One of the best ways to improve a keeper league team at the end of a season is to pick up a player who you think will improve his numbers next season. Finding those players is the tricky part, but I’m going to give it my best shot. Here are 10 players I like for decent production increases (I’m ignoring the players who have missed a lot of games due to injury).
10. Jiri Hudler, Detroit Red Wings
Hudler is a talented player who is having a decent season with the Wings and he’ll probably finish with around 51 points. But where will he be next season? As one of the most skilled players on the open market, he’ll probably sign for $5 million or more. And if a team is going to pay him that kind of money, they’re going to play him on the top line and the top PP unit. Just like that, 51 points could become 65 or more.
9. Tomas Fleischmann, Florida Panthers
Flash’s first season as a top-line winger has been an impressive one. But he still has another gear. He has shown us on a couple of rather lengthy stretches that he can be close to a point-per-game player. It would not shock me if he hits 70 points next season, or at least comes close.
8. Patrik Berglund, St. Louis Blues
The Blues have a handful of talented players who can potentially post 70 points, but to me Berglund has the most upside on the current roster. If and when Vladimir Tarasenko joins them, the added firepower will boost the numbers of a couple Blues and Berglund is much better than he’s shown.
7. Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders
This is his fourth season and we should have seen him step up. That didn’t happen. But the club is maturing and more highly skilled prospects are being added each season. I would expect next year Okposo will get back up over the 52-point mark that he hit in 2009-10 as the Isles move closer to having a legit second line.
6. Patric Hornqvist, Nashville Predators
The caveat here is that Alexander Radulov re-signs with the team. I have my doubts about that one, but Hornqvist is a 55-point player without him and a possible 70-point player with him. The two look very good on a line together.
5. Derek Roy, Buffalo Sabres
Two words - train wreck. Roy’s points-per-game average has not dipped below 0.84 since 2006. He’s in his prime now, so his current 0.55 points-per-game average is way off base. He’ll bounce back, especially if he gets traded in the off-season.
4. Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks
Don’t forget, Kesler had hip surgery in the off-season and missed training camp. He still hasn’t really gotten back on track, but he’s a proven 75-point guy who is in his prime. A very safe “buy low” here, trust me.
3. Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks
A development graph that shows a point production of 57, 64 and 71 is nice and consistent. It points upwards, as it should when we’re dealing with a player in his early-20s. So to see Ryan follow those point totals up with a 50-point season was unexpected to say the least. There’s no reason for it, other than Anaheim as a team can be written off for this year. Look for him to get back on the upper end of that aforementioned graph next campaign.
2. Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils
After missing most of last season with a knee injury, it’s OK Parise returned to “only” get 67 or 68 points. Not everyone can be Evgeni Malkin. Parise has had seasons of 82 and 94 points and there is no reason why he can’t do that again (maybe on a new team?).
1. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
I did a double take the other day when I saw Getzlaf is stuck at nine goals. NINE. Not nine goals in his past 10 games, but nine goals…period. And a minus-9 rating for a guy who has been a plus-player his entire career is also mind-boggling. Chalk it up to the Anaheim curse and look for it to end next season.
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.