It took Teddy Purcell four years to become fantasy relevant, but it took him just one more to become a star. As is often the case when it comes to undrafted college stars, poolies (and possibly Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi, too) expected immediate dividends. But it’s becoming clear Purcell was worth the wait.
It only makes sense for us to believe undrafted college players will waltz into the NHL within two years of being signed and have an impact. After all, they’ve had a further three or four years to develop than major junior players before being signed. But that’s not the case. Just as with drafted teenagers, an undrafted college player still needs a few years. While maturity and, to some extent, strength is more developed in college free agents there are other areas that are not.
For example the short college schedule, quality of competition and an under-emphasized off-season training regimen all factor in on a college grad’s NHL readiness. So instead of Teddy Purcell, Tyler Bozak and others sliding onto an NHL roster seamlessly, they’re seeing several years of growth.
In Purcell’s case, the growth is nice and steady. He dominated the American League in his first pro season and played half AHL/half NHL in his second pro season. Then he was in the NHL for good after a 51-point season a year ago.
With 25 points in his past 15 games, Purcell is sitting third in scoring for Tampa Bay. In the past 10 games, he has nine points on the power play and on a team that ranks 25th in the league in power play percentage (15.3), that’s pretty huge.
Purcell is on pace for 65 points and sits 42nd in NHL scoring. Think of where he would be if he didn’t have a horrific mid-season slump that saw him manage just 16 points in 37 games.
Purcell is just 26 years old and entering his prime. He’s a potential 75-point player for next season. Yes, you can feel free to open up an email and type “Purcell – HA HA” and then send it to the GM in your pool who lost patience with him, because he’s arrived.
Another player who seems to have arrived, though the sample size is admittedly much smaller, is Boston’s Jordan Caron. Despite playing on the third line with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot, Caron has five points and is plus-5 in his past two contests – and this despite little in the way of power play time. The Bruins haven’t been rushing him and they have little need to. But next season, it’s looking to me he’ll force the issue.
Considering 21 of Viktor Stalberg’s 32 points have come while Jonathan Toews was on the ice – and that Toews is currently sidelined – it’s no wonder Stalberg’s production has stopped. He’s pointless in his past nine games and Toews has been out for eight. Despite playing with a suitable replacement in Patrick Sharp, Stalberg remains snakebitten and it doesn’t seem as though he will come out of it until Toews returns.
Nicklas Lidstrom has been out for four games now and Niklas Kronwall has filled in beautifully. He has seven points in those four contests, but had just 24 in 63 before that. If Lidstrom retires, look for a huge 2012-13 campaign from Kronwall.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.