Brett Lockwood

In The Crease

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NHL Fantasy Awards

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It is the time of year when you look back at your squad and see what you did wrong. Who were the elites you missed out on? Who were the busts on your squad? It is time for Rotoworld's 2010-11 NHL fantasy awards! Without further adieu...

Best Fantasy Goalie – Pekka Rinne

No doubt many will disagree with my pick of Pekka Rinne as the most valuable goaltender. The vote came down to three options: Tim Thomas, Henrik Lundqvist, and Rinne. Thomas started the season off in such a ridiculous fashion that his late-season statistics seem poor in poolies' eyes (even though they are not). Henrik Lundqivst provided solid play all year (including an NHL-best 10 shutouts) making him worthy of his moniker, King Henrik. The reason I chose Rinne is quite simple: he has been amazing all season long. Heading into the second last weekend of the season, Rinne had 28 wins, a .930 save percentage, and miniscule 2.07 GAA. Those numbers are truly remarkable, earning Rinne Rotoworld's Best Fantasy Goalie award. Consider him an elite option next season.

Best Fantasy Enforcer – Steve Ott

While Ott trails NHL PIMs leader Zenon Konopka by over 50 minutes, he did something no one else in the top ten PIMs leaders could do, Ott tallied over ten goals. While just second in PIMs, Ott managed 11 goals and 18 assists to contribute across the board. As well, his minus-eight rating is pretty palatable for what he brought to the table. Quite simply, Ott was the best enforcer for fantasy purposes in 2010-11.

Best Fantasy Sniper – Steven Stamkos

With no 50-goal scorer in the NHL this season, Stamkos is the only sure thing for goals moving forward. Sure, players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Alex Semin were hurt, but one thing is certain, Stamkos deserves this title. Known for his game-breaking shot, Stammer turned in a great season. He will likely be a top three pick next season. Daniel Sedin was a close second here.

Best Fantasy Distributor – Henrik Sedin

The magic of the Sedin twins is mesmerizing. They know where each other are without looking, for heaven's sake! Hank Sedin turned his brother into an MVP candidate with his impressive ability to dispense the puck, making him the best fantasy distributor of 2010-11. Just look at his numbers on the season--18 goals and 69 assists--to see his value. Hank is an elite passer, period. He is here to stay as an elite option. Martin St. Louis was a close second in voting, (Setting up Steve Stamkos helps. A lot.)

Biggest Fantasy Surprise- Tim Thomas

Heading into the season, everyone was banking on Tuukka Rask as the go-to guy in Boston. Rask was, on average, the seventh goalie off the board. What was Thomas' average draft position? Forty-third goalie taken. Tim Thomas performed like a true champ all season, likely giving anyone who picked him up off waivers a championship-worthy team. Thomas will finish the season with absolutely ridiculous numbers (even better than when he won the Vezina in 2008-09). This guy was the surprise of the season, by far. Michael Grabner, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Teemu Selanne followed Thomas in the voting.

Biggest Fantasy Disappointment – Mike Green

While injuries definitely happen to even the best players (see: Crosby, Sidney) Green was not performing even when on the ice. In 49 games this season he had just 24 points, hardly worthy of his first round draft slot. While Green is likely to bounce back next season, it does not help his owners that he was a disaster this year. For all those who drafted Green with high expectations, I feel your pain. While he put points on the board, Erik Karlsson and his minus-31 rating finished second in the vote.

Best Fantasy Rookie – Jeff Skinner

Hockey darling Jeff Skinner, at the ripe age of 18, turned in an incredible performance in 2010-11. Skinner led the rookie class in points all season. He hit the wall in the second half, leaving some to fear the sophomore jinx. But this season, he was the best rookie you could ask for, a true small-town guy. Close behind in voting were Taylor Hall, Michael Grabner, and Logan Couture.

Best Late-Round Return – Claude Giroux

Of course we could put Tim Thomas here but he has already been mentioned twice. We have to give this one to a Rotoworld favourite, Claude Giroux. Way back in September we held an expert fantasy draft. I selected Giroux with the 142nd pick in the draft. Good return, eh? Giroux will shoot up the draft boards next year, settling in around the fourth round. His incredible season definitely brought great returns for anyone who invested. Every year there are a few unplucked gems left at the end of the draft to start scouting for next season and write down some names. A close second to Giroux in voting was Patrick Sharp (whose season ended early last week).

Best Second-Half Comeback – Ilya Kovalchuk

This was a no-brainer, as Kovalchuk was a man possessed in the second half of the season. Before the All-Star break, Kovalchuk was producing at a .60 points-per-game pace. After the break, he became a point-per-game player. He will finish the season with sub-par numbers (based on expectations) but has shown that New Jersey is a place where he can thrive. Jason Spezza finished second on the list after recording over a point-per-game pace in the second half.

Well, there you have it. Another fantasy season is coming to a close. I will leave you with who I predict the real NHL awards will go to at the end of the year. Thanks for a great season.

NHL Awards Predictions
Hart Trophy - Jonathan Toews
The new Captain Canada has led a tremendous comeback for the defending Stanley Cup Champs. Underrated statistics for Toews include leading the NHL in faceoffs won.

Vezina Trophy – Tim Thomas
Need I say more? The question remains, will he be a Hall of Famer? Two Vezina Trophys on the mantle is a pretty good start.

Norris Trophy – Keith Yandle
Yandle's renaissance has been responsible for much of Phoenix's success. Without Yandle, the Coyotes are toast this season. Worthy of as much praise he will get.

Calder Trophy – Jeff Skinner
There hasn't been this much love for a rookie, during his rookie season, in a long time. Beware of the sophomore slump.

***Did you know?***
There has been a 50-goal scorer in every season since the lockout in 2004-05. This year will be the first without one.

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