Bound to ReboundThursday, August 23, 2012
Fantasy owners were not pleased with the following players in 2011-12 because their performances did not match their lofty rankings going into the year. However, there is reason to believe most can bounce back this campaign:
Ryan Getzlaf (ANA) - C - The Ducks’ top center struggled mightily along with most of his teammates last year. He recorded a career-low of 11 goals and his 57 points were the least he has scored since his rookie season. Getzlaf's disappointing numbers were recorded despite appearing in all 82 games. Even when his 2010-11 campaign was shortened due to injury he still managed to rack up 76 points in 67 contests. He commented afterward that he tried to do too much, too early and it all went downhill once the team started to pile up losses. The Ducks should be a better team this year and Getzlaf will lead that charge. It also should not be overlooked that he is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, so he has plenty of motivation to perform above the bar. Look for him to regain his point-per-game form.
Matt Duchene (COL) - C - Duchene endured the worst year of his brief professional career this past season. He topped 20 goals and 55 points in each his previous two years, but slipped to 14 markers and 28 points in 2011-12. The 21-year-old forward could not stay healthy or consistent, but has worked hard over the off-season to change that and trained with Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby for part of the process. Duchene was slowed by a knee injury after Christmas that kept him on the shelf until late February and he sustained an ankle injury in early March. Duchene was utilized on the wing by coach Joe Sacco, but a return to center should occur, as he has more value in the middle of the ice than he does battling in the corners. He was Colorado's leading scorer after the 2010-11 season with 67 points in 80 games and that is the player expected to come to the forefront this time around.
Mikko Koivu (MIN) - C - The Minnesota Wild made positive steps to building a winning franchise this summer with the signings of winger Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, but if the team is going to turn it around then Mikko Koivu will play a mammoth role in the transformation. The Wild captain missed 23 games last season because of a shoulder injury and his absence was a key factor in Minnesota slipping out of playoff contention after they began the year with so much promise. In 55 games, he ended up with 12 goals and 44 points. Koivu is an excellent two-way center who leads by example and he has surpassed 60 points in his previous three seasons. He doesn't rack up goals but his hockey sense allows him to find his teammates in the open, which means he will likely stock up helpers with Parise and possibly talented rookie Mikael Granlund on his wings. If you are seeking strong faceoff numbers and assists, with around 20 markers, then Koivu is a great target.
Travis Zajac (NJD) - C - The off-season departure of Zach Parise to Minnesota hurts the Devils substantially and it removes an offensive weapon from the wing of center Travis Zajac. However, Zajac still has some remarkable players to work with and is projected to line up as the club's number one pivot this coming season. He will likely be paired with Ilya Kovalchuk, who is even more dynamic than Parise, which should help him bounce back from an injury-stricken 2011-12 campaign. He skated in only 15 games because of a torn Achilles tendon, but looked comfortable in the playoffs, where he notched seven goals and seven assists in 24 matches. He should flirt with the 60-point mark again, if he remains healthy, and could make for a good pick later in the draft.
Alexander Semin (CAR) - RW - Semin will receive a fresh start in Carolina this season after a pair of lackluster years ended his tenure with the Washington Capitals. The Hurricanes improved their offensive punch this off-season with the acquisition of Jordan Staal from Pittsburgh and the signing of Semin, who should complement a group that already contains Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner. The gifted goal scorer has one of the best wrist shots in the league and he should get plenty of room to operate alongside either or both of the Staal brothers. The often enigmatic forward also has plenty to prove after being criticized heavily during his final days with the Capitals. Semin will be a free agent once again following the 2012-13 campaign and he will be plenty motivated to improve and procure a longer commitment. Carolina's games against Southeast Division rival Washington should be especially interesting. Look for Semin to climb back to the 30-goal barrier and generate between 60-70 points as a member of the Canes.
Ryane Clowe (SJS) - LW - Clowe played through various injuries last year that ranged from groin strains to concussions. He still skated in 78 games but his production dropped considerably as a result. Clowe had been improving his totals for three consecutive years before last season's disappointment. His point totals had climbed from 52 to 57 to 62. When you factor in his steady stream of penalty minutes, Clowe makes for a solid fantasy contributor when healthy. He gets prime ice time next to Logan Couture on the Sharks' second line and should benefit from another rebound hopeful in Martin Havlat, who missed the majority of 2011-12 because of injury. Injury-free Clowe should return to approximately the 60-point mark and 100-plus PIMs this season.
Drew Doughty (LAK) - D - Doughty's contract holdout cost him the early part of training camp last fall and his season did not get off to a good start with a mere eight points in his first 25 games. The 22-year-old blueliner concluded the year with a respectable 36 points, but his play in the postseason is what stands out the most. During the Kings' Stanley Cup run, he led all defensemen in scoring with 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) over 20 contests. He logged big minutes and played responsibly at both ends of the ice. Doughty looked much more like the player he was during his previous two seasons in the league. He should return to that form in 2012-13 and record between 40-50 points.
Corey Crawford (CHI) - G - Crawford was a victim of the sophomore jinx in 2011-12. His goals-against average ballooned from 2.30 to 2.72 and his save percentage dropped from .917 to .903 in what was a trying year for Chicago's number one goalie. Crawford went through a rough start before developing a groove at the end of the year, but he looked shaky again during the postseason. Questions about his job security intensified over the off-season when concerns were voiced about the team's crease situation, but coach Joel Quenneville is confident that Crawford can return to form. He is not the first keeper to struggle after a strong opening year, but there is some risk involved as some young goalies never end up recovering. What could make Crawford different is that he has a strong team in front of him, so more often than not they can win even when his game isn't spot on. Still, it would probably be best to treat him as a wild card rebound player and hedge your bets with a more dependable goalie ahead him on draft day.
Mike Green (WSH) - D - If he can overcome the injuries that have plagued him for the past couple of seasons then he should return to being a scoring threat from the blueline who can supply plenty of power-play points.
James van Riemsdyk (TOR) - LW - The Leafs acquired JVR from Philadelphia this off-season after he struggled through injuries en route to an 11-goal, 24-pont performance in 43 games. In Toronto, van Riemsdyk is slated to be tested at center between top wingers Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, but even if that experiment doesn't pan out, the second overall pick in 2007 will see ample ice time to fulfill his potential as a top-six forward.
Andrei Markov (MTL) - D - Markov has played in just 65 games over the past three seasons, so saying he is an injury risk is an understatement. However, his ability to pick up points and quarterback a power play cannot be ignored and he did manage to finish the year on the Canadiens’ active roster this time. He is the definition of a high risk/high reward player going into 2012-13.
Tyler Myers (BUF) - D - Myers has seen his production tail off for two straight years following his Calder Trophy-winning performance in 2009-10. He has gone from 48 points to 37 to 23. The 23 should be viewed as an off-year because of injuries though, so look for him to post in the area of 35-45 points this coming season.
Daniel Carcillo (CHI) - LW - Carcillo sat out most of the 2011-12 campaign after undergoing knee surgery in January. He should be recovered by the time this season begins. In 28 games with the Blackhawks before he was injured, Carcillo had 11 points and a whopping 82 penalty minutes. He should generate an abundance of PIMs and some points this year, which should land him on the radars of prospective fantasy GMs.