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Today our blogging team expert is Carlos Figueiredo from Speaking Of The Devils. Carlos is another repeat offender that we featured last year in this space and his big breakout pick, David Clarkson, was looking good until his leg broke... and as you'll see below he's still got a real affinity for Clarkson. We asked Carlos nine fantasy relevant questions about the Devils and the NHL in general. Follow the jump to read his answers...
by Carlos Figueiredo, Speaking Of The Devils
Q1) Devils Breakout of the Year?
This may sound a bit familiar, but I will once again pick David Clarkson to have a breakout year.
He was well on his way last year, but then he fractured a bone just above his ankle in November, and missed 13 games. He returned for two games, then missed another 23 games with a "lower body injury."
In the 19 games before getting hurt, he scored seven goals and added eight assists. He also added 31 penalty minutes and two of his goals were on the power-play.
Clarkson ended the season having played in only 46 games. After his early season outburst, he finished with only 24 points and threw in 85 PIMs for good measure.
While the start he got off to last season might not be something to expect for a full season, it is definitely something that he’s capable of. He skates hard, hits hard, and never seems to take a shift off.
If he can get a full season in, with some time on the power-play, he will be a player that not only leads the team in penalty minutes, but contributes 15-20 goals and can reach 50 points.
If it doesn't happen this year, I promise I'll change it up a bit next year.
I think Jacob Josefson, last year's first round draft pick, has a shot at surprising some people.
He could end up centering the third-line with Clarkson on one side and either Dainius Zubrus or Brian Rolston as his other winger.
It might be a bit much to expect a 19 year old to have a breakout while centering a third line, but he's looked good in camp, and should get a long look at the start of the season.
Q3) Breakdown Player on the Devils?
I read the fine print and nothing said I couldn't pick the same player in two different categories.. so I'm picking Clarkson.
The thing that makes Clarkson a tremendous player is the same thing that could cause him to have an off season. He plays every game with such a high intensity (even in the pre-season), that it could lead to injuries, or being thrown off him game. Luckily, he only faces Sean Avery six times during the regular season.
Players who play every game, every shift, with such high emotion sometimes tend to go into extended slumps.
As far as fantasy goes, I'd certainly draft Clarkson and expect a breakout type year, but would also keep a close eye on recent trends and wouldn't be surprised if he went stretches of the season where he didn't put up numbers.
Q4) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
I don't know how much of a breakout it would be, considering his numbers jumped across the board last season, but I think Jakub Voráček of the Columbus Blue Jackets can make an even bigger leap this year.
He is entering his third full year in the NHL and is still only 21 years old. His goals went from nine in '08-'09 to 16 last season, and his point total jumped 12 points from 38 to 50.
I think another 15-20 point jump could be expected. A 25 goal, 45 assist season wouldn't shock me.
Q5) Who are your First Five Picks in a Fantasy Draft?
Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Ilya Kovalchuk (shocking!), Steve Stamkos & Henrik Sedin.
Q6) Best Value for Money Fantasy Goalie?
You can't go wrong with the only goalie in the league who had a GAA of under 2.00 (1.97) and a save percentage over .930 (.931).
He's still only 23 years old, and considering the Maple Leafs traded him away, you know he's going to be a good player.
Now if only he would add on a few pounds. 6'2", 185 pounds soaking wet just doesn't look right for a goalie.
Q7) Taylor or Tyler?
Short term (this season): Tyler. He'll have the better team around him.
Long term: Taylor.
Would it shock you if I picked The Devils? No? Good.
It might be just a little tiny bit of a homer pick, but I think with the much improved defense, and Kovalchuk for a full year, the Devils have a real chance at making a run this year.
I also believe in "stories" surrounding the Stanley Cup Champions. Last year, the Hossa curse ended. The year before that, we had the Hossa curse and a year earlier, the Hossa curse. What better/worse story is there this year than the whole Kovalchuk signing, and how fitting would it be if the Devils made the finals?
Fine... I'll also pick the Sharks in the west and the Caps out of the east.
BONUS) What position is Ilya Kovalchuk going to play this year... L1 RW or L2 LW???
The way the line has played in the pre-season so far, it's clear he'll be on the top line at RW to start the season. However, considering he seems to take eight minute shifts, he should be out there with everyone else on the team at some point during most games.
Big ups to Carlos and make sure you check out his fine work over at Speaking Of The Devils.