There is a world of variety in fantasy hockey leagues. There are head-to-head and roto leagues, auction leagues and keeper leagues. There are scoring systems that celebrate Penalties In Minutes, PIM, scoring systems that ignore PIM and scoring systems that dock you for PIM. Fantasy leagues value a variety of common and uncommon statistics differently, including Goals, Assists, Power Play Goals, Short Handed Goals, Wins, Shutouts, Saves, Hits and Blocked Shots.
Many esoteric pinnacles of fantasy hockey production have not been celebrated anywhere, until now! With this fantasy hockey season now behind us, it gives me great pleasure to announce the winners of the 2008-2009 Puck Prospectus Fantasy Hockey Awards.
The Mike Bossy Most (Goals x 1.5 plus Assists) Award
Alex Ovechkin LW WSH – 138 modified Points
A long time ago, someone decided that a Goal was equal to an Assist, presumably for the sake of simplicity. Why couldn’t a Goal be worth 150% of an Assist? In your fantasy league, it can be! If you believe in Goals being worth more than Assists –or if your fantasy scoring system does– Alex Ovechkin (56 G, 54 A, 110 Points) need no longer fall 3 “Points” short of Evgeni Malkin (35 G, 78 A, 113 Points, 130.5 modified Points). Under such a system, Zach Parise (45 G), Ilya Kovalchuk (43 G), Jeff Carter (45 G) and Rick Nash (40 G) would all get a bump over their Assist-first brethren. Sorry, Joe Thornton.
The Dominik Hasek Best Save Percentage Award
Tim Thomas G BOS – .933
Posting a .933 Save Percentage in stopping 1548 of 1660 shots, Tim Thomas (35-11-5) is slowly getting converts to believe that he is the real thing. The late bloomer has a chance to prove himself on the ultimate stage if he can take the Eastern Conference first seed Bruins deep into the playoffs. The University of Vermont product is coming off a career year and has been well rested down the home stretch of the regular season, so who’s to say he won’t?
The Terry Sawchuk Most Shutouts Award
Steve Mason G CLB – 10 SO
Columbus netminder Steve Mason has been a relevation. The rookie sensation is arguably the main reason why the Blue Jackets are about to make their first playoff appearance. With an outstanding stat line of 33-20-8, 10 Shut Outs and a .916 Save Percentage for a first year player, it is easy to envision All-Star appearances and possibly even Stanley Cups in his future. For this year’s playoffs though, you have to wonder if the 20 year old hasn’t been burnt out by facing 1,666 shots.
The Curtis Joseph Most Losses Award
Ilya Bryzgalov G PHX and Marty Turco G DAL – 31 L (tie)
As chronicled in my recent column, 9 of 31 Losses for Ilya Bryzgalov (26-31-8) came in back-to-back games. Marty Turco (33-13-10) began the campaign miserably and recovered to post a .898 Save Percentage, tied for the worst mark of his career.
The Tiger Williams Most Penalty Minutes Award
Daniel Carcillo LW PHX/PHI - 254 PIM
Once again, Daniel Carcillo put up the league’s highest PIM by a significant margin, with Shane O’Brien’s 196 PIM the runner up. “The Madman” has dialed it down from 324 PIM in only 57 games to a considerably more docile 254 PIM in 74 games this season. Think what you may of PIM in the real game of hockey, but 70 less PIM is a big step down in fantasy leagues that award points for penalty minutes.
The Dave Schultz Most Fighting Majors Award
Zack Stortini RW EDM – 25 fighting majors
Zack Stortini (11 Points in 52 games) is one of several top pugilists in the NHL who actually has some semblance of scoring prowess. Others include honorable mentions Jared Boll of Columbus (24 fights 14 Pts in 72 games), George Parros of Anaheim (23 fights 10 Points in 74 games) and Daniel Carcillo of Philadelphia (22 fights 14 Points in 74 games).
The Pierre Turgeon Least PIM for a Fantasy Relevant Player Award (Forwards)
Brad Richards C DAL - 6 PIM
The Dallas Stars were one of the most disappointing teams of the 2008-2009 campaign. Several of their players did not figure as the fantasy contributors they seemed likely to be in the preseason outlook. That said, if your league values low PIM, Brad Richards (6 PIM in 55 games), Jere Lehtinen (8 PIM in 48 games), and Fabian Brunnstrom (8 PIM in 56 games) had the lowest penalty minutes of players that you were likely to have on your fantasy roster.
The Red Kelly Least PIM for a Fantasy Relevant Player Award (Defensemen)
Tomas Kaberle D TOR - 8 PIM
As with Brad Richards, Tomas Kaberle’s PIM total was kept in check by injuries that kept him from playing a full season. In any case, Kaberle’s mere 8 PIM in 57 games is an outstanding tally for a Defenseman logging high Time On Ice totals for the games that he played in.
The Jim Schoenfeld Most Blocked Shots Award
Zybnek Michalek D PHX – 196 BS
Blocked Shots are an uncommon scoring category, but in case you use it, you may be interested in knowing this season’s leader. Props to Zybnek Michalek! Spellcheck is not happy with that name, by the way.
The Cal Clutterbuck Most Hits Award
Cal Clutterbuck RW MIN – 356 Hits
Minnesota rookie Cal Clutterbuck received some press a few weeks ago by setting the NHL season record for Hits. Do you get a plaque for that? Probably not, huh? This may be the closest he gets.
Worst Loss of Value Due to Injury
Martin Brodeur G NJD – 45 Games
Marian Gaborik RW MIN – 45 Games
Future Hall Of Famer Martin Brodeur was likely the first goaltender chosen in most fantasy drafts. The biceps injury that knocked him out of the Devils lineup cost fantasy owners 45 games, as he logged a mere 31 games as compared with his last three season’s average of 76 games. Oft-injured Marian Gaborik was coming off a healthy 2007-2008, which saw him appear in 77 contests. His career high 83 Points enticed many owners to pick him early in the draft. Unfortunately, an injury plagued campaign of only 17 games fell significantly short of his last three season’s average of 62 games played.
Most Valuable Fill-In for an Injured Player
Scott Clemmensen G NJD – 40 Games
Backup Scott Clemmensen had played in only 28 Games over 5 seasons, spending the rest of the time with an excellent front row seat at Devils’ games. Clemmensen filled in admirably in Brodeur’s stead (25-13-2), improving a sub-.900 career Save Percentage to .907 with this season’s .917 mark.
Zach Parise C NJD
Though second generation National Hockey Leaguer Zach Parise was already established as a solid player, his 94 Point campaign (45 G 49 A) established him as a top echelon scorer. The 24 year old had a previous best 65 Points last season.
Jeff Carter C PHI
Atlantic Division rival Jeff Carter’s 83 Points (45 G 38 A) was a quantum leap above the 53 Points he posted in 2007-2008. The young Flyers’ centerman would have been even farther down the draft board than Parise.
Mark Streit D NYI
The former Canadien was 7th best among Defensemen with 55 Points (16 G 39 A). Even in formats using Plus/Minus, his +6 rating made him a viable fantasy starter. Pretty incredible considering that his performance occurred on the Islanders, who have been in the John Tavares sweepstakes all season long.
Shea Weber D NSH
Predators’ defenseman Shea Weber bounced back from an anemic 2007-2008 campaign to shatter his personal best with 53 Points (20 G 33 A), 9th best among Defensemen. Never previously in the discussion as a top blueliner, Weber was a great fantasy surprise this season and will be a solid fantasy keeper for next season.
Brian McCabe D FLA
Former Maple Leafs’ Defenseman Brian McCabe was drafted highly, but failed to bounce back from a lackluster 2007-2008, posting only 39 Points (15 G 24 A) in his first season with the Panthers. The disappointment mainly stems from our recent memory of 53, 68 and 57 Point campaigns in the three prior seasons.
Dany Heatley RW OTT
For most Forwards, it would be laughable to say that 72 Points (39 G 32 A) could be a disappointment, but Heatley fell well short of his elite output of the past three seasons of 103, 105 and 82 Points (in 71 Games). As the Senators responded well to their mid-season coaching change, there is hope that Heatley will once again attain those gaudy Point totals.
Carey Price G MTL
When you post a 24-12-5 record with 3 Shutouts and an excellent .920 Save Percentage in your rookie year, many observers will believe that the next great NHL goaltender has arrived. Price’s future may still be bright, but he fell back to earth (23-16-3, 1 SO, .905) with inconsistent play in his sophomore season.
That wraps up a great 2008-2009 fantasy hockey season. In the offseason, we’ll have an in-depth chance to look at your best options going forward for keepers and sleepers for 2009-2010.
Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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