You have polished off your drafting and now it all begins. How your team performs this season will depend greatly on how a number of questions are answered. But, hey, without the unknown how fun would fantasy hockey be? Here are some of the most burning and impactful questions that will be answered at some point within the next one to 30 weeks, in no particular order.
Can Corey Perry repeat?
I believe Perry peaked last season when he pounded in 50 goals and 98 points. That’s not to say he can’t repeat it, but top it? That he was held off the scoresheet in his two European games does not concern me. What concerns me is the 48 minutes of ice time he garnered. Does coach Randy Carlyle have so little faith in his other lines? With that kind of workload, I can’t see Perry tearing it up down the stretch like he did last year. And with the week off and the long flight, how much will Perry produce when he finally gets to play his next game? Lots to consider.
Can Mike Green stay healthy?
Green is one year removed from being a top five fantasy player. So why was he drafted 40th or 50th in so many leagues? Green, who just turned 26 on Oct. 12, is an injury risk. For three seasons in a row he has missed at least seven games, averaging 18 missed games a year. But the answer to this question impacts more than just Mike Green owners. It impacts Alex Ovechkin owners, too. If a season with an injured Green nets Ovechkin 85 points, then a season with a healthy Green nets Ovechkin 100 points or more.
The over/under on Sidney Crosby – 65 games?
Crosby’s concussion woes have been a hot topic for 10 months, so I won’t beat a dead horse here. If he plays more than 65 games he’ll flirt with 100 points and four or five other players on the Pittsburgh roster will get a 10 percent boost. If he doesn’t, you can add a few points to Jordan Staal. The answer to this question will win and lose some leagues.
Corey Crawford – is he going to pick up where he left off?
There are two concerns here with the 26-year-old Chicago netminder. For one, he only had 65 NHL games under his belt heading into the season and the sophomore jinx is always a concern, particularly with older sophomores. The second concern is the presence of Ray Emery, a goaltender who has shown in the past that he rises to the challenge. In this case, he feels challenged to show he can be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL again. If Crawford starts the season 6-7-2, while Emery goes 4-1-1 watch out.
Will Ryan Nugent-Hopkins stick for the duration?
“Nine games” is a common term overheard in water cooler discussions involving this year’s first overall draft pick. If they keep RNH beyond those nine games, the Oilers will burn a year off of his entry-level contract. The overwhelming consensus is he is too frail for the game at this level and the team would be risking an injury to its prized prospect if it keeps him (see Brule, Gilbert – a top prospect whose development was damaged by Columbus’ decision to keep him around). However, RNH posted points in each pre-season game and looked good doing it. Yes, he was smacked around a lot, but what will the Oilers do if he continues that torrid production? I explored all of that in a recent column, so I won’t get into it here. But poolies rolled the dice on him in the draft because they hope to see 50 points out of him (and dream of many, many more).
Will Ryan Kesler bounce back from his hip injury – and soon?
When Kesler is healthy, he has shown he can be a 40-goal, 75-point, 100-PIM player who posts plus-20 or better. Stellar. Can he get that back? How long will his fantasy owners need to wait on him? In the meantime, rookie Cody Hodgson gets his ice time. The longer this lasts, the better the chance Hodgson gets a firm foothold in the league this year.
Will the players involved in this summer’s Wild-Sharks swaps light it up?
Every time you browsed through the latest hockey news this summer, it seemed as if the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks were cooking up a deal. In the end, the Sharks landed Brent Burns, Martin Havlat and James Sheppard on their pro roster. The Wild added Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. So far, it’s been Heatley and Setoguchi making headlines as the two of them click with Mikko Koivu. As a troika, the three of them have been fantastic so far.
Will Zach Parise bounce back?
The 27-year-old Parise missed most of last season with a knee injury. We have yet to really see a fully integrated Ilya Kovalchuk and a fully healthy Parise at the same time. Can the two former 90-point players flourish? Fantasy owners drafted each of them hoping for 90, but with concerns that it may only be 70. That’s a big difference for what was probably a second round draft pick in most leagues.
Toronto prospect Gregg McKegg followed up a solid prospects camp with a great start to his Ontario League campaign. His 10 points in six games for the Erie Otters are highlighted by his six-assist effort in an Oct. 7 contest against Owen Sound. He’ll need a season in the American League after this one, but should eventually work his way into a second-line NHL role.
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.