By Alexander Monaghan
Hate Hate Hate: Monaghan
Love is a very strong word. By definition, it conveys a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. These players below I love, tenderly. The very thought of them on my fantasy hockey roster makes this pundit swoon into a giant heap of mancrush.
Perhaps you feel the same, but we probably will not concur full-heartedly. For that, I will defend my choices to the death, or at least until I am forced to eat crow.
Feel free to tear this article apart in the comments or simply discuss why you would prefer, or not prefer, to have them on your roster. Stay tuned for more of this series coming in the next few days from the rest of our staff as well.
Evgeni Malkin, Center, Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby won’t be ready for training camp. This information we know.
Evgeni Malkin will be ready for training camp and wants to return to his higher level of play. In fact, he trained all summer with expectation of bringing another Stanley Cup back to Pittsburgh. If there is anything we love to hear in the offseason, it is some fluff over how motivated a certain player is or prepares to be for the following year. Regardless, we can siphen through the fluff and make our own judgments on the player and our review is positive.
When Crosby is not in the lineup, historically, Malkin becomes the best player in hockey. It happened back in ’07 – ’08 and likely will happen again due to the impending circumstances. From early indications, it looks like Malkin could escape the first round. If I come into a draft with a late first rounder and an early second, I would be more-than-thrilled to grab Geno with a selection somewhere around 14-17.
Claude Giroux, Right Wing, Philadelphia Flyers
Sean Leahy of Puck Daddy spilled all the beans in his Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey: The Top 100 players for 2011-12 but ‘G’ deserves another mention.
Two years ago was a coming out party for Giroux, as he finished the postseason with 10 goals and 21 points through 23 games. Most fantasy pundits could in turn forecast his ’10 – ’11 breakout as he posted career high totals across the board with 25 goals and 71 points. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter? Who needs them with this Ontatio native taking on a large portion of the offensive load. With the big two out of the picture we remain unsure who G pairs up with for now, but our best guess will be reuniting his apparent chemistry with the newly re-signed James van Riemsdyk.
Only 10 players produced more than Giroux. In both of his two full seasons in the show, the 23-year-old played all 82 games. Oh, that’s right, he also has improved every possible counting stat each year. As a projected fifth-round pick, Giroux is no surprise. Regardless, we recommend making a point to take him, possibly even in the fourth.
Martin Havlat, Right Wing, San Jose Sharks
Havlat remains the definition of injury-prone. Looking back at some fantasy hockey drafts last season, he actually was passed over by an entire league.
Nevertheless, we as a fantasy hockey community, have let Havlat back into our lives. How has he repaid us? By rising up and elevating not only back to respectability but also enough trade value allow the San Jose Sharks– a far superior team to the Minnesota Wild– to take a bite. In my hate article, I discussed how Joe Thornton was clearly on the decline. Taking that purely speculative segment into consideration, Havlat has been penciled into the right side of Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe, which clearly excites us enough to recommend Havlat despite his injury-prone nature. Both linemates, or any combination of top-6 forwards for that matter, will be just-fine upgrades from Kyle Brodziak and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
As a favorite of DailyFaceoff.com, we found it only right to mention him in our list of mancrushes.
Ryan Miller, Goalie, Buffalo Sabres
Last year, the fantasy hockey world expected way too much from Ryan Miller.
Playing behind a top-10 offense helped Miller lead his team to a Southeast Division title and win a Vezina Trophy. His 2.22 GAA and .929 SV% made him a 40-game winner — a feat the 31-year-old has now accomplished twice in his career. A bevy of injuries sidelined Miller enough to not win as many games. Despite the team’s inconsistency last season, their offense actually did not dip, finishing 9th in the League in goals forced. Adding Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino should keep forcing the puck up-ice; Robyn Regehr over Chris Butler on the blue line should also protect Miller during the heavy, tough minutes. The Sabres have improved to the point that Miller should reach 40 wins for the third time in his career.
Considering that type of production will be available in the second-third round opposed to the first makes grabbing Miller just that much more appealing. I would venture to say he puts up better numbers than Carey Price, Marc-Andre Fleury and Antti Niemi — all of whom likely are taken in a similar area. When your league takes a run on starting goalies, try to grab Miller while you still can.
Jonathan Quick, Goalie, Los Angeles Kings
Last season, Jonathan Quick was a consensus fifth-round pick. Following a fantasy All-Star season and merely finishing as a top-5 starting goalie in our Goalie Ladder, Quick is still a consensus fifth-round pick? That makes sense…
There are a few outliers which show why you should REALLY like Quick. For one, his 4×5 GAA — goals against while shorthanded — was the second lowest among starting goaltenders (only Pekka Rinne was higher) with at least 60 games player. Mike Richards has the potential to improve the PK even more so, ensuring Quick receives more protection with a man down. After playing in over 60 games the past two seasons, we feel confident penciling him in for a similar amount next season since the way he plays is sure to keep Jonathan Bernier at bay. And if you are overly concerned about Bernier, draft him as a handcuff in the last round.
A healthy Anze Kopitar and an even-more progressed core will go a long way towards ensuring Quick receives adequate goal support, the one facet the Kings lacked consistency in last season.
Mike Green, Defense, Washington Capitals
Baseball, not hockey, uses a phrase known as law of averages. While our great sport has improved their advanced statistics and metrics to a relatively comparable level, we rarely have a statistic that tells us when a player is lucky or unlucky.
My colleague Ryan Campbell attempted to explain shooting percentages as a similar concept to BABIP — a red flag statistic which explains whether a performance is lucky or unlucky. If we apply that same concept to a soon-to-be 26-year-old Mike Green, then his unproductive season was a factor of man-games lost not deteriorating skills. Taken likely in the first round, Green amassed only eight goals through 49 games, posting his lowest shooting percentage since ’06 – ’07, well prior to his breakout.
If we were to adjust his shooting percentage .02 percent to his career average then Green would have 10 goals through 49 games. Prorate that production to a full season and Green would have posted 17 goals and 44 points, which is almost worth last season’s price tag. If you consider that every Washington Capital had a down season, then Green’s assists totals should also rise which makes him a very worth third-round pick this season.
Derek Roy, Center, Buffalo Sabres
I touched on Roy briefly in my Hate list, but for a good reason.
Assist machines like Joe Thornton, Brad Richards, Henrik Sedin and Nicklas Backstrom all hold inflated price tags due to their supporting cast, past success and general superstar status. Comparatively, Roy, after missing 47 regular season games, bumped much farther down the rankings due to where he finished last season. In his seven NHL seasons, Roy eclipsed 70 games in five which ironically make him a relatively healthy option. Prior to last season, he eclipsed the 40-assist marker in four consecutive seasons, so if healthy next season, he should be a lock for at least 40 assists.
With Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek his likely partners in crime, Roy could hold more value than a declining player like Thornton and can be had in the 14th round.
Michael Cammalleri, Left Wing, Montreal Canadiens
Every season there is one severely undervalued player in the draft. Last year it was clearly Patrick Sharp, who boasted an O-Rank somewhere in the 200s. This year, I have a hard time understanding why Michael Cammalleri is in the third-fourth tier LWs, surrounding by bench players Erik Cole, Tyler Ennis and RJ Umberger, respectively.
Skating at a diminutive 5’9, Cammy has been hurt the past two seasons but at 29-years-old he assuredly still holds a scoring touch. The past two postseasons, Cammalleri posted 16 goals and 29 points through 26 games. His production last season was severely down during the regular season but quickly corrected with his three goals and 10 points through only seven games. Following a January injury, Cammalleri slumped through March, which effected his overall totals. In short, we should consider this dearth of scoring the exception, not the rule.
At a price tag of 11th – 12th round, Cammalleri would fit in nicely as a 2-3 LW and a luxury to have on your bench.
Daniel Alfredsson, Right Wing, Ottawa Senators
Simply put, I won’t give up yet.
Last season was just awful for Alfredsson. He clearly was playing through injuries for the majority of the season and failed to connect with the subs of Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek. After 54 miserable games, Alfie posted only 14 goals and 31 points — the worst totals in his entire career. Barring last season, the Sens’ captain managed to post nine consecutive 70+ point seasons, which seems almost attainable if he, Spezza and Michalek remain healthy (Remember, even bad teams put pucks in the net).
At this point, Alfredsson is the 46th ranked right wing — a notoriously weak position. At 22 percent owned, are there 46 RWs capable of hitting 70 points? With my 14th round pick, I gladly stick this Swede on my bench in any standard 12-team or 14-team league.
Dion Phaneuf, Defense, Toronto Maple Leafs
If you thought my previous selections were wacky, choosing Phaneuf is probably the craziest.
Formerly thought of as an elite defensemen, personal opinions of the Leafs’ captain clearly translates over to fantasy hockey, where he truly feels the hate. Regardless, omitting his fluky “deep gash” infliction, Phaneuf has played between 79 and 82 games in all of his previous five seasons. His 88 PIMs in 66 games put him on pace to again eclipse 100 PIM while finishing with a similar 10-30-40 line. Surely that beats his 12 goals and 32 points in ’09 – ’10 and with an improved cast in Toronto he could possibly go even higher.
You can likely snatch Phaneuf in your 8th to 9th round which would put his production in the 2-3 D-man role. Opposed to other questionable players in that area like Erik Karlsson, Mark Streit, Ryan Whitney and Tobias Enstrom, Phaneuf actually helps in PIM and only managed a minus-2 rating for a poor Leafs team. Most importantly, somewhere deep inside remains an elite defender that might experience a rebirth as his team turns over a new page.
We hope you enjoyed our latest as much as we enjoyed writing it. If there are glaring omissions let your voice be heard in the comments. Regardless, make sure to take all of the advice in and continue to check our renowned starting goalies section, which is updated all day until game time and follow us on Twitter @DailyFaceoff