25 games, he will be lucky to hit 50 points.

Vancouver – The injury bug hit the Canucks hard already this season. Welcoming back their injured stars will help Vancouver shoot up the standings and become a force once again in the West.

Boom – M Raymond – With this being his third season with the Canucks, Raymond is already close to surpassing his 23 points he scored last season in 72 games. The speedy winger is proving to be a great depth player for Vancouver and your fantasy team.

Bust – K Bieksa – The hard hitting, oft-injured Bieksa has seen his point totals drastically slashed this season. With Ehrhoff and Edler getting the majority of the powerplay time, Bieksa still offers PIMs as a fantasy upside.


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