The NHL Awards will be presented in June in Las Vegas. At the other end of the spectrum, there are the NHL.com Fantasy Hart, Norris and Vezina trophies. It should not be too difficult to confuse the honors. The NHL Awards finalists will don their best tuxedos for the occasion. The fantasy trophy winners are not likely to find out about their good fortune unless a family member is reading this.
I jest, but should I hand out these honors lightly? No way. Anointing the top fantasy performers at the three positions is serious business. So with that, the Fantasy Forecaster presents his third annual Fantasy Hart, Fantasy Norris and Fantasy Vezina trophies.
Fantasy Hart -- Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay
Perhaps you were expecting Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby here, two 50-goal, 100-point scorers. Great players yes, but as the first and third players selected, on average, in all Yahoo! drafts, they did exactly what was expected. Art Ross Trophy winner Henrik Sedin is a much more worthy candidate, scoring 112 points as the 82.7th player taken, on average, typically making him a seventh-round selection. But with only 29 goals, Sedin was 25th in the League. That's one less than he-came-out-of-nowhere Matt Moulson scored for the Islanders.
There can be no debate that Steven Stamkos of the Lighting was the fantasy MVP of 2009-10 … 51 goals, tying Crosby for the League lead, and 95 points from a second-year player that was, on average, taken with the 108.9th pick, placing him somewhere in the middle of the ninth round. Drafting a player that produces the same as Crosby with only 14 fewer assists after 100 other players are selected is a HUGE fantasy value. Furthermore, Stamkos led the NHL with 24 power-play goals and 41 power-play points.
In the five seasons since 2005-06, nine different players -- Ovechkin, Crosby, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jarome Iginla, Vincent Lecavalier, Dany Heatley, Jonathan Cheechoo and Jaromir Jagr -- have recorded 50-goal seasons, and only Cheechoo's 56 goals in 2005-06 were as off-the-radar as Stamkos' 51. The other seven players were certainly high-round fantasy picks.
At only 20 years old, Stamkos' future potential is off the charts and he'll certainly be a top-10 fantasy pick in 2010-11.
2008-09 winner: Zach Parise, LW, New Jersey
2007-08 winner: Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington
Fantasy Norris -- Mike Green, D, Washington
With 76 points, Green would have led 20 NHL clubs in scoring this season. Therefore, it's perfectly understandable why the fifth-year blue liner was, on average, the 9.8th selection in Yahoo! drafts, making him the only defenseman typically taken in the first round. Even with those lofty expectations, Green delivers fantasy value far ahead of all other defensemen.
Among all NHL defensemen, Green was first in goals (19), assists (57), points (76), power-play goals (10), power-play assists (25), power-play points (35), goals per game (0.25), assists per game (0.76), points at home (42) and points on the road (34), and was second in plus-minus (plus-39) and even-strength assists (31). Green was also one of three defensemen to average more than 5 minutes per game on the power play.
Green was the only defenseman in the NHL with an eight-game point-scoring streak, and he had three of them. He recorded his second straight 70-point season, making him the 13th defenseman in League history to post 70 or more points in consecutive seasons, joining such luminaries as Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Brian Leetch, Al MacInnis, Denis Potvin, Phil Housley, Bobby Orr, Larry Murphy, Nicklas Lidstrom, Borje Salming, Gary Suter and Randy Carlyle.
2008-09 winner: Mike Green, D, Washington
2007-08 winner: Mike Green, D, Washington
Fantasy Vezina -- Ilya Bryzgalov, G, Phoenix
G - PHOENIX
SV%: .920 | GAA: 2.29 | SO: 8
Bryzgalov was second in the League in shutouts (8), third in wins (42), sixth in goals-against average (2.29), seventh in starts (69), eighth in shots faced (1,961) and saves (1,805), and tied for ninth in save percentage (.920).
In 2009-10, Bryzgalov etched his name in the Winnipeg-Phoenix franchise record book, setting a new single-season record for wins, and tying Nikolai Khabibulin's franchise record for most shutouts in a season.
Bryzgalov kept company with the NHL's top goaltenders, but in your fantasy draft he didn't cost nearly as much as Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo or Evgeni Nabokov. He was, on average, the 77.4th pick, typically placing him in the seventh round. Sixteen other goaltenders were usually selected ahead of Bryzgalov, including Cam Ward (18-23-5), Chris Osgood (7-9-4), Marty Turco (22-20-11), Steve Mason (20-26-9) and Ray Emery (16-11-1).
2008-09 winner: Steve Mason, G, Columbus
2007-08 winner: Evgeni Nabokov, G, San Jose
Here are the top 10 players who appeared most often on the top 500 public league teams in Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey in 2009-10.
Drew Doughty (LA - D), 27.6 percent
Alex Ovechkin (Wsh - LW), 25.6
Ryan Miller (Buf - G), 24.0
Ilya Bryzgalov (Phx - G), 23.6
Andrei Markov (Mtl - D), 23.4
Martin Brodeur (NJ - G), 21.4
Bobby Ryan (Ana - LW, RW), 19.2
Rene Bourque (Cgy - LW, RW), 18.4
Paul Stastny (Col - C), 18.2
Jimmy Howard (Det - G), 18.2
Alex Ovechkin (Wsh - LW), 38.0 percent
Ryan Miller (Buf - G), 34.6
Jimmy Howard (Det - G), 32.2
Martin Brodeur (NJ - G), 32.2
Sergei Gonchar (Pit - D), 27.0
Drew Doughty (LA - D), 26.2
Tuukka Rask (Bos - G), 24.0
Andrei Markov (Mtl - D), 22.4
Bobby Ryan (Ana - LW, RW), 22.0
Nicklas Backstrom (Wsh - C), 21.8
EMAILS OF THE DAY:
It's never too early to prepare for 2010-11. Continue to write in to email@example.com with questions about anything fantasy related, from keepers to consider for next season to early projections to young players to watch, even suggestions on how to improve the Fantasy Forecast and what kind of info you would like to see added. The questions are limited only by your imagination.
Hey, I was hoping for some help for next season. I'm in a 20-team keeper head-to-head league with normal scoring categories.
First, do you see Nikita Filatov coming back to the NHL? I've held onto him for two seasons now, and I'd let to get some dividends out of it all.
Second, I have Cam Ward, Tuukka Rask, Steve Mason and Brian Elliot in goal. Do you think Elliot will continue to start for the most part in Ottawa, or should I bail on him? What about Ward? It's safe to assume he bounces back, correct?
Thanks for all the advice over the season, you were a great help, and I can't wait for next season!
My pleasure Pete. Hope you're season went well.
As for Filatov, I haven't heard anything about his future plans in quite a while. Remember, he is loaned to a pro team in Russia and remains property of the Blue Jackets, signed through 2011-12. I suppose that with Ken Hitchcock no longer coaching Columbus, that would benefit a Filatov return since the two were said to clash often. I just read a season wrap-up in the Columbus Dispatch that basically asked the same thing, will Filatov now return?
Even without knowing the rest of your roster and other keeper options, my advice is to not hang on to Filatov, who turns 20 in about a month. There's just too much unknown to call him a keeper. Not even his Russian-league stats are thrilling: 9-13-22 in 26 games. I would take a gamble on Filatov and draft him in later rounds, but not protect him in a keeper league. I would even rather trade Filatov than protect him, but that would be an uphill battle if nobody has seen him play in the NHL since last November.
But not all is gloomy, because you have a crazy-good foundation in goal, and I endorse you protect Ward and Rask. I have lots of confidence in Ward to bounce-back, and would be shocked if Rask isn't the undisputed No. 1 for the Bruins all next season. Seriously, I'm envious of that tandem. After those two, I would say Mason is a better keeper than Elliott. Maybe you can hang on to three or all four of them. We've seen the good Mason and the bad Mason in two seasons. But he's young enough to still have tons of promise, and the No. 1 job is his without question. Elliott does not have that status with veteran Pascal Leclaire sharing the crease on the Senators. Both Elliott and Leclaire will be in the final year of their contract next season, so I can definitely see a platoon or hot-hand situation arising.
I have Saku Koivu and Pascal Leclaire on my fantasy hockey team. I was offered Jaroslav Halak and Tuomo Ruutu as a trade. Do you think that this would be a fair trade?
Ummm, no, not fair. But you shouldn't care, as you're getting the better end of the deal.
Koivu's career is winding down, though 52 points in 71 games is not so bad. Next season I don't see him getting out of the 50's, even if Koivu should play more games. Leclaire … who knows? Could a contract year spark him? I could easily see Leclaire equally sharing the crease with Brian Elliott as regaining the form from his 2007-08 breakout. Unfortunately, it's way too soon to tell.
Ruutu showed some real good ability to score as well as agitate and rack up penalty minutes in his injury-plagued 2009-10 season. I don't think Ruutu is keeper-quality, but he's a decent option and at this point has more potential to get better than Koivu. Halak is the best player in this deal. However, I can't give you a ringing endorsement for next season because of the presence of Carey Price. But if Halak can prove that this season was no fluke, and should Price show any more signs of struggle in 2010-11 … just about anything can happen.
Have a fantasy question you want answered? Want advice on a trade proposal, or have a hot tip you want to share with the NHL.com fantasy community? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and your question may be answered in the Fantasy Forecast.