When Ryan Smyth returned to Edmonton over the summer, a lot of poolies figured he would have a rebound campaign. Nobody saw this coming.
The 35-year-old new/old Oiler is coming off of a stretch of 299 games in which he donned three other uniforms – the Kings, the Avalanche and the Islanders. During that time he picked up 90 goals and 211 points, a 0.71 points-per-game average. That pro-rates to 58 points over a full season.
The problem is, Smyth doesn’t play full seasons. Right? In taking a quick look at his stats, I was surprised to see that he played the full slate in 2010-11. That was his first 82-game year since before the lockout. Prior to last year, he averaged 11 games missed per campaign since then.
In Smyth’s last 151 games as an Oiler, he has 143 points or 0.95 per game. That’s quite a jump from his other teams. There are several reasons for this and I’m sure they all play a roll, be it the coaching style, the depth chart or even chemistry with linemates. But whatever the reason, things just fit for him in Edmonton.
Smyth owners want to know how they can play their good fortune. Can he keep up the pace? Since his career high is 70 and he is on pace for 84, I’m going to suggest no. At age 35, he’s already shown us his best season. (Don’t tell Tim Thomas I said that.)
Take Smyth’s 0.93 points-per-game average of his past two seasons in Edmonton (119 points in 128 games) and multiply that with a projected game total. Since he was averaging 71 games per season before it spiked to 82 last year, I think a conservative number such as 74 is fair. That gives him 69 points, which is 45 points in the final 59 games (of which he’ll play 51). Treat him accordingly in any trade discussions and you’ll do fine.
Kyle Turris has re-signed with the Phoenix Coyotes, but has yet to play. In the summer, a lot of fantasy owners felt this would be the year he takes that big step forward, with a reasonable chance of him hitting 50 points and giving us a glimpse of what’s to come down the road. This prolonged contract dispute has certainly ruined those thoughts. He’s missed 22 games already and the thought was he’d see time in the American League on a conditioning stint. However, the ‘Yotes are thrilled with how good a shape he is in and there is a chance that they will put him in the lineup right away.
Keep expectations low initially, because coach Dave Tippett makes his youngsters earn their ice time. But the bottom line is he’s the team’s most talented pivot. Arguments can be made for Daymond Langkow and Martin Hanzal, and I would even include the underrated but underperforming Cal O’Reilly on that list, but Turris showed flashes of excellence when the Coyotes ran into some injury trouble and he was given more ice time last year. I would keep him on the bench until we see his impact, but if he can finish this season with 35 points I would consider it a good step forward.
Farm Report: He is a smallish player who was never drafted. He lit up his league as a 19-, 20- and 21-year-old and then dominated the ECHL. His debut in the AHL was a strong one and as a sophomore he posted more than a point per game. The above summary describes Montreal forward David Desharnais, but it could just as easily depict Cory Conacher. Although Conacher is still in his rookie season in the AHL, he already has 23 points in 20 contests for Norfolk as a 21-year-old (he turns 22 on Dec. 14), so he’s actually ahead of where Desharnais was at that age. He’s in Tampa Bay’s system, but has yet to sign an NHL contract. In leagues that allow it and have a deep farm system, I would roll the dice on this guy and see how things progress over the next three years.
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.