It was a little over one year ago when the San Jose Sharks acquired Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins, one of the most significant trades for fantasy hockey in years. While the impact on Thornton was noticeable, his move west actually mattered less in terms of his value than it did one of his new teammates: Jonathan Cheechoo.
Cheechoo had found his way onto several sleeper lists in his first three seasons in the league, but it was in his age-25 season in 2005-06 that he finally hit his groove. The slick-shooting forward, who had only seven goals in his first 24 games, broke out with a two-goal performance in Thornton's first game in San Jose, on Dec. 2, and wound up extending his ensuing hot streak to a whopping 49 goals in 58 games to close out the season.
Few could have seen that kind of offensive explosion coming, but suffice to say, Cheechoo won a fair share of fantasy owners a league championship. His performance might have been a rarity, even in the faster, higher-scoring NHL, but it was nonetheless felt in the fantasy world. The reason? Goals, while only one of several fantasy categories, is perhaps the toughest one in which to forecast consistent performance. Enforcers get you penalty minutes, power-play specialists get power-play points, but in order to get goals, a skater needs to not only possess a skilled shot, but also the ability to fool an opposing goaltender, and the opportunity to get into position to take that shot in the first place. Not many players can claim all three traits, which is why top goal scorers are at such a premium.