It's the best time of year!
As we continue ‘Fantasy Week’ here at RLD, we take a look at five players (specifically forwards) who get the most out of their value, and can contribute in many different categories.
1. Corey Perry
09/10 Stats: 82 GP, 27 G, 49 A, 76 Pts, +0, 111 PIM
Anaheim’s young duo of Perry and Getzlaf is one of the best combos in the Western Conference – if not, the NHL. Perry’s presence in the offensive zone is especially valuable in fantasy. He scores goals, contributes heavily on the power play, and racks up penalty minutes. Perry, 25, has yet to become a point-per-game forward… but that day is coming. The Ducks’ do-it-all winger is a great pick for fantasy owners, and could push 90 points this year if he and Getzlaf get off to a fast start.
2. Alex Burrows*
09/10 Stats: 82 GP, 35 G, 32 A, 67 Pts, +34, 121 PIM
There’s really only been one winger to consistently have chemistry on Vancouver’s top line alongside the Sedin twins: Alex Burrows. He has surprisingly developed into a solid goal-scorer and valuable commodity in fantasy leagues. Burrows scored a whopping 35 goals last year; only four came on the power play, but five were shorthanded. Dating back to the second half of 08/09, he has scored 53 goals in the last 116 games, along with a +57 rating. Even though he doesn’t get many power play points, Burrows does enough otherwise to garner heavy fantasy consideration. As long as he’s with the Sedins, Burrows will continue to produce.
3. David Backes
09/10 Stats: 79 GP, 17 G, 31 A, 48 Pts, -4, 106 PIM
Like the rest of the Blues, Backes had a hard time repeating his 08/09 breakout campaign. In that season, he deposited 31 pucks in the back of the net, and helped the Blues make it to the playoffs. While he was a decent fill-in guy for fantasy teams a year ago, I like Backes’ chances to bounce back in a big way. St. Louis will be one of the more improved teams this season, and Backes may get a lot of time on the top line. 30 goals and 55-60 points is not out of reach, and well over 100 PIM should be expected.
4. Ryan Kesler
09/10 Stats: 82 GP, 25 G, 50 A, 75 Pts, +1, 104 PIM
Kesler is a tier below Perry in fantasy. He puts up similar numbers to his Team Canada counterpart all across the board in 2009/10, but a repeat season from Kesler is unlikely. He is a great player in real life; however, in fantasy, a drop-off from 75 points this year will slightly diminish his value. I think he’d be great as your second or third center, but don’t rely on Kesler to be your guy unless it’s a league with many teams. With all of this being said, Kesler will still be on my radar because of his versatility. Look for a 60-65 point season, along with solid power play and penalty minute numbers.
5. Steve Downie
09/10 Stats: 79 GP, 22 G, 24 A, 46 Pts, +14, 208 PIM
The 23-year-old Downie shook off some of his ‘bad boy’ reputation by rounding into a well-balanced player. He still agitated with the best of them, but he also made solid contributions offensively. Downie was a pleasant surprise in fantasy, and I was sure happy to pick him up at the mid-season point. After the New Year, Downie racked up 30 of his 46 points in the remaining 41 games, thanks to being slotted next to Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis up front. Since he had such great chemistry with those two, I would expect that line to remain intact at least to start the year. If Downie can get 50 points and 200 PIM, fantasy owners will be excited! Don't reach for him, though, as an in-season demotion to the second or third line is certainly possible.
Defensemen to watch:
* Expected to begin the season on IR
at 9:00 AM
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