It’s still early in the post-season, but I’m already getting some hunches about certain players and I’ll be acting on them in the off-season.
1. Corey Crawford will be the man for the Blackhawks next year. This wasn’t a certainty two weeks ago. After all, he is a restricted free agent in the summer and a four-game sweep would have thrown a wrench into Crawford’s future. But now that the team has pulled back to even and forced a Game 7, his job is secure. Crawford’s numbers are solid so even if the Hawks lose he can’t be blamed. This summer I will treat him as a sure-fire 30-win goaltender and a possible 37- or 38-game winner.
2. Benoit Pouliot is fading quickly. Poolies wrote this guy off two years ago, but that was too soon. He is a potential power forward and those types of players generally need more time to develop. However, I was looking for at least 40 or 45 points from him if I was to have any hope for 55-plus in 2011-12. However, after tallying 15 points in the first 27 games (45-point pace and right on track), he stumbled to just 15 in his next 55 and has been scratched twice in the post-season. The Habs probably won’t be qualifying him this summer to his current $1.35 million contract.
3. Nathan Gerbe is going to be a star. He is being brought along slowly, but the pint-sized right winger it starting to get very comfortable in the NHL. Watch him Martin St-Louis his way to the top.
4. Kris Versteeg may only be a 50-point player in the regular season, but he moves up a notch or two in the post-season. Cut his ice time and stick him on the fourth line. He doesn’t care. The numbers will come anyway.
5. Michael Frolik is on the outs in fantasy circles, so I’ll be quietly trying to pick him up for as cheap as I can. Not only is next year his fourth in the league (and I love that year for breaking out), but he is proving in the post-season all he was lacking in his career to this point was a suitable pivot. With Dave Bolland on his line full-time next campaign, Frolik will have a career year.
6. Bolland is like Versteeg (see Point 4) to the power of infinity. If you’re looking for a player who steps up in the post-season, this guy defines the term. His career points-per-game average in the regular season is 0.53. In the post-season it’s 0.81 - and that number improves each year.
7. Sergei Kostitsyn will end another drought that Nashville has suffered through: the lack of a 53-point player. For the past two seasons, no Predator has topped 51 points. S.K. will get there by early March in 2011-12. Mark it.
8. Ilya Bryzgalov will probably sign with Tampa Bay. Where else makes sense? Given his recent comments about Winnipeg, he apparently doesn’t like the cold. So that also rules out Colorado and Edmonton...and leaves Tampa Bay and Florida. But would Florida sign Bryzgalov to a multi-year deal given they are rebuilding and have Jacob Markstrom in the system? Doesn’t seem likely.
9. Teemu Selanne won’t retire. He can’t. The guy is still a top 10 scorer in this league. But I’m sure the retirement speculation will drag on throughout the summer and into training camp. So, right around September when his owner starts getting jittery, I’ll offer a middle-round draft pick for Selanne.
10. Sean Avery is done with the Rangers and may be done in the NHL. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a personal favorite of mine, not to mention a fan favorite to some. But if the Rangers are going to give coach John Tortorella a vote of confidence via a contract extension, then Avery has to go. Torts is not a big fan of Avery, despite the fact he was the best Rangers forward in at least two of their playoff games. He was scratched in Game 1! How long can the Avery-Torts relationship continue? With one year left on Avery’s contract at a cap hit of $1.937 million to the Rangers, he could be moved. And that brings us to the next issue: is there another NHL team that would want Avery? I think he has toned his “act” down and is a positive contributor, but at least one NHL GM needs to feel the same way. I would stay away from him in fantasy circles this off-season until his future is a little more certain.
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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