The Wire Troll: Tyler Bozak Paces Leafs
Welcome back to the world of Fantasy hockey! We hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday so far, and wish you another as we head towards New Year’s. If you haven’t already (who are we kidding, of course you have!), be sure to check out the U-20 World Junior Hockey Championship currently underway in Finland. It’s an exciting tournament with the very best of the world’s top hockey prospects and offers a wonderful glimpse as to what future Olympic teams might look like in coming years. That said, let’s get into this week’s picks, shall we?
Tyler Bozak, C, Toronto Maple Leafs (ESPN: 41.5 per cent; CBS: 38 per cent): We mentioned Bozak last month, but the big pivot continues to impress. The Maple Leafs are still far from playoff contention, but a booming crop of young blue chippers — and big campaigns from current players — are worth a smile these days at local Toronto area Timmies. Granted, that could also be because of a Double Double and some Timbits. We digress, and now we’re hungry.
When we last left Bozak, he was on pace for a career season with three goals, 12 points and a minus-2 rating in 17 games. Now with 29 under his belt, he’s got eight goals, 23 points and a plus-3 rating to go with eight penalty minutes and 49 shots on goal. That’s right — in a full 82-game season, Bozak is on pace for 65 points! Will he get there? No. But he sure is fun to watch right now, and it’s time for Fantasy GMs to jump on board before it’s too late.
In two games last week, Bozak was arguably one of the best players league-wide with three goals (see video below), four points, a plus-5 rating, seven shots on goal and four hits. If nothing else, he should at least beat his previous season high point total of 49.
Jason Chimera, LW, Washington Capitals (ESPN: 1.4 per cent; CBS: 11 per cent): At 36, Chimera is no spring chicken. Then again, neither is 43-year-old Florida Panthers stud Jaromir Jagr, but don’t tell either of them that. Chimera has 10 goals, 20 points, a minus-1 rating and eight penalty minutes this season, including a very impressive three goals, four points, a plus-4 rating, 10 shots on goal and four hits in three games last week. A brilliant complimentary player in the NHL, he’ll be the same for your Fantasy team.
Robby Fabbri, C/LW, St. Louis Blues (ESPN: 0.1 per cent; CBS: 16 per cent): Lost among the names of other immensely talented rookies, Fabbri has gained attention this past week with three goals, a plus-2 rating, and six shots on goal in three games played. His eight goals and 12 points has him in a five-way tie with injured Canadian wonder kid Connor McDavid, Danish dangler Nikolaj Ehlers, Swede Mattias Janmark and defenseman Colin Miller for 12th in the rookie point scoring race. Fabbri’s eight goals has him tied for seventh best with Janmark and 2014 second overall pick Sam Reinhart.
Teddy Purcell, RW, Edmonton Oilers (ESPN: 36.7 per cent; CBS: 31 per cent): Purcell has been on a bit of a tear recently, scoring four goals and 10 points in 11 games in December, with two goals, three points, a plus-2 rating, two penalty minutes, five shots and a blocked shot in two games last week. He’s on pace for an 18-goal, 52-point season with eight goals, 23 points, a minus-1 rating, six penalty minutes, four power play points, two game-winning goals and 77 shots on goal in 36 games so far.
Cam Ward, G, Carolina Hurricanes (ESPN: 34.1 per cent; CBS: 47 per cent): Ward’s numbers haven’t been pretty this season, but neither have they been for the rest of Carolina’s roster. That said, he’s been on a hot streak recently, collecting a win, a 1.53 goals against average and a .927 save percentage in two games last week. There’s nothing Ward and the ‘Canes would love more under the Christmas tree than a turn in fortunes. Is that what we’re beginning to see? It’s too early to tell, but we have to think his 11-10-2 record, 2.49 goals against average, .901 save percentage and one shutout will improve significantly by season’s end.
Fantasy Tip of the Week: If you participate in a Rotisserie-style Fantasy league, you know the struggle is real when it comes to staying competitive in all categories. You want players that are well balanced in all statistical categories. The problem starts in the first few weeks of the season if you begin to fall behind. Don’t just sit back and think you have all season for things to even out — fix it, and fix it now!
Unfortunately for us, our problem was goaltending and, while we were able to pick up a very reliable No. 1 option in St. Louis’ Jake Allen, finding a consistent No. 2 has proved problematic. As a result, we’re second-to-last in Wins (W) and Save Percentage (SV%), and third-to-last in Goals Against Average (GAA). It’s not easy to dig yourself out of a hole in a single category. That said, we suggest focusing on other statistical categories in which you might be able to have more success gaining ground.
For us, those other categories were Penalty Minutes (PIMs), Power Play Goals (PPGs) and Hits (HIT). Power play goals are a crap shoot, unfortunately. We’re third best in Goals (G), but third worst in PPG, which is something that might drive Mr. Spock crazy. However, PIMs and HIT can quickly be solved by sacrificing a bench spot that might normally be used for a skilled source of secondary offense for a less offensive grinder that might significantly boost you in the other various categories.
In our case, that less offensive grinder was Washington Capitals power forward Tom Wilson. He may have just two goals and 10 points in 34 games this season, but he instantly jumps in as the team’s best PIM and HIT contributor with 86 and 99, respectively. Jamie Benn is next on the team in both categories with 29 and 74, but also paces the team in scoring with 22 goals and 47 points in 36 games played.
We’re still looking for that reliable No. 2 goaltender, but the role-player experiment is under way, we’re confident it’ll work, and we’ll be sure to present the results once we accumulate a large enough sample size. We encourage you to take a similar leap of faith with your team this season. After all, it’s only Fantasy.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy hockey waiver wire pick of the week is.
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