Maybe now Montreal fans will exhale a bit and the players might too. That is important in fantasy circles. Today we do something a bit different and instead of getting you ready for tonight's games, we take a look (and sometimes funny look) back at what happened during the calendar year. Again, there is much thanks to RotoRob for all of this as this was an extensive collaboration.
FANTASY HOCKEY 2011
Hey folks, it’s time to break out your monkey suits and sequined gowns, as the 2011 RotoRob Awards gala kicks off today. To break the ice, we’ll begin with the hockey awards.
Fantasy Stud of the Year
Daniel Sedin filled the void that was left by Sidney Crosby’s injury.
Daniel Sedin, LW, Vancouver Canucks: The Sidney Crosby concussion left a huge void in the scoring race. However this Sedin led the way with a whopping 92 points (and counting) in the calendar year including 33 goals and 59 assists. That includes 14 power play goals as well. This Sedin twin (who many felt was robbed of the Hart Trophy last season) also played well in the playoffs, but this award is for Fantasy purposes, therefore we go with the calendar regular season as our barometer.
Yes, there were some close nominees, including brother Henrik Sedin, Claude Giroux, and Steven Stamkos. In the end, Daniel Sedin was our runaway choice in a year full of injuries and pratfalls. Crosby is the best when healthy but with another concussion plus a knee issue, you have to go with who has been on the ice. Speaking of staying on the ice, Daniel continues to prove he’s a durable asset in an era when players are dropping like flies, and that has to be a consideration for Fantasy owners. Since 2003-04, he has only missed 21 games, and the majority of those (18 straight) happened two years ago when he busted his foot. That’s pretty dependable.
Claude Giroux (who is now back from his concussion, making a triumphant return with a Crosby-like four-point effort in his first game back) is our choice with his 78 points. Granted, Henrik Sedin also had the same amount of points but Giroux, to us, presented the second best fantasy option when compared to Daniel Sedin. Giroux leads the NHL right now with 39 points and when he is in the lineup, he is a dynamo to watch. He also racks up over 21:00 of ATOI (Average Time On Ice). This is a pivot who will be a force for years to come in the city of brotherly love.
Fantasy Dud of the Year (Alexei Kovalev Memorial Award)
Dustin Penner left his offense at the Canadian border.
Dustin Penner, LW, Los Angeles Kings: Penner was brought in at the trade deadline to bolster an offense that had some pretty good potential. When he posted points in his first six games, it only fanned the flames of a potentially good hockey marriage in Hollywood. Then something happened. No one is really sure what it was exactly but Penner just went into a fog and never came out of it last season (going pointless in his last 13 regular season games).
Heading into 2011-12, Penner vowed that he was in better shape and then the season started. At one point he literally became a butt of jokes that asked when would he get a point. Penner does have five points, but it is just not enough for Fantasy owners who were expecting out of the physical player, and it’s certainly not enough for the Kings, who are struggling to put the puck in the net. Yes, we have heard this before but in the end, he is our dud not only based on the expectation, but because of salary, and the talent surrounding him. Maybe Penner will snap out of it. Then again, he is part of the reason why coach Terry Murray was fired and he’s become the ire of many Fantasy GMs.
Scott Gomez has been a big huge bust for the Montreal Canadiens ever since he was traded from the New York Rangers, but in 2011 he stooped to even lower levels, managing just 22 points in 56 games while earning a bit over $7 million. Jay Bouwmeester from the Calgary Flames also comes along for the walk of shame with his 23 points in 79 games. Here is a guy earning $6.5 million who had offensive talent coming out of Florida and seems almost neutered in Calgary. Talk about a Fantasy ouch!
Fantasy Rookie of the Year
Jeff Skinner was all smiles when told he’d won a RotoRob Award.
Jeff Skinner, C, Carolina Hurricanes: This is why calendar year awards are tough, but Skinner won the Calder Trophy for best rookie last season and has continued to play pretty well this year until a concussion recently landed him on the injury list. All Skinner did was tally 63 points in the 2011 calendar year (as of press time). That included 39 points in the last 46 games of the 2010-11 season for Carolina. By the end of the season, it was as if he was the best offensive player on the team. Skinner’s 34 goals in 2011 really caught the attention of many Fantasy GMs.
Oh, and the 12 goals early on this season on a bad team is encouraging for a better 2012. Maybe the only thing Skinner has to watch out for is physical play because he does take a beating. Fantasy-wise, he just helps beat your opponents.
Logan Couture and Michael Grabner were your Calder runner-ups last season but both have had some production woes early in their sophomore efforts. Couture has bounced back nicely in the last month or so and is back up to 15 goals and 26 points. For the calendar year that translates into 55 points and 29 goals. His presence on the power play ultimately is what will turn the 2011-12 season around for Couture and the Sharks. That grit is something that cannot be underestimated.
Grabner has been humbled a bit this season, but his speed is too much to be contained and Fantasy GMs just have to be patient. If you are a Grabner owner, you still have to enjoy his 26 goals in the calendar year. The points will come in the second half — don’t worry.
Fantasy Comeback Player of the Year
Jaromir Jagr has had no problem proving he’s still a force to be reckoned with.
Jaromir Jagr, RW, Philadelphia Flyers: There are tough calls and then there was the “Comeback Award.” Jagr heads off to play in the KHL for three-plus seasons then comes back to the NHl at the age of 39 and plays as if he never missed a beat. His 29 points in 30 games includes 11 goals and an impressive 10 points on the man advantage. Honestly, there was no one who played the whole year that deserved this award more than Jagr who just came back for the 2011-12 season. That should tell you the magnitude of his impact, especially on Claude Giroux, who has been even better this season.
Few players have hands, dexterity and puck presence like Jagr. However, his positioning clearly is what makes him the player that he is. The only question will be how many games does Jagr play and that will ultimately determine his point total.
Sheldon Souray of the Dallas Stars has played very steady despite what was done to him last year by the Edmonton Oilers organization. His 13 points and booming shot have helped Dallas get off to a pretty solid start. Joffrey Lupul has been a solid comeback story as well, totaling 35 points on the young season. He would be the man in this category if not for the brief cup of coffee he had with Phil Kessel last season. You could almost see this coming but it was razor thin close.
Save Me Award
Facing tons of rubber is nothing new to Cam Ward.
This award is presented to the goalie that felt like all he was doing all year was saving pucks. We humbly present this honour to Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes. Though this was a very close vote, Ward has been under siege for a few seasons now as Carolina tends to give up a ton of quality chances. He averaged 32.8 shots faced per game over the first half of the year and leads again in the second half of 2011 with 30.75 pucks per game blasted at him. Ward does start a lot, but he also faces 18.2 scoring chances per game.
Clearly, he is in need of goalie and/or defensive relief that is not likely to come in Carolina anytime soon, ladies and gentlemen. Maybe Michael Murphy becomes a solid backup, but that does not replace the fact that the Hurricanes’ team defense is beyond horrendous.
I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up Award
Trying to find an image of Andrei Markvov healthy enough to be in uniform wasn’t easy.
“Life Alert” would be proud, but this award is now officially the Rick DiPietro Band-Aid Award. Over the last few years, no has found more unconventional and conventional ways to get injured. If the NHL had marketed the game “Operation” for its own use, DiPietro would be its leading test subject. With so many injuries, it was tough to come up with a truly credible and worthy recipient to this prestigious award.
There were several fine candidates and even Sidney Crosby was considered for his unfortunate concussion(s). Then there was Tim Connolly of the Toronto Maple Leafs and his inability to stay healthy above and beyond most. Furthermore, we have the immortal Scott Gomez who plays injured and is now actually injured. In the end there was one choice and one choice only and not even Chris Pronger’s virus/concussion/knee injury that could trump this.
This year’s award winner is Andrei Markov of the Montreal Canadiens. At this point, his knees are beyond jello. With all the injuries this player has incurred to those knees, how much is enough? Markov now had another setback and needed more arthroscopic knee surgery to clean out scar tissue and fragments. Montreal signed this guy to a three-year contract despite his injury history, so perhaps it is just dessert. Here is Markov’s injury table from TSN:Transactions/Injuries/Suspensions 2011/10/05 Right knee injury, injured reserve. 2011/06/23 Re-signed by the Montreal Canadiens to a three-year contract. 2011/04/27 Missed the last 65 games of the regular season and 7 playoff games (right knee injury). 2010/12/01 Right knee injury, injured reserve. 2010/11/15 Right knee injury, sidelined indefinitely. 2010/10/30 Missed 10 games (right knee surgery). 2010/09/17 Right knee surgery, injured reserve. 2010/05/24 Missed 11 playoff games (right knee injury). 2010/05/01 Right knee injury, day-to-day. 2010/03/02 Missed 2 games (lower body injury). 2010/02/12 Lower body injury, day-to-day. 2009/12/19 Missed 35 games (left ankle surgery). 2009/10/02 Left ankle surgery, early February. 2009/04/22 Missed 4 regular season and 4 playoff games (left knee injury). 2009/04/06 Left knee injury, late April.
Scary, isn’t it? This is all just from the last 30 months. Will Markov ever play again? Yes. How long will it be before he is injured again? Probably not very long, we’re sad to say.
Admiral Ackbar “It’s a Trap” Award
Even Admiral Ackbar knows the Kings’ offense sucks.
This award is given to the team that literally has stunk so badly that it needs help. The winner is the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings have managed just 67 goals in 31 games this season with an offense that makes a popgun seem lethal.
LA has scored two or less goals 23 times out of 31 games this season. That’s almost three-quarters of the time for those of you keeping scorer at home. The Kings have gone a franchise record 14 straight games without tallying even three goals in a game. Only six players of their players have 10 or more points and just two have 10 or more goals. The latter is not so bad but their overall shooting percentage is 7 per cent which is dead last in the NHL. After Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar, this offense is just vanilla and awful for Fantasy owners seeking other options. We’ve already fingered Dustin Penner as a culprit (see above), but there are plenty of others who must shoulder the blame. Justin Williams? Five goals in 35 games? Really? Newcomer Simon Gagne — signed to help address this very issue — has only managed to light the lamp seven times. After popping 20 goals last season, Jarret Stoll has just three tallies in 35 games this season. Dustin Brown is going to have to bust his butt in the second half to even reach 20 goals and 50 points this season.
Jonathan Quick would have four or five more wins right now with a little more “O.” That speaks volumes more than anything else.
The Gods Must Be Crazy Award
Brian Elliott has been playing out of his mind this season.
It’s true: the Gods are crazy. How else could anyone explain the success of Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues this year? Last season, he was nearly out of the NHL and then with a little magic in the gym and then bang! Whatever he has actually done has worked to the tune of 13 wins against only two losses for the Blues. Elliott’s 1.43 GAA and .948 save percentage lead the NHL. He is really at peace with himself. And it’s not just a matter of having a new coach as several of these wins came before Ken Hitchcock was brought in.
He has only faced 26.4 shots per game as a member of the Blues and a paltry 23.8 under Hitchcock. Elliott is clearly a goalie that benefits from this style more than any as he is usually not asked to make the second and third rebound saves. The confidence he has allows him to, but I will say this: Elliott proves the fantasy hockey gods must be crazy as where was this in Ottawa? Sometimes it really does show you that anything is possible.
The Wax Poetic Award
Is Alex Ovechkin stuck in wax this season? (UPI/Mike Theiler)
In the fall, Madam Tussad’s unveiled a wax replica of Alex Ovechkin, making him just the second hockey player ever (after Wayne Gretzky) to be thus honoured by the famous museum. Unfortunately for his Fantasy owners, there have been many occasions so far this season when it has been next to impossible to distinguish between the real OV and his wax effigy. For those of you that own him, let’s hope he melts… er… thaws soon. — RR
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Thanks again everyone and good luck with your fantasy night on Hump Day. Before we forget, we want to let people know that we are taking New Years Eve and New Years Day off to cover USA-Canada and more.
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