As Montreal’s most consistent point-producer, the pressure remains on Tomas
Plekanec to lead the way in scoring. A gifted playmaker, Plekanec’s skills
lie in setting up his teammates, but he is no stranger to putting the puck in
the net himself. It’s practically a given that Plekanec will be among
Montreal’s top scorers as their number one; the question is, will he take the
next step and place among the league’s elite?
Plekanec demonstrated a significant dip in production after recording a
career-best 70 points the year prior. Nevertheless, his 57 points were
good for first on the low-scoring Canadiens, despite him missing a career-high 5
games to injury and illness. As it has been his tendency, Plekanec
struggled in the latter part of the season, recording only 13 points in the last
22 regular-season games.
Season Stats: 77 GP, 22 goals, 35 assists, +8, 30 PIM, 3 PPG, 16 PPA,
1 SHG, 4 GWG, 227 shots, 20:14 TOI
Barring any shocking roster changes, it will be Plekanec earning big minutes
in all situations. However, with the loss of defensive centre Jeff
Halpern, it is expected that Plekanec will be playing additional defensive
minutes unless an internal option (e.g., Andreas Engqvist) fills that role; as a
result, his offensive minutes will suffer. Early speculation has Plekanec
centering Mike Cammalleri and Erik Cole, which should ease some of the pressure
off of him, and merit a slight uptick in 5-on-5 production.
All things considered, Plekanec should be able to improve upon last year’s
totals. A healthy Andrei Markov, the continued progression of P.K. Subban
and/or Max Pacioretty, and the acquisition of Cole should all help Plekanec’s
numbers at even-strength and on the powerplay. The real question is how
many tough minutes Plekanec will be forced to play, and how much that will prove
detriment to his scoring opportunities. While I project him to improve
upon his 2010-11 numbers, there are likely many more potent centers to be had in
your fantasy league. In most leagues, slotting Plekanec anywhere higher
than your #3 centre will be setting yourself up for disappointment.
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