Fantasy Forecast: Central Division Player Predictions
Photo courtesy of "humpalumpa" via Flickr.
By Todd Cordell
Detroit Red Wings
1. Niklas Kronwall will have a 45+ point season
Though Kronwall was already a regular contributor offensively from the Red Wings blueline, I expect him to produce even more this season. As you all know Brian Rafalski retired, so Kronwall will now take his spot on the first powerplay unit, When you’re a talented player and you log big minutes, the points will come. Look for Kronwall to post his first 45+ season since 2008-2009.
2. Pavel Datsyuk will produce another 85+ point season
I think Pavel Datsyuk is in for another huge year this season. Many thought his best days were behind him, but he dominated the playoffs and proved he’s still more than capable of racking up big time point totals. The guy has all the skill in the world, just ask Paul Bissonnette, so if he can stay healthy I think he can produce the 5th 85+ point season of his career.
1. Colin Wilson will hit the 50 point plateau
I really feel that Colin Wilson will breakout this season. He’s got the most offensive upside out of all the Predators centers, and if he can show Barry Trotz he is capable of handling first line center duties, he will see much more ice time (obviously) and will get to play on a line with Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat – the teams two best forwards. If you are in deep fantasy leagues or can buy low on Wilson in a keeper league I’d definitely make the move.
2. Ryan Suter will have career year
I predict that Ryan Suter will not only tie his career high in points (45) this season, but he will surpass it. If Suter played all 82 games last season, he likely would have done so. He gets it done this year.
Photo courtesy of Terry Gilliam via AP
St. Louis Blues
1. Patrik Berglund will put up 65 points
Like many, I think Patrik Berglund will have a massive year this year. He has a ton of skill and potential, and plays on a team filled with it. He has extremely talented – and young – wingers to work with, and has two elite puck-moving defenseman in Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo feeding him the puck. I’d be shocked if ‘Bergie’ doesn’t drop 65 or more this season.
2. Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk will combine to hit the century mark
These are two of the very best, young puck-moving defenseman in the game. They are loaded with talent and potential, just like their teammates up front. They will combine for 100 points this year, perhaps even more.
1. Corey Crawford will have a Vezina type season
Crawford proved in the first round of the 2011 playoffs, especially in game seven, that he is well on is way to becoming an elite goaltender in this league. Crawford is a great goaltender who plays for a great team. Expect his numbers this season to reflect that,
2. Jonathan Toews will hit the 80 point plateau for the first time
Ever since coming into the league in 2007, Jonathan Toews’ point totals have increased every year. Though it is not a bold prediction, I don’t expect that to change this season. If he can stay healthy, I don’t see a scenario where he doesn’t hit 80 points.
Columbus Blue Jackets
1. James Wisniewski will tally 50
Despite what others say, I think James Wisniewski will have a fantastic year in Columbus. He is now the undisputed number one defenseman, and he will see a ton of ice time on the powerplay. Add that up with the fact that he has the likes of Jeff Carter, Rick Nash, etc. to play with and you have yourself a 50 point defenseman.
2. Steve Mason will return to Calder form
There is a lot of hate towards Steve Mason from members of the blogosphere right now and I’m not sure I understand why. Steve Mason came into the NHL at a very young age and did great things. Ever since his rookie season expectations have been sky high, and he has failed to live up to them. I think Mason will have his best season as an NHL goaltender this year, and finally silence his critics.
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