Fantasy Pool Look: David Desharnais

I love it when a dark horse’s fantasy progress can be tracked through older columns. I love it even more when that player is smallish, undrafted and pretty much has clawed his way into stardom. David Desharnais – welcome to “coveted” fantasy player status.

There’s a new star in Montreal

Fantasy Pool Look first mentioned him in November of 2010. I noted how Desharnais was dominating the American League and that, were it not for his size, he would be in the NHL right then and there. Three months later, I profiled Desharnais more extensively – this time cautioning patience, but optimism.

Here we are nearly 13 months later and you can drop the caution now. This guy gets better with every game. And for a coach to ignore that at this stage of the game would be monumentally foolhardy. So yes, he’s a first-liner to stay – despite being undrafted and just 5-7, 177 pounds.

Consider that in the first 10 games of the season, DD saw 20 minutes of ice time just once, whereas in his last 10 games he has topped 20 minutes on eight occasions. He’s Montreal’s go-to guy and with 30 points in his last 29 games he has become the Habs’ leading scorer as well.

It’s possible that he gets an extra boost as a result of the coaching, though. After all, interim coach Randy Cunneyworth has been around for 34 games and Desharnais has 31 points as opposed to 20 points in 32 games under Jacques Martin. But I don’t think so. I love seeing a steady upward trend at all levels and that’s what Desharnais has done. He’s improved with every campaign at every level. And his plus-10 is ridiculous for a forward on this team, when you consider Tomas Plekanec is a minus-20.

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His shooting percentage is high and his shots taken are low, so he’ll probably never be a 25-goal scorer, but he looks every bit the potential 60-plus assist man. And that puts him in the point-per-game stratosphere that, these days, is only reached by a dozen players in a given year. In most points-only keeper leagues, Desharnais is still undervalued. But I would have no problem trading a coveted “name” player to get this guy on my squad.

Brassard on the rise

Remember when Derick Brassard was a frequent healthy scratch and under fire for his lack of production? Not only did Columbus fans want to see him shipped out of town, but fantasy owners were offering him up for a song. He had just five points in his first 24 games and was a healthy scratch for eight of Columbus’ first 33 games. Today he’s third on the team in scoring. Of course, this year when it comes to the Blue Jackets that’s not saying a lot. But still, his 25 points over the last 33 games lend hope. He’ll be 25 next season and just entering his prime. Look for a big rebound in 2012-13.

You Gotta Read This

Philadelphia rookie Matt Read played his best game in months, tallying three points Thursday. I had been fairly secure in my certainty Read had hit that wall that so many college rookies run into. After all, he’s used to 40-game seasons and has already played more games this year than any other in his life. However, recent reports suggest he’d been playing through a minor injury up until the past week, and that his fitness and health regime would draw applause from Gary Roberts.