Gus Katsaros

View from the Corners

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The Scout's Take

Monday, October 17, 2011

I’m not a very good fantasy GM.


It’s true.


And that’s a good thing; the most important aspect of this View from the Corners.


I don’t maintain my rosters to reflect optimum efficiency and production. I forget to set up my roster entirely without batting an eye.


The less involved I have become in the day-to-day administration means I can afford to allocate the time watching games and taking notes and building player profiles.


Some may already be familiar with the work we produce at McKeen’s Hockey Prospects. Poolies (and broad range of media) looking for detailed players breakdowns have invested some time reading through our detailed individual scouting reports in the McKeen’s Hockey Pool Yearbook.


As an independent scouting service, our focus is upon scouting players and following them from draft eligible prospects and through development into NHL hockey players. Usually by the time a player hits the fantasy radar, he’s been broken down and analyzed with the next step being trying to figure out timing a breakout. One of those players will be discussed below.


Over the course of this season, what I hope to provide here is less of a fantasy perspective, and utilize a scouting perspective, with the focus on real world skills.


Even if fantasy is numbers based, in order for those numbers to appear, the underlying conditions need to be set up. A player that is auditioned on a scoring line yet is better suited as a lower roster player will not last on that line. That player does have a distinct value.

I’ll help you all determine that value, it’s up to you to utilize that information to your advantage in your day-to-day administration, trade negotiations and all other aspects of fantasy hockey.


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We’ll start off easy, with some familiar players, and perhaps some that are just now hitting the radar. What better way than to start right down the middle?


Patrik Berglund St. Louis, C

Put on a late season display down the stretch in 2010-11 showing he’s ready to take it to the next level and hasn’t disappointed early on, while his value has increased with the news of Andy McDonald being lost to a concussion. Tall and lanky, he’s added some strength and cranked up the intensity, using his improved frame in a more industrious fashion and getting into open ice for passing options. Some old habits aside, there are career numbers on the way. He won’t be under the radar any longer.


Vincent Lecavalier Tampa Bay, C

‘Vinny’ was very productive down the stretch last season and carried that momentum into the postseason. Finally healthy, the captain will have to crank up the leadership, facing a long term injury to defensive stalwart Mattias Ohlund. There will be a slight shift in style but Tampa Bay have shown moments of playing scared. Questions remain around aging goaltender and a thin blueline. Look for a high 20’s total in goals with a 70-75 point season.


John Tavares, New York Islanders, C

Isles 2009 1st overall selection has made a tsunami-sized splash with a dynamic four point game and follow up with a hat trick and assist. Even in the first couple of scoreless games, his presence and involvement were evident. With vigorous initiative to get to the net, and increased knack for pick-pocketing pucks from opponents, tied in with a natural goal-scoring ability and chemistry amongst multiple teammates, he’s in line for his first 40-goal season on an up and coming Islanders team.


Ville Leino, Buffalo, C/LW

Scoffed at mainly due to the exorbitant contract seemingly overpaid for 50 points of production, but that’s the argument, not the big picture. The six-foot-one Finn has subtle skills, however, while being versatile enough to play multiple roles as a winger or up the middle. He plugs a hole left by Tim Connolly (see below) and is an upgrade in both skill and durability. He will have to start to take some more initiative to take the shot more often as he’s been more of a playmaker to open the season. Bank 50 points but expect 60 or more.


Tim Connolly, Toronto, C

Another mysterious timeframe due to a shoulder injury that has kept him from making his Leafs regular season debut is somewhat worrisome considering he was supposed to be the answer between Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel. Even healthy, the former Islanders 1st rounder (1999) is simply a bookmark for that slot until the Leafs are able to find an adequate first line replacement. Durability was a likely issue discussed in contract negotiations that limited his contract to a two-year term. Tyler Bozak has been inserted on the top unit once again, but this time with two differences: added weight and visible additions in strength to compliment a healthy compete and already mature defensive skills. As well, starting with two snipers with the addition of the gritty Lupul instead of being the answer as ‘Phil Kessel’s set up man’.


Matt Read Philadelphia, RW/C

Former Bemidji State star made a solid debut as a pro with Adirondack (11-7-6-13) turning heads as an undrafted College Free Agent and has already shown some flashes of NHL productivity albeit limited to a lower roster and different set of responsibility. Slightly undersized but with exemplary vision as a playmaker with courage and accompanying grit and healthy compete. The fantasy value hasn’t built yet, but there’s an injury replacement possibility here in Philadelphia should a player on a scoring line go down to injury. One to watch, or maybe even picked up on a prospect bench.


Nikita Filatov Ottawa, LW/C

Before you give up on the former Blue Jackets first round pick (6th in 2008) keep in mind that an assignment to Binghamton is also a natural part of development. As his unofficial hat trick (officially deemed two goals and an assist) points out, he’s got skills. Questions of heart and immature compete level have skewed the bigger picture about the lack of proper development in Columbus. Don’t listen to the chatter laced with ominous overtones. He needs to work some things out and do it in an environment where he’s able to hone those skills, and adapt to the pace and urgency of the pro game. Overall, Ottawa should be trying to figure out a way to extract his skills and compete to matching levels: to make him a player. It’s not about this assignment. It’s about what this assignment means in the grand scheme.


Gus Katsaros is the Pro Scouting Coordinator with McKeen’s Hockey, publishers of industry leading scouting and fantasy guide, the McKeen’s Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook. He also contributes to popular blog ... he can be followed on Twitter @KatsHockey
Email :Gus Katsaros

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