Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Leafs Fantasy Update: Buy Low Sell High

For all my fellow poolies out there the fantasy hockey season is in full swing. With teams and players alike starting to establish themselves as pretenders and contenders, now is probably a good time to take a hard look at both your fantasy roster, and the other teams in your pool.

Once the draft ends, the only real way to improve your team is through astute waiver pickups and crafty trades. The key to winning any trade is to know when it’s appropriate to buy low, and when the time is right to sell high. Through this method you can ensure you're always getting the best value in any transaction. The trick, of course, is understanding when is the perfect time to buy and sell on your players. It’s far from an exact science, but through good research and watching a lot of hockey (I recommend ordering NHL center ice, best 30 bucks a month I’ve ever spent) you can put yourself, and your fantasy team in a position to succeed.

Thankfully, when it comes to Leafs players you have your friends at Blue Chip Prospects to update you on their fantasy value, and when to buy or sell.

Jonas Gustavsson

Affectionately known as “The Monster”, Jonas has been steady so far this season, sporting a 2.85 GAA and a .902 save percentage. Due to the recent losing streak the club was mired in his win total sits at a less than stellar 2. With J.S. Giguere leaving Tuesday's game with an apparent groin strain, the door may be open for Gustavsson to string together a few starts in a row. While it’s tough to know exactly what Jonas is from a fantasy perspective, given the small sample size from last year and a few games this season, it’s clear he has talent. His size, net presence, and lateral movement make him intimidating to opposing shooters. There have been flashes of brilliance during his tenure with the buds that make you think there could be a top 10 fantasy goalie in him one day. Right now Gustavsson is likely viewed as a mediocre platoon goalie in your pool, however, if he can put together a good stretch of games while Giggy is out, Ron Wilson may give the youngster the lion’s share of the starts through Christmas. Allowing Gustavsson’s fantasy value to move closer to that of a full time starter as the season moves along.

Prognosis: Buy! Buy! Buy! At some point this season the Leafs management will want to see what they have in Gustavsson and determine if he is indeed the long term answer between the pipes. Don’t expect a ton of wins, but if he can get the majority of the starts he has value as a number 3 starter in your league – take a chance on him.

Phil Kessel

Let me start by saying Phil Kessel is a tremendous talent, an absolute thrill to watch and the most electric Leaf scorer we’ve had since Alexander Mogilny. BUT, he can be one of the most frustrating players to own in fantasy hockey. I had him for parts of last year and battled through the roller coaster of stretches with 7 goals in 7 games, and 1 point in 11. It’s probably an understatement to call him “streaky”. With only 3 points in his last 9 games this season is clear Phil has gone a bit cold. However, he is just too good, and that wrist shot is just too deadly for him to remain snake-bitten for long. When he is on his game Kessel is a top 20 player who can give you goals, PPP, and a ton of shots for weeks at a time.

Prognosis: Buy! Buy! Buy! With his recent string of bad games its likely his fantasy GM is starting to get restless. Throw out a feeler offer and gauge the response from the GM. If he seems interested in dealing try to scoop up Kessel at less than market value. You’ll reap the rewards as Phil is sure to heat up very soon.

Tomas Kaberle

While scoring goals has never been Kaberle’s strength, zero through 17 games has to be a little bit alarming to his fantasy owners. He is sporting a plus 2 rating in the plus minus column, no easy feat considering the number of losses the Leafs have endured of late. His 9 assists are also nice, coming in at a clip a little better than 0.5 per game. However, as per usual he is not shooting the puck at all and is yet to take even one penalty this season. The hard reality with Kaberle is that there are likely better options at D on your waiver wire that will help fill out 4 or 5 stat categories more consistently than Tomas, even if it means you have to sacrifice a few assists. That said, Kaberle still has some fantasy value given his great seasons in the past, and the name recognition he has with most fantasy GMs based out of Toronto.

Prognosis: Sell! Sell! Sell! The Leafs' goal scoring woes don’t seem to be going anywhere, which means Kaberle is likely a 40-45 point man this season. Not bad overall totals, but certainly not worth the commitment with the lack of peripheral stats he offers. If you own Tomas in your pool send out a few offers to other GMs and see if you can snag a depth forward for him – then pick up a D man off the wire. Players you might be able to get in a straight up one for one swap would be Daivd Backes or David Booth.

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