Fantasy Focus: Second Year Bust or Booms

Matt SitkoffCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2009

OTTAWA - NOVEMBER 26:  Goaltender Steve Mason #1 of the Columbus Blue Jackets defends his net against the Ottawa Senators during their game at Scotiabank Place on November 26, 2009 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Senators defeated the Blue Jackets 2-1. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

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The second season in an NHL player’s career can be a make or break one.  One could have a tremendous rookie and follow that up with a sophomore slump and never regain the magic touch, or just get their feet wet getting use to the speed and break out as a fantasy star. 

This week on the Fantasy Focus we are going to breakdown some of the game’s best sophomore’s and what their fantasy value is today and going forward.

Steve Mason, Blue Jackets G

The 2009 Calder Trophy winner is currently in one of the worst sophomore slumps out there today.  His ranks in both save percentage (42nd) and goals against (42nd) are second worst, thank god for Vesa Toskala, who is ranked 43rd in both categories.  So the question arises for a fantasy owner of what to do with this slumping high draft pick of a goalie? 

The good news is with parity in the NHL, the Blue Jackets still have a shot at returning to the playoffs and realize that the 21-year-old Mason presents them with the best shot.  Also looking on the bright side in last year’s Calder winning year he put up his best splits in the month of December.  Last season, in 12 December games, Mason was 7-5-0, with a 1.41 GAA, .950 save percentage with three shutouts. 

This month could be a make or break fantasy month for Mason with 13 remaining games and with only 3 on back-to-back nights.  Hold onto Mason for the month and see if he can break out of his early season slump.

Kyle Okposo, Islanders W

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The University of Minnesota star made headlines even before his NHL debut skipping out on his college team halfway through the year to join the AHL he would only play nine NHL games that season but contributed five points in those games.  His rookie campaign was average playing in only 65 games due to injuries the 6-1 winger accumulated 18 goals and 39 points, hardly a fantasy stud. 

This season for Okposo started with a bang as he was knocked out by Dion Phaneuf in a preseason game.   After shaking off the effects of a concussion Okposo combined with John Tavares and Matt Moulson have combined for a fantasy dream line.

In his first 28 games, this speedy winger has 5 goals and 16 points, including a blistering 9 power play points.  He also continues to show he can contribute to those leagues that count shots (89 already this season). 

The Islanders have been a pleasant surprise offensive fantasy so far this season but remember that injuries have been a concern for Okposo.

Wayne Simmonds, Kings W

Simmonds falls into the category of just getting his feet wet in his freshman campaign as he has busted out onto fantasy owners radars with eight points in his last six games.  Already matching his goal total of last year with nine, with 19 points the 6-2 winger is four points away from tying his point total of 23 in 82 games. 

The Kings have vaulted Simmonds into their top-six forward rotation with the recent injuries and he has taken advantage of the extended ice time, although he won’t contribute to your team’s power play points, he does kill penalties for the Kings. 

I would say ride the hot streak Simmonds is currently on but keep on the Ryan Smyth injury news for that might affect his playing time going forward.

Pickup of the Week: Brian Boucher, Flyers G

As I mention in yesterday’s Hat Trick Philadelphia Flyers starting goalie Ray Emery is 0-4-0 in his last five starts and has 5.36 goals-against average and .814 save percentage, because of the recent slump backup goalie Brian Boucher has been seeing more ice time.

In league full of inconsistent goalie’s and rotations keep an eye on this situation as with a new coach comes new life for certain players.  Boucher's numbers in the last six games have been decent, with three starts with a GAA of 2.28 and a save percentage of .913.

The 32-year-old net minder has been known to go on ridiculous long stretches of amazing play, breaking the modern-day NHL record for the longest shutout streak by a goalie with Phoenix in 2003.     

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