Kevin Brown

In The Crease

print article archives RSS

Set These Guys Free

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Although a player's underlying skill set is the biggest factor in determining his fantasy value, the role he is assigned by his head coach can often be nearly as significant. Anyone who drafted Jordan Staal last season and watched him be deployed in a third line checking role for the entire season knows exactly what I'm talking about. In the following article, we'll discuss a few players around the NHL who I think could be elevated to fantasy status if they were only given the opportunity. In other words, set these guys free!

Justin Abdelkader – The former Michigan State Spartan showed a deft offensive touch during his NCAA days, but that proficiency had not translated to the NHL prior to this year, as he recorded a shockingly-low six points in 50 games last season. It took him all of nine games to surpass that total this year, despite being on the ice for less than 12 minutes per night and we think his new found scoring touch is a sign of things to come. Let's be clear in saying that if you're in a league that only counts goals and assists, Abdelkader is not the player you're looking for. Playing on a strong Red Wings club means he stands a good chance of posting a decent plus/minus rating and his feistiness should lead to 80+ penalty minutes so he could be valuable asset in rotisserie leagues.

Tyler Seguin – It's hard to blame the Bruins for bringing Seguin along slowly in his rookie season, but after watching the young phenom play just a handful of shifts, even the most novice of hockey fans can see the immense talent he possesses. His combination of speed, skill and creativity make him stand out among his peers and cause fantasy owners to salivate, thinking about what he could do if he were assigned a larger role by coach Claude Julien. Boston appears determined not to place too much on the kid's shoulders too quickly, but that won't stop me from wondering what might be.

Pavel Kubina – When it was first reported that Kubina had signed with the Lightning this past off-season, it seemed like a match made in heaven. The veteran Czech defenseman appeared ready to join offensive dynamos Steve Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier in the Sunshine State to form one of the league's best power-plays, but things haven't materialized that way. In a shocking development, Lightning coach Guy Boucher has actually used journeyman defender Brett Clark in place of Kubina in man-advantage situations. Given his track record as a consistent offensive producer from the back end, I'm still confident that he could be a valuable player if afforded the opportunity.

Zach Bogosian – After a promising sophomore campaign that saw him find the back of the net 10 times, Bogosian seemed primed for a full-fledged breakout this season, but nobody could have predicted the impact Dustin Byfuglien is having on the Thrashers. He and offensive whiz Tobias Enstrom have combined to make up one of the best blueline duos in the NHL, however their budding chemistry has shoved Bogosian into a secondary role. There's no question that the U.S.-born rearguard is capable of producing better offensive numbers than he has posted (three points in 15 games), but it appears that it will take an injury to one of Atlanta's top two defenders for him to blossom this season.

Cody Franson – Similar to Bogosian,s in Atlanta, Cody Franson's path to stardom is currently blocked by a pair of talented blueliners. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are mainstays on the Predators' top power play group, thereby relegating Franson to limited action on the second unit. Fantasy players caught a glimpse of what the young defenseman could do if given an expanded role earlier this season when Suter was sidelined with a knee injury for nine games, during which Franson potted three goals and two assists for a total of five points. Conversely, he has recorded just three points in 10 games when Suter has been in the lineup. Talent like his can only be held back for so long and we expect Franson to challenge for more ice time in very short order.

Jonas Gustavsson – The injury to Jean-Sebastien Giguere has opened the door for the man they call The Monster to step in and lay claim to the Maple Leafs' number one goaltender job. While the veteran Giguere has been the de facto starter when healthy, a quick look at the statistics for each goaltender leaves little doubt that the Swedish Olympian is the better bet, whether head coach Ron Wilson realizes it or not. Gustavsson has posted sparkling numbers in three starts since Giguere suffered a groin injury last week and every opportunity he gets to show his talents as the starter further strengthens his case to be the goaltender of the future in Toronto.

Anders Lindback – Based on his performance in place of the injured Pekka Rinne earlier this season, I like the chances for Lindback to one day become the latest Predators goaltender to go from unknown commodity to fantasy star. In doing so, he would join a club that includes former Preds' netminders Rinne, Tomas Vokoun, Chris Mason and Dan Ellis, all of whom are currently employed as starting goaltenders in the NHL. Unfortunately for Lindback supporters, Rinne is signed to a long-term contract in Nashville and barring an unforeseen collapse, he'll be the starter for the Preds for the foreseeable future. For this reason, Lindback's short-term value is limited, but his talent level provides hope for a bright future.

Tuukka Rask – There's no denying that Tim Thomas' accomplishments this season are second to none so it would definitely be unreasonable to suggest that Rask has deserved to play more than he has. However, lost in all the Thomas hoopla has been the fact that the Finnish netminder has very quietly been great in his limited action. In seven appearances, Rask has recorded a 2.36 GAA and posted a sterling .935 save percentage, flashing the skills he showed during last season's magical second-half run. Thomas seems to have a firm grip on the Bruins' starting goaltender job for the moment, but if he should falter over the coming weeks, you can be certain that Rask will gladly seize the opportunity.





Kevin Brown is fantasy hockey writer for Rotoworld. You can find him on Twitter @kbrownroto.
Email :Kevin Brown



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Bales: Luck

    Bales: Luck's Week 16 struggle
  •  
    Beer

    Beer's NFL 6 Pack - WR & TE
  •  
    Friday

    Friday's Fantasy Minute
  •  
    RotoPat: Week 16 Rankings

    RotoPat: Week 16 Rankings
  •  
    Week 16 Difference Makers

    Week 16 Difference Makers
  •  
    Beer

    Beer's NFL 6 Pack - QB & RB
  •  
    Levitan: Week 16 Tough Calls

    Levitan: Week 16 Tough Calls
  •  
    Levitan: Week 16 Flukes

    Levitan: Week 16 Flukes