With the NHL season just around the corner, NHLers have returned from their vacations and are hard at work at training camp. Fantasy hockey fans are also back to the grind, poring through forecasters, ranking their players and drafting in their fantasy leagues. As with most years, this season features some must-haves, some breakthrough players, some sleepers, and a few of those players are Canadiens. Although Montreal may lack players with the fantasy impact that the Ovechkins and Crosbys of the league possess, but there are some good options wearing the
bleu, blanc et rouge. Here are HabsWorld’s top fantasy hockey candidates for the 2010-2011 Montreal Canadiens:
Mike Cammalleri (LW) 2009-10 Totals: 65 GP – 26 Goals – 24 Assists – 50 Points
Cammalleri’s first season as a Hab was mildly disappointing from a fantasy perspective, as his 50 points represented a significant drop from the previous season’s 82 points. He posted impressive numbers up until he missed 17 games with a MCL injury, and struggled mightily upon his return. Cammalleri compensated for this in the playoffs, leading all scorers with 13 goals in just 19 games. When healthy, Cammalleri is a virtual lock for 80 points, but has missed significant chunks of time in 2 of the last 4 seasons.
2010-11 Projections: 72 GP – 37 Goals – 34 Assists – 71 Points
Tomas Plekanec (C) 2009-10 Totals: 82 GP – 25 Goals – 45 Assists – 70 Points
Plekanec was last season’s scoring leader for the Canadiens, and was richly rewarded with a 5-year contract as a result. A crucial member of the core, Plekanec’s best work doesn’t always show up on the score sheet or on the fantasy radar. Nevertheless, look for the turtle necked pivot to break the cycle of alternating good and bad seasons, and contribute significantly in the stats column.
2010-11 Projections: 79 GP – 21 Goals – 48 Assists – 69 Points
Scott Gomez (C) 2009-10 Totals: 78 GP – 12 Goals – 47 Assists – 59 Points
Gomez has contributed around 60 points in 3 of the last 4 seasons, and there isn’t anything to suggest that this season will end otherwise. That being said, his totals might be improved upon by having healthier wingers throughout the season, and having had a season to learn Jacques Martin’s system. If your fantasy league implements a salary cap, pass on this overpriced 2nd-line centre.
2010-11 Projections: 79 GP – 11 Goals – 52 Assists – 63 Points
Brian Gionta (RW) 2009-10 Totals: 61 GP – 28 Goals – 18 Assists – 46 Points
Look for the rumoured new captain of the Canadiens to rebound after an injury-filled season. Although Gionta is a long-shot to replicate his 48-goal total from 2005-06, he is likely to top his team-leading 28 goals from last year. Gionta’s fantasy value increases if there is a “Shots Taken” category; he led all Canadiens with 237 shots last year, despite missing 21 games.
2010-11 Projections: 75 GP – 34 Goals – 25 Assists – 59 Points
Andrei Markov (D) 2009-10 Totals: 45 GP – 6 Goals – 28 Assists – 34 Points
Markov’s luck was of the horrifically bad variety last season, as he missed significant time in the regular season and playoff from 2 different injuries. Having undergone surgery in the off-season, Markov’s return wasn’t originally slated until November at best. However, new reports indicate that the quiet Russian may return sooner, but nothing is for sure. What is certain is that when Markov is healthy, he is an elite fantasy contributor and should be drafted as such.
2010-11 Projections: 68 GP – 11 Goals – 43 Assists – 54 Points
Andrei Kostitsyn (LW) 2009-10 Totals: 59 GP – 15 Goals – 18 Assists – 33 Points
Kostitsyn’s underwhelming 2009-10 season can likely be attributed to a) missing 23 games to injury, and b) his younger brother’s shenanigans. With any luck, the former won’t be a factor while the latter is suiting up in Nashville. Look for Andrei to return to his 20-goal scoring ways as he lines up as a top-6 forward.
2010-11 Projections: 76 GP – 26 Goals – 24 Assists – 50 Points
PK Subban (D) 2009-10 Totals: 2 GP – 0 Goals – 2 Assists – 2 Points
Is it too early to expect great things from this rookie? Called up in last season’s playoff march, Subban did little to disappoint, and one was left with the impression that his 8 points in 14 games was just the beginning of something special. PK won’t be expected to make an elite impact this season, and he will undoubtedly experience some inconsistencies in his first full year in the NHL. Nevertheless, it’s not too early to expect a significant fantasy contribution from the young defenseman as he contends for the Calder trophy.
2010-11 Projections: 81 GP – 12 Goals – 32 Assists – 44 Points
Benoit Pouliot (LW) 2009-10 Totals: 53 GP – 17 Goals – 11 Assists – 28 Points
Pouliot had his fair share of ups and downs last season, but will have to demonstrate more consistency this year if he is going to keep his spot in the top-6. Pouliot was reportedly worn down by the bigger minutes that he received in Montreal, and has worked hard over the summer to pack on some muscle. Perhaps the added bulk will add to the flashes of brilliance that Pouliot showed at times last year as he skated with Gionta and Gomez. Pouliot’s fantasy value is contingent on him remaining off the 4th line, where he was demoted to last spring.
2010-11 Projections: 72 GP – 22 Goals – 17 Assists – 39 Points
Lars Eller (C/LW) 2009-10 Totals: 7 GP – 2 Goals – 0 Assists – 2 Points
Named to the AHL All-rookie last season, many are looking forward to seeing this young Dane play his first season for the Habs. Granted, most are looking to see if he was worth the trade for Jaroslav Halak, but Eller’s history suggests fantasy value, albeit perhaps not this year. Eller’s value will increase exponentially if he moves from the 3rd line centre position to the 2nd line wing.
2010-11 Projections: 74 GP – 12 Goals – 19 Assists – 31 Points
Jaroslav Spacek (D) 2009-10 Totals: 74 GP – 3 Goals – 18 Assists – 21 Points
Spacek appeared to lose a few steps last season, but proved invaluable in the playoffs. If his minutes are managed well, the Canadiens can expect “Spaceman” to have a decent impact statistically, especially on the power play. Spacek’s glory days are behind him, but he’s got some decent miles left in him…
and at 36 years of age, health is an issue. But if your fantasy league includes a “Perfectly Timed Dive to Break Up a Cross-Crease Pass” category, make sure you draft this crafty Czech.
2010-11 Projections: 72 GP – 7 Goals – 23 Assists – 30 Points
Carey Price (G) 2009-10 Totals: 41 GP – 13 Wins – 2.77 GAA – .912 SV% – 0 Shutouts
It goes without saying that Price must improve upon his totals from last year if the Canadiens are going to meet with any success this season. And although Price won’t be confused with Roberto Luongo or Martin Brodeur, he will definitely see the lion’s share of starts this year, and his fantasy value will jump up as a result. With some goal support, Carey will chalk up a few more wins this year, and the Habs’ tendency to allow many low-percentage shots will boost his save percentage.
2010-11 Projections: 62 GP – 33 Wins – 2.56 GAA – .915 SV% – 3 Shutouts
Best of luck with your drafts!
Written by Matt Dilworth