Last week we looked at two young players who had huge 4th quarters to finish out the 2008-2009 NHL Season. Both Claude Giroux and Anton Babchuck should both be treated as solid sleepers come draft day in September. This week I want to look at two players who came into this season known more for their fists then their scoring touch.
David Backes, RW/C, STL
The Minnesota native had a strong first full season in the NHL in 07-08. Showing flashes of speed, skill, and toughness, Backes brought some fantasy value with a career-high 31 points and 99 PIMs. He showed enough promise that Vancouver tendered an offer to the restricted Free Agent in the off-season. St. Louis quickly matched and David has rewarded their investment this season.
Backes became a top forward for the Blues this season. He played in every situation and quickly became the go-to guy for coach Andy Murray. David scored an impressive 31 goals and 54 points playing in all 82 games. He also finished with a healthy 165 PIMs for those of you in leagues that reward those shenanigans. It should be noted though that as the goals soared, the PIMs dropped. He's become too valuable to be in the box on a regular basis.
At 25, Backes should be able to better those numbers next year on a very talented and emerging Blues team. His big frame, good speed, and developing hands could turn him into one of the top power forwards in the game over the next couple of seasons. Think Shane Doan on a much better team.
Next Season's Fearless Forecast: 82 games played, 35 goals, 32 assists = 67 points.
Where you should draft him: 12th-16th round (standard), 7th-9th round (keeper)
Steve Ott, LW, DAL
One of the best agitators in the game, many wondered where Ott would fit in after the Stars signed Sean Avery last off-season. We all know how that worked out for Avery. Ott, on the other hand, took advantage of some extra ice time as many of the Stars top players began to drop (see Brendan Morrow, see Jere Lehtinen, see Brad Richards). All of a sudden, Ott was on a top line with Mike Ribeiro and Jere Lehtinen during Dallas' push for a playoff spot. The line clicked and Ott even saw a stretch of 12 points in 8 games in early February, finishing the season with 37 points in his last 40 games. As with Backes, Ott's PIMs took a dive when he got more top-end minutes.
So is this a mirage? Was Ott the product of circumstance? Well, he did put up two 40+ goal seasons with Windsor in junior and scored 18 goals in his only full year in the AHL. He has always had scoring touch but was buried on the depth chart because of his willingness to drop the gloves. I don't think you can expect Ott to be a point-per-game player next year but he should be able to score on a more regular basis moving forward. His PIMs should also go up again next year as he won't be counted on as a top-line player with the Stars (if they are healthy). Think...Sean Avery 06-07.
Next Season's Fearless Forecast: 82 games played, 18 goals, 26 assists = 44 points, 185 PIMs.
Where you should draft him: 15th-18th round (standard), 12th-16th round (keeper)