Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fantasy Report: Tough Times Roster Review

How tough are times for the Islanders right now? At about 6:00 Sunday evening I paid a visit to the team's official site. It struck me that of the five news stories highlighted on the home page, not a single one had anything to do with recent play or the state of the current Islanders hockey team.

'Tis the season to be shopping...

At first I was willing to pass it off as a slow news day, considering there is no game today. But then I decided to check around to see how other teams approach the same section of their sites. Of the other 29 NHL teams, only one site had a similar lack of current hockey related content. And that one belonged to the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings. Even the other bottom rung teams who were coming off losses were still highlighting game content.

So with things going so well that there is nothing for the Islanders to promote but promotions, let's see where the roster now stands from a fantasy perspective. When last we spoke of such things, the following rankings had been achieved:

Players: Mark Streit, Doug Weight, Trent Hunter, Bill Guerin. Rick DiPietro had fallen off the list.
Prospects: Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, and Joey MacDonald. Mike Comrie and Jeff Tambellini deep-sixed.

Here are the latest results:

Mark Streit—The Islanders' best overall defenseman continues to be everything the team hoped he would be and more. Streit has 7 goals and 14 assists for 21 points in 30 games. He has accumulated 6 of those goals and 9 assists on the power play, plus a goal and an assist shorthanded for good measure. The 15 power play points are tops for a defenseman in the NHL. The 6 PPG rank 2nd in the league. Streit's 58 shots on goal put him just outside of the top 20 for defensmen. He's also going to the penalty box at the rate of one minute per game, and posts a decent amount of hits and blocked shots, with 46 and 45, respectively.

Doug Weight—The man who was brought on board to revive Bill Guerin has, in the last couple of games, been removed from the center spot alongside his best bud. We'll have to see how that situation develops and what effect it has if it sticks. In the meantime, Weight remains a strong fantasy asset with 6 goals and 21 assists for 27 points in 30 games. The Islanders' top scorer also boats a team-leading 17 power play points on 4 goals and 13 assists. Those 17 power play points have Weight tied with Malkin and Ovechkin one behind league leaders Crosby and Selanne. That's some pretty good company.

Trent Hunter—The one spectacular number you'll get from Hunter is in hits, where he rates 13th in the NHL with 80. But Hunter is proving to be an asset across the board this season. You can also count on him for a good shot total—he's currently 2nd on the team with 85. But more importantly for Hunter, his offense is really on track this year with 11 goals and 11 assists. Add in 3-4-7 on the power play and 29 PIMs, and you've got yourself a well rounded fantasy player.

Bill Guerin—The captain is now 4th on the team in scoring with 11 goals and 9 assists. His shot total of 108 just squeezes him into the NHL's top ten. Guerin contributes significantly on the power play with 4 goals and 7 assists so far. His 40 PIMs are also notable for a guy who is doing some scoring. Again, watch to see what happens with Weight and Guerin at even strength, but if even if they do remain separated for a while, they will continue to play on the first power play unit.

So nothing has changed in the Player category from a month ago. No one new has emerged, no incumbent has fallen.

Andy Hilbert—Some may consider this a stretch, but that's what it's come to—stretching. Hilbert is now fifth on the Islanders in scoring with 7 goals and 9 assists. In addition to his penalty killing duties, he is now seeing time on the second power play unit, where he has chipped in a goal and 2 assists. 66 shots on goal aren't going to instill fear in any opponents, but it's a total that won't kill you either. Where Hilbert may be able to make some hay is in blocked shots. He is second on the entire team with 46, a total that leads all NHL forwards by ten.

Rick DiPietro—With a return to the ice now expected around Christmas, it's time to start thinking about DiPietro again. As we've already discussed, the #1 job will be his as soon as he's ready to go. Whether he can thrive in front of the team that is currently making Joey MacDonald's life miserable is another question. In conclusion, know that DiPietro will be ready to go soon, but don't expect him to save your season. If you're desperate for a goalie, he's capable of helping you in the second half—but its definitely requires a wait-and-see approach.

What happend to...
Kyle Okposo—No concrete updates on his return right now, and he wasn't doing enough yet to consider serious consideration for a roster spot before he got hurt.

Josh Bailey—"Islander for the year" Bailey is still averaging almost an assist every other game, despite a recent five-game pointless streak. Other than that, he doesn't done much of anything to warrant attention in fantasyland. Better days lie ahead.

Joey MacDonald—The recent stretch of dismal performances by the Islanders has doomed MacDonald as a fantasy commodity. Even if they weren't winning consistently, his other numbers made MacDonald worthy of consideration for an empty G slot. That's no longer the case, and with DiPietro's return on the horizon, you can pretty much forget about MacDonald for fantasy purposes.

PIMsSean Bergenheim and Tim Jackman lead the way with 43 PIMs each, although Jackman has earned his in only 17 games versus 27 for Bergenheim. Nate Thompson checks in with 40 in 21 games, Bill Guerin has 40 in 30, and Andy Sutton 38 in 21.

(+/-)—Forget about it. Sutton is +2. Everyone else is currently in the red.

Shots on goal—It's league elite Guerin with 108, Hunter with 85, Bergenheim with 69, and Hilbert with 66. From the blue line you have Streit at 58 and no one else anywhere close.

HitsHunter is a star with 80. Freddy Meyer is hitting at a good rate with his total slowed only by an early injury. Brendan Witt is also in the mix.

Blocked shots—The Islanders are still piling up the blocked shots, so there's lots to choose from. All of the defensmen are in on the act. Sutton leads the way with 57 blocks in 21 games. If you need a forward who likes to get in the lanes, you can't do better than Hilbert.

Faceoffs—In his first five games of the season, Mike Sillinger proved he's still quick on the draw by winning an impressive 60.7 percent of his faceoffs. Sillinger is now nursing a groin injury, but he's your man when he gets back on the ice. Of other players regularly taking draws, Richard Park is the only one above 50 percent at 52.5. Weight (201) and Park (178) have the most faceoff wins if you're going by that number.

Time on IceStreit's 25:07 puts him in the top 15 in the league. The other d-men don't register an impact at 20:00+ minutes. Weight leads the forwards with 19:37, but that only ranks 44th among all NHL forwards.

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