Monday, September 15, 2008

The Johan Franzen Effect

In a discussion I had yesterday about the upcoming hockey pool draft, there is a fair bit of interest to see where the likes of Johan Franzen is likely to land in the overall picture of the hockey pool scheme.

The big Red Wings power forward, dubbed 'Mule,' had a huge playoff season, scoring 13 goals in 16 games for the Cup winning side, despite having a mediocre year during the regular season, having 38 points in 72 games.

So, which side of the coin will Franzen land on?  Will someone in your pool think remarkably high of Franzen, enough to possibly take him in the second or third round, after Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are taken?  His 13 goals in 16 games could prove to be an interesting stat, as his name was front and centre for a good portion of the playoff run for Detroit, before his injury had sidelined him for another significant portion of the second season.

The other side of the coin will argue that it was only the playoffs and some players do accelerate their game under those situations. Their argument will revert Franzen back to his half-a-point per game situation through the regular season or maybe a little bit better, due to maturity and improvement in his play.

Franzen was a tough player to stop for the Red Wings' playoff opponents, as coaches could do very little to combat his style of play in front of the net, as they were already using some of their best talent for Tomas Holmstrom, who has almost perfected the art of being a rock in front of the net already.  Bringing Franzen to the party only made it harder and likely put a smirk on the coaching staff's face during the playoffs last season.  If Datsyuk and Zetterberg are to be split up on different lines to start this season, one will have Holmstrom and the other will have Franzen, to give the team two top, hard-checking lines that can score.  Personally, I would look for an increase in production from Franzen, but not enough to rush out and get him right away.  He'll likely go from 38 points this season, to somewhere around 55-60.  I would feel more comfortable taking him there.

The Hockey News also feels about the same way, as their hockey pool guide has him pegged at 60 points for the year as well.  The Score has him pegged for about 55 points, while HTM has forecasted only 46 points for the power forward.  There doesn't seem to be much confidence that he'll break out and be an 80-point or more player this season.

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