There’s still six weeks of hockey left to play in the regular season, but I’ve seen enough to name my fantasy dark horse of the year.
While Carolina’s Ray Whitney has been a pleasant surprise, his production has slipped a little and he is now on the shelf with a sprained ankle.
Another runner-up is L.A.’s Mike Cammalleri, but I can’t really give him the prize. After all, I anticipated a 70-point season from him and he’s looking to finish with 80-85 points. That’s impressive, but it’s not a big enough jump to warrant the title.
Martin St-Louis is surprising everyone with his comeback performance. The Tampa Bay winger is looking at a 105-point season Â– far above expectations. However, having been a former scoring champion in this league, St-Louis has been there and done that.
Calgary’s Kristian Huselius makes it a tough contest. He’s breaking out this year in a big way, with 64 points in 64 games. He was drafted by poolies last summer with the expectation he would get them 50-55 points, with a chance of going much higher. This is a judgment call on my part and as tough as Huselius makes this decision, I am still looking elsewhere for the prize.
The best dark horse of the season? The most impressive pickup in your draft last summer? Avs rookie center Paul Stastny.
The 21-year-old has 62 points in 66 contests and has done nothing but improve since playing his way onto the squad in training camp. Colorado fully intended for their 2005 second-round pick (44th overall) to put up a good camp and then go to Albany (of the American League) for some more seasoning.
Stastny had other plans.
The son of Hall-of-Famer Peter Stastny impressed coaches in camp with all aspects of his game and not only made the NHL roster Â– he was immediately given plenty of ice time on special teams.
Coming from college hockey (Denver of the WCHA), Stastny has been accustomed to 40-game seasons. As such, you would expect the youngster to slow down as the 82-game NHL season wore on.
Stastny is my dark horse fantasy hockey pickup of the year. He’s riding a 15-game point streak with eight goals and 14 assists and is a plus-8. He has performed above expectations more than any other player and he probably wasn’t even drafted in most pools.
Farm Report: After Robert Nilsson was acquired by the Oilers in the Ryan Smyth trade last week, he immediately was placed on Rob Schremp‘s line in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. Magic has ensued. The sniper (Schremp) and the setup man (Nilsson) have clicked and have combined for 10 points in their first two games together. Both players have high upsides in the NHL and both of them could be in the Edmonton lineup next season.
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