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Numbers Game: Looking Down

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Briere wil have a new role in Philly, so beware.
Briere wil have a new role in Philly, so beware.

            With the more intriguing part of what little "advice" I have for you great followers of Fantasy Hockey Scouts, its time to take a look at those players who may be on the way down next season.

For some reason it's always a bit harder to call out the ones that will fall before a season, usually because their previous season was celebrated. Age plays a big role in my mind, as you can see with PPG trends over a career. Along with this, unusually high shooting percentages that lead to high PDO (combination of on-ice shooting and save %) is a useful way to be suspicious of a player. The context behind all of this? New player roles. If a player gets traded to a new team after a good year or is expected to step up next season to a new (usually more difficult) role, one should always be skeptical as to whether they can be successful. An absolute golden example would be from my beloved Rangers, Chris Drury. Chris Drury did great in Buffalo because he played with quality teammates whom he supported, not led, while on the ice (despite wearing the C on his chest). When he came to the Rangers and was expected to continue the same scoring pace, it was destined for failure from the start.

            So follow me after the jump for a few names to at least think about going forward.

  • Daniel Briere

To prove I actually believe in my own stuff, here is the deal I just made in my dynasty keeper league regarding Briere, who I picked up originally for Steve Ott (after his big year in 08/09), a 3rd, and a 5th:

To Him: (F) Daniel Briere, NYS 4th 2012

To Me: (F) Antoine Vermette, (F) Tomas Fleischmann, (D) Julian Melchiori

Could Briere outscore both Vermette and Fleischmann next season? Maybe. But in my mind he won't do as well as last season, and plus I think the points combined by Vermette and Fleischmann will surpass a single Briere.

I made that deal on July 17th, and my conformation of my thought process with Briere came from the always-great Kent Wilson, who looked at the crazy Flyers offseason over at Puck Prospectus (a must read). Mr. Wilson says it better than I could:

Daniel Briere has put up nice numbers as Flyer, but he's been one of the most sheltered players on the team thanks to the work of Richards et al. If he moves up the rotation and is forced to play a more two-way role against better opposition, there's a good chance his counting numbers (and therefore GVT) will suffer.

The Flyers will still make the playoffs this season (thanks to much improved goaltending), but Briere's output has a good chance of dropping, so beware.

  • Dany Heatley

The Wild needed scoring help, so they went out and dealt for Heatley; problem solved, right? Maybe, but I'll be surprised. As Heatley is being relied on more and more as a veteran (i.e. playing tougher competition and starting in his own zone more often), all of his corsi measures have dropped along with his points produced over 60 minutes of play. In going to the Wild, he will not nearly have the support system he had in San Jose, with Thornton, Marleau, Couture, et al. Does this sound like Chris Drury, anyone?

To make things worse, while Heatley is still a great Power-Play guy, he is just pedestrian at 5-on-5 hockey; and that's exactly where the Wild need help. Kent Wilson also tipped me off to this one, in this great article for Houses of the Hockey.

One wild-card to this situation? Pierre-Marc Bouchard; who I'm a huge fan of because he's still a bit under-the-radar from his year missed because of a concussion. I still think he should have won the Bill Masterton award.

  • Brad Richards

Being a Rangers fan, I was worried about two issues regarding Richards: cap hit and years. Cap hit worked out, years are a stretch in my opinion. Will Richards succeed like so many think he can in NY? I'm not sure, because with all the oppurunity there are small warning signs; but in the end I think he'll play alright but not over the 1.0 PPG mark  he has been at the past two season.

George over at Blueshirt Banter pissed on the parade of the typical Rangers fans that get all hyped up over July 1st and don't think about any of the negatives; and he did a wonderful job doing so. Despite the offensive potential, Richards corsi numbers have been dropping over the years even while being put into a more offensive role. Couple this with a high PDO last season (which always regresses over a career) and I'm worried because simply put: Richards usually doesn't lead a line, he supports it. So, as much as Richards makes his line mates better, it'll be up to Gaborik and whoever ends up on his left wing to really lead the way (which is why I'm pushing for Dubinsky).

So the warning here is this: while Richards still has great fantasy value, don't bank on him going to higher heights with the Rangers.

So let's hear it in the comments and look for some under-the-radar prospects come Monday.