In an effort to bring you more in-depth fantasy hockey coverage, I am dipping into the Fantasy Players Network resources, and bringing you an article from Ryan Ma from DobberHockey.com

According to Mr. Ma, hockey players tend to either have it or not by the time they enter their fourth year in the league, which is similar to the Third Year Receiver Rule in the NFL.  Basically, it takes that amount of time to get a feel for the league. 

Many fantasy hockey expert’s have differing theories of how a player develops. Those that were highly touted could end up being just as they were projected and become superstars in the league. While others seem to be completely the opposite and become big-time NHL busts. Generally speaking, we’ll usually know by their “magical” fourth year whether they have true fantasy potential or not. This week we’ll evaluate five players who are in or going into their fourth season with their clubs to see whether or not they truly have developed to their true potential or are they going to become a bust.

First, let’s evaluate the top pick in the 2003 NHL entry draft, Marc-Andre Fleury. In 167 appearances in the NHL in his young career, Fleury has compiled a 72-66-2-16 record, while maintaining a 3.02 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. If you looked at Patrick Roy’s first 142 appearances in the NHL, Roy had a 69-46-18 record, while displaying a 3.06 goals against average which is very comparable to Fleury’s numbers in the first 167 games of his young career. In Roy’s fourth full NHL season, he had a dazzling 33-5-6 record with the Canadiens, and with Fleury entering his fourth full season with the Penguins next year, can we expect a similar “jump” in stats as Roy did in his fourth season especially when getting backed by the league’s seventh rated offense certainly won’t hurt either. 

Next, let’s look at the third overall pick in the 2003 NHL entry draft, Nathan Horton. In 284 games played so far in his young career, Horton has 98 goals and 91 assists for a total of 189 points in four season’s seasons with the Panthers. Horton has taken the typical development curve where he has slightly improved on his offensive production for each season as he developed.   He started off his rookie season with 22 points, then 47 in his sophomore season, 62 in his junior year, and projects to finish his graduation year with 63 point this season. His 6’2” and 229 pound frame, seems to be very comparable to Flames Captain, Jarome Iginla, who stands at 6’1” and 205 pounds. They both also play a very similar physical style of hockey, which would certainly assume a similar development curve for Horton as the one experienced by Iggy. Iginla had been a bit healthier than Horton when he starting his NHL career and managed to play in 311 contests, where he garnered 196 points, in the first four years of his NHL career. The fifth year for Iginla was his breakout year where he broke the 70 point plateau and he then managed to tally 96 the next year, the fifth year could very well be Horton’s breakout year as he now added another year of experience under his belt playing with Stephen Weiss and David Booth.

The third player we’ll analyze is the Ukrainian Nikolai Zherdev, who was selected fourth overall in the 2003 NHL entry draft. Zherdev has had a bit of a roller-coaster ride to start his young NHL career. Zherdev has played 276 games for the Blue Jackets so far in the past four years, and has registered 75 goals and 103 assists in those contests. Zherdev’s problem doesn’t seem to be a lack of skill, but seems to be a lack of work ethic or motivation.  This year coach Ken Hitchcock managed to light a fire under Zherdev as he set a new career high in points scored with 58, he should finish the season by breaking the 60 point plateau for the first time in his career this season. Zherdev’s 6’2” and 197 pound frame seems very similar to Alex Mogilny’s frame of 6’0” and 210 pounds. If Zherdev played with as much heart as Mogilny did to start his NHL career with the Sabres, Zherdev would probably be a lot closer to the 318 points that Mogilny put up by his fourth year than he is now.  The Blue Jackets should be revamped next season, as outstanding playmaking prospect Derick Brassard, number two on Dobber’s prospect list, and talented young scoring sensation Jakub Voracek, number eight on Dobber’s prospect list, should be joining the big league party next season. The Jackets also currently have the sixth overall pick in this season’s NHL entry draft and could go with another Russian in Nikita Filatov, if he happens to fall lower in the draft, or Danish prospect Mikkel Boedker would both be great fits for the young up-and-coming Jackets. Zherdev should be in for a big season next year and definitely someone to keep in mind for next season’s draft.  

Another player to look at is Philly’s Mike Richards, who was selected 24th overall in the 2003 NHL entry draft. Mike Richards had his coming out part this season while registering 70 points in 67 contests. In 205 games played with the Flyers, Richards has registered 47 goals and 89 assists, which aren’t great offensive numbers, but Richards wasn’t projected to be a big time NHL scorer. Many experts consider Richards to be the second coming of Steve Yzerman, because of their great two-way ability. His 5’11” and 195 pound frame is certainly comparable to Stevie Y’s 5’11” and 185 physique. Yzerman’s offensive numbers were bolstered by an era of highly offensive hockey, so drawing a comparison of numbers isn’t fair on Richards. With young developing talent blossoming into talented offensive players in Philly, the future certainly looks bright for Richards next season.  

The final player that we’ll consider is another fellow Flyer, Jeff Carter, who was selected 13 slots ahead of fellow teammate Mike Richards in the 2003 NHL entry draft. Carter definitely has not yet blossomed into the highly touted offensive player that the Flyers were hoping for. In four seasons of junior hockey with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL, Carter registered 246 points in 236 contests, which does show that he has some offensive flare. In his first three years in the NHL, Carter has registered 65 goals and 62 assists in 219 contests for the Flyers. Carter would likely be most comparable to Jason Spezza of the Senators. Carter’s 6’3” and 200 pounds is strikingly similar to Spezza’s 6’3” 213 pounds. Spezza started the first three years of his NHL career with 166 points in 179 contests with the Senators, which is somewhat comparable to Carter’s 127 in 219 considering Carter didn’t have a two-time 50 goal scorer to wing for him. Spezza had an expedited spike in his development curve in his third year out, and Carter’s probably isn’t that far behind. Be sure to keep him in mind for next season’s fantasy hockey draft.”

That’s some great info.  I hope it will help you prepare for next year’s draft.  Be sure to stop by DobberHockey.com for more great hockey info.  Darryl Dobbs has a heck of a site over there. 

Tuesday, April 1st
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Vladimir Guerrero was the April Fool’s Day star at the plate.  He beat up the Twins going 3-4 with a run, a double, a walk and 3 RBI.  Also picking up three hits were Garrett Anderson, Howie Kendrick, Delmon Young, Brian Schneider, Troy Tulowitzki, Kevin Youkilis, Khalil Greene, Ichiro, and Andre Ethier.  Yuniesky Betancourt collected four hits. dice_k.jpg
On the mound Daisuke Matsuzaka had his second strong outing allowing one run on two hits in 6-2/3 innings.  He struck out 9 without walking a batter.  Jon Garland had a great debut for the Angels going 8 innings and allowing 1 run on six hits.  Chien-Meng Wang went 7 innings for the Yanks allowing just 2 runs.  Felix Hernandez allowed five hits and one unearned run in seven innings of work.  He struck out three.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

So I went to the Timberwolves game tonight.  I figured they would get blown out since they were playing Detroit, but I got a glimmer of hope when I noticed that Detroit basically waived the white flag by sitting out Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace.  It looked to be a cakewalk as the Wolves led by as many as 21 in the first half.  Randy Wittman allowed that lead to evaporate to five points without calling a timeout until he took one to draw up the last play of the half.  When your team is down big, your coach says just try to get it under ten before halftime.  Everybody knows that.  Everybody except Wittman I guess.  When a team is busy outscoring you by 16, maybe you should call a timeout at some point to stop the momentum.  I’m no Phil Jackson, but I think a timeout would have worked wonders for the Wolves.

The second blunder came in the 4th quarter.  I actually thought it was wise to pull Al Jefferson with 50 seconds or so remaining in the third quarter.  Use that time plus the intermission to rest him up for the fourth quarter push.  Good idea, right?  Yes, but you can’t wait until there’s less than six minutes to bring him back in.  He was the best player on the floor, despite Rodney Stuckey’s game-high 27, and he should have played more than 34 minutes, especially when you consider he wasn’t in foul trouble.  What’s worse is Detroit didn’t have an answer for him.  When they actually fed him the ball inside he was either highly effective (9 for 12 shooting) or he’d earn a trip to the foul line (8 of 11).  He finished with 26 points, but he should have had 40.  If his coach would have left him in and his teammates (Foye 6 for 14, Gomes 3 for 10, McCants 2 for 10) would have got him the ball in the post instead of throwing up jumpers, the Wolves would have been bragging about their five-game home winning streak.  As it stands, I’m left to talk about their mistakes.

I blame Kevin McHale and Glen Taylor for a lot of the problems here in Minnesota.  The players get some of the blame.  However, the bulk of the blame rest squarely on Randy Wittman’s shoulders.  I truly believe that if a timeout was called during the 2nd quarter run and Big Al wasn’t left to rot on the bench for more than half of the fourth quarter, the Wolves would have won.  Plain and simple.

 | Posted by | Categories: NBA |

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Photo courtesy of TSN Archives/Icon SMI

Jerry Koosman was suggested by Ark_Razor, a friend of mine from Sporting News.  Here are my findings. 

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Image courtesy of Icon SMI

The Numbers
527 Starts
3839.3 Innings (47th All-time)
222-208 (71st All-time)
.515 Winning %
3.36 ERA (League average 3.70)
1.259 WHIP
2556 Strikeouts (28th All-time)
140 Complete Games
33 Shutouts (87th All-time)
17 Saves

Playoffs: 7 Games, 6 Starts, 40.1 innings, 4-0, 3.79 ERA, 31 Ks

Awards
2 All-Star Appearances
Cy Young Votes in 2 Seasons
MVP Votes in 3Seasons

Top Ten Finishes
Wins - Five times
ERA – Six times
WHIP – Three times
Win-Loss % - Three times
Strikeouts – Eight times
Complete Games – Five times
Shutouts - Four times
Starts – Four times
Innings Pitched – Four times

I’m afraid that with Koosman we’re talking good-not great.  He racked up a lot of victories, but he was never one of the very best pitchers in the game.  He only won 20 games on two occasions.  The most strikeouts he had in a season was 200.  The highest he ever finished for Cy Young voting was 13th.  He never led the league in any major pitching category for a season.    He had an amazing World Series for the Miracle Mets, but it’s going to take a miracle to make me change my mind on Koosman.  I give him a little credit because he was born in Minnesota, but I can’t put him in.  I have no problem with Koosman in the Mets’ Hall of Fame.  That’s just as far as it goes.

References
Baseball Reference

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews
Tommy John
Buck O’Neill & Minnie Minoso
Jim Rice
Ted Simmons
Lee Smith
Jack Morris
Al Oliver
Steve Garvey
Jim Kaat
Pete Ro$e
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Dave Concepcion
Lou Whitaker
Alan Trammell
Ron Santo
Ron Guidry
Gil Hodges
Dave Parker
Tony Mullane
Keith Hernandez
Don Mattingly
Dwight Evans
Ralph Houk (Manager)
Jimmie Dykes (Player/Manager)
Charlie Grimm (Player/Manager)
Billy Martin (Player/Manager)
Harold Baines
Gene Mauch (Manager)
Whitey Herzog (Manager)
Tom Kelly (Manager)
Joe Carter
Rusty Staub
Gary Gaetti
Jimmy Ryan
George Van Haltren
Roger Maris
Lance Parrish
Mo Vaughn
Mark Grace
Dennis Martinez
Chuck Finley
Fred McGriff
Wes Parker
Steve Finley
Orlando Cepeda
Albert Belle
Willie Randolph
Graig Nettles
Luis Gonzalez
Lefty O’Doul
Rocky Colavito
Boog Powell

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

I’ve scoured the fantasy baskeball waiver wires to find gems so you don’t have to. 

G
Louis Williams  
- The Philly guard has been on a tear of late.  In his last three games he’s averaging 18.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.0 three-pointers per game while shooting 50% and 84.6% from the field and the line respectively.  He qualifies at PG & SG.

Sasha Vujacic 
- Sasha has been in a rhythm the last four games averaging 16.0 points, 2.5 boards, 1.8 dimes, 1.3 thefts, and 4.5 treys.  He’s shot 44% from the floor (43.9% from downtown) and 2-2 from the line (evidently he doesn’t drive much).  He also qualifies at PG & SG.

F
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Elton Brand
- He should return this week.  If nobody has him, it doesn’t hurt to snatch him up.  Even if you aren’t using him next week, at least you know your opponent can’t get him.  He’s a 20 & 10 guy when healthy and qualifies at PF & C. 

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Michael Finley
– I don’t know if he’s added gasoline to his Wheaties or he’s found the Fountain of Youth, but whatever it is Finley has been incredible the past four games.  He’s averaging 19.5 point, 4.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, and 1.8 three-pointers per game.  Perhaps he got Lasik surgery because he’s shooting 68.9% from the floor and 100% from the line.

C
Nick Collison
- Nick’s been playing solid ball over the past five games averaging 10.0 points, 12.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.4 steals, and 0.6 blocks while shooting 50% from the floor and 71.4% from the line.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: NBA | Tagged: Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Bin |

Sunday, March 30th
Xavier Nady was the top dog offensively on Opening Day.  The Pirate had four hits in seven at bats (.571)  Three of those four hits were for extra-bases (1 double, 2 HR).  He scored four runs and drove in four in a 12-11 win over Atlanta.  Nate McLouth, Freddy Sanchez, Ryan Doumit, Yunel Escobar, Mark Grudzielanek, Carlos Guillen, Kosuke Fukodome (some debut), Dioner Navarro, Jermaine Dye, Franklin Gutierrez, Rafael Furcal, Michael Young, Casey Kotchman, and Tadahito Iguchi each had three hits.  Jim Thome blasted two HRs.

Jake Peavy took top honors for pitcher hurling seven shutout innings in a win over Houston.  He struck out 4, and allowed only three hits.  He wasn’t perfect as he walked three batters, but a strong outing for the defending Cy Young champ.  Carlos Zambrano (0 runs, 5 Ks in 6.7 innings) and Ben Sheets (0 runs, 7 Ks in 6.3 innings) were locked up in a pitcher’s duel.  Brad Penny fired 6.7 scoreless innings with three Ks.  Johan Santana was great in his Mets’ debut.  He struck out 8 in seven innings allowing two runs on three hits and a pair of walks.

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

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Photo courtesy of TSN Archives/Icon SMI

Boog Powell was suggested by Favre_is_overrated_2007, a friend of mine from Sporting News.  Here are my findings. 

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Image courtesy of Icon SMI

The Numbers
2042 Games
6681 At Bats  
.266 Batting Average
889 Runs 
1776 Hits 
270 Doubles 
11 Triples
339 Home Runs (82nd All-time)
1187 RBI 
3085 Total Bases 

Playoffs:  33 games, 33 hits in 126 at bats, 17 runs, 4 doubles, 6 HRs, and 18 RBI.

Awards
1970 MVP
4 All-Star Appearances
MVP Votes in 6 Seasons

Top Ten Finishes
Batting Average – Three times
On-base % – Four times 
Slugging % - Five times (Led league in 1964)
OPS – Five times
Runs - Four times
Hits – Once
Doubles – Five times
Home Runs – Seven times
RBI – Seven times
Walks – Five times
Total Bases – Three times
Intentional Walks -Nine times
Extra-base  Hits – Three times
 
I’ll give him credit for a cool name.  He had some great seasons.  Four seasons he hit 35+ HRs (when 35 HRs were a big deal) and drove in 100+ in three years.  His finest stretch was 1969 & 1970 when he averaged .300, 36 HRs, 118 RBIs.  I’m afraid his highs weren’t enough to get him into Cooperstown.  He never scored 90 runs, he never had 170 hits, and while he displayed good HR power he never had 30 doubles.  While, I’d love to try his Boog’s BBQ, I can’t justify placing him in the Hall of Fame.

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References
Baseball Reference

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews
Tommy John
Buck O’Neill & Minnie Minoso
Jim Rice
Ted Simmons
Lee Smith
Jack Morris
Al Oliver
Steve Garvey
Jim Kaat
Pete Ro$e
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Dave Concepcion
Lou Whitaker
Alan Trammell
Ron Santo
Ron Guidry
Gil Hodges
Dave Parker
Tony Mullane
Keith Hernandez
Don Mattingly
Dwight Evans
Ralph Houk (Manager)
Jimmie Dykes (Player/Manager)
Charlie Grimm (Player/Manager)
Billy Martin (Player/Manager)
Harold Baines
Gene Mauch (Manager)
Whitey Herzog (Manager)
Tom Kelly (Manager)
Joe Carter
Rusty Staub
Gary Gaetti
Jimmy Ryan
George Van Haltren
Roger Maris
Lance Parrish
Mo Vaughn
Mark Grace
Dennis Martinez
Chuck Finley
Fred McGriff
Wes Parker
Steve Finley
Orlando Cepeda
Albert Belle
Willie Randolph
Graig Nettles
Luis Gonzalez
Lefty O’Doul
Rocky Colavito

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

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Photo courtesy of Shelly Castellano ICON SMI
(Photoshop work by Yours Truly – hence the amateur look)

Let’s see who’s killin’ it in the fantasy playoffs.

Guards
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Chris Paul
- Are you kidding me?  In his last four games he’s averaging 22.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 15.0 assists, 2.5 steals, 1.5 three-pointers, and only 1.3 turnovers per contest.  He shot 43.3% from the floor and 82.8% from the line. 

Jamal Crawford - Terrible team, incredible fantasy player.  In his last four contests he’s averaging 28.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.8 steals, and 4.0 three-pointers per game.  He’s shot 44.7% from the field and 82.1% from the line.

Forwards
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Josh Howard
- With Dirk out Howard has been asked to shoulder more of the scoring load.  He’s responded.  In his last three games he’s averaging 32.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.0 three-pointer per game while only turning the ball over an average of 1.7 times.  He’s shot 46.5% from the floor and 90.6% from the stripe.

Carlos Boozer - The fact that I basically traded him for Dwight Howard makes me want to become his last night, won’t keep him off this list.  In his past five games he’s averaging 27.2 points, 13.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steal, and 0.6 blocks per game.  He shot 60.9% from the floor and 80% from the line.

Centers
Troy Murphy -
  In his past four games the PF/C has averaged 19.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.5 block and 3.5 three-pointers per game.  He shot 50% from the field and 88.9% from the line.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: NBA |

Sunday, March 30th
Well, baseball kicked off in the states as the Washington Nationals opened Nationals Park with a victory over Atlanta.  The offensive hero was Ryan Zimmerman, whose 9th inning heroics (game-winning HR) stole the show.  For the game he was 1-4 with a run and a RBI (obviously).  Nobody had multiple hits from either team.  Chipper Jones had a HR for the Braves.

Although he didn’t get the win because his bullpen didn’t protect the 2-1 lead he left the with, Odalis Perez was great for Washington.  He went five innings allowing one run on four hits with a walk.  His ERA was 1.80 and his WHIP was 1.00.  Honorable mention goes to Tim Hudson who earned a no-decision while allowing two runs in seven innings on three hits.  His ERA was 2.57 with a WHIP of 0.43.  Niether dominated with Odalis only strking out a pair and Hudson stiking out three batters.  Saul Rivera pitched two solid innings and Jon Rauch earned the win.

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

cooperstown-chronicles.jpg
Photo courtesy of TSN Archives/Icon SMI

Rocky Colavito was suggested by Favre_is_overrated_2007, a friend of mine from Sporting News.  Here are my findings. 

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Image courtesy of Icon SMI – Shown with Yogi Berra.

The Numbers
1841 Games
6503 At Bats  
.266 Batting Average
971 Runs 
1730 Hits 
283 Doubles 
21 Triples
374 Home Runs (61st All-time)
1159 RBI 
3177 Total Bases 

Awards
6 All-Star Appearances
MVP Votes in 6 Seasons

Top Ten Finishes
Batting Average – Twice
On-base % – Five times 
Slugging % - Eight times (Led league in 1958)
OPS – Six times
Runs - Four times
Hits – Once
Doubles – Five times
Home Runs – Nine times (Led league in 1959)
RBI – Nine times (Led league in 1965)
Walks – Seven times (Led league in 1965)
Total Bases – Eight times (Led league in 1962 & 1965)
Intentional Walks -Four times
Extra-base  Hits – Eight times (Led league in 1958 & 1959)
Games – Six times (Led league in 1961 & 1965)
At Bats – Three times

Rocky certainly could hit the ball out of the park.  He had seven seasons with 30+ HRs, including five straight 35+ HR seasons (1958-1962).  He had 11 straight seasons of 20+ HRs.  He had over 100 RBI in six seasons.  Not exactly known for his defense, he finished the 1962 season without an error.  He was wildy popular with Cleveland fans.  If his career average was better, I wouldn’t be so hesitant to make a call.  I do believe he was one of the best players of his generation, which is something I use to determine Hall of Fame worthiness.  It’s not a slam dunk, but Rocky Colavito barely slides by in my book. 

References
Baseball Reference

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews
Tommy John
Buck O’Neill & Minnie Minoso
Jim Rice
Ted Simmons
Lee Smith
Jack Morris
Al Oliver
Steve Garvey
Jim Kaat
Pete Ro$e
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Dave Concepcion
Lou Whitaker
Alan Trammell
Ron Santo
Ron Guidry
Gil Hodges
Dave Parker
Tony Mullane
Keith Hernandez
Don Mattingly
Dwight Evans
Ralph Houk (Manager)
Jimmie Dykes (Player/Manager)
Charlie Grimm (Player/Manager)
Billy Martin (Player/Manager)
Harold Baines
Gene Mauch (Manager)
Whitey Herzog (Manager)
Tom Kelly (Manager)
Joe Carter
Rusty Staub
Gary Gaetti
Jimmy Ryan
George Van Haltren
Roger Maris
Lance Parrish
Mo Vaughn
Mark Grace
Dennis Martinez
Chuck Finley
Fred McGriff
Wes Parker
Steve Finley
Orlando Cepeda
Albert Belle
Willie Randolph
Graig Nettles
Luis Gonzalez
Lefty O’Doul

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

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