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Fantasy Pool Look: Early surprises, for better or worse

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

As always, we’re caught off guard with the performances of a handful of players. These guys have, for better or worse, made your eyes widen when you notice the stats beside their names. As we approach the quarter-pole, here are some notables - and where I think they’re heading.

Kris Letang, Pittsburgh

So far: He’s looking like he’ll end up with more than 70 points, 130 penalty minutes and nearly a plus-40 rating. That would be the best performance in rotisserie hockey by a defenseman in years.

September: Letang was drafted as a 40- to 45-point player who would chip in 60 penalty minutes and be a plus-player.

Expectation: Definitely a career year, but roll his production back to the low 60s for points and to 70 or 80 for penalty minutes. I do think the plus-minus will keep climbing past plus-20, though.

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay

So far: OK, maybe superstars don’t belong here, but this one has gone above and beyond. Stamkos is on pace for more than 130 points and close to 70 PIM, as well as a high plus-minus rating.

September: He couldn’t possibly match last season’s amazing breakout of 51 goals and 95 points. He was drafted as a 90- to 95-point player with the possibility of a little more upside, as well as maybe 35 or 40 penalty minutes.

Expectation: You better believe he’ll top 100 points - look for 105 to 110. His penalty minutes are a little too high at this point, but that may be due to new coach Guy Boucher’s influence.

Dustin Byfuglien, Atlanta

So far: Nearly a point per game player with an average plus-minus rating and a 123 PIM pace.

September: When it was announced ‘Big Buff’ was being knocked back to the blueline, poolies shied away from drafting him, figuring at best he’d put up 35 points to go along with his usual 90 penalty minutes.

Expectation: He’s fitting right in with the Thrashers and will set a career high of 50 to 55 points, although reaching 15 goals will be tough. He’ll top 100 penalty minutes, too.

Brandon Dubinsky, New York Rangers

So far: A 77-point, 105-PIM pace.

September: Dubinsky was drafted with hopes he’d be a 20-goal scorer and end up somewhere in the high 40s for points. Poolies were aware of his potential to achieve 60 points – and although he’s had 112 penalty minutes in a season before, he was probably pegged for close to 60 or 70.

Expectation: Dubinsky blasted out of the gate the past two seasons, too, so don’t be swayed by his early production too much. It comes down to injuries - if he stays healthy, he’ll produce in the high 50s. It looks as though another 100-penalty minute season is in the cards, though.

Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey

So far: He’s single-handedly killing one team in every fantasy hockey league on the planet. A first round pick in any league with 12 teams or more, Kovalchuk has not only produced at a meager 43-point pace, but also managed to make his being active on your roster actually hurt, thanks to his minus-9 rating.

September: He was drafted for his sure fire 85-to-90 points and a plus-minus rating that, while not expected to be great, was at least expected not to hurt.

Expectation: He’ll still get 72 to 77 points. Mark it!

Nik Antropov, Atlanta

So far: He’s getting dropped like a bad habit due to his 39-point pace and – more notably – minus-13 rating.

September: Antropov was expected to build on last year’s career season. Poolies were looking for 65 to 70 points and a positive plus-minus. Uh…

Antropov has been battling the effects of hip surgery, something we rarely factor in enough when evaluating a player. He’ll gradually round back into form, but it will be much too late to salvage 60 points. His plus-minus shouldn’t get too much worse.

Tyler Myers, Buffalo

So far: His 35-point pace is a disappointment, but not crippling. What is crippling, though, is that ugly minus-9.

September: Myers was drafted with the expectation he’d match his 48 points from a year ago - a modest decrease couldn’t be ruled out, though, as most poolies figure a slight slip in production for a sophomore is somewhat standard. His penalty minutes were expected to start creeping upwards, as his 32 from last year seemed far too low. The minutes are rising, but much slower than anticipated - he’s on pace for 35 this year.

Expectation: The jinx is on. I’d be shocked if he reached 40 points and his plus-minus will probably remain negative for this year. Look for a nice rebound in 2011-12, though.

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. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

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