More often than not, when a player is moved he tends to ride some kind of wave – be it confidence, excitement, adrenaline or whatever, a player often gives you a couple weeks of inflated numbers. Seeing as the season only has another five weeks left, chances are the players who were moved will produce above expectations down the stretch. Let’s look at some key names and analyze what to expect from them in the final month and, in some cases, down the road.
Wojtek Wolski, Phoenix – The deadline deal that will have the biggest impact in fantasy leagues involved Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter going to Colorado in exchange for Wolski. Though the hockey experts of the real world like this deal for Phoenix, the hockey experts of the fantasy world love this deal for Colorado. Wolski had just three points in his last 13 games for the Avalanche, so while a deal to a new team will turn things around for him, that boost is tempered by the defensive style the Coyotes play. Phoenix was a team destined to be without a 60-point player this year. With Wolski there, they may get one now.
In his first game with Phoenix, Wolski played on the top line with Matthew Lombardi and Shane Doan and scored the game-winner against his former squad. With 17 games left, look for about 15 points. He should be a 65- to 70-point player for Phoenix next season.
Peter Mueller, Colorado – The other half of the equation, Mueller is a wildcard. As a keeper league owner, I would never have swapped Mueller for Wolski even as late as October – he has the higher upside and the better pedigree. However, Mueller has taken a major step back and most certainly would have been American League bound if he didn’t have to clear waivers. His ice time – and confidence – was dwindling in the desert.
Now on a young team with a coach in Joe Sacco who has shown he can be an excellent mentor for young players, Mueller could make a real impact offensively. After seeing youngsters such as Chris Stewart, Ryan O’Reilly and Brandon Yip perform far above expectations, one has to wonder if Sacco can coax 14 points out of Mueller in the last 18 games.
He already has a point in each of his first two contests playing with Matt Duchene and Ryan Stoa. Bold prediction here: Mueller will be within four points of Wolski from now to the end of this season on their new teams and within 12 points of Wolski next campaign. Considering Mueller is two years younger than Wolski, I’d say that’s a pretty good swap for the Avs.
Luca Caputi, Toronto – It seemed likely Caputi would make the Penguins next season and, after a year or two in that 40- to 60-point range while mostly playing with Evgeni Malkin, he would have improved by five or 10 points with experience. But Malkin is a rare superstar and if he ever tallies 140 points, you have to wonder if Caputi could have reached 80 or even more.
That dream for Caputi is dead with his move to the Maple Leafs. On one hand, Caputi will have more immediate responsibility with Toronto, but on the other, a player like Malkin won’t be his center. I would expect eight or nine points down the stretch from the 21-year-old and 40 to 45 next season. But his long-term upside took a big hit. He’ll probably turn into a 55- or 60-point player, with an upside of 70-plus if everything falls into place for him – including chemistry with a top center.
Teddy Purcell, Tampa Bay – This move really caught my attention, but didn’t warrant a peep from the mainstream media, unless they were talking about the merits of Jeff Halpern in Los Angeles. Chances are better than even Purcell has an impact with the Lightning; he is the one player who could catch the hockey world off guard with his production. He could Rich Peverley his way onto the fantasy hockey map. Why? Because Tampa Bay has been trying to find a good fit on Vincent Lecavalier’s wing and I knew immediately Purcell would get a look there.
Purcell is a college and AHL scoring sensation who lacked the necessary toughness to stay in the Kings lineup when he wasn’t producing. Tampa Bay doesn’t have the depth Los Angeles does, so some leeway will be given to him.
In his first game with the Lightning, Purcell did indeed play with Lecavalier along with Ryan Malone and earned an assist. If I were to bet $10 one way or the other, I would put it on Purcell getting no more than five points in 15 games or so. But if I were in a rotisserie league where I needed to roll the dice, I would pluck him off the wire and hope for a point-per-game down the stretch, which is suddenly realistic now, even if it is a long shot. That would certainly open the eyes of the hockey world.
Alexei Ponikarovsky, Pittsburgh – Well, duh. The fantasy world was waiting to see who would win the Pittsburgh-winger sweepstakes this year and Ponikarovsky is it. He will play with Malkin and if that doesn’t work, Sidney Crosby is the consolation prize. Not bad.
With 18 games left to go, ‘Poni’ should get at least 15 points and potentially as many as 20. He should also be a Top-25 pick in your playoff pool come April. Ponikarovsky is an unrestricted free agent in the summer and unless he takes a big discount to stay in Pittsburgh, his fantasy value will come back down to Earth for 2010-11.
Joe Corvo, Washington – Corvo has a reputation for giving poolies short-term excitement and a lot of hope. He goes to a new team and 10 games later you are wondering if he’s a 60-point defenseman. In Washington, given the high-powered Capitals offense, this effect should be amplified. However, we’re always brought back to reality one or two dozen games in. Fortunately, for those in one-year leagues, that is about all that is left in the season.
An unrestricted free agent in the summer, the 32-year-old Corvo will likely sign on somewhere else and be back to his 35-point ways once again next season.
Ryan Whitney, Edmonton – Anaheim wasn’t a fit for Whitney. In fact, the only time he has really flourished was in Pittsburgh during a year in which he was both healthy and surrounded by a young lineup that was growing with him.
With the Oilers, the team around him is rebuilding and much of the roster consists of youngsters. Whitney himself just turned 27, so this time he will actually be leaned upon as a veteran presence. I think his new situation will get the most out of him and turn him back into a 45-point player next campaign.
Tuesday: Lubomir Visnovsky, Eric Belanger, Scott Walker, Dustin Boyd, Kevin Porter, Raffi Torres and Dennis Seidenberg.
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.
Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.
Want more fantasy insider information or to contact The Dobber? Check out dobberhockey.com