This is the first of a six part series that focuses on the players in a divisional format.
Part 1: Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks
Part 3: Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers
Have you ever wanted to do a little “California Dreamin’”? The Pacific Division is truly a little out there and yet the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings ran wild and pillaged their way to the top prize. The other four teams are far from slouches when it comes to fantasy circles and our 10-10-5 approach is a little different given our divisional format. There is some pretty good firepower within this group of five teams.
Just because we go from 1-10 for the forwards and defensemen does not mean there were players that could crash the party. Goalies are ranked 1-5 because honestly, in the Pacific there are no real goalie battles. When the numbers roll out, one will see how sometimes scientific analysis just does not quite cut it here. Points, including goals and assists, were not just the bottom line but intangibles and circumstances had at least a little to do in the mix.
The first batch of players involves the Forwards. When looking at the Forwards, some are multi positional but most of them are not. There was a look to see if potential spikes or dips existed first and foremost. Early forecasting tools do not take into account the possibility of a lockout. For now, we will not go down that road but revisions will be in the works. Again, here are our Top 10 Forwards from the Pacific Division. Of course, this assumes there will be an 82 game season.
Top Ten Forwards*:
- A. Kopitar LAK 35 51 86 24 8 21:25 225 Down
- C, Perry ANA 42 43 85 29 10 21:32 276 Up
- J. Benn DAL 31 52 83 17 7 20:05 240 Up
- R. Getzlaf ANA 25 58 83 23 4 21:00 150 Up
- L. Couture SJ 35 45 80 20 6 20:05 260 Up
- B. Ryan ANA 30 36 75 22 5 19:45 215 Up
- J. Pavelski SJ 32 40 72 19 7 20:00 262 Down
- L. Eriksson DAL 29 43 72 20 5 19:50 195 Up
- J. Thornton SJ 21 50 71 28 4 20:10 140 Down
- T. Selanne ANA 30 38 68 26 7 18:00 210 Down
* = Our numbers here go in order (Goals-Assists-Points-PP Points-GWG-ATOI-SOG and Up/Down)
There are going to be a lot of questions here. First off, what the heck does the Up/Down mean? This is simple. We took a look and sometimes a sneak look at predictors and indicators then gave an honest description of where the player actually lands compared to expectations. Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn are going to be up simply because of Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney. The big benefactor will be Benn as he gets to learn from two of the best 40 year olds anyone could ask.
The next will be why Anze Kopitar is considered down? This does not mean he is going to have a down year by any stretch but for some that are predicting a 90-100 point season, they may want to consider that Kopitar always has a bad stretch and that is just the way it goes. He is going to have a great year but I think he only plays 73 or 74 games. His points per game is going to be around 1.15 though so keep that in mind. Also, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau for that matter will be passing the torch to Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture, who expect to benefit nicely going forward. San Jose had to do this because Couture is not only the best player on the team but is a potential perennial 40-40 guy. Thornton only hangs on this list because he still is a force on the man advantage and those passes still turn into goals.
Shifting to the defense in the Pacific, we find that once again there are the usual suspects along with Drew Doughty, who now has a Stanley Cup along with a lot of money in his back pocket. He is likely the cream of the crop when it comes to defensemen in this division but value still exists in the top ten and from several different directions. Is this the year Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa make the jump? Does Dan Boyle still have it for San Jose? There are an awful lot of questions to answer from this division and the answers are not quite so crystal clear.
Undaunted, we move on to our top ten defensemen for this fantasy season from the Pacific Division. No one is really sure if there will be a full season. Once again, these are all projections based on a full 82 game docket. Again my criteria includes intangibles so there may be some disagreements. Enjoy.
Top Ten Defensemen*:
- D. Doughty LAK 17 37 54 20 4 25:05 180 Up
- O.E. Larsson PHX 20 32 52 19 5 23:50 195 Up
- K. Yandle PHX 10 40 50 13 2 23:00 180 Down
- S. Voynov LAK 15 31 46 13 3 21:00 125 Up
- B. Burns SJ 13 32 45 17 3 23:55 210 Up
- C. Fowler ANA 10 34 44 16 2 24:00 150 Up
- D. Boyle SJ 9 31 40 15 2 24:50 220 Down
- A. Goligoski DAL 9 29 38 12 2 23:40 160 Up
- L. Sbisa ANA 8 27 35 9 1 19:45 125 Up
- S. Souray ANA 10 20 30 12 2 19:55 180 Up
* = Our numbers here go in order (Goals-Assists-Points-PP Points-GWG-ATOI-SOG and Up/Down)
These are not easy lists when one looks at it, by division. Oliver-Ekman Larsson was almost ranked above Drew Doughty of the Kings actually but not just yet. Why? Simply because Doughty has those intangibles from winning the title last year. That will serve him well as his game continues to round out. Who has the bigger upside? That would be Larsson of course. People should not be shocked at seeing a 20 goal campaign out of the youngster from Phoenix. It is blatantly obvious that he has more upside than his teammate, Keith Yandle, who is number three on this list. Yandle is being pegged for a bigger bounce back season but with the departure of Ray Whitney and the usual uncertainty in Phoenix, hedging is prudent here.
The list has intriguing value with Slava Voynov at number four. There are quite a few people who think that Voynov has close to Doughty upside and while that may not pan out right away, it is something to keep an eye on. His ice time will keep rising as the season goes on, much like last year. The late season production should intrigue many Voynov owners. As for Anaheim, do not sleep on Cam Fowler and especially Luca Sbisa. People forget that Sbisa is still only 22 and has a lot of time to grow. This is going to be a very nice fantasy duo or at least a nice surprise.
Brent Burns will be the offensive blue line force but the scoring will shift more to the forwards in San Jose. Alex Goligoski may be pegged down a bit much here but with injury concerns and chemistry fears in Dallas, it is expected. The wildcard in all of this was Sheldon Souray. If he can stay healthy, Souray can be an excellent mentor while still contributing on the power play. The Pacific is going to be really nice to watch as far as growth.
Last but not least there are the goaltenders and a point of some controversy in this division because of certain goaltending situations. Whether there are contract years or new talent, the net will be an uneasy place in more ways than one, even for incumbents. The key in our list was simply to do a Top Five for the guys that are the last line of defense. Goaltenders in fantasy hockey are truly like gold. If you have a number one that can be counted on, then there is a footing in your league that will be gained. Are you ready for the five goalies on our list? Hopefully you are.
Top Five Goalies*:
- J. Quick LAK 70 40 20 10 8 2.28 .922 Down
- M. Smith PHX 66 33 25 8 5 2.42 .920 Down
- K. Lehtonen DAL 63 31 25 7 4 2.45 .919 Down
- A. Niemi SJ 53 25 22 6 3 2.52 .907 Down
- J. Hiller ANA 60 29 22 9 6 2.44 .916 Up
*= (Our numbers go in order. Games played, wins, losses, OT losses, shutouts, Goals Against Average, save perentage, and up/down)
People are going to ask how Jonathan Quick and Mike Smith could both be down. Why? This is simple. They played at such a high level last year that their numbers have to inevitable come back to Earth a bit. Their expectations are higher than almost any other goalie in the league not named Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy last year but keep an eye on a potential lockout because goalie numbers were just not that good after the two previous work stoppages. Kari Lehtonen is in a tough spot with an aging D and an offense that will need to score more goals. Antti Niemi may ultimately wind up losing his job to Thomas Greiss at some point in the year. Then there is Jonas Hiller, who could not play any worse than last year but faces stiff competition from Viktor Fasth. Both goalies are 30 but Fasth is going to turn some heads in Anaheim.
Los Angeles, in theory, seems to have the most talent from a hockey and fantasy hockey point of view but remember these are only projections. Next up will be the Southeast Division and a potential changing of the guard. Stay tuned fantasy hockey fans because much more is yet to come.
Simply a hockey writer who is a jack of all trades. No question is too big or too small and in fantasy hockey there is no such thing as a stupid question. Now a proud, accredited member of the FSWA. I am also a New Jersey Devils lead writer, prospects writer, humorist, and so much more. You can find me on Twitter at @ChrisWasselDFS