James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Vlad the Improver

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Note: This column is to some extent a long way of saying pick up Vladimir Tarasenko right now, so do that first and then come back and read the Daily Dose. If he’s somehow still available.

On Monday, I pleaded with you to practice patience with fantasy hockey opening weekends. Some might say that I’m contradicting myself when I say that it’s just as important to strike while the iron is hot.

Perhaps a little context is needed. To give you a little insight into the importance of having the right mix of improvisational killer instinct and zen-like calm, I’ll provide you with two examples that are near and dear to my fantasy sports heart.

The first is an example of springing to action like a rattlesnake. (Well, if a rattlesnake logs onto Yahoo and makes a move that nets you a future Maurice Richard Trophy winner.)


On November 30, the Boston Bruins made the hilariously foolish decision to trade Joe Thornton for tiddlywinks. (Hindsight historians will say this opened up the opportunity to sign Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara in the future, but that misses the point. The real breakthrough was that the trade was so bad that management changed into Peter Chiarelli’s superior hands.)

Anyway, when Thornton was moved to San Jose, I rubbed my hands together feverishly - like some Montgomery Burns-like evil business owner. Still, I didn’t decide to jump on Jonathan Cheechoo until he scored the first of two goals on Dec. 2, 2005 in a game against the Buffalo Sabres. (Note: it actually might have been his two-point game against the Atlanta Thrashers on Dec. 6 of that same year.)

Thanks to the convenient timing of Thornton’s trade, you can see how Cheechoo’s numbers exploded from December and on:

October: six goals and 12 points in 12 games
November: one goal and three points in 12 games
With Thornton that season: 49 goals and 78 points in 58 games!

Now, it’s true that Cheech’s numbers never approached those levels again, but that doesn’t mean it was a mere fluke to pick him up when he exploded. He actually had 28 goals the season before - and some great playoff moments - so his breakthrough wasn’t outrageous.

Overall, though, it says this: if you have room on your roster to pick up The Next Big Thing, do it. Worst case scenario, you can drop The Next Big Thing for Whoever is on the Waiver Wire and at least know you gave it a shot.


Still, I feel the need to recommend keeping a cool head, but perhaps I wasn’t specific enough. Let’s call it the Albert Pujols example.

Last year, I was at a festive little patio bar when a pair of friends discussed trades in a baseball league. Now, I’m nowhere near as knowledgeable about hardball as I am about hockey. (Example: I find it sad that David Wells isn’t a Hall of Famer. After all, he pitched a perfect game while hungover.)

Anyway, I was/am much bigger friends with one of the people who were feverishly debating trade options. The Superior Friend was being offered Albert Pujols, who was in the midst of struggling in new Anaheim environs. Long story short, I helped facilitate the trade that sent Pujols to Superior Friend for minor pieces. Pujols ended up helping said Superior Friend make the playoffs.

The lesson - and there is one, I promise - is that it’s important to gamble in the right areas. Consider this an incredibly rough chart for decision making:

Picks 1-6: Don’t panic, stupid
Picks 7-9: Take a deep breath, but feel free to entertain trade offers.
Picks 10 and on: Pick up Cheechoo/Tarasenko/the flavor of the month


Again, consider that an undeniably crude outline, but think about it: you thought longest and hardest about the picks you made to kick things off. Those early picks molded your team into the bunch it is.

Later on in the draft, you were drunker or more distracted or merely a little fatigued. There’s nothing wrong with disrespecting the dart throws you made when everyone was scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Oh, and seriously, just pick up Tarasenko already. Just do it. DO IT. If he’s a flash in the pan, I promise to do my best to find you someone who’s more stable and probably less exciting …


After the jump: debating players less obvious than Tarasenko.

continue story »
James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien

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