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Fantasy Hockey - Safe Picks for 2012

by chewy 17. October 2012 09:51

Now that there is some glimmer of light appearing under the door, it may be time to start getting serious about preparing for some last-minute hockey drafts.  We've previously highlighted some breakout and rebound candidates to spice up your roster, but for the most part, it's not a bad idea to play it safe.  These guys aren't the superstars, but they're a solid, safe pick. They probably won't compete for the Art Ross, but you know what you're getting with these guys and can sleep at night with them on your roster.

Offense

Loui Eriksson                     DAL         

Check out Loui's point totals for the last three seasons: 71, 73, 71. His goal totals have lingered between 26 and 29 as well. Gotta love that consistency. And the truth is, he's capable of more. The Stars brought in some help for the top 2 lines, but Eriksson will still be counted on to be the team's top sniper. I fully expect 35 goals out of brother Loui in 2012-13.

Anze Kopitar                     LOS         

Kopitar seems to start each season with a bang, giving hope that he'll emerge as an elite fantasy forward. Mid season struggles have kept him from reaching the next level, but few fantasy options have been as consistent as this one over the past few years. He's good for 25-30 goals and close to 80 points.

Milan Lucic                     BOS         

Lucic managed to repeat the solid effort he displayed in 2010-11 that vaulted into the fantasy conversation. His blend of production in goals, assists, and PIMs make him a safe 4th or 5th round pick.

Jason Pominville                     BUF         

Pominville's numbers had been on the decline for the past few seasons, but 2011-12 brought a sudden bump in production. He hit the 30 goal mark for the 2nd time in his career. #29 turned 29 this year and there's no reason to predict a major dropoff. Another 70 point season should be in the cards, though banking on 30 goals may be optimistic. Flag him as a safe mid-round selection.

Henrik Sedin                     VAN         

If you're looking for a safe, reliable pick early in your draft, Henrik Sedin is a good place to start. His numbers have noticeably dipped for two straight seasons, but that still kept him at a point a game. The biggest drawback here will always be his lack of goal-scoring. If goals matter more to you than assists, adjust him accordingly. Either way, you have a guy who has put up 7 consecutive seasons of 75+ points. During that stretch, he hasn't missed a single game.

Patrick Sharp                     CHI         

If it's goals that you seek, Sharp has been one of the most consistent producers in recent years. He has topped 30 goals in 3 of the last 5 seasons, including the last two. He has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, which has kept him shy of hitting the 40 goal mark. 8 Game Winners and a +/- of +28 helped boost his overall fantasy rank to 12th best among forwards. Some of the young guns in the NHL will likely pass him by this season, but he's still a reliable contributor, particularly at right wing. He'll retain his place on the top unit in Chicago, which ensures him plenty of opportunity to pop in another 30+ tallies.

Martin St. Louis                     TAM         

True, his stats took a dive last season, dropping by 25 points and registering his lowest goal total in a decade. He's also 37 years of age. It's tempting to assume the end is drawing near; however, he's been overcoming doubts his entire career. As long as he remains the Stamkos wingman, (no reason to believe that will change) he has significant value. When you're trying to rank St. Louis, you also must consider your point system. He doesn't take penalties. All told, he's one of the safest 4th or 5th round picks out there.

Eric Staal                     CAR         

Aside from one monster season coming out of the lockout (100 points in '05-06), Staal has been remarkably consistent from year to year, lingering between 70 and 80 points. Could the arrival of little brother be enough to spur him on to greater heights once more? He's been one of the most durable forwards in the league, playing just one season with less than 81 games. With the moves Carolina made to boost his support, you should expect Staal to take at least a 10 point jump back into the 80's in 2012-13.

Joe Thornton                     SAN         

It seems like Thornton has been playing hockey forever. He started dominating the NHL at such a young age, it's tempting to assume he's nearing the end. In reality, he's "just" 33, plenty young enough to continue to near point-a-game storyline he has written for years now. As always, the problem is all assists, no goals, but man, those are a lot of assists. The man hasn't put up less than 68 points in a season yet this millennium. So, just write in 24 goals and 50 assists minimum. Use pen.

Defense

Matt Carle                     TAM         

Matt Carle is another safe, if un-sexy, pick for you to fall back on late in the draft. For the last 3 seasons, he's popped in a handful of goals and lingered between 35 and 40 points. He will be the go-to guy for the Lightning this season and will probably remain in that territory.

Alexander Edler                     VAN         

When Ehrhoff bolted for Buffalo last summer, Edler slid into the #1 man job description. He seemed to fill that role nicely, racking up close to 50 points, including an impressive 228 shots on net. Even with the addition of Garrison and the presence of a healthy Bieksa, Edler will continue to carry the mail for one of the league's top contenders. Look for another strong effort in the 10 goal, 50 point territory.

Dion Phaneuf                     TOR         

Phaneuf put together a solid comeback season last year, restoring faith in his ability to rejoin the ranks of the top fantasy D. His 12 goals ranked 6th at his position and helped him slide into 6th in total fantasy production. Look for another solid play in 2012-13 from the Leafs captain.

Brent Seabrook                     CHI         

If you're looking for a safe pick on defense, you can't do much better than Seabrook. His potential is probably limited, but you can't beat the reliability. For seven years, he's been very healthy and has regularly put up decent goal and point totals for the Hawks. Expect another decent go in the realm of 8 goals and 40 points.

Mark Streit                     NYI         

Bad news first: -27 on the +/- hurt his overall fantasy value in a big way in many league formats. He's also seen his point totals decline for four straight seasons. However, he had set the bar extremely high. Despite another slip, he still posted 47 points for a team going nowhere. Streit showed no ill affects after missing all of 2010-11, having played in all 82 games last season. Expect another solid season from Streit.

Goalies

Ryan Miller                     BUF         

Miller had a rough start to the season, which included missing a few weeks with concussion issues. It took him (and the Sabres) just a bit too long to salvage the season, but man did they look solid down the stretch. Miller was playing at All-Star levels through most of the spring, which may bode very well for his prospects heading into 2012-13. The Sabres are now a confident bunch and their young forwards are starting to click. This means more help for Miller in getting those W's on the stat sheet. Look for a solid, bounce-back year for Miller to re-establish himself as a top-notch fantasy starter.

Antti Niemi                     SAN         

Niemi's second season with the Sharks was much like his first. Another solid 34 wins to complement a respectable 2.42 GAA. He's still unchallenged for the #1 job and will see close to 70 games again this year if healthy. While the Sharks no longer get a regular mention with the league's elite, they're good enough to put wins on the table and keep Niemi as a safe, low-end #1 option.

Carey Price                     MON         

Price had plenty of pressure (nothing new) after the Habs dealt away Halak. He rose to the challenge and exceeded expectations. Montreal is clearly not among the elite teams in the league, so he won't challenge for tops in wins; however, he'll give you good stats across the board. Strong #2 goalie option.

Pekka Rinne                     NAS         

Rinne put together another fine season as the Predator's workhorse, amassing a whopping 43 wins in 73 attempts. That would be good enough for 1st in the NHL last season. On the positive side, Rinne has seen his wins increase every season and he's really just entering his prime. On the downside, he's going to feel somewhat abandoned when camp opens and one of his two prime protectors is MIA. The loss of Suter will be felt. The Nashville defense goes from being one of the best in the business to somewhat undefined, as they're forced to promote some of their younger talent. It may be unreasonable to expect Rinne to compete for the Vezina again this season, and a repeat of the 43 wins is a long shot. That said, as far as Rinne himself is concerned, he's done nothing to this point in his career that would suggest he's not worthy of remaining among the elite at this position from a fantasy perspective.

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