Picking the top 5 point getters for this upcoming season was a cake walk compared to predicting who will place in spots 6 thru 10. I have a feeling that there will be log jam of players, all within a point or two of each other, vying for a position in the illustrious Top Ten. I have logged countless hours of research, watched back the last few seasons of game tape and performed numerous ceremonies involving chicken bones, essence of newt and hemlock to bring you the following five names. (note: no virgins were sacrificed in the making of this list) So here they are, the players rounding out the 2010-11 top ten point getters are .....
# 6 Marion Gaborik
Some of you may already be half done writing comment about how batshit crazy I am for placing Gaborik in the #6 spot but before you get all worked up and butt heard ab
out something that you read on the internet, please remind yourself that all predictions are pro-rated over an 82 game season. If you look at the red number in the ‘games’ column, then you will see that his point total is based on Gabby skating a full season.
There is absolutely no doubt that Gaborik has the talent and the skill set to amass a huge point total fora fantasy pool but the question that will haunt him year in and year out is… can he stay healthy? Five times in his career, Gabby has posted more than 70 games in a season and one of those times it was just north of 80. This past season Gaborik skated in 76 contests for the blueshirts and for much of the season he was leading the league in points. For you poolies out there you have to ask yourself, is 76 games of Gaborik enough to take him early in a draft or would you maybe take a flyer on him if he is still available in a later round?
If you really think about it, what Gaborik was able to accomplish last season was actually quite special. He was well over a point per game on a team the really didn’t seem to help him a whole lot. Jokinen was a bust, as was Kotalik, Prospal did what he always does and there wasn’t a sure fire center that seemed to be at home on the first line. Not all of the issues with the Rangers have been addressed thisoff season but I think that the most interesting piece to their puzzle is the addition of Alexander Frolov. There is now a guy on the Rangers that can actually keep up with Gabby in terms of the way he thinks the game…. offence, offence, offence. If you’re still on the fence about taking Gaborik in your pool just keep in mind who his coach is. John Torterella is never shy about over working his top players so expect to see Gaborik in the top ten in ice time again this year. Given what happened last year, you may also see Gaborik in a shootout this year too!
# 7 Evgeni Malkin
67 is the magic number when it comes to Gino. That is how many games he played last season and it accounts for his almost 30 point drop off from the year previous. This was an unexpected phenomena for the young phenom who had only missed a total of 4 games in his 3 previous campaigns. The statthat is most telling for me was his +/- from last year. A negligent -6 shows me that Gino maybe wasn’t quite 100% for the 67 games that he did play. Malkin’s shooting percentage was also drastically lower than usual even though he took just about as many shots as he did when he achieved 113 points. Taking low percentage shots reeks of desperation and desperation is a sign of a tired player.
The 2010-11 NHL season should be very interesting for Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 2ndround exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs means that this will be the longest off season for the Pens in recent memory. Back to Back trips to the finals, plus the Olympic winter games gives Malkin a hefty total of games played over the last couple of years and the strain may have taken its toll on him last season. Fully rested and hopefully healthy, there is no reason why Malkin shouldn’t be back in the top ten in scoring next year.. or even the top 5.
With the exit of his countryman Sergei Gonchar, Malkin will most likely be manning the point on the first unit powerplay. Couple this with Sidney Crosby’s new found ‘shoot first’ policy and there is an expectation that Malkin may not have an inflated goal total this season but there will certainly be a whole pile of assists out there for him to collect. If healthy, Malkin could very well be profiled on A&E’s series ‘Hoarders’ for collecting them all.
# 8 Ilya Kovalchuk
To be perfectly honest I am completely sick of hearing about Ilya Kovalchuk. Please feel free to pass over the following few paragraphs and just take the point prediction as gospel. This offseason has been quite the roller coaster for this Russian sniper as there wasn’t a day that went by without a report about where he was going to play. Russia, Los Angeles, New Jeresey… all vying for his efforts and all throwing stacks of cash onto the table. The only thing that could have made the situation worse is if Ilya put on a half hour televised special just to tell everyone that he would be ‘taking his talents to South Beach’.
Now the dust has settled and ‘Sweet’ Lou Lamoriello has finally got his man. Given what Kovie has actually cost the Devils organization, it would be the biggest disappointment since Transformers 2 if Ilya did not make the top ten in scoring. Bergfors, Oduya, Cormier, two 1st round picks, a 2nd round pick and two 3rd round picks plus millions of dollars in fines and salary is what it took to land him. To say that there is some pressure on Kovie to perform may be a bit of an understatement.
Pressure is not something that Kovie is used to. Wallowing away in NHL obscurity in Hot-Lanta has deprived many fans from seeing just how good this guy is. Kovalchuk possesses one of the top 5shots in the league and I expect to see at least 300 shots from him this year. If you were to give him a shooting percentage of 15% (which is about his average) then that is a guaranteed 45 goals. The biggest difference this year for Kovalchuk is that he finally has a supporting cast. Zach Parise has turned into one of the most well rounded player in the game today and two of them together will undoubtedly make hay while the sun shines.
# 9 Steven Stamkos
Seen Stamkos? Well if you haven’t yet then you’re definitely missing out. The kid is a stud and last season he lived up to his billing of being a 1st overall draft pick. With 51 goals he is the co-owner of the Rocket Richard Trophy in just his 2nd year in the bigs. The question about Stamkos now is… where does he go from here?
The Tampa Bay Lightning are in a period of flux and rebirth and Stamkos is the corner stone of their hopeful return to glory. While Stamkos may be the foundation, GM Steve Yzerman is the master builder and architect and could be the most important ‘Steve’ on the team. A retooled roster with the injectionof Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina, could result in a very different looking powerplay. With 24 PP goals last season (the most in the league) Stamkos will still have an important role with the man advantage but he will not be the only option.
Similar to the changes seen in Vancouver, I expect a more balanced attack from the Lightning this season. Lecavalier, Malone, and Gagne should all be contributing more to relieve some of the pressure that has been put on to the young Stamkos. Although his point total will be less than last year, I am certainly not saying that Stamkos will be worse or less of a player. On the contrary, I expect Stamkos to round out his game and focus a little more on his play without the puck.
For you poolies, if your league is giving extra credit to goals, especially PP goals, then Stamkos should be your #2 pick behind Ovechkin. If you are in a keeper league then give Stamkos a little more credit when it comes to injuries. Stamkos is a physical phenom and his off-ice training is second to none. Expect this kid to a fixture on the top ten list and expect him to be there for a long long time. Haven’t seen him?...you will.
# 10 Ryan Getzlaf
I have to be completely upfront and honest with all of you…. Ryan Getzlaf is my favorite hockey player. Given that, this may be a bit of a homer pick but I don’t think that I am too far off. Big, physical, soft hands, hard shot, and even a little bit mean, Getzlaf has it all and is GM’s dream come true. As a Canadian, Getzlaf’s only sin was to be drafted by an American team.
Last season was almost a write-off for Getzlaf as he just couldn’t get healthy enough to be 100%. A nagging foot injury hampered him all season long but that didn’t stop him from putting up over a point per game and winning an Olympic gold medal. A lengthy off season of rest and rehab should be just what the doctor ordered for the big center and everything should be business as usual come October.
Getzlaf is the engine that drives the Anaheim offense. He plays the point on the powerplay and takes all of the key offensive zone faceoffs. With his linemates Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, the trio can physically dominate any defense and control the play down low with a formidable cycle. If healthy, expect big things from Getz as he has all of the tools and potential to be a 100 point player in this league.
And there you have it folks, your 2010-11 Top ten list! If there are some names missing from the list that you strongly believe should be there, I look forward to discussing the matter and hearing your arguments. Also check the player prediction lists to view point projections for the top 200 skaters, 100 blueliners and even the goalies. Good luck to everyone with your pools and happy hockey season to all!!
Yours in hockey,
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