Antropov finished last season with a career high 59 points, including 28 goals.
Twenty eight goals!
Despite all this, he gets no love. He still cannot live down his reputation he built in Toronto as being a first-round bust.
Perhaps the reasoning behind the frustrations of Leafs’ fans is because Antropov was taken 10th overall in the 1998 entry draft ahead of the likes of Alex Tanguay (pick No. 12), Simon Gagne (22) and Scott Gomez (27).
He took a little longer to develop at the NHL level so the fans, media, and coaches grew impatient. Antropov became a scapegoat for 40+ years of Maple Leafs failure. He was the whipping boy of the franchise until he was run out of town.
While in Toronto, Antropov was my favorite Leaf. I saw potential in the player and a misunderstanding among the fanbase as to why he was continually scrutinized.
Contrary to how people thought of him on the ice, he was a leader in the community. He would occasionally spend his Sunday afternoons at the Pickering Flea Market and sign autographs and interact with fans—however many he had.
He was consistently on a local Ontario fishing show, FishTV (which I watch religiously on Saturday mornings). He even continued to be on the show after he was traded to New York.
This offseason, the Atlanta Thrashers signed Antropov to a four-year/$16 million deal. He was signed to center the top line which includes perennial 50 goal scorer Ilya Kovalchuk and budding sensation Bryan Little (31 goals last year).
I’m not strong in math, but basic arithmetic tells me that there is around 80 goals to be scored between those two wings. Somebody is going to have to set them up.
I am not saying that Antropov is going to have 80 assists, but he will surely have a lot more chances to set up goals in Atlanta than he did in Toronto or New York.
Antropov has also proven he can put the puck in the net as well. He had a career-high 28 goals last season and 26 the year before.
The question coming into camp is whether or not Antropov would be able to keep up with two dynamic skaters. I never like to put too much into preseason results, but Antropov has been clicking very well with his new linemates.
Last night versus the Carolina Hurricanes, Antropov had three assists including one on a goal by Little and one on the powerplay. It is evident that the Thrashers trust Antropov and are prepared to give him more ice time and responsibility.
Again, it is only preseason, but it is refreshing to see that Antropov is compatible as a Thrasher.
He is 29 years old, going into his 10th year in the league and has finally found his game. He is away from the hockey hubs and found a place in Atlanta. He will not face the pressures he faced in Toronto and gets an opportunity to play with a legitimate goal-scorer for the first time in his career. That alone makes him of fantasy significance.
Simply based on his reputation, he is surely to slip in your fantasy drafts.
I fearlessly forecast Nik Antropov will score 23 goals and record 42 assists for 65 points in a full season with Kovalchuk and Little (THN predicts – 72 games/30/35/65). Grab him in the late rounds as a depth center and you’re laughing your way to a good finish in your league.
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