Way back at the start of the NHL season, I made my annual predictions on standings, dark horse picks for awards, etc. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=Niklas+Kronwall&iid=8483555″ src=”6/9/7/c/Detroit_Red_Wings_47f0.jpg?adImageId=12589109&imageId=8483555″ width=”234″ height=”261″ /]
But the part I enjoy the most is trying to predict more of the fringe players, and whether or not they would be good hockey pool picks.
Most people could choose the top players on each team, or the worst. It’s too simple to say, “Choose Sidney Crosby,” or “Don’t choose Colton Orr.”
That’s not the point of what I try to do. I hope to help people realize that the late round picks can help you win a pool. The top players are going to get their points, no doubt. But if you can draft someone in the last three rounds, and they get you 50 points each, that’s usually enough.
Anyways, so below I’m presenting some of my best choices, and some of my worst, from my predictions last year.
Top good choices (my end-of-season comments are in italics):
Stay away from: It’s hard to recommend staying away from anyone on this team (Detroit). But if I had to choose one, I’d go with Niklas Kronwall. He had 51 points last year, which was almost as much as his previous two years combined. Look for him to fall back in the 35-point range.
Kronwall finished with 22 points, but missed half the season due to injury. He was on pace for 37 points. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=dion+phaneuf&iid=8457755″ src=”a/6/d/e/Toronto_Maple_Leafs_8062.jpg?adImageId=12589118&imageId=8457755″ width=”234″ height=”307″ /]
Stay away from: Dion Phaneuf. He’s more of a hitter, and with the Flames getting Jay Bouwmeester in the offseason, he may be seeing less time. Phaneuf will still man the powerplay, which is without Mike Camalleri, but he probably won’t crack 45 points.
He had 32 points, and got traded to the Leafs.
Pool Picks: Rene Bourque. He has having a great year last season (40 points in 58 games) before getting injured. If he stays healthy, he should be able to get 60 points.
Only scored 58 points? Bourque, you let me down.
Pool Picks: Tim Connolly. Yes, the guy is injured a lot (only 98 games total the past three seasons). But when he plays, he’s a point a game guy. If he can stay healthy, look for a 70-point season.
How’s 65 points instead? With a pace for 73 points if he played every game.
Stay away from:John Tavares (kind of). Expect Tavares to have the kind of year Steve Stamkos had last year in Tampa Bay. Lots of expectations, a slow start, and a final point total around 45.
He had 54. He also had a slow start, and at one point had only one point in 13 games. He finished the season on a high note, with 20 points in 20 games. I’ll count it as a win.
Pool Picks: Steve Sullivan. Despite missing a couple of years because of a bad back, he still had 32 points in 41 games last year. Before that, he was a point per game player for three straight years, and had at least 60 points for seven straight seasons. Look for him to get about 60 points this year.
Good for Sullivan. He played all 82 games, when most people thought he would never play in the NHL again. He led the team with 51 points, so I’m counting it as a win. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=Sheldon+Souray&iid=7349328″ src=”d/c/a/9/Edmonton_Oilers_v_3516.jpg?adImageId=12589122&imageId=7349328″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]
Stay away from:Sheldon Souray. He has one good year, followed by one bad year. Expect this year to be his bad year, and he’ll finish with about 30 points thanks to injuries.
He had an even worse year, with 13 points in 39 games, and getting injured, including once in a fight with Jarome Iginla when he was trying to get revenge for Iginla injuring him earlier that year.
Pool Picks: Patrick Sharp. He sometimes gets ignored because of all the scoring prowess on this team. But he’ll be on the first or second line. True, he’s only cracked 44 points once (when he got 62 in 07-08), but if he’s healthy, he’s good for 70 points.
Had 66 points. Good call.
Pool Picks:Travis Zajac. He broke through with 62 points last year. He will probably match that again this season.
Easily matched that, with 67 points.
Stay away from:Brian Rolston. Sure, he had an off-year last year, but the Devils are expected to play more defensive-minded hockey. He’ll probably finish with 40 points.
Never met it, finishing with 37 points.
Pool Picks:Paul Stastny. He missed a lot of time last season, so he may be off the radar for a lot of poolies. If he can stay healthy, he’s good for at least 75 points.
79 points baby. I should get some sort of award for these picks.
Stay away from: Ryan Whitney. He’ll finish the season with about 40 points.
Had 39 points. Beautiful call.
Of course, I’m not perfect. Here are my worst choices: [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=Mike+Fisher&iid=8574005″ src=”a/9/f/b/Ottawa_Senators_v_9251.jpg?adImageId=12589139&imageId=8574005″ width=”234″ height=”294″ /]
Stay away from: Mike Fisher. Sure, he’s had a strong training camp, but his regular season stats are brutal. Yet every year, some crazy person will select him. Don’t be that person, but be prepared to laugh at those who do (in fact, it’s encouraged).
Had 53 points, but that was mostly due to a hot start. Had only 12 points since the beginning of February. But still, 50 points for a late-round pick is good, so my choice would be a bust.
Pool picks: Jonathan Cheechoo. Yes, I’m well aware of his stats. In fact, I told people not to choose him last year in my preview for the San Jose Sharks. But I think he’ll break free this season. He won’t get his 50 goal, but 50 points is definitely attainable.
Yeah, he sucked, and was sent to the minors.
Stay away from: Tomas Plekanec. I can’t even get him points in my Playstation game. He had one good year when Alexei Kovalev had his best season with the Habs, but that was about it. He’ll be somewhere around 40 points.
He led the Habs in points, finishing with 70. Forgot it was a contract year.
Pool Picks: Mikhail Grabovski. If he plays on a line with Phil Kessel, he could put up some big points. He’s still a young guy, and should be good for 60 points this season
Oops, he had 35. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=Tomas+Kaberle&iid=8446503″ src=”4/f/9/1/Philadelphia_Flyers_v_36d9.jpg?adImageId=12589181&imageId=8446503″ width=”234″ height=”168″ /]
Stay away from: Tomas Kaberle. He’s a great defenceman, but I don’t think he’ll hit that 50-point plateau this season. Probably more like 40.
This was in between. He didn’t crack 50 (finished with 49), but was close enough so this counts as a fail.
Pool Picks: Doug Weight. He missed quite a bit of time last year because of injuries. He’s still a quality player who can get you 60 points if he can stay healthy.
He didn’t stay healthy, and didn’t get 60 points. More like 17.
Pool Picks:Mathieu Schneider is a powerplay specialist. He struggled for part of last season because he was with the Atlanta Thrashers, but once traded to Montreal, he scored 17 points in 23 games. Expect him to finish with about 55 points.
So he started off the season on the 10-game injury reserve list. Then he didn’t score, and was sent down to the AHL. He was eventually traded to Phoenix. He finished with nine points. My worst pick of the year.
Stay away from:Alex Burrows. He had a good year last year with 51 points, but that might have been an aberration. I expect him to finish more in the 35ish point range.
Or maybe the 51 points was a sign of things to come? He finished with 67 points, including 35 goals.
Pool Picks:Ales Kotalik. He had 11 points in 19 games with the Oilers last when he was traded late in the season. Look for him to continue that this season, and finish with about 65 points.
Ugh. Only 27 points, traded to the Flames. Not a good choice.
Pool Picks:Kyle Quincy. If you need to pick a defenceman, Quincy could be your man. He had 38 points in 72 games last year in his first full season. Look for him to crack the 50-point mark this year.
Or to take a step back to 29 points. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=Wojtek+Wolski&iid=8327406″ src=”5/4/d/1/Phoenix_Coyotes_v_0a92.jpg?adImageId=12589190&imageId=8327406″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]
Stay away from:Wojtek Wolski. A lot of people were high on him after he collected 50 points as a rookie three seasons ago. But his numbers have decreased slightly since then. Look for him to continue to struggle.
Or look for him to put up 65 points. Whatever.
Pool Picks: Erik Cole has played his best hockey in Carolina. Last year, he was traded to the Oilers a few months into the season, but never did well there (27 points in 63 games). Look for him to rebound this season into the 60 point range.
Only 16 points in 40 games. Shameful.
Pool Picks: Derick Brassard. He had 25 points in 31 games last year before getting injured. He’ll be playing on a line with Rick Nash. How could you not take him?
Maybe you could not take him if you knew something about hockey? Had only 36 points.
Pool Picks:Brandon Dubinsky. He should be the #1 centre, and will be playing on a line with Marian Gaborik. Look for him to get about 65 points.
Or not even crack 50, and only wind up with 44 points.
Pool Picks:Rob Blake. Sure, he’s old, but he’s one of the leaders on the team. He had 45 points last year, but I expect the team to do score more overall (partly because of Dany Heatley). Look for Blake to crack 50 points.
He might have done it too, if it wasn’t for that pesky first 60 percent of the season. Blake came on strong late, but still only had 30 points.
Pool Picks:Paul Kariya. He may be off the radar because of an injury last year, but he had 15 points in 11 games before that. Look for him to get about 75 points this season .
He stayed healthy all year, but never got close to that, getting only 43 points.
Pool Picks: Pierre-Marc Bouchard. He had an off-year last year, but should be good enough for 60 points this season.
He had another off year, getting a concussion in his first game, and never playing again for the rest of the season. Wound up with zero points.