With the fantasy hockey season about to hit the mid-way point in most leagues, there is no better time than now to look back on the first half of the fantasy hockey season and hand out some mid-season awards.
Mid-season Most Valuable Player
Evgeni Malkin, Forward, Pittsburgh Penguins
While the Penguins have been without the player that would easily have gotten consideration here if he were healthy in Sidney Crosby, Malkin has had no trouble returning from a serious knee injury and putting up big points. Malkin has checked in with 40 points; 15 of them have come on the power play. The best part about Malkin is that he will continue to become stronger physically as the season rolls on and his numbers could improve, too, if the play-making Crosby can find a way can get back to good health.
Honorable mentions: Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning), Tim Thomas (Boston Bruins), Jonathon Towes (Chicago Blackhawks), Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs), Daniel Sedin (Vancouver Canucks), Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers) and Claude Giroux (Philadelphia).
The Vezina - Best Midseason Goaltender
Tim Thomas, Goalie, Boston Bruins
The Bruins goaltender is off to a great start, carrying fantasy teams in all of the important goaltending categories. Thomas has a 1.84 GAA, .943 save percentage, and four shutouts, which are some of the best goaltending stats in fantasy hockey. The one thing you have to like about the goaltending situation in Boston is Thomas should be fresh down the stretch with a capable backup goaltender in Tuukka Rask to give him a break. That is an advantage some of the other top goalies with heavy workloads may not have in their favor.
Honorable mentions: Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers), Brian Elliott (St. Louis Blues), Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings) and Jonathon Quick (Los Angeles Kings).
Biggest Midseason Surprise
Michael Del Zotto, Defenseman, New York Rangers
While there are many names that could fill this space, Del Zotto has been a pleasant offensive surprise in fantasy hockey. Offensive defensemen that can score points have quite a bit of value and are not usually that easy to find later in fantasy hockey drafts. Not only that, his plus-25 rating is very impressive for any fantasy team. With the Rangers early season success, the sky is the limit for this young defenseman as the season rolls on.
Honorable mention: Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Biggest Midseason Disappointment
Alex Ovechkin, Left Wing, Washington Capitals
While this may be more of a team award, Ovechkin owners have to be disappointed in his production so far. While 12 goals and 25 points may look nice on paper, it is well short of what expectations were when he was picked in most leagues with one of the top few selections. The turmoil surrounding the Capitals in the early part of the season, which included the dismissal of head coach Bruce Boudreau and learning a new system under a new coaching staff, have not helped.
Honorable mention: Cam Ward (Carolina Hurricanes)
Best individual fantasy performances
There were two instances this season where an individual fantasy performance was so good that I couldn't decide just one.
Sidney Crosby, Center, Pittsburgh Penguins and Claude Giroux, Center/Right Wing, Philadelphia Flyers
Both players were returning to game action for the first time after recovering from concussions. Both players also reminded us all why they are two of the most dominant fantasy players in hockey with four point games.
While we have not seen much of Crosby over the past year, he proved to us that - when healthy - he is clearly the best fantasy hockey option available.
About Mike Corcoran
Mike Corcoran joined KFFL in 2011 as their senior fantasy hockey writer. The Tarrytown, New York, native hosts a hockey radio show on ESPN Radio in Tampa, and covers the Tampa Bay Lightning professionally.
You can follow Mike on Twitter @MikeCorcoranNHL