Kevin Brown

In The Crease

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Erik Karlsson on the Rise!

Monday, November 14, 2011


As a Bobby Ryan owner, I have to admit it’s frustrating that he sees virtually no time on the Ducks’ top power-play unit due to the presence of Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.  It’s hard to argue that Ryan should replace any members of that trio, but the fact that he’s relegated to second-unit action disguises how talented a player he is.  Ryan’s 71 points last season may not appear that impressive, but consider that his 60 points scored at even-strength were only two behind league leader Henrik Sedin’s 62.   

Although he’s already universally owned, I think he becomes a top-10 option if any of the Ducks’ top three gets hurt.   This stat was mentioned on Rotoworld over the weekend, but it bears repeating: P.K. Subban leads the NHL with 50 shots on net without a goal.  It should go without saying that he’s a buy-low candidate in fantasy leagues, but in case you need to be convinced, don’t forget that P.K. started off last season with just two goals and nine assists in 34 games before finishing the year with 12 goals and 15 helpers over his final 43 contests.  He’s a streaky player and he’s still garnering scoring chances, as evidenced by his high shot total, so you can feel comfortable trying to trade for him.   With 44 shots in 16 games, Panthers defenseman Jason Garrison’s six goals are no fluke, especially when you consider the rocket slapshot he possesses, but counting on a blueliner who’s unlikely to contribute assists or penalty minutes is a risky strategy.  Unless you play in a league that rewards defenseman goals more heavily than that of forwards, I don’t recommend him as a pickup.      

As someone who owns Jimmy Howard in more than one league, I’d be lying if I said I thought he could keep up this incredible pace.  Coming into the season I expected him to be among the league leaders in wins due to his strong supporting cast in Detroit, but I wasn’t counting on a GAA below 2.50 or a save percentage above .910 so I’m not fully buying his gaudy stats.  It’s dangerous to deal him away when the situation he’s in is so favorable, but if I were offered an equivalent goaltender and an upgrade at another position I’d be willing to cash in my chips.   I have yet to hear a good reason for why Al Montoya hasn’t been the starter for the majority of the New York Islanders’ games this year. I understand the team feels they have three capable goaltenders on the roster, but at some point the playing time has to be distributed based on performance, doesn’t it?  After playing exceptionally well down the stretch last season, Montoya has been the best of the ‘Long Island Three’ this year so he must be wondering what more he has to do to be considered the number one guy.  Despite the investment they’ve made in DiPietro, I think he’ll ultimately be the odd man out, whether it’s due to injury or otherwise and I think Montoya will be the last man standing.    

Call me crazy, but I’m still buying-low on Jaroslav Halak if the opportunity presents itself.  He’s been thoroughly outplayed by Brian Elliott so far, but I think the arrival of Ken Hitchcock helps the team from a defensive standpoint (though the offense may not receive the same kind of spike) and I’ve seen enough of Elliott to know he can’t sustain this pace.  Halak will eventually separate himself with his play and those of you who acquired him can thank me later.     With only seven points and a minus-17 rating in 17 games so far, you don’t need me to tell you that Eric Staal has been a killer to fantasy squads, but I think there’s some light at the end of this tunnel.  Only two players in the league have fired more shots on goal than him so the bounces have to begin going his way eventually. But I say that as someone who considers the eldest Staal brother to be a little overrated to begin with.  I’m not expecting a hot streak good enough to compensate for his ugly start, but I wouldn’t view him much differently than I did before the season started.      

With 14 points in 16 games, Predators’ rookie Craig Smith is tied for the team lead in scoring and while I think his talent is legitimate, I’m hesitant to proclaim that he’ll keep up this pace.  Due to coach Barry Trotz’s defensive system, the team simply doesn’t find itself in many high-scoring games.  Under the same regime last season, no Predator amassed more than 50 points so I find it hard to believe that one will rack up 65-70 this year.        

The Ryan Smyth story in Edmonton is a great one and I really believe there’s something to the notion that Smyth is at his best when he’s wearing an Oilers jersey, but this is also a player who hasn’t surpassed 60 points since the 2005-06 season and will turn 36 in February.  You shouldn’t need me to tell you that now is a great time to test the trade market for him.        

For my money, Erik Karlsson might be the best offensive blueliner in the NHL.  Due to his scoring numbers this season and last, I may be a little late to this party, but from what I’ve seen recently, I wouldn’t think of trying to sell high on him right now.  I think a 60-point season is a reasonable expectation for this year and I’m targeting him in every keeper league I play in.        

Despite the solid performance he turned in against the Jets Saturday night, the Steve Mason story isn’t getting any better and I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Blue Jackets would consider other options if they could.  That’s why it’s so unfortunate that Mark Dekanich, finally recovered from a high ankle sprain sustained in training camp, suffered a groin pull in pre-game warm-ups with Springfield of the AHL on Friday.  He could miss a few weeks with the injury, but I still think he’ll get a shot to grab the number one gig when he returns.  In the meantime, Curtis Sanford could see some time in goal if Mason falters again.              




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