Fantasy Hockey: Did someone say the F word?
Welcome to CBCSports.ca's Fantasy Hockey 1-on-1, where every Friday our resident nerds — er, experts — Jesse Campigotto and Jordan Shifman debate three hot topics of interest for poolies.
In last week's edition Jordan went it alone to point out the biggest underachiever of the season. This week, Jesse returns to the lineup as he and Jordan debate the potential merits of (another) Peter Forsberg comeback, and answer a reader's call for advice on what to make of the slow-starting Boston Bruins.
Don't forget, you can get top-notch fantasy hockey advice by sending in your questions for our fantasy pros using the comments function at the bottom of the story, and we'll answer the best one in this space next week.
Looking for a league to join? Check out CBC's Hockey Night In Canada Fantasy Pool. It's fun. And you could win a car.
All stats are through Wednesday.
1. Question from onthedarkside902: In my pool there are a ton of Boston players available. For example, David Krejci. With the Bruins off to such a slow start, I'm skeptical about picking them up. The question is, do you think Boston's players will turn it around? Can they really be this much worse than last year?
Jesse: Let's just say that when your leading scorer (Patrice Bergeron, 12 points) is tied for 78th in the NHL, it goes without saying that you've got problems. What we're seeing with Boston this season is something the great baseball statistician Bill James calls the "Plexiglass Principle." Basically, teams that improve greatly from one season to the next tend to drop off in the season after. The Bruins have been terribly unlucky, with stars Marc Savard and Milan Lucic missing big chunks of time due to injury, and leading sniper Phil Kessel now a Toronto Maple Leaf due to salary cap concerns. I doubt anyone in your league would have dropped Savard, but if an impatient owner cut Lucic loose, he could be worth picking up as he's now back skating in full gear. Bergeron I'd avoid because of his history of concussions. As for Krejci, I don't like rolling the dice on guys coming off hip surgery. Unless they're named Marian Gaborik.
Jordan: Allow me to welcome you back by disagreeing with you right off the bat, Jesse. Though Bergeron is as injury-prone as anyone in the league, when he's healthy he's worth a roster spot. Including this season, he's scored 201 points in his last 249 games with 758 shots on goal. He's obviously doing something right. And when he gets injured next, you can just drop him or put him on the IR with Gaborik. As for underachieving Bruins Krejci, Blake Wheeler, Marco Sturm, Michael Ryder and Dennis Wideman: until Savard and Lucic come back to help them, those other guys don't have enough value because there are better players out there. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep an eye on them as Lucic and Savard get closer to returning and the team gets past its H1N1 outbreak. In the meantime, as I mentioned several weeks back in one of the Fantasy Hockey Plus-Minus videos, Derek Morris is having a solid season on defence alongside Zdeno Chara and would be a nice addition to any team needing a fourth blue-liner.
2. Peter Forsberg looks like he's trying to make another run at the NHL. If he returns, does the aging Swede warrant a spot on your fantasy roster?
Jordan: Absolutely, yes! There should be no hesitation or debate here whatsoever. We're talking about one of the greatest Europeans ever to play the game of hockey. Though he's most certainly lost a step by now, whether he signs with Philadelphia, Montreal, Colorado, Washington, Detroit or anyone else, the fact that there's potential for more than a point per game cannot be overlooked. Just look at his stats if you need convincing: 885 points (96th all-time) in 706 career games, including 249 goals, with 71 of those coming on the power play. Forsberg is also a career plus-242, the 31st-highest rating in league history. But the most head-turning stat is that, with the exception of only Bobby Orr, Forsberg has more points in fewer games than any of the NHL's top 140 career scorers. Moving beyond his impressive resumé, Forsberg will garner power-play time no matter where he plays. And, let's face it, the amount of potential Forsberg brings to a fantasy team far outweighs that of the worst player on your squad. Besides, what's the worst that could happen? He gets injured again and retires and then you drop him in favour of the bench warmer you had before. Don't worry, the bum will still be there if that happens.
Jesse: I'd like to say it's nice to be back after my week off, but we're only two topics in before the F word gets dropped. Am I the only one who wishes Forsberg would just retire to a quiet life in his native Sweden, where he can spend his days sitting in saunas and admiring blonde girls who look good in winter coats (I assume this is how Swedish people spend virtually all their time). Forsberg is a surefire hall of famer, one of the all-time greats. But so is Gordie Howe, and Mr. Hockey might be in better shape right now. Forsberg is 36 years old, and given his injury history he's what boxing fans would call "an old 36." The guy has played a grand total of 12 pro hockey games over the last two seasons combined, including just three last season in the Swedish league. What's the worst that could happen, you asked? Something much worse than a cut-and-dry season-ending injury. I envision Forsberg torturing fantasy owners with the dreaded DTD (day-to-day) tag next to his name for weeks, costing you valuable games played when he decides at the last minute he can't suit up that night and you don't have time to insert a replacement. I hope I'm right in thinking this comeback talk is merely Forsberg's way of getting himself in the mix for Sweden's Olympic team.
3. What's your move of the week?
Jesse: Snap up Sheldon Souray if he's a free agent in your league. The Oilers defenceman hasn't played since Oct. 8, when he suffered a head injury after falling awkwardly into the boards while racing Jarome Iginla to a loose puck (Iginla did nothing remotely dirty, by the way). Souray isn't readily available (he's owned in 76 per cent of Yahoo! leagues), but it's worth checking if someone dropped him, particularly in leagues with short benches. Sure, Souray has had his share of injury trouble in his career, but defencemen with a pair of 23-goal-or-better seasons under their belts don't grow on trees.
Jordan: I picked up Tomas Fleischmann this week. For more info on him, watch the video in this story. And how about Manny Legace? Yes, I know he was passed over by the lowly Atlanta Thrashers in the pre-season and he was let go by both Detroit and St. Louis in recent years, but he has a real chance in Carolina with Cam Ward hurt. If you're like me and are desperate for a goalie — any goalie — he's not such a bad choice. Legace has posted a winning percentage above .500 in every season of his career, except his rookie campaign, and in 10 seasons in the league he has a career 2.38 GAA and a .912 save percentage. Carolina may be off to a poor start, but at some point the version of the Hurricanes that made it to the Eastern Conference final is bound to show up again. And when that happens, Legace will be part of the mix because Michael Leighton (and his career-high six wins last season) just won't cut it.