NHL Fantasy Hockey Focus: The Freshmen

Matt SitkoffCorrespondent INovember 2, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 22:  James van Riemsdyk #21 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Boston Bruins on October 22, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers won the game 4-3 after a shootout.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

It is hard transition from coming right out of college and going right to the work force, go from partying all night with your friends to being responsible for the excel spreadsheet or coffee to be on your bosses desk.

This week I will be looking at how some NHL rookies have transitioned into the league and their fantasy value.


Michael Del Zotto, Rangers D

The 20th overall selection in the 2008 NHL entry draft surprisingly made the Rangers out of camp and has been a pleasant surprise for Fantasy owners this season. All the 19-year-old has done is leading the Rangers defense in goals (four), assist (eight), points (12), power-play assists (five), and power-play goals (three).

Although the Rangers have been playing him the least amount of minutes for defensemen (17:02 minutes per game), he has big fantasy value playing big minutes on the power play (3:41 minutes per game). Keep this young kid in your lineup for the entire season. Expect some down times, especially whenever Marian Gaborik gets hurt. Overall, this kid has staying power with eight power-play points in his first 15 games as a pro.


James van Riemsdyk, Flyers W

The kid drafted right behind superstar Patrick Kane has finally made it to the big show after two seasons in New Hampshire. The 6'3" forward with great vision has 10 points in his first nine career games. Now with injuries to Simon Gagne and Daniel Briere, JVR is seeing some major ice time including an increase in power play time.

The 20-year-old Van Rammer also is showing he can play both ends of the ice, increasing his fantasy value being a plus-4. Also, Even though he is passing more, shown with his eight assists, he still adds fantasy value with 26 shots on goal. Keep an eye on the injuries to Briere and Gagne, and if they are long term issues this kid is worth a spot on your team.


Jaime Benn, Stars W

Drafted a mere 129th overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft, Benn was a WHL all-star last season with 82 points in 56 games last season for the Kelowna Rockets. The 20-year-old has broken out early for the Stars, scoring 10 points in his first 14 games. 

Even better for the rookie he is playing most of his ice time on the top line with Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro and also playing on the top power-play line. The 6'2" forward also is helping his fantasy value by chipping in with six penalty minutes. It will be interesting to see if Benn will stay on the top line with Morrow and Ribeiro, but if that continues pick up this former junior star as he blossoms for the Stars. 


Pickup of the Week: Mikhail Grabovski, Maple Leafs C

Like I have said before in my columns, do not sleep on the bad teams for fantasy players, and Grabovski has continually shown he has fantasy value. The Russian has six points in his last four games, including four of those points on the power play and even chipped in with one shorthanded point in that run.

Last season, he scored 20 goals and 48 points while having an amazing 92 penalty minutes. He is playing top-line minutes and on the top power-play unit for the Maple Leafs. They cannot play any worse than they have over the first 12 games. Grabovski is not owned in any leagues, so he might prove to be great waiver-wire find. 

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