Looking back at August 2009 and the emergence of an unexpected superstar... Henrik Sedin
I can recall a draft in the fall of 2009 where I openly stated that the Sedin's were "too old to build a team around." They were 28 at the time, and if history was any indication, were approaching their decline. Of course with the benefit of hindsight this looks a tad foolish, as 2009 to 2013 represented the four best years of their careers.
Of the two, Daniel has always been the far easier asset to value. His propensity to shoot has given him a more well-rounded fantasy portfolio. Whereas Henrik, with his Joe Thornton-esque shot totals, can see his value move up and down wildly depending on the format.
This week I want to look back at August 2009. At the time, we were only a few months from Henrik Sedin becoming one of the five best multi-category players in the game, and arguably the most coveted points only option in fantasy.
His run as elite performer caught everyone (and me especially) off-guard.
In 2008-09 he finished with 22 goals, 60 assists for 82 points in 82 games. Great totals in virtually every format, but they in no way foretold the dramatic rise in production that was just around the corner. He and his brother had become consistent, very-good options in most formats. The kind of players you drafted in the early rounds but never seriously considered in the first.
That was about change.
Heading into the fall of 2009 Henrik had established himself as one of the league's premier centermen. Considered a consensus top 30 pick in your pool. Dobber had him ranked 22nd overall:
|24||Martin St. Louis||TB|
Looking back at the names above him you can imagine the number of poolies left kicking themselves as the year wore on. I for one, was forced to look at our draft results knowing that I passed over him five or six times before he was eventually scooped in the mid-rounds.
Heatley still had one more productive season to go in San Jose, but was on the edge of his precipitous decline. Mike Richards was coming off of a 30 goal, 50 assist season in which he looked like the next truly great multi-category star – he's only broken 60 points twice since that time. There was talk of Lecavalier rebounding after a down 2008-09, but, sadly, his numbers have declined ever since. His point totals the last five seasons sit at; 70, 54, 49, 32 (lockout), and 37.
In 2009-10 he put together a fantasy season for the ages – winning the art ross and finishing with an astounding 29 goals, 83 assists, for 112 points in 82 games (one often underplayed part of his excellence has been the incredible run of good health – he had a stretch of eight seasons without missing a single game).
The Canuck's captain is a nice case study to use when looking at how much player value can fluctuate between formats. There are some categories that he absolutely excels in: assists, power play points, plus minus..etc. While there are others were he's barely above replacement level: goals, penalty minutes, hits, blocked shots, shots on goal.
That juxtaposition can be maddening to account for. Say, for instance, you're in a pool with hits, penalty minutes, and shots on goal as head-to-head categories. There is an argument to move Sedin down around eightieth overall in your rankings. Conversely, if your league is points only, he's a reliable option to be close to a point per game.
This phenomenon is most poignant with Henrik, but is certainly not limited to him alone. Guys like Statsny, Backstrom, Thornton, and Mikko Koivu all have similar variations between multiple formats. It's something to be mindful of when setting up your draft board.
Interestingly, as quickly as he asserted his dominance on the fantasy landscape, it seems to have disappeared even faster. There are mitigating circumstances, of course. Vancouver has lost some of its role players and have become increasingly reliant on the Sedins as they move into what should be their sunset years. The coaching change from Vigneault to Tortorella was terrible for their production, as ther latter attempted to institute a defensive, shot blocking style of play that didn't mesh with their strengths.
At 33 years old I'm left wondering what exactly Henrik Sedin is, and will be. We, as a collective fantasy community, thought we knew what he was back in 2009 and ended up sorely mistaken. Maybe he and his brother have another surprise in store for us?
Darren Kennedy is a contributor for Dobber and Mckeen's Hockey. You can find him on twitter @fantasyhockeydk