James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Hiller enjoys the view

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Here’s some analysis from a player per game from Wednesday.




I must admit that I wasn’t exactly a huge proponent of Ryan O’Reilly, at least from a fantasy standpoint, after his awkward contract impasse was finally settled with the Colorado Avalanche.


While he’s been a darling of stats-minded hockey observers for a while now, the two-way center is showing signs of being more useful in the obvious categories that make a player a greater asset in the fantasy realm.


Most obviously, he's scoring points. After shaking off the rust with zero points in his first two games, O'Reilly is now averaging a point-per-game in his last eight (three goals and five assists for eight points overall). He's getting nice ice time and, most positively, is firing a nice amount of shots on goal. He has 37 in his 10 games so far, averaging 3.7 per game, the kind of clip that portends good things.


While he still isn't a peripheral demon (just a minor penalty so far, never more than 18 PIM in his career), he makes plenty of sense as a fringe center in deeper leagues.




While the Edmonton Oilers have drawn a lot of attention by compiling three consecutive No.1 overall picks, it’s other high-end youngsters who are really drawing attention. As it turns out, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz aren’t alone in that area.


It’s hard to believe that Sam Gagner was the sixth pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft because he fell out of the hockey consciousness for a while there - maybe until he seemingly changed his career around with that historic eight-point game from last season.


Gagner has 28 points in 29 games in 2013, with a five-game point streak (five goals, two assists for seven points) going. His 19 PIM are a nice cherry on top, too.


One wonders how he figures into Edmonton’s long-term plans because he’s a restricted free agent in the summer. Will management consider him expendable compared to the Taylor Halls of the world or will his impressive turnaround since that historic night cement him as a core player?


I’m not certain of either scenario, yet I do know that he’s been a boon for those who drafted him or snagged him as a fantasy free agent.




While I’d never claim that Devin Setoguchi was a star in the making, I was also puzzled to see him become a borderline healthy scratch for the Minnesota Wild. He simply showed too many flashes of brilliance with the San Jose Sharks to watch games in street clothes.


All of a sudden, he’s looking like a beyond-viable fantasy option; it’s almost as if his successes and failures have paralleled the suddenly hot team.


It seems like he’s really taken off alongside (contract year guy) Matt Cullen. Just look at the monthly breakdown of his production to see how things have picked up lately:




Seven GP

Zero goals, two assists for two points (even plus/minus)




12 GP

Three goals, four assists for seven points (even plus/minus)




10 GP

Eight goals, three assists for 11 points (+9)


He's currently on a five-game point streak (six goals, two assists) and has one other five-game streak (two goals, four assists) already. Maybe Setoguchi isn’t primed to be a permanent fixture, but he’s worth considering for right now.




Maybe the great ride will end at some point, but the sample size keeps growing to strengthen the argument that Nazem Kadri is a legitimate scorer. After being held pointless for three straight games, Kadri collected five assists over his last two games to point him to 30 points in 30 games.


I’m not crazy about his mediocre shot total (61 SOG in 30 GP), but you have to love that +16 rating and those 19 PIM. I’m sold, at least in the scheme of 2013.




It sounds like Martin Brodeur is indeed in for Thursday … The Maple Leafs put Mike Komisarek on waivers. File that under, “Wait, that didn’t already happen?” … A knee injury could sideline Justin Faulk for two to four weeks … Adam McQuaid’s shoulder strain might mean a month of missed time … Marian Hossa’s upper-body injury was at least bad enough to sideline him last night … The Hurricanes placed Chad LaRose on the IR … Anders Lindback seems to be dealing with a lower-body ailment … Eric Selleck was suspended for two games for being Eric Selleck … Update: Alexei Ponikarovsky is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

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.
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