September 11, 2010
I write this type of article with some reluctance, because I know I'm hurting my chances of getting these players in my personal leagues. That said, here are 10 fantasy options for the 2010-11 ice that I probably like more than you (next week we'll look at the hate list.)
John Tavares(notes), C, Islanders: I loved how he finished the year, 7-13-20 over his last 20 games. There's the No. 1 overall pedigree here, of course, and he's not on the ice to do intangible stuff, he's there to score. You don't want to expect someone to be Stephen Stamkos 2010-11, but if there's any sophomore who can do it, this is the guy. And maybe the Long Island screen will keep the price reasonable.
Drew Doughty(notes), D, Kings: Okay, everyone at least likes him, I get it. I'm not telling you anything you don't know. But I'd be willing to wager right now that Double D wins multiple Norris Trophies in his career, and maybe an MVP at some point. We pay for the offensive skills, of course, but I love the competitiveness and the mean streak, not to mention the way Los Angeles plays.
Tuukka Rask(notes), G, Bruins: Netminder development is a funny thing, you never know when these guys are going to pop sometimes. The lightbulb finally went on for Rask in the second half last year and it was emphatic - a .931 save percentage is ridiculous, not to mention five shutouts on 39 starts (the Bruins had some leaks at the blue line last year). Meet the next great goaltender in the NHL.
Erik Karlsson(notes), D, Senators: There's one caveat here - make sure he gets on the first power-play unit, where the other studs are. If that happens, I wouldn't be shocked if he makes a run at 50 points.
Johan Franzen(notes), RW, Red Wings: It's difficult to make a profit on a major Detroit player. Pavel Datsyuk(notes) goes early. Henrik Zetterberg(notes) is generally overpriced. Niklas Lidstrom is terrific, but everyone likes him. The injury screen around Franzen will push him to a decent round, but the setup could push him to 35-40 goals. Just get him, a major year is coming.
Paul Stastny(notes), C, Avalanche: I'd like it if he looked to shoot a little more often, but I still see him being a 90-100 point guy at some point in his career. Maybe I can't get the 80s Nordiques out of my head.
Keith Yandle(notes), D, Coyotes: He's improved every year and last season's 41-point effort got little attention. Growth isn't always linear, but if you make this into an algebra equation, we're looking at around 50 points this winter.
Jaroslav Halak(notes), G, Blues: You're always a little leery betting on a playoff hero, but Halak's always had No. 1 ability and the Blues have a better supporting cast than many realize. Plus, by volume alone, he'll get stats that we need.
Peter Mueller(notes), LW, Avalanche: The Coyotes don't want to talk about him, but sometimes it takes these kids a while to get the hand of things. Mueller went on a 9-11-20 run over his first 15 games in Colorado, he's wing-eligible, and don't forget he was the eighth overall pick in the 2006 draft class.