Players go through slumps in every sport during a regular season. In baseball, Joe Carter was notorious for his long droughts between home runs. The Flames’ Jarome Iginla, who has recorded ten straight seasons with 30 goals, went seven games last year without a goal, and started this season off without one in the first six games.
Rarely do you see goal-scorers go longer than ten games without a goal, let alone to start a season. The main reason this is such a topic of discussion these days both around hockey and in the fantasy world is simple. Never will a slump be more magnified than when it’s at the beginning of a season, it’s the worst case scenario for any player, and more importantly, any fantasy owner.
I bring to you the case of the Maple Leafs’ Phil Kessel.
Fantasy owners drafted him expecting goals, and to date, all they’ve received are six assists and a whole ton of shots, 42 to be precise. Last season, Kessel scored a career-high 37 goals in 82 games, after a 32 goal campaign in 2010-11. Those two seasons did however come with scoring slumps, with his longest goal-less stretch last year lasting only five games from February 9th through February 18th. Incredibly, in the 2010-11 season, Kessel went 14 games without a goal between January 13th and February 12th. It was talked about throughout the hockey world, but it would have been a bigger issue if it was to start the year. Over that stretch, he recorded five assists and 58 shots before finally breaking out of the slump with a two goal effort against the Bruins on February 15th.
One trend to key in on throughout the slump is important for fantasy owners. He went on to score 13 goals in the final 26 games after the 14 game slide. So we can expect that to happen again this year, right? What I’m saying is, there’s a chance!
Goal scorers just don’t stop scoring, that’s why it’s the perfect time to buy Kessel on the low. Plain and simple, it’s time to put together a package to acquire Kessel in your pool.
Owners of Kessel are looking for goals, so here are a few players you might trade in a deal for him. Keep in mind in my composite rankings before the season started, Kessel was ranked 6th in right wingers behind Corey Perry, James Neal, Tyler Seguin, Patrick Sharp and Marian Gaborik.
Blackhawks RW Marian Hossa: Scored 29 goals last season and is off to a quick start with six. I’m thinking Kessel should outscore him the rest of the way, and he will record more shots along the way as well, if that stat counts in your pool.
Stats: 6 goals, 4 assists, +4, 31 shots
Devils RW David Clarkson: After just 12 goals in 2010-11, Clarkson went on to record his first 30 goal season in 2011-12. His hot start will likely be accompanied by a slow stretch soon.
Stats: 7 goals, 5 assists, +2, 38 shots
Blues RW Vladimir Tarasenko: Alert! If you’re in a keeper league, DON’T TRADE HIM, but it may be worth trying to trade him straight up for Kessel. You’ve already recorded 10 points off the Calder hopeful, but he only has one goal in his last five games.
Stats: 5 goals, 5 assists, +5, 28 shots
Stars RW Loui Eriksson: The former 2nd round pick of the Stars in 2003 is off to a slow start (3 goals in 11 games) but is still a big enough name for another owner to bit on.
Stats: 3 goals, 2 assists, -3, 18 shots
A look back!
Kessel’s last goal for the Maple Leafs came back on March 31st, 2012, when he scored on the power-play against Ryan Miller and the Sabres.
If you any fantasy questions this season, let me know in the comment section, and good luck this week.