Fantasy Pool Look: Afinogenov to the max

Maxim Afinogenov is proof that a coach with a certain system and a certain attitude can get the most out of a player when others could not.

The Atlanta right winger had worn out his welcome in Buffalo to the point where healthy scratches were as common as reality shows. The shifty Russian had 134 points in 133 games for the Sabres between 2005 and 2007. In 2007-08, he was pretty much a write-off due to injury and then last campaign he got off to a slow start. In this case, Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff didn’t have a whole lot of patience. And who would? Afinogenov was coughing up the puck on a regular basis and was also snake-bitten in the scoring department.  

Things are different in Atlanta. Coach John Anderson didn’t have many weapons in his arsenal and had to use what he was given. He also felt no pressure from above to play the veteran. After all, Afinogenov is only making $800,000.

So despite posting just three points in six games (and a minus-4) to kick off the campaign, Afinogenov was allowed to play through it. Patience – in the case of both the team and the player, it’s what low expectations buy you.  That patience has made the Thrashers a multi-line threat (it also helps that Rich Peverley has emerged as a legitimate point-producer, but that’s another column).

Afinogenov now has 20 points in 20 games and is back to his old, productive self. He has played more than 56 games just twice in the past seven years, including 36 games during the lockout, so injuries are still a concern, but he’s a safe bet to remain close to a point per game. Pencil him in for 70 games (to play it safe) and 66 to 71 points…

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Regarding the Benoit Pouliot-Guillaume Latendresse trade: Here are two players of similar age and similar upside, albeit Pouliot has much more offensive potential, whereas Latendresse has much more crash-and-bang potential.

The salaries are almost identical, the new environment will help both players and Latendresse will get a lot of ice time right away thanks to all the Minnesota injuries. Pouliot will get a good initial look, but if he doesn’t do anything with it he could be buried very quickly.

As far as fantasy value, Latendresse could be worth a flyer in terms of penalty minutes and a point every two games or so. As for Pouliot, within two games you will see whether or not he is worth a gamble in roto leagues. Whether you wait to make such a move or whether you make the move and then ‘hope’ is up to you…

Farm Report:
Edmonton’s top draft pick of 2009, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, is second on Timra (SEL) in scoring with 15 points in 23 games. That’s 25th in the entire men’s league – not bad for an 18-year-old. Look for MPS to make a Calder-like impact in 2011-12.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league – check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

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