With 19 goals and 34 points this season, Steven Stamkos has been the most valuable fantasy player during the first quarter of the season. The question to think about for next season is whether Stamkos has earned the right to be discussed alongside Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby as fantasy hockey’s top players. As well, does being a first overall pick mean that a player is guaranteed future success?
With 19 goals in 20 games, Stamkos has the opportunity to be the first player since Brett Hull to score 50 goals in 50 games. The question on many people’s minds is will he do it? Scott Cullen’s article last week on TSN got me thinking about what Stamkos’ upside would be, so I’m going to answer his question in my article.
Currently, Stamkos’ shooting percentage (SH%) sits at 25.3 percent, which is fourth-highest in the league. Does Stamkos normally shoot with that kind of amazing accuracy? Including this season, his career shooting percentage sits at 16.8 percent, including 17.2 percent last season and 12.7 percent in his rookie year, when he struggled to score for most of the season. I compare the shooting percentage stat to the BABIP (batting average on balls in play), which indicates whether a player’s sudden improvement or decline is due to bad luck (pucks or balls not falling where they should) or other factors (the percentage would remain consistent).
As I mentioned on Twitter a few days ago, I’ve projected Stamkos to score 60 goals this season. Others on Twitter were even more optimistic in mentioning that he could reach 65 or even 70 this season. However, keep in mind that this generation’s top goal scorer, Alex Ovechkin, has reached 60 goals only once in his career, and he never played during the dead puck era.
For more on shooting percentage from Cullen, you can read his follow-up article this week on TSN, including an additional explanation of the comparison of SH% to BABIP. Check out some of the names on the list – they might make great sell-high candidates.
Changing gears, here are the first overall picks of the last ten seasons:
On this list of players, we have the two most elite names in hockey today: Crosby and Ovechkin. Then we have several players that we could consider legitimate stars: Kovalchuk, Nash, and Kane. It could be argued that Fleury is also in that category and that as a defenseman, Johnson will be in that category one day.
Keep in mind that for every Crosby, there is major bust such as Patrick Stefan (1999 first overall pick). As well, for every Ovechkin, there is a Rick DiPietro (2000 first overall pick), who is widely considered a bust by everyone not named Snow or Wang residing on Long Island. Before you think that first overall busts might be a common occurrence, consider the two previous picks in 1997 (Joe Thornton) and 1998 (Vincent Lecavalier). (Although if you went back to the 1980s, you could say that for every Mario Lemieux, there is a Brian Lawton.)
I’d like to apply this theory the fantasy value of Tavares and Hall. The two most recent first overall picks might not dominate this season (17 GP, 11 pts, -15 for Tavares; 19 GP, 9 pts, -8 for Hall), but you need to hang onto them like a big bag of gold in keeper leagues. Much of Tavares’ and Hall’s lack of overall fantasy value stems from the teams they play for, which is reflected in their plus/minus ratings. With their young talent, the Oilers should be a playoff team in 2-3 seasons; but the Islanders, well… let’s just hope they’re still on Long Island in 2-3 seasons. Don’t forget that the Isles are missing two key players (Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo) due to injury, and they will no doubt be able to stockpile high draft picks for the next few seasons. That’s why it always puzzles me that GM Garth Snow trades down in the draft – he’s willing to trade an elite-level pick for one that is simply pretty good (ie. Josh Bailey).
For the reasons mentioned above, I’ll be watching the 2011 draft with great interest. If you’d like to find out more about one of the names vying for first overall, check out my previous article on prospect that I saw play recently.
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