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A Fantasy Hockey Outlook: The Dallas Stars Forwards

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DALLAS, TX - MARCH 09:   Left wing Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars celebrates a goal with Loui Eriksson #21 against the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center on March 9, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - MARCH 09: Left wing Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars celebrates a goal with Loui Eriksson #21 against the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center on March 9, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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In addition to freelancing for fine sites like Defending Big D, I also am the editor and manager over at DobberHockey, a site dedicated to the world of fantasy hockey. We publish an annual Fantasy Guide, an annual Prospects Report, and a few other yearly hockey publications.

Fantasy hockey makes watching hockey even more fun. That is the truth, and the main reason why I participate in it. Having players on different teams around the league motivates you to track their performance, watch them play, and evaluate them against other players around the league.

In the final installment of a two part series exclusively for Defending Big D, I am going to profile the Dallas defensemen for 2012-13 from a fantasy hockey perspective.

To read Part I on the Dallas defense, follow this link.

For a fantasy analysis of the Stars forwards, follow the jump...

The Fantasy Studs

Jamie Benn – I won’t waste your time writing a lot about Benn. I wrote an extensive piece on him a few months ago, and here is an excerpt (and a great reason as to why he could break out in 2012-13):

In his third year, Benn was playing a new position for a team lacking in depth, and he was producing at a rate comparable to some elite talents in the NHL while playing harder minutes against tougher competition. His peers recognized how good he was becoming, as he was voted as the second most underrated player in the league by fellow players (Dallas fans are well aware of who the winner was).

If you don’t own Benn in your pool now, good luck trying to acquire him.

Loui Eriksson – the Robin to Benn’s Batman, Eriksson has been Mr. Everything for the Stars since coming to Dallas back in 2006. Consistency is a very underrated trait in fantasy hockey circles (people tend to get intoxicated by words like "upside" and "potential"), and Eriksson is as consistent as they come. In the past three seasons, he has missed three total games, and has produced 71, 73, and 71 points, respectively.

He is a player who sometimes gets lost in the discussions for the game’s true greats because he is really good at everything. Eriksson’s standout attribute is his hockey sense – not as sexy as a Weber body check or a Datsyukian deke, but it enables him to excel in all situations. And that includes fantasy hockey. The only downside to drafting him in multi-category leagues is his lack of PIM (a good thing in real life, but not in fantasy leagues that count it as a stat).

The Sleeper

Tom Wandell – I was debating who to put here – Cody Eakin would have been a great choice too, but he seems to be a widely-regarded choice as a sleeper. I wanted to dig a bit deeper, and Wandell is the perfect example of what a sleeper pick is. He has been written off in the past for failing to make the most of the multiple opportunities given to him, and with the massive turnover we have seen this summer in Dallas, 2012-13 could be his last chance to prove himself. If I have learned one thing over the years, it is never to discount players with a) an opportunity, and b) something to prove.

Roy is currently on the shelf, Eakin is unproven at the NHL level, and Verne Fiddler shouldn’t be anywhere near a scoring line. It’s put up or shut up time for Wandell in Big D.

The Rookie to Watch

Alex Chiasson – it is rare for a Quebec born player to bypass the QMJHL, but that is exactly what Chiasson did. He is well-known to Dallas fans and readers of this blog, but he is still largely an unknown around the league (which bodes well for those of you in keeper leagues). Chiasson has great size, terrific offensive instincts, and he plays the game with an edge. He had five points in nine games down in Austin after turning pro last season.

Chiasson doesn’t have the pedigree Scott Glennie (the player Dallas took one round ahead of him in 2009), nor does he have the goal-scoring ability of Matt Fraser, but he is the most well-rounded prospect in the system. Even better than that, though – he isn’t far off from suiting up with Dallas. Prospects with potential are all well and good, but NHL readiness is a very important factor when evaluating players in fantasy hockey as well.

Don’t Overrate

Michael Ryder – It is rare for a player to have a career season at the age of 31, but that is what happened with Ryder last season in Dallas. His 35 goals and 62 points were both career highs, as was his 16.6 shooting percentage (his career mark is 12.6 percent). Expect him to return closer to that number next season. Shooting percentage is a great indicator of a player due for a breakout or regression, but it isn’t always an indicator.

Ryder has some competition on the right side now with Jagr, but after that the depth chart is still pretty thin. He will be in tough to score 35 goals again, but you probably knew that already.

If you want to pick up our 2012-13 Fantasy Guide, feel free to do so here. The guide is in PDF format, which gives us a leg up over the competition in print. We update it every few days right up until puck drop (and will do so even with the impending lockout on the horizon). Close to 150 pages of analysis (sleepers, rookies to watch, goaltenders, and much more) from our team of writers, projections from Dobber, and a team-by-team breakdown of the "numbers behind the numbers" from yours truly.