Fifty Mission Cap: Fearless Fantasy Forecasts

Monday, September 27, 2010

50MC's 2010-2011 Fantastic Fantasy Forecast: Jakub Voracek

50MC's Fantastic Fantasy Forecast is a series of articles based on the season outlook of carefully handpicked NHL hockey players. To view a complete listing of 2010 forecasts, click here. For last season's "fearless" archive, click here.

Jakub Voracek is a stud. Not only did he help me win the first ever DobberHockey World Junior Championship pool in 2008; he has good speed, great skill and a gigantic set of curly blonde locks. Most importantly, he is entering his third full season in the NHL and if not poised for a breakout season, an improvement of his 50 point season is inevitable.

Last season, Voracek had a very good sophomore season scoring 16 goals and 50 points, which was an improvement of 38 points from the season prior. Although there were a few inconsistent points during the season, there was no major sophomore slump, which is impressive for any 21 year old player coming into the league. His most impressive period of the season was right after the Olympic break, where he scored 15 point in 13 games, showcasing what he is capable of.

His 50 point campaign was mainly completed playing tertiary minutes. He played most of the season with Derrick Brassard and RJ Umberger on Columbus' second line. Although there are early training camp reports that he is clicking well on the first line with Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette on the top line, he is likely to start the season on that same line with Brassard as his center. Brassard had a disappointing 36 points last season, but is still capable of distributing the puck and keeping up with Voracek's skillset.

What is more exciting for the Blue Jackets and fantasy owners is that on the other wing on the second line should be Nikita Filatov. It sounds like the 2008 1st round pick is finally ready to make the leap to the NHL and if so, it could mean a major boost for scoring depth in Columbus. No offense to RJ Umberger, but Filatov is more of a goal scorer and a dynamic skater who would compliment Voracek better.

There is no doubt that Voracek will see time with Rick Nash during point of the season. This fact alone boosts his point total by a few, and if he sticks on his line, then the sky is the limit for him. But for now, I will project him as a second line winger with occasional time on the top line.

Another factor that is surely to boost Voracek's and the rest of the Blue Jackets' numbers is a coaching change. For years, fantasy fanatics were in a rage at the defensive style of Ken Hitchcock. Well, Hitchcock is out and Scott Arniel is in. Arniel's first order of business is to open up the ice and let his skilled players go to work. This is not just music to fantasy owners' ears, it's like if ears can eat, they would be shoving cake in there. The Jackets have a solid set of 6 top forwards with a tremendous amount of skill, who have been somewhat hampered over the years by Hitchcock's defense-first style. With Hitchcock as a "special advisor" to the team, there will still be some defensive mindedness, but with Arniel at the helm, offensive push will become more of a priority.

Okay, so let's review: Great hair, unreal skill, top 6 forward on a team that includes Rick Nash that will focus more on offense. Taking all this into consideration, 50MC Fantastically Forecasts 23 goals, 36 assists for 59 points in another season of improvement for Voracek. The 60-point plateau is definitely attainable for Voracek, but do not draft him banking on it. His has an upside of 75+ points, but he is still young, learning a new system and still battling some depth issues on a talented team. The Hockey News believes Voracek will finish with 66 points this season, while Forecaster is on board with 69. I think that is a tad high, considering that he may not get topline minutes and Rick Nash led the team in scoring last season with 67 points.

Hope this helps.

Anyways, thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more as the season is just around the corner. With the rest of the forecasts, click here for the archive.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

50MC's 2010-2011 Fantastic Fantasy Forecast: Nikolai Zherdev

When I Google searched "Zherdev+enigma" I conveniently received 15,900 results, which included a video.

The problem with Zherdev is that as many as there is positives to his game, there are as many negatives. He has great hands, but he is a lazy defender. No questioning his skill, but there are no answers for his attitude. He has decent facial features, but his haircut remains an issue. I can go on and on.

To his defense, he has not had a terrible NHL career. He has averaged 59.5 points in his last two full seasons with the Blue Jackets and Rangers. But with his talent, hockey scouts and fantasy owners know he is capable of so much more. He spent last season overseas playing for Mytishchi Atlant of the KHL, where he scored 39 points (in 59 games), which was good (or bad) for third on his team - four points behind Jan Bulis (JAN BULIS!?!?!? Jan Bulis outpointed YOU??).

On July 9th 2010, Zherdev signed a 1 year, $2 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers, marking a return to the NHL. It is a fair price to pay for a highly skilled player with flaws. It seems to be a monetary risk for the Flyers to take on Zherdev. He is a nice piece to have for scoring depth, but the Flyers are not relying on him to lead the team in scoring, as they already have Richards, Carter, Briere, Giroux, Leino, Hartnell and van Riemsdyk for that. The Flyers' scoring depth also makes it easy for them to scratch Zherdev or send him to the 4th line if there are any attitude issues.

As the Flyers do not rely on him to be any sort of scoring leader- neither should you. At your draft, you should keep Zherdev as a 45 point player for this season with a ceiling of 70 points. Which means if he falters early, he can be easily replaced with someone from the waiver wire; but if he excels, he can be a difference maker for you in the standings. This is exactly how the Flyers look at him, and this is how you should as well.

In terms of linemates in Philly, does it matter? No matter where he plays, he is most likely going to be on a scoring line. Early indications have him on the top line with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. This makes the most sense because both Carter and Richards can make for whatever Zherdev lacks in the defensive zone. Richards and Carter also provide enough skill to keep up with Zherdev's.

I believe Coach Peter Laviolette will keep Daniel Briere with Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino because they clicked so well together in the playoffs. This leaves a third line of Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk and Dan Carcillo. I imagine line combinations will be moved around throughout the season, but as you can see, there will be more than enough scoring capability on every line for Zherdev to reap the rewards.

For the 2010-2011 season, 50MC fantastically fearlessly forecasts 25 goals, 27 assists for 52 points in 82 games for Nikolai Zherdev who will earn himself another contract in the NHL next season. (McKeen's pegs him for 42 points).

The Flyers have given Zherdev and opportunity to redeem himself in North America. He has a chip on his shoulder and finds himself on a team of winners. For the first time in his career, he is playing on a Stanley Cup contender and has NHL veteran leaders around him to tell him to get a grip, when he gets out of line.

2009-2010 Fearless Fantasy Forecast Review

Hey guys. Remember me? The leaves are starting to turn, which means hockey is back and surely I too have to make a return to the blogosphere. Last season was the first ever season of 50MC's Fearless Fantasy Forecast. I hope it helped some of you out with your pools because it didn't do me much good (finished in 9th place, but earned me 3rd pick in this years keeper league re-draft, which allowed me to get Jonathan Toews).

Before I get started with this year's predictions, let's break down last year's forecasts.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 23/39/62

2009-2010 Season - 16/31/47

My very first forecast centered around one of the most talked about fantasy players around. Most experts (THN, Dobber, McKeens) were convinced that Giroux was poised for a breakout season after a very good 2009 playoffs. I drank the kool-aid. I (we) were way off. There is no doubting Giroux's talent, but the depth of the Flyers' offense, was/is the main conflict with fantasy owners. He had another very good playoffs last year (21 points in 23 games), and is surely to improve on a somewhat disappointing 47 point campaign.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 31/39/70

2009-2010 Season - 20/26/47

Wow. My deepest apologies for this one. Not only did he finish under 50 points, he only had 69 PIM's. There was only one consistent line in Dallas last season and Morrow wasn't on it. James Neal and Loui Eriksson have taken over as top-line wingers alongside Brad Richards in Big D.

Sorry again.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 21/43/64

2009-2010 Season - 10/27/37

I would say sorry for this one again, but I think Tanguay is more to blame than me. I thought 64 would be a moderate forecast for Tanguay. He was surrounded with talent in Tampa, and was an utter incredible disappointment. Not too sure what to expect from Tanguay in Calgary, but he seems enthused.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 35/40/75

2009-2010 Season - 44/39/83

In my defense, this forecast was made pre-Heatley trade. Obviously, if I had a shot at it again, I would put him over 80 points. Whether he is playing with Thornton or Pavelski, expect the same out of Marleau this season.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 21/50/71

2009-2010 Season - 12/47/59

I guess I was only 11 points off. He only scored 12 goals, but only took 180 SOG. Perhaps the Markov injury took away a few points from Gomez.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 13/33/46

2009-2010 Season - 17/35/52

Oh yeah. Not exactly bang on, but close enough. The point of this forecast was not to emphasize numbers, but to emphasize that he would not have a season like he did in 2008-2009 when he tallied 73 points. Expect around 50-60 points this season.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 25/48/73 in 76 games

2009-2010 Season - 7/15/22 in 22 games

Obviously this prediction is a little flawed because of Hemsky's injury, but I think my forecast was reasonable. I called for an average of 0.328 goals per game, while his season average in 22 games was 0.318. Hemsky is one of my fav's and I am pulling for him to play 80 games this season.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 22/36/58

2009-2010 Season - 18/30/48

Not too far off. As expected from a young player, he started off slow, but picked it up in the second half. I was also drunk from the St. Louis Blues' kool-aid last year, which influenced me in boosting Oshie's numbers. A 58 point campaign would not be far off this season.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 17/39/58

2009-2010 Season - 11/24/35

Ouch. Obviously I thought Filppula was a shoe-in to improve on his numbers from the season prior. With Jiri Hudler AND Johan Franzen gone, Filppula did not step up offensively. Maybe with them back this season, he will have some scorers to play with. I wouldn't reach for Filppula this season, but I would for Hudler.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 25/49/74 in 82 games (0.91 PPG)

2009-2010 Season - 22/49/71 in 80 games (0.89 PPG)

Bang on!! Put another notch on the bedpost for 50MC. Who knows, if Koivu played those extra 2 games, he may have scored 3 points. This season, I would temper expectations keeping in mind that he had shoulder surgery on BOTH of his wings this off-season.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 52/39/91

2009-2010 Season - 39/43/82

A little of the disappointment of a season, especially in the goal scoring department; but can you really complain about a point per game?


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 20/35/55

2009-2010 Season - 20/24/44

At least I was bang on with goals. Assists are subjective anyways (kidding!). He did not click as well with Marian Gaborik as I thought he would. Can Derek Stepan be Gaborik's guy this year? A lot think he is. One thing is for sure - I will definitely be forecasting him this year.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 25/39/64

2009-2010 Season - 24/30/54

Again, not too far off. Obviously, I thought he would get a few more assists, but I guess there is nobody to pass to on the Island. I would expect 60+ points this season, as he gains more chemistry with Kyle Okposo.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 24/25/49

2009-2010 Season - 2/0/2 in 13 games

So there wasn't a positive thing that can be said about this prediction. Even with Filatov back in North America this season, 49 points seems high - even with the positive reports out of training camp. I would peg him for about 35 points, if he plays regularly with the BJ's.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 20/28/48

2009-2010 Season - 0/0/0 in 6 games

Ouch. He would have been a late round flier anyways, so he should not have broken your team, but still. Ouch. This was under the assumption that he would play wit the Sedins. Obviously he did not hack it with the big boys, but early reports out of Canucks' camp is that he is getting another shot this year. I'll keep you posted.


Fearless Fantasy Forecast - 23/42/65

2009-2010 Season - 24/43/67

Good way to end of the 2009-2010 review. Almost bang on. If someone was to argue my prediction, they would bring up Antro's 67 points was done in only 76 games. But if you drafted him with my analysis, you would have been rewarded anyway.

So I didn't do quite badly. There were a few bad ones, but not bad for my first attempt. I think the analysis of each player is more valuable than the actual numbers anyways. The analysis provides you with something concrete to think about and used to justify your pick. I hope I didn't hurt too many of your teams and I look forward to helping you out this season with more forecasts.

Now that the preseason has started, I will try and bang out a forecast everyday until the season starts. This year, I will try and focus on players with some BUZZ (i.e. Derek Stepan) so I will read the forums to see who everyone is talking about, but in the meantime, post some players in the comments you want me to analyze and I will do my best to fantastically forecast them.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

50MC’s 2009-2010 Fearless Fantasy Forecast: Scott Gomez

Scott Gomez and New York City were evidently not a fit.

After failing to live up to his monster $51.5 million contract with the Rangers, he was promptly shipped to Montreal in the off-season for Chris Higgins.

The move to Montreal is a positive for Gomez. If things aren’t working out in one city, a change of scenery is always good. It is an opportunity to save face and prove he is worth his contract in the biggest hockey market in the world. There will still be pressure on Gomez to produce, but there will be less hype around him going into the new season.

The Canadiens had a busy offseason. They had the biggest overhaul in recent memory and were by far the busiest team. Not only did they trade for Gomez, but they signed Michael Cammalleri, Hal Gill, Jaroslav Spacek and most importantly, in regards to Gomez – Brian Gionta. Gomez is reunited with Gionta after a two year absence from each other.

In New Jersey, these two helped each other to some of their better seasons, including an 89 point (48 goals) performance from Gionta in 2005 (84 points for Gomez). If they can find the chemistry that they had that season, the Canadiens will be laughing to the playoffs.

On the other side of the combo, Gomez has legitimate goal scorer that he did not have in New York in Michael Cammalleri. Cammalleri scored 39 goals last season with the Calagary Flames and definitly has a chance to repeat that this season with a playmaker like Gomez at centerice.

With those three new faces in Montreal, the Canadiens have a formidable top line that will make their fans forget about their first round knock out last season.

For Gomez, he is already excited to by a part of Les Habitants and a change of scenery puts his dismal days in New York in the past.

After scoring just 58 points last year on a Rangers club that did not have a goal scorer, he will absolutely exceeded those numbers this year. With Gionta and Cammalleri as his wings, plus a very good powerplay, quarterbacked by Andrei Markov, Gomez is heading towards 21 goals, 50 assists, 71 points. (THN predicts: 17/53/70).

50MC’s Fearless Fantasy Forecasts:

50MC’s 2009-2010 Fearless Fantasy Forecast: Ales Hemsky

The headache. The point per game potential. The enigma. The most talented player on the Edmonton Oilers. Ales Hemsky is all of these.

Just watch his first two goals from last season:

Unreal. The Great One even thinks so. And whatever Wayne’r says must be true.

He is among the most skilled players in the game. No question. But he has never put a full season together where he can show the rest of the league that he is a legitimate superstar. The closest he came was in 2005-2006 when he played 81 games and scored 77 points, which shows what he is capable of in a full season.

It looked like Hemsky was finally going to put it altogether last season. In his first 34 games, he had 35 points. Then on December 28th, Jordin Tootoo tattooed Hemsky and put him out for 10 games.

He recovered nicely, but was inconsistent after the concussion leading to a respectable 31 points in his final 38 games. The Oilers missed the playoffs, and Hemsky missed another opportunity to position himself among the NHL’s elite.

He finished with 66 points in 72 games (.917 points per game), which is a 5 point drop from the season prior.

Other than finishing tenth in voting for Czechoslovakia’s Golden Stick Award, Hemsky’s offseason was uneventful. However, things have happened around Hemsky that will affect his production this season. Whether it is for better or worse, it remains to be seen.

The first thing that happened didn’t actually happen. In July, the Oilers agreed to acquire Dany Heatley from the Senators for Andrew Cogliano, Dustin PennerLadislav Smid. Fantasy owners were salivating at the prospect of Hemsky lining up with Heatley on his way to a guaranteed 50 assists. T-Shirts, posters and dinner plates were already being made of the Triple H threat in Edmonton (Hemsky – Heatley – Horcoff). However, Heatley exercised his contractual right and nixed the trade. and

Hemsky is stuck with Penner and owners are still wondering if Hemsky will ever play with a legitimate goal scorer.

The second offseason factor that affects Hemsky’s play is the hiring of Pat QuinnTom Renney as Associate Coach of the Oilers. Hemsky is given an old school offensive minded coach that will allow him the freedom to be creative on the ice. as Head Coach and

Quinn relies on his horses. In 2005-06, Quinn let Mats Sundin lumber around the ice for 20 minutes per game (well, 19:58) on his 35 year old legs. This led to a 78 point season from Sundin (in 70 games). In the same season, Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe both averaged over 28 minutes per game, but they were defensemen. But you get the point. Quinn relies on his horses, and at 26, and the only legitimate star on the Oilers, Hemsky needs to be Quinn’s horse.

The key for Hemsky this upcoming season is his health. In order for him to be a fantasy stud and to give the Oilers the best chance to win, he must play a full season.

He is likely to start the season with Shawn Horcoff and Dustin Penner on the top line. He is also sure to get lots of powerplay minutes with two offensive minded defensemen in Lubomir Visnovsky and Sheldon Souray. A healthy season for Visnovsky and a canon from Souray adds a few more points to Hemsky’s production.

For the 2009-2010 season, 50MC fearlessly forecasts that Ales Hemsky will play 76 games, scoring 25 goals and 48 assists for 73 points. (THN predicts: 74 games – 24/47/71)

50MC’s Fearless Fantasy Forecasts:

50MC’s 2009-2010 Fearless Fantasy Forecast: Valtteri Filppula

A lot of buzz this off season has been around the Philadelphia Flyers and where they are going to replace the 52 goals that Mike Knuble and Joffrey Lupul left behind. There is a similar, and maybe more enticing situation for fantasy in Detroit where the Red Wings lost Marian Hossa, Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson. Between those three players, there is a total of 82 goals that have to be made up. EIGHTY TWO GOALS!!!

Who in the world is going to score enough goals in Detroit to supplement that huge loss?

Enter a fantasy stud, who has been buried on a deep Red Wings roster for three years: Valtteri Filppula. On any other team, Filppula would have been a regular contributor for the last two seasons. Due to Detroit’s depth, Filppula is simply a skilled centerman who has the potential to be a top six forward, but is more concentrated on taking care of his own end.

As mentioned, Hossa jetted to Chicago, Samuelsson joined Team Sweden in Vancouver and Hudler is still making his way back to Russia has finally made it to Russia.

Filppula didn’t have to move a muscle and in a matter of months, he instantly moves into a top six role on a very potent offense. Most importantly, he is surely to receive a career high in minutes, including powerplay time – something he is excited about and willing to work hard for.

Filppula will definitely start on the second line. Whether it is as a center or a winger is remain to be seen. Mike Babcock has two options:

A) line 1: Tomas Holmstrom – Pavel Datsyuk – Henrik Zetterberg; line 2: Johan Franzen – Valtteri Filppula – Dan Cleary

B) line 1: Tomas Holmstrom -Pavel Datsyuk – Dan Cleary; line 2: Johan Franzen – Henrik Zetterberg – Valtteri Filppula

Filppula is in a great position to improve on his point totals from last season – something he has done in each season since he broke into the league.

2006-2007: 10G 7A 17P

2007-2008: 19G 17A 36P

2008-2009: 12G 28A 40P

I would not worry about his downward spike in goals from 2008 to 2009, mainly because the Red Wings acquired a legitimate goal scorer in Hossa (40) and had a breakout goal scoring season from Franzen (34). Therefore, Filppula did not have to worry about putting pucks in the net, just playing good defensive hockey.

What was impressive and encouraging about Filppula’s 2009 season was his playoff performance. He was third in playoff scoring on the Red Wings with 16 points (3 goals) in 23 games. If he can continue his play making abilities in his increased role on the second line that he showed in the playoffs, he is surely going to make a fantasy impact.

If there was one thing to worry potential fantasy owners, it is the wild card player that could sneak into Detroit’s top six: Ville Leino. Last year Leino broke into the league after establishing himself in the Finnish National League and scored 5 goals in 13 games with the Wings. He will likely start on the third line and based on how Hudler and Filppula were gently handled by the Red Wings when they broke into the league, Leino will probably see limited minutes. However, a good camp or an injury could force Babcock to put Leino into the top six. Just something to be watch out for during training camp.

Fantastically, Filppula’s plus/minus will remain high because he has been a depth forward, where the main focus is defense. Now that he has entered the more offensive minded top six group not only will his ratio remain high, but his point totals will rise as well.

Putting it all together: 82 goals to make up from last season, increased ice time, increased powerplay time, top six forward on a very effective offensive team, and an improvement of production for three years running. 50MC fearlessly forecasts 17 goals, 39 assists for 58 points (THN predicts: 79 games – 20/30/50). This production makes him a solid fantasy late round pick and a must have in deep leagues.

50MC’s Fearless Fantasy Forecasts:

50MC’s 2009-2010 Fearless Fantasy Forecast: Mikko Koivu

Do you ever look at your fantasy pool’s champion and wonder: How is his team better than mine? You look up and down his team and compare him to yours. You look down his team and come to Mikko Koivu and wonder how he has room on his championship team for a guy like Mikko Koivu? Then you look at his numbers and then you realize why he won the league.

Mikko Koivu is the type of guy that will not lead your team to a victory, but will win you a championship. He is the guy at the bottom of your depth chart that continues to produce. Only the guys that own him realize the worth that Koivu brings. He is the unsung hero. He is under rated because he is simply known as Saku’s lil bro and doesn’t play on a strong offensive team.

Both of those things will change this year.

This off-season, the long time Head Coach of the Minnesota Wild, Jacques Lemaire resigned to take on the vacancy in New Jersey. As a replacement, General Manager, Craig Leipold hired Todd Richards. Before this gig, Richards led the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Penguins to a 51 win season in the AHL in 2006 and signed on as an assistant coach for the San Jose Sharks last year.

There is an excellent article that profiles the new Wild coach by Michael Russo of the Minnesota Star Tribune. It highlights the winning attitude that Richards has, his past, and most importantly, for fantasy buffs, the type of system he will implement:

While all teams trap and the new-edition Wild still will, too, the system’s philosophy will be dramatically altered under Richards. He vows an up-tempo, attacking style, something that Wild fans — especially the No. 1 fan — are excited to see.

This is music to current and potential Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Martin Havlat, heck, even James Sheppard owners everywhere.

Under Lemaire, the Wild were a trapping, defense-first team. They would traditionally win low scoring games and were content with scoring and holding the lead, instead of building on it. They have had talented and skilled play makers in the past, but never really got to explore the potential of their speed because of the system.

With the new coach and the new system, the game should open up for the Wild. Players with speed, such as Koivu and Bouchard will get their opportunities and should score more points. Richards knows that with Marian Gaborik gone, he needs to rely on Koivu to be the leader on the ice and knows that he has the assets to do so.

Richards goes as far to say that Koivu is “probably in the top three among two-way centermen in the game” in Dave Campbell’s article in USA Today.

That may be a stretch, but it says a lot of what Koivu brings to the table – solid defense with untapped offensive potential.

Last season, Koivu finished with a career high 67 points in 79 games. What is interesting about Koivu’s career is that he has increased his points per game every year since he has been in the league.

2005-2006: 21 points/64 games = 0.33 ppg

2006-2007: 34 points/82 games = 0.66 ppg

2007-2008: 42 points/57 games = 0.74 ppg

2008-2009: 67 points/79 games = 0.85 ppg

This is a very impressive stat and encouraging for Koivu going into this season. He has increased his point per game totals by roughly 0.10 in the past three years. Whether or not he does that again this season is yet to be seen, but he with the increased responsibility, new system and opportunity to be more creative, he is surely to increase his numbers. This will put him among the top 25 point getters in the league. 50MC fantastically forecasts 0.91 ppg in 82 games: 25 goals, 49 assists, 74 points (THN predicts – 20/45/65)

If you can draft Koivu in the middle to late rounds – which you probably can – and get top 25 production out of him, that would be considered a bonafide fleecing.

It is widely known that you can’t win your fantasy pool in the early rounds in the draft, but you can lose it. Well, I believe in being able to win fantasy pools in the late rounds. You can do this by taking Koivu.

50MC’s Fearless Fantasy Forecasts: