James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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The Makeshift All-Stars

Friday, February 15, 2013


About a month after the mayhem ended, it might already be easy to sort of forget about that whole “lockout” thing.

(The style of play certainly indicates nothing changed. NHL teams seem comfortable to waddle back into defensive shells and officials generally swallow their whistles while the “little things” allow lesser talents to subdue greater ones …)

Still, there are plenty of things that the lockout wiped out. It’s easier to ignore the Winter Classic because a) it’s been neatly re-scheduled for 2014 and b) the 2013 season began well after New Year’s, so it doesn’t feel quite as weird.

To a larger extent, the 2013 All-Star Game’s cancellation has gone largely unnoticed, but I couldn’t help but think of it when I heard that the NBA’s slamdunktacular answer is taking place this weekend. Think of all the fun/extraneous/insipid debates we could have embarked on if the 2012-13 season had the event?*

With that in mind, I thought I’d name my Rather Hasty Fantasy Hockey All-Stars. Rather than just picking the guy with the best raw stats, I gave significant bonuses to guys who have out-performed their draft positions.

Naturally, you’ll have your own choices, which you’re welcome to mention on Twitter or via e-mail. Also, you're welcome to check out Rotoworld's Super Guide and sign up for a Yahoo league.

CENTER

Mike Ribeiro - In his first season with the Washington Capitals, Ribeiro is taking Alexander Semin’s place as the really good player who annoys a seemingly disproportionate amount of people. He also currently leads the Capitals with 17 points, including five goals.

Will it last? Yes and No. Ribeiro has the talent and tendency to put together some nice point totals, peaking with 83 points as a Dallas Stars center in 2007-08 and eclipsing the 70-point mark two other times. Still, he's rarely been a huge goal-scorer, with three 20-plus goal seasons.

His 26.3 conversion rate is almost certainly set to droop, but he should still be a useful forward for the Caps, who are figuring things out a bit.

LEFT WING

Thomas Vanek - How could I not include the NHL’s current leading scorer? Vanek has been an absolute sensation so far, scoring 11 goals and 23 points in 13 games and adding 12 PIM for good measure.

Will it last? To a satisfying extent, yes. Obviously, he’s not likely to maintain his 21.6 shooting percentage, but his career mark is 15.6, so he should be productive if he keeps firing away (he currently has 51 SOG). He’s never approached these levels before, but he’s clearly heavily involved in the offense and I expect him to be pretty reliable going forward … despite not scoring in the last two games.

I mean, sure, if someone offers you Ilya Kovalchuk or Alex Ovechkin, go for it. But otherwise, I’m optimistic he’ll be worth keeping around.

RIGHT WING

David Clarkson - So much for regression. Instead of declining from last season’s 30-goal form, Clarkson is tied with Patrick Marleau and others (including teammate Patrik Elias) in 12th place with 15 points. Clarkson is easily one of the best steals of fantasy so far.

Will it last? It’s hard to argue with him maintaining at least a nice percentage of his productiveness. Maybe defining “it” is the key, though; he’s firing shots at net (54 SOG) so he’s obviously a key forward … but what about the power part? Well, I expressed earlier that I was worried he’d forego PIMs for points, but he has 10 of his 21 PIMs in the last four games. It seems like one way or another, he'll bring something to the table. Sometimes, he'll clearly bring a ton.

DEFENSE

(Pours one out for Erik Karlsson owners …)

Andrei Markov - Honestly, I thought he was cooked. Maybe the injury bug will bite him again, but so far, Markov has been a worthy gamble for fantasy owners who rolled the dice. All 10 (!) of his points have also come on the power play, giving already-great value matchup-breaking potential. You'd love to see more than six PIM, even if it would be silly to expect, but his 24:40 minutes per game is a nice bonus as well.

Will it last? The odds are against him. For one thing, he's converting on 25 percent of his shots, which is high for a forward but downright zany for a blueliner. There's also the injury thing to ponder, too.

Kevin Shattenkirk - Plenty of other solid candidates here, and I'd like to see more TOI and PIMs, but give credit where credit's due. He has 13 points, a respectable 24 SOG and 18 hits on top of all that.

Will it last? Everything but the St. Louis Blues’ shockingly strong power play, I’d say. Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo could trigger a nice unit, but I expect a lull. Still, he’s only scored one goal on 24 shots, so that area should improve.


GOALIE

Craig Anderson - It was agonizingly close between Anderson and Pekka Rinne, but the fact that Rinne was a top three rounds-type while Anderson might be some team's third goalie was a big tiebreaker. Oh yeah, Anderson has one more win with seven and a ridiculous .949 save percentage to boot.

Will it last? Probably not. Anderson’s already been playing over his head and now Karlsson’s gone. Bash the Swede’s defense all you want, he was gobbling up almost half a game and covering a lot of ground. More crucially, his offensive brilliance meant the puck was going toward the other team’s goalie more than Anderson. Losing that could very well hurt, even if Paul MacLean decides to go into defensive shell mode like so many other teams.

As much as I admire Anderson’s game, this situation has “sell” written all over it to the point of being a tattoo.

* - Knock All-Star nods all you want, but selections can be a helpful historical marker for a player’s career. Think of all the nominations that have been nixed because of lockouts and the Olympics over the years …

More fantasy fun after the jump.


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



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