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Hockey This Week

Fantasy Report! It’s My Hockey World Fantasy….then they went THUD! By Chris Wassel

Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

It’s My Hockey World Fantasy….then they went THUD!

Have your ever had the feeling when you watched a player go to a marquis team with all of the expectations in the world only to just completely flop? It was like one could see this coming from a mile away. There are different angles to look at as far as the fantasy hockey world. The goal of this column will be to present this format in a straight forward way. Every week or sometimes more often, we will strike a nerve on a fantasy hockey or hockey topic that has NHL fans engaged.

The only way we could make a debut on Hockey This Week was to make some incredible splash. Occasionally, there will be some New Jersey Devils topics mixed in but again it will be mostly on the trials and tribulations of fantasy hockey.

Free agents that signed with New York area teams are the focus this week but these are the ones that had such promise and then went careening out of control. Granted, there were some circumstances that played a role in these “downturns” but the fact remains that these were some of the most spectacular of failures. Based on the area, we looked at the three area teams (Rangers, Devils, and Isles). Again keep in mind, these are signings from the UFA market and not players that were resigned. That is an important distinction in all of this.

These were the four that were hand picked. This will face some heavy scrutiny but it will make for a spirited debate anyway. Now here is our feature presentation.

Hockey This Week

Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman US PRESSWIRE

Bobby Holik — Center — New York Rangers

Contract: 5 years, $45 million

What else can be said? It really was not Holik’s fault as there was no way he was worth $9 million a year in any realm. Yet Glenn Sather paid him. It would not be the only mistake for Sather on this list but some considered this to be the apex of the spending excess. Granted Holik was a 6’4”, 230 pound monster, but here was a guy who never broke 30 goals in any season. This was a player who never managed more than 65 points in a year also. There were just too many warning signs and this was a contract given to a 32 year old player.

Although 91 points in two seasons was not bad, it just was not good enough for the Rangers. The 35 point season in 64 games for a debut was just not what New York was expecting. They wanted more for their money but it was a case where the fantasy was never going to meet reality. Even Holik owners figured out quickly that he was a “system player”. When his contract was bought out, he wound up with the Atlanta Thrashers post lockout. That in itself was a huge problem. The points dropped to the 30’s and he just became less and less fantasy relevant. Basically his career was made as an “interchangeable part” and it ended with a whimper.

Wade Redden — Defense — New York Rangers

Contract: 6 years, $39 million

The downturn was clear and evident and as cold as it is to say, sometimes the heart goes away and when Wade Redden’s mother died, he just was not quite the same player. Some of his production and inflated numbers had to do with Zdeno Chara but the reality is when the heart goes, sometimes the regression accelerates. Redeen did not have much in the way of success in New York and the writing on the wall was established well before the final nail (or demotion). Some will say Ottawa’s two year deal with Redden was worse because Zdeno Chara wound up in Boston and the rest was history. However he was coming off a 50 point season, a +35, and everything looked solid on the surface.

The two seasons in Ottawa during that deal had one good one and one where the writing was on the wall there. Ottawa wanted to trade Redden, he said no, and basically the deed was done. The defenseman was going somewhere else after the 2007-08 season and it was thought when he signed with the Rangers that he was overpaid but could still at least produce somewhat fantasy wise. No one knew just how wrong everyone was. The point totals dropped and defensively Redden had lost a couple steps. He was prideful as he was “buried” in Hartford to start the 2010-11 season where he has become Captain of the now Connecticut Whale. Fantasy wise it may be one of the worst contracts in the history of the modern era of the NHL.

Brian Rolston — Left Wing — NJ Devils

Contract: 4 years, $20 million

Rolston had experienced a career resurgence in Minnesota under Jacques Lemaire and had come highly recommended. Also, Rolston did have a pretty good run with New Jersey the first time around so when he signed this 35+ deal, the only concerns were the fourth year. The red flags should have gone up sooner perhaps. The 96 goals in three seasons in Minnesota evaporated quickly into the New Jersey night as he never topped 40 points in his three years with the Devils.

It was clear that his role with New Jersey was never really well defined but his shot was just not used enough. Yes, he would go on nice runs in the second halves of each of the last two seasons but that did little for fantasy owners who were hoping for just that little more. His buyout and trade to the Islanders was seen as the beginning of the end as he languished with nine points in 49 games before being traded again (2nd time he played for three teams in a season) to Boston. In Boston, he had some success with 15 points in 21 games but Boston has not resigned him which leads many to believe he could play one more year or retire.

However, his value had started to drop a hair even in Minnesota and New Jersey should have seen this coming. Hindsight is often 20/20 but the performance did not come anywhere near the pay.

Scott Gomez — Center — NY Rangers

Contract: 7 years, $51.5 million

This along with the Chris Drury signing was a colossal bust but Gomez had more offensive expectations than Drury did to be blunt. While Gomez had seasons of 70.58, and 59 points, there was a sense that a bigger decline was coming. That would happen with the Montreal Canadiens but there was a feeling where Gomez would or should have been a consistent point a game player (or close). The talent was assembled and the lines were set perfect for the talented Center.

Unfortunately for Gomez owners, the bright lights and big city were more or less a disaster by the end. Defensively, Gomez had regressed also. That was an even bigger problem. He was not the little agitator err gritty player he once was. Gomez had become soft. Fantasy owners had hoped in Montreal with Brian Gionta that maybe it would be a spark for Gomez but then the Center went a calendar year plus a few days without scoring. The reality is when he left New Jersey, Scott Gomez was not the same player, period!

The problem with limiting this to players who signs in different locales is the simple fact that we also clipped off those bad deals like the Rick DiPietro contract. This is because obviously DiPietro resigned with the New York Islanders.

In the coming weeks and months, we will provide more in the way of fantasy hockey talk and some New Jersey Devils talk also. Stay tuned.

Chris Wassel
Hockey This Week

Follow Chris on Twitter @TheProgramBTR

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