I have a feeling the life expectancy of a fantasy hockey enthusiast is much shorter than that of a common person. Great players become terrible, weak producers become strong, young players tease with their potential and then drift away…only to return with a vengeance after you’ve dropped them. It’s enough to give a person a coronary. On an unrelated topic, how about that Marc-Andre Bergeron?
This is an interesting case. Offensive defensemen coming out of junior hockey are fairly common and many of them weren’t even drafted. Bergeron was signed by the Oilers after posting 101 points in 69 games for Shawinigan of the Quebec League in 2000-01. It didn’t take him long to make his mark at the American League level and then he made the jump to the big club.
But as with most undrafted offensive defensemen, Bergeron lacks size and defensive acumen, so his bread and butter is his production. If he’s not running a power play effectively, the team has little use for him. A team will tire of him quickly if he falls into a prolonged slump, which is precisely why the Oilers traded him to the Islanders back in 2007. He played 23 games for the Isles that year and posted 21 points. And just like that, he had our attention.
But - and this is the smash-your-head-on-your-desk part - he started the next campaign with just 18 points and a minus-14 rating in 46 games. That led to a trade to Anaheim where he wasn’t much better. One thing you’ll notice about inconsistent NHLers who have yet to secure a foot hold in the league is they tend to get scratched. A lot. And so Bergeron was scratched by the Ducks and later the Minnesota Wild on a few occasions.
These are bad signs. Even worse was when his next contract (with Montreal) wasn’t secured until after a tryout in training camp. After that season, he went unsigned until January, 2011, when he rejoined the Lightning. At this point Bergeron was 30 years old. Out of the league, right? Logically, yes, but reality tells us otherwise.
Perhaps it was Bergeron’s impressive 11 points and minus-12 in 37 regular season and playoff games with the Lightning that impressed (sarcasm at its best, folks). But the team signed him in June for two more years. They didn’t want this gem to hit the open market.
However, as it turns out, the Lightning were right.
The pundits read the signs properly. THN’s Ultimate Fantasy Guide has Bergeron pegged to post 31 points this season. The Sports Forecaster has him down for 22. I have him at 30 points in the DobberHockey Guide. In each case, we factored in healthy scratches (I figured he would play 58 games, for example).
So how do you explain his nine points in eight contests to kick off 2011-12? You can’t. And that’s what makes fantasy hockey so much fun. But the torrid start to his season has bought him at least 15 games of rope. That is to say, he won’t be a healthy scratch unless he goes a good month without producing. It makes him a pretty safe player to own and I can confidently up my projection to 40 points at minimum with plenty of upside, barring injury.
Ottawa prospect Mark Stone is toying with the Western League. His 28 points in 13 games come on the heels of a pretty solid training camp and fantastic prospect camp. The only reason he is not the most hyped prospect this side of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is his foot speed, which is often a prospect’s undoing. Remember Mark Santorelli? No, not Mike. His brother - Mark. He had 101 points in 2008 for Chilliwack to lead the WHL. He has yet to have a sniff of NHL action. So the question is - is Stone’s speed really that slow? Or does the talent/hockey sense compensate? Lots of star players succeed at the NHL level despite their lack of speed (see Allison, Jason and Robitaille, Luc). But so many more players are forever unknown because they don’t get a shot. Stone’s progress is worth following closely because the rewards could be great. A year from now we’ll have a pretty clear picture.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.