Trail Of “Tiers”: Mending And Not Mending
WRITTEN BY CHRIS WASSEL | 29 AUGUST 2011
It comes now ladies and gentlemen. The days of rankings by 1-25 are gone withThe Program. Some thought we were crazy and we probably are. However, it was time for something new that has been tried but with our style of twist. Things are just done differently here. Why do a dog and pony show when you can just bring the hockey heat? Exactly!
There is the cold reality staring you in the face. Players are injured all the time on one’s fantasy team. How you adapt and adjust is paramount to success. There are players that are on the mend and we will use several tiers to determine fantasy viability. Surely, this is never perfect because it is not an exact science nor will it ever be.
When we take it up a notch, this is what we end up with. Our first category is On The Mend UP. These are players that are on the way up after returning from injury.
ON THE MEND UP:
Zach Parise (NJD) — Missed most of last year with torn meniscus.
Daymond Langkow (PHX) — Neck injury kept him out a full calendar year.
Nathan Horton (BOS) — Concussion symptoms gone…..
Mikael Samuelsson (VAN) — Sports hernia fine….onward!
Dany Heatley (MIN) — The injuries are behind him and so is SJ.
Why these five and not some others? Well it does not mean that there are not others, it just means these are the ones to look out for. While this is not guaranteed fantasy success, these players are due for fantasy goodness at the very least. These players endured a variety of injuries that causes them to miss either solid chunks of time or caused quite a drop in their effectiveness.
Zach Parise and his knee are much better than they were for the last week of last season. That one game audition of sorts was a complete, unmitigated disaster. It was an indication that he had just returned too soon. With power skating regimen and a more focused outlook (he is playing for a long term deal), Parise has much to prove that his gamble last year will not cost him this year and beyond.
What are most fantasy circles projecting for Parise? After a slow start, he is still expected by many to tally somewhere between 70 and 80 points. The start will be expected but to be honest, the New Jersey Devils just have to hope that the malaise does not persist too long. We do not and a point total in the mid 70’s seems like a good baseline.
Now Daymond Langkow has just been traded earlier today to the Phoenix Coyotes. This is his second stint with the Yotes pending his physical. While Langkow will be 35 and his best seasons were a few years back, there is no question that better chemistry could lead to a spike that gets him closer to his former numbers than what he did in his last healthy season (37 pts in 72 games). He does get partnered with Shane Doan and that is a good thing for fantasy owners as the two age into the south side of the 30’s. Here is a guy that could easily bounce back to 50 points if the price is right.
Look Nathan Horton was injured at the end of the playoffs but concussions are no laughing matter. Clearly if you read the reports, Horton is 100% and ready to roll. He did start off kind of slow but picked it up when it counted most (that Game 7 winner against Tampa). People forget that Horton had 57 points in his last season with FLA in 15 less games than Boston last year. Add that Horton only had 53 points but was a +29. If he ups the point total and there is no reason why to think he will not, then Horton is more than worthy to be not only 100% but a fantasy boon for owners.
For the rest, Mikael Samuelsson (sports hernia) and Dany Heatley (assorted) will also bounce back when the chips are down. Heatley had several injuries but now has the fortune to play with Mikko Koivu this year while Samuelsson should see good time with the Sedin Twins. Either way, these are now players that do need feeders to help them pad their fantasy totals. Samuelsson could easily have a 60 point season while Heatley may be back close to 80 points as he helps rejuvenate an already good power play unit in Minnesota.
However, for every five that must go up, there are five we must consider as obvious downers. These are the players to almost avoid under any circumstance at all. Sadly some we may never see in the NHL ever again and that is never good. There is cold fantasy reality and we are not hesitant to pull the trigger and let people know.
We may be right or we may be wrong but there are injuries that some just never quite recover from. These are their stories.
ON THE MEND DOWN:
Marc Savard (BOS) — He will not play this year and maybe never.
David Perron (STL) — Concussion still weighing his value in doubt.
Daniel Alfredsson (OTT) — At 38, will he produce again?
Justin Williams (LAK) — When will he get hurt again?
Chris Pronger (PHI) — Will he break down further?
Yes there are just cases that are just extremely icy cold. Sadly Marc Savard will not play this year for the Boston Bruins and there is a high chance that he may never play again. Savard is too talented a playmaking Center but the concussions have been too severe and too many. What matters is his life after hockey and his fantasy relevance going forward, which is zero.
Then there is David Perron, who could have great potential but again is having concussion problems for the St. Louis Blues. Now, potentially he may play later this year but when is anyone’s guess. What is clear is the Blues are a team on the down and when and if Perron plays again, it will not be pretty for fantasy owners. Stay away and by all means remember to wait until next year.
Next comes up Daniel Alfredsson. Alfredsson battled nerve stinosis all year and had surgery to repair it hopefully once and for all. He is now 38 years old and playing for an Ottawa team who clearly is in rebuilding mode. Could he have a comeback? Sure. However, the defensive side last year started to erode along with some of the finishing skill that made Alfredsson such a nice fantasy gem throughout the years. While he may get 45-50 points, he may also get hurt again. Either way, he is trending downward and eventually that down will just never go back up to what it was.
Here lies Justin Williams, a player with great skill who never can stay healthy. Well for the last four seasons, Williams has battled a litany of injuries and though he has mended 100%, one almost expects the next injury well before it even happens. Knee, shoulder, leg, and if you name a body part, it almost feels like Williams has injured it. Now, he will produce when in the lineup and then he will disappear. It is why he is not recommended to be drafted even if he produces 40, 50, or 60 points.
Everyone always has a surprise and Chris Pronger is ours. Pronger had several different injuries around and during the playoffs last year. The fact that he may not be ready for the season almost put him in the question mark category but then the points seem to be going to the forwards in Philadelphia. Pronger may be on his way down a bit due to injuries and breaking down. Playing physical for many years often has a price and this year may be the start of that trend. Tread lightly.
Lastly, we do get to the question marks. These are the players that no one is really sure about. Yes they could be just fine but until they play, it will be hard to tell how they really do after they make their full recovery. Here is that final tier.
ON THE MEND ????????
Sidney Crosby (PIT) — When will he return?
Teemu Selanne (ANA) — Is the knee 100% or will he play?
Max Pacioretty (MTL) — Will he play scared?
Ryan Kesler (VAN) — How will he play when he returns?
Matthew Lombardi (TOR) — Concussion or play?
Well we are near the end ladies and gentlemen. Sidney Crosby will produce but when will he play? That is an answer no one can really give. When a player is the #1 fantasy option period and he is in what is an uncertain injury situation, there is this dilemma that kills any “Fantasy GM”. He produced 66 points in 41 games last year before two straight concussions ended his season and put the fantasy and hockey world in disarray and chaos.
What will happen now? The forecast is he may be ready, he may not be ready for the season. No one knows. Will he be the same player? Again there is a not an answer there. Everyone just has to wait and hope. His draft status has dropped nonetheless so do not be shocked at all if he falls a couple rounds or more in year only leagues and even a round or two in keeper leagues. Our best guess is he will play but be carefully monitored more than any other player in the history of the NHL. It really is the nature of that fantasy beast. Guys that average 1.25 to 1.5 points a game do not just fall off trees.
Teemu Selanne comes down to whether he will or will not play. Yes he had knee surgery and whether that knee is 100% is a bit of a decision maker for the talented Finn. At the age of 40, he was a fantasy beast producing over a point a game and actually garnering some MVP consideration for his hot second half. Simply this guy can still play and is lethal on the man advantage. A 75-80 point season would surprise no one if he gives it one more year. His skills have actually not regressed like most players would at his age. He is truly a marvel. Now will he play?
Max Pacioretty could be a 50-60 point guy if he plays an 82 game schedule but how will the neck injury play a role in the rest of his career? Will it make him apprehensive or will it make him an even stronger player? No one is sure yet but the indications are that he will be 100% for the season. The potential exists for a 25-30 goal player based on the production levels he set. Yes 24 points in 37 games and increasing ice time got Pacioretty his notice. He can go two ways and it will take time to see if he trends up or digresses.
Now Ryan Kesler will be fine. Unfortunately, his return will not be until Christmas or sooner or later. Will he be able to catch that magic he has had production wise? Most assume that the answer is a given yes but we say not so fast. Kesler has been in the 70’s point wise but was not himself in the playoffs and rest did not work. Hopefully surgery makes him whole. It really is more of a question mark and for some, Kesler in 2011-12 may be a bit of a lost cause especially with options that abound, especially if he loses more than a couple months of the season.
Lastly, Matthew Lombardi is now a Toronto Maple Leaf. Here is the simplest question of all. Will he even play? Maybe we should ask Brian Burke. Then again, at this point if he is on the ice, he is worth maybe a Free Agent flier. To think Lombardi once had such fantasy promise.
Well there you have it, come back next week for more crazy tiers on the “Trail Of Tears”. Thanks for dropping in and go tell your friends as we continue this different fantasy look at the fantasy hockey landscape.
Posted on August 30, 2011, in NHL and tagged Chris Pronger, Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, David Perron, Daymond Langkow, Justin Williams, Marc Savard, Matthew Lombardi, Max Pacioretty, Mikael Samuelsson, Nathan Horton, Ryan Kesler, Sidney Crosby, Teemu Selanne, Zach Parise. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.