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Fantasy Pool Look: Stajan stagin' breakout

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

If scratching a player gets him going like this every time, then all 30 NHL coaches would be sending all 23 of their players to the press box throughout different games in October.

I’ve written articles on the impact of a benching on a player’s production and you’ve seen the impact for yourself (Phil Kessel during last spring’s post-season comes to mind). But can it really be the catalyst that turns a 35-point player into a 70-point player just like that?

It seems to have done that very thing to Toronto’s Matt Stajan. Not that I figured him to be a 35-point player – that is just what he has shown thus far in his career. No, this being his fifth season, I figured he should be able to reach 45 points and if he had the right linemates in the right situation he could top 60.

Consider this the “right situation.” Coach Ron Wilson scratched him early on and it unquestionably caused him to raise his game. Toronto is a rebuilding club made up predominantly of younger players. Despite being just 24, Stajan is one of the leaders of this team and is now seeing the ice time to back that up.

Nik Antropov who, heading into this season, was considered by many to be the team’s only top-six player, has found some chemistry with Stajan, while Alexei Ponikarovsky has bounced back nicely from a rough 2007-08 to complete the line.

Seeing as Stajan has tallied 16 points in his past 11 games, it is probably time to bump his upside to 70 points – at least for now. He may not get there this season, but if he gets to 60 points at his age, it is safe to assume he can top that when he hits his prime.

The pedigree is there: A second round pick in 2002, Stajan finished eighth in Ontario League scoring in the 2002-03 season just behind Eric Staal (who is one year younger). He then got a point in his only American League game and again in his only NHL game to end the season. He made the Leafs for good the following fall. All this doesn’t sound like a “35-point player.”

It is high time poolies took Matt Stajan seriously. Given his production of late, we have little choice…

This season, more than usual, there are some stars out there prime for the taking. I can’t stress enough that a proven star in the league will never dip to 50 or 55 points. He may slide a little, but not that much. So don’t be gun shy with players like Vincent Lecavalier who has 11 points in 16 games.

A slide to 75 points? Sure, I’ll buy that. I doubt he’d slide that far, but I’ll buy it for the sake of argument. A slide to his pace of 56? No way.

Eric Staal has nine points in 16 games. Again, I can perhaps see a dip to 65 points, but his pace of 46 is silliness. Shawn Horcoff has seven in 16. I can see a slide to 60 points at the lowest, not 44!

Sure, I’m giving you a number to give you an idea of how far these guys could slide this season, but in all likelihood they will turn things around and put up the numbers you are used to seeing. Now is the time to aggressively go after these players. Be a bargain hunter…

Farm Report: Chicago prospect Igor Makarov had a very good training camp and should make the Hawks next year. He currently has five points in 13 games for St. Petersburg SKA of the Kontinental League. He has a bright NHL future…Nikita Filatov, arguably the best prospect outside of the NHL, has eight points in eight games as an 18-year-old for Syracuse of the AHL. The Jackets feel great knowing he is just a phone call away if an injury hits their top six. With the extra ice time and experience in the AHL this year, Filatov will make in impact in the NHL next campaign.

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 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

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