There’s nothing like fantasy sports – the rush, the nostalgia and maybe most importantly, the bragging rights.
Hard to believe it but another fantasy hockey season has come and gone. It seems like just yesterday, we were prepping for drafts and getting set for another shot at fantasy glory. Now, it’s all over and we’re already chomping at the bit in anticipation for next season.
With the help of an astute panel of fantasy junkies/enthusiasts/pundits, it’s only right to show some love and a bit of disdain for the fantasy hockey season that was.
After all, the Silver 7even runs perfectly with our channel’s Silver Six awards which are being presented Monday.
Like every year, this season featured many astonishing storylines. From Carey Price’s injury problems to Patrick Kane’s world domination, it was surreal to see it all unfold.
SCOTT LAUGHLIN AWARD FOR FANTASY HOCKEY MVP
There was no doubt about it – the vote for this award was unanimous. Coming off an offseason that included a big-time off ice scandal, many wondered how Kane would fair. Well, the American wasted no time proving the naysayers wrong exploding for his best statistical NHL season to date. And so much for a Stanley Cup hangover too. The Buffalo native was a force bolting early into the number one fantasy rank – a spot he wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the year. His numbers were downright impeccable – it got to the point where you felt bad for opposing goalies. The 27-year-old was the only player to hit 100 points in the entire NHL. The asinine stat line: 46 goals – 60 assists – 106 points – +17 – 37 PPP – 9 GWG. The numbers don’t lie! He was the best player in the NHL and by a landslide.
Other Finalists – WSH Alex Ovechkin & DAL Jamie Benn
MICK KERN AWARD FOR TOP FANTASY GOALTENDER
Ben Bishop – G – Tampa Bay Lightning
Undoubtedly, several goaltenders were deserving of legitimate consideration here. The prognosis – the entire body of work landed Tampa’s #1 goalie this prestigious honour. While Capitals fans are already starting to tweet their discontent with this selection, just take a look at the numbers. They speak for themselves.
35 wins – 2.06 GAA – .926 SVP% – 6 Shutouts
Chances are that if you owned Bishop in your respective leagues, you had a very successful season. It is funny how things work out – this was supposed to be the year of Carey Price and we all know the story there. Bishop was in the top three of most of the major statistical categories. Wins aside due to Braden Holtby being from another planet (48 victories) – Bishop was the best goalie in the NHL this year. It will be interesting to see what Vezina Trophy voters think coming up in June in Las Vegas.
Other Finalists – CHI Corey Crawford & WSH Braden Holtby
PETER BERCE AWARD FOR TOP FANTASY DEFENSEMAN
Brent Burns – RW, D – San Jose Sharks
Again, this was another tough process to narrow it down. Consensus landed on Burns and how can you go wrong with the fourth ranked fantasy player this year? He’s not known as a great all-around defender but who cares when you’re producing at an insane pace. Burns channeled his inner Erik Karlsson this season – who by the way was certainly a frontrunner too.
27 goals – 48 assists – 75 points – 53 PIM – 30 PPP
As you can tell above, the 31-year-old brought it in so many different facets of the fantasy hockey spectrum. Nothing else to say – tremendous stuff with respect to this file.
Other Finalists – OTT Erik Karlsson & PIT Kris Letang
BRETT INNIS AWARD FOR TOP FANTASY ROOKIE & JAKE HAHN AWARD FOR BEST SLEEPER PICK
Artemi Panarin – LW – Chicago Blackhawks
While Panarin was definitely fortunate enough to play on a line with Patrick Kane for the majority of this season, it’s egregious to suggest Kane was the sole reason for Panarin’s brilliance. There’s no question it helped but the youngster was Chicago’s best player on many nights.
Hawks GM Stan Bowman continues to defy logic. They plucked Panarin from Russia and the transition turned out to be seamless. From his debut in the preseason, you can tell Chicago had something in this kid. It was supposed to be Connor McDavid’s year but his injury coupled with Panarin’s ridiculousness quickly changed the course of the rookie race.
The body of work was sensational.
30 goals – 47 assists – 77 points – +8 – 32 PIM – 24 PP – 7 GWG
On a nightly basis, the slick hands, uncanny speed and hockey IQ were on full display and had us all gushing. Many of you took him late in your drafts and it turned out to be the steal of the century.
TYLER MADARASZ AWARD FOR BREAKOUT FANTASY PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Evgeny Kuznetsov – C, LW – Washington Capitals
It wouldn’t be right if a single Capitals player didn’t take home one of our awards. Rightfully so – Kuznetsov was the undisputed winner here. We all saw his emergence in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs and he continued that hot play in this year’s festivities.
20 goals – 57 assists – 77 points – +27 – 18 PP – 4 GWG
Washington finally put things all together. They had the goaltending, strong defensive play and an offense like no other. The 2010 first round pick was an underrated piece of Washington’s puzzle. His elevated player has certainly helped take some of the load off Nick Backstrom.
Other Finalists – BOS Brad Marchand & CGY Johnny Gaudreau
JIM ‘BOOMER’ GORDON AWARD FOR BIGGEST BUST OF THE YEAR
Rick Nash – LW, RW – New York Rangers
After numerous attempts, I regret to inform you all that Boomer did not actually disclose to me his winner for the award named after him. Disappointing – I know but the positive news was that he did acknowledge that an award was named after him. It should also be noted that Phil Kessel was the clubhouse leader for this dubious honour but his strong finish put him just out of contention. Better luck next year!
Coming off a 42 goal season, it’s fair to state that there were unrealistic expectations for Nash this year. He was banged up for a portion of the season (missed 22 games) but when he was healthy, he wasn’t really producing at a rate we know he can.
15 goals – 21 assists – 36 points – +8 – 30 PIM – 69 hits
For a team that struggled for offense, the Rangers needed more from Nash and quite frankly, they didn’t get it. That being said, Nash’s all-round game was respectable. He could easily go off for 15 goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and his regular season mediocrity could all be forgotten.
Other Finalists – PIT Phil Kessel & TBL Tyler Johnson
All-in-all, it was another tremendous fantasy hockey season. I hope you all enjoyed reading my thoughts as much as I enjoyed bringing them to you. Can’t wait for next season – see you then!
As always, you can find me on twitter: @thegoldenmuzzy or on Ice Cap on Sirius XM NHL Network Radio – Channel 91