Friday, November 14, 2008

Fantasy Report: Roster Review

One note before we get started: The NHL has suspended Thomas Pock for two games for his elbow on Ryan Shannon. The league has also suspended Pock for three games for Jarko Ruutu's elbow on Maxim Lapierre.

Okay, It's time to take a second look at what the Islanders roster offers to the fantasy hockey player. Things certainly have changed since our first look just before the season started.

Once again we will classify individuals as players, prospects, or specialists. The player and prospect classifications highlight individuals, while the specialist classification is centered around statistical categories primarily and then the relevant individuals. Before we begin, here's a quick recap of the classification definitions:

Player: These players provide enough value across the board to be in play in most leagues. Someone in your league probably has them. Is it you?

: These players have the potential to reward you based on their performance, expectations, and circumstances. They're not no-brainers but could provide decent value given ice time, the right linemates, and/or stepping up their play. Picking them up as free agents/on waivers is not a guarantee of future success. Not picking them up could cause you to miss out on a good depth player.

: These are players who offer high value in one or two scoring categories. If your roster can absorb a one- or two-dimensional player, look here to bolster a weakness.

Here's how things stood at the beginning of October:

Players: Rick DiPietro, Mark Streit
Prospects: Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie, Jeff Tambellini, Doug Weight, Trent Hunter

And here are the current evaluations:

Mark Streit—The power play quarterback's points per game pace has tailed off a little over the past few games, but there's no reason to give up on him now. He's showing an early pattern of going two or three games without a point and then returning to being a solid contributor. Streit leads the Islanders in power play goals with 3. Overall, he is 4-7-11 with 37 shots, 18 PIMs, -2, 21 hits, and 25 blocked shots. Again, he's not going to be your top defenseman, but there's a place for him.

Doug Weight—The veteran center is a surprise and welcome addition to this class if you're an Islanders fan. He is filling the role of #1 center on a team that needed an offensive boost nicely. Weight is the team's leading scorer on the strength of 3 goals and 11 assists, and also leads in power points with 2 goals and 7 assists.

Trent Hunter—The hits keep coming for Hunter (17th in the league with 44), but the big winger is also second on the team in scoring with 7 goals and 6 assists. Add 46 shots on goal and 4 power play points and you've got yourself a player. Watch the +/- though.

Bill Guerin—The captain is tied for third on the team in scoring with 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points. He is also 2-4-6 on the power play. Those are nice support stats for the league's 10th most prolific shooter—Guerin has 66 shots on goal.

What happened to...
Rick DiPietro—After sitting out the first four games of the season while recoving from spring (and summer) surgery, DiPietro started two games and then suffered a knee injury in his third appearance. The company line on his return has him back sometime in December. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see him again in 2008.

Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey—The heralded rookie duo is now being paired together on a line with Andy Hilbert, so the winger and his pivot man of the future are suddenly the present. More importantly, they hooked up on a first-rate power play goal against Ottawa (Bailey's first NHL point) and Scott Gordon gave them time on the first unit with Streit, Weight, and Guerin. Okposo is leading all NHL rookies in shots on goal. His offense will come, maybe not as much as the leading rookie scorers, but enough to keep an eye on. Bailey looks like he belongs in the NHL now. It's dangerous to make reactionary evaluations based on two games, but I have a feeling Bailey stays. Things would get complicated if Sillinger, Comrie, and Thompson are all healthy, but let's see if that happens first.

Joey MacDonald—The current starter in net doesn't have fantasy-worthy numbers right now, but he is filling in for Rick DiPietro very capably. If you need a stop-gap or spot start, you could do a lot worse—especially if the team continues to show progress in front of MacDonald.

What happened to...
Mike Comrie—A lingering hip problem currently has Comrie sidelined. His production prior to taking a break was insufficient for fantasy consideration—2 goals, 6 assists, only one power play point, and a strikingly low 23 shots on goal in 14 games.

Jeff Tambellini—Just not doing anything that's going to interest you.

PIMsSean Bergenheim and Nate Thompson lead the team in PIMs with 31. Thompson is currently out 2-4 weeks with a strained groin. Andy Sutton should be moving up the ranks after returning from an early season hand injury. He's amassed 18 PIMs so far in eight games.

(+/-)—Not much to see here. Brett Skinner, Sutton, and Radek Martinek are the only plus players, none better than +2.

Shots on goal: It's Guerin (66), Hunter (46), and then Streit (37), Bergenheim (35), and Okposo (35).

Hits—Other than Hunter, Freddy Meyer was the only big hitter (23 hits in 7 games) before going down with an injury. There are a host of Isles to choose from for 1+ hits per game.

Blocked shots—The Isles are doing a good job in this department. Sutton, Bruno Gervais, Andy Hilbert, Streit, and Chris Campoli lead the way. Martinek should be back Saturday night, and don't forget about Witt and Meyer when they return.

FaceoffsRichard Park is the only Islander with over 100 draws who has been successful more than 50% of the time (a very robust 58.1%). Weight, Nielsen, Comrie, and Thompson all need to do better. Bailey is off to a great start winning 14 of 22 (63.6%) in his first two games.

Time on Ice—On defense, Streit (25:39) has the only big number. Campoli (23:00), Gervais (22:19), and Sutton (21:51). Keep an eye on Martinek after he works his way back in. Weight leads the forwards at 19:22.

Recent Fantasy Stars

Game 15: Flyers 3, Islanders 1
1st Star: Trent Hunter (1 G, 6 SOG, 2 hits)
2nd Star: Jeff Tambellini (1 A, 4 SOG)
3rd Star: Bruno Gervais (1 A, 1 SOG, 4 BkS, 1 hit)
4th Star: Joey MacDonald (2 GA, .935 SV%)
5th Star: Thomas Pock (1 SOG, 3 BkS, 2 PIMs, 1 hit)

Faceoffs: Weight 12-4 (75%), Bailey 7-4 (63.6%), Neilsen 10-9 (52.6%)

Game 16: Islanders 3, Senators 1
1st Star: Joey MacDonald (W, 1 GA, .967 SV%)
2nd Star:
Sean Bergenheim (1 A, +1, 4 SOG, 1 BkS, 2 PIMs, 2 hits)
3rd Star: Trent Hunter (1 G, 1 PPG, 5 SOG, 1 BkS, 1 hit)
4th Star: Bill Guerin (1 G, +1, 6 SOG, 1 hit)
5th Star: Doug Weight (1 A, +1, 4 SOG, 2 hits)

Faceoffs: Park 11-6 (64.7%), Bailey 7-4 (63.6%)

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