There’s a new entrant in the NHL scoring race. Coming out of nowhere, he’s banged off 12 points in his past four games to slide into second place. There has been lots of talk all season about the likes of Claude Giroux and Phil Kessel, but how about some love for Mr. Jason Spezza?
Where did this outburst come from? We knew he had the ability, given he’s topped 90 points on two occasions (and was hurt in both of those seasons). But many poolies attributed that success to Dany Heatley. I didn’t believe it and felt very strongly that Spezza was the driver on that line more than Heatley. But it sure didn’t look that way the first two seasons after Heatley was dealt away. The reason for that is twofold – health and a better start.
The last time Spezza played a full, healthy season was in 2008-09. Actually, that was the only time he played 82 games. He has yet to miss a contest this year, which is the obvious key.
A decent start is the second reason Spezza is second in league scoring. Mark my words – the best is yet to come. He generally plays his best hockey in the second half of the season. Take a look at these points-per-game numbers over the past three campaigns:
Not only is the fourth quarter his best quarter in terms of points per game, but also the improvement from second to third and third to fourth is consistent.
In the past several games, Spezza has been lining up with rookie Bobby Butler and Milan Michalek. Butler has six points in four games, which is pretty good considering he couldn’t even get into the lineup in the three games prior. Butler was also primarily Spezza’s linemate down the stretch last year, so there’s a very tangible chemistry between the two.
Spezza will top 85 points for the fourth time in his career and only an injury can stop him…
Florida’s Marcel Goc is a very underrated fantasy player. He’s underrated, of course, because he’s a Band-Aid Boy. Had he been an iron man, he would be on everyone’s radar. That’s not to say he could be an 80-point player, or a 70-point player - heck, even 60 would be pushing it. But he could be a solid 50-plus guy if he could just play 75 games.
The 28-year-old has 13 points in 17 games since returning from a head injury. He’s also playing with talented linemates (Mikael Samuelsson and Sean Bergenheim) and seeing some power play time. The past two seasons with Nashville, Goc produced like a 35-point player. But as always, those seasons were marred by injury, which slows development. He’ll never be a top-sixer, but he is one of the better producing third-liners in the game. It’s just that nobody knows it.
Anaheim prospect Emerson Etem has 51 goals in 51 Western League games. He scored his 50th in his 50th game, a feat not accomplished in the WHL since Layne Ulmer did it back in 2000-01. Etem will get a long look in camp next fall, especially if Teemu Selanne retires. But with Kyle Palmieri also very close - his 28 goals in 31 American League games are slightly more impressive - Etem may have to wait until 2013-14. Any way you slice it, the Ducks of the future will have no trouble bulging the twine.
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.