A popular search term of late in my site statistics is 'hockey pool surprise player.' So, I thought I should help that out a bit and go over who I have been surprised by this year, just in terms of scoring. Now, I am basing this on the numbers I use for my pool, which is pretty straight-forward: forwards and defense get a point each for a goal and an assist, just like regular scoring, while goaltenders get 2 points for a win, 2 points for a shutout and a point for every assist. Frankly, straight scoring has made for some great pools that everyone can enjoy...
So, onwards with the list...
First on the list is Phoenix Coyotes goaltender, Ilya Bryzgalov, who currently ranks 3rd in my pool standings with 54 points, 22 wins and 5 shutouts. It may not be that he's much of a surprise as it is how well the team in front of him has responded to new head coach, Dave Tippett. Bryzgalov has taken his skill set and applied to a team that works really hard and really grinds out wins. You know Bryzgalov is doing good work, because of his five goose eggs this year, but his ranking does surprise because its so high. Last season, Bryzgalov finished 80th in pool rankings.
Of course, Craig Anderson is on this list. He's another keeper that we did see grow before our eyes in his limited ice-time in Florida, but since signing with the Avalanche, he has made an impact. Saying that, Anderson's number have not been as consistent as Bryzgalov and he's dropped down in the ranks a little bit, but his 45 pool points this year still ranks him 11th among all players. The question that hangs over Anderson right now is whether or not he can come back to his early season form and put those numbers back up again.
A big surprise from Montreal is Tomas Plekanec, who has really taken the reins as the number one centre and ran with it. Plekanec has flirted with his skill set for quite some time now, but his chance to shine with an open casting call for the number one job has really turned some heads. Plekanec has 44 points in 41 games this season for Montreal, jumping out of the shadows and into the limelight. His emergence really took the pressure off of Scott Gomez, who hasn't done very well at all this year.
Just appointed to the Canadian Olympic Team today, Patrick Marleau is really taking what was supposed to be a lemon of a season and turning it into a whale of a campaign. The general consensus thought that Marleau would not respond well to having the captaincy taken away from him and the possibility of a line demotion, but neither thing happened. Playing on the top line with Thornton and Heatley, Marleau is turning in an excellent 2010 season, picking up 41 points in 39 games so far.
Los Angeles Kings number one keeper, Jonathan Quick, currently leads the NHL in minutes played by a goalie, which has translated into 20 wins for him this year. That's a solid 40 points, ranking him 25th among all players in the league this season. The Kings had such an explosive start to the season and they are managing to keep it together for the most part, holding onto the 7th spot in the Western Conference. Quick has turned into a great sleeper pick this year, as he was picked late in the Draft on my site this year and has rewarded that team mightily.
Oilers forward, Dustin Penner, rounds out this quick list of surprise players so far this year, as he's currently ranked 30th in pool scoring with 38 points in 39 games for the now-struggling Oilers club. Penner also rocketed out to a pretty big start this year and has done fairly well to keep it all going, despite the losing streak the Oilers are on at the moment. He will be needed to step up a little more though to help right the ship, as the Oilers are now the basement dwellers of the Western Conference and 13 points out of a playoff spot.
For any questions about players and how they're doing or if you should move them, send me an e-mail and I'll try to help you out.