Dobber checks in every Thursday to force-feed you the latest fantasy hockey trends. The founder of DobberHockey.com and a columnist for The Hockey News website, he long ago immersed himself into this rollercoaster world and is unable to escape.
Mark Arcobello, Tyler Bozak, Pascal Dupuis and Rich Peverley all have something in common. Star linemates. And the result of that is a healthy boost in fantasy value. We all knew beforehand that Bozak was going to be playing this season with Phil Kessel and that 50 or 55 points would be in the cards. And we knew that Dupuis was lining up with Sidney Crosby, which could conceivably bump him up to 65 points or more. And some of the hardcore poolies or Dallas fans knew that Peverley was a strong candidate for the Jamie Benn/Tyler Seguin line.
But Arcobello, he of a rookie-leading 10 assists, is the big surprise. Sure a few of us prognosticators floated the idea in training camp of him playing with Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall (since they played together last year in the AHL), but only in the sense that you float the idea of the Avalanche starting the season 8-1, or a goalie outscoring Claude Giroux at the 10-game mark. Just a crazy, often drunken "what if" scenario. But then Sam Gagner got hurt and there was a collective "Hmmm…" in fantasy-hockey land. Suddenly, Arcobello was putting points on the board. Then his ice time increased and the points started coming faster. And he's winning faceoffs, too. That's something that Gagner struggles with. So when Gagner returns in three or four weeks, how can the Oilers move a player who could be their top scorer off of a scoring line?
The answer is, you can't. Arcobello is a safe own and while he's definitely not going to end up with 80 points as his pace would indicate, I think we'll all be pleasantly surprised by the number he does reach. Here are the top lines in the NHL from the past two weeks. Note that, if you see four names, it's obviously four forwards from a power-play unit.
These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...
The San Jose Sharks
Yep. The entire team consists of a bunch of 'studs' right now. And each and every forward on a scoring line should be shopped around. Sure, Logan Couture and Joe Thornton will wind up with great numbers, but not on the pace they are at. And if you can do really well in a trade and secure an even better player, than why not do it? Worth shopping. Check out these stats:
Joe Pavelski (9-4-8-12)
Joe Thornton (9-1-10-11)
Patrick Marleau (9-9-5-14)
Logan Couture (9-6-5-11)
Pretty impressive, eh? Well guess what - these numbers are from the first nine games of last season. That's right - last season. Here are the numbers from the current campaign:
Joe Pavelski (9-3-9-12)
Joe Thornton (9-3-11-14)
Patrick Marleau (9-7-4-11)
Logan Couture (9-4-7-11)
Eerily similar, no? Well, I'm not going to tell you that these Sharks players will see their production take a serious nosedive, but…well, actually yes I am going to tell you exactly that. Those who follow me on Twitter would have seen some of these musings yesterday, but in a nutshell - even if these guys go onto have huge years, it's still not going to come anywhere near what they are on pace for. Shop around, charge an arm and a leg, and see what you can get. What if you can get Claude Giroux just for giving up Marleau?
There is a reason that "buy low, sell high" is a popular theory.
Somebody wake these guys up – their fantasy owners are counting on them...
The Philadelphia Flyers
Again I'm going to go with the "team" thing here. Yes, there are other bad teams out there, but this is the team (along with the Rangers) that we all agree should be doing a lot better. And they've already used up their "fire the coach" card.
Let's take a step back and look at what is a reasonable "worst case" scenario.
Flyers - Finally band together by the 25-game mark and play more of a defensive role, winning them enough games to finish with 80 points, well out of a playoff spot. Here are some key Flyers, their current pace, and a likely finish given this worst-case scenario:
Do you think it would be easier to get Giroux right now if he had 10 points or the actual situation in which he has three points? There is opportunity here, because even with a bad year these players are still going to produce much better than status quo.
Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...Nielsen, Pirri, Johansen, Perreault, Vatanen, Krug,
Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton Oilers (2-0-0, 2.00 GAA, 0.941 SV%) – Down to just 44% owned in Yahoo leagues thanks to panicky owners. I remember going through the same thing last season - tons of emails and Tweets in late January about Dubnyk's rough start. But he ended the year on a 8-7-2 run, with two shutouts.
Torey Krug, Boston Bruins (3-2-1-3, plus-1, 0 PIM, 7 SOG) – Given the hype that followed him when he made that splash in the postseason, it's surprising to see that he is still just 25% owned. With five points in his first eight games, he's showing that what he did in May was not a fluke. If you don't claim him now, another owner will.
Frans Nielsen, New York Islanders (9-5-6-1, plus-5, 4 PIM, 20 SOG) – Nielsen is not going to keep this crazy pace going for very long, but he should provide some great help for your squad in the short-term. And even when the inevitable slowdown occurs, his downside isn't terrible. He should be good for 55 points at least.
Brandon Pirri, Chicago Blackhawks (4-2-1-3, plus-2, 0 PIM, 6 SOG) – This is only if you're truly desperate and the waiver-wire bones have been picked clean. Pirri won the AHL scoring title last year, so you know he put up points. Right now, his ice time is still being held to around 10 minutes, but he's seeing some time on the power play and is producing respective points.
Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets (4-2-2-4, plus-1, 2 PIM, 9 SOG) – It's amazing what a couple of two-point games can do for a player. After being Gilbert Bruled into the NHL at 19, Johansen has struggled - and that doesn't fit nicely with the "produce now" mentality of fantasy owners. He bottomed out in the spring when he went minus-8 in five AHL playoff games for Springfield and was a healthy scratch. But now he's riding a high and has seen over 19 minutes of ice time in three of his last four games.
Mathieu Perreault, Anaheim Ducks (8-4-5-9, plus-5, 0 PIM, 20 SOG) – 233 points in his last two QMJHL seasons, 85 points in his last 90 AHL games…NHL checker? I've never bought that. So I'm glad to see Perreault giving a fair, lengthy shot on a scoring line and taking full advantage. Still only 10% owned.
Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks (2-0-2-2, even, 2 PIM, 5 SOG) – Just 2% owned, Vatanen owns a ton of upside and with Sheldon Souray and Luca Sbisa sidelined, his ice time is up. In his debut AHL season last year the 22-year-old rearguard compiled 45 points in just 62 games.
Here's where I'll fire off a few names of players who may be at the very beginning of a nice little run. Just a gut feeling, but worth looking into and/or taking a chance on.
Brandon Dubinsky, Columbus; Rich Peverley, Dallas; Jared Spurgeon, Minnesota; Matt Dumba, Minnesota; Dmitry Kulikov, Florida.