One of the greatest misconceptions surrounding fantasy hockey is the idea that goals and assists ultimately win leagues.
In most cases, having either an elite point-production threat (i.e. Evgeni Malkin, Claude Giroux, Steven Stamkos, etc.) or a wealth of scoring depth usually translates to fantasy prowess. But while those may be recipes for success, there's no disputing that down-to-the-wire matchups are often decided by supplementary categories, such as shots on goal, power-play points, plus-minus and penalties in minutes.
While many potent offensive players excel in the first three aforementioned categories, PIM are often held at a greater premium than the others. Only four players in history (Kevin Stevens, Gary Roberts, Brendan Shanahan and Keith Tkachuk) have compiled 50-plus goals and 200-plus PIM in a single season, and recently, a game-breaking combination of points and PIMs has become even less frequent.
The last player to post 100 points and 100 PIM in the same season was Sidney Crosby in 2005-06. Last season, not a single skater posted 90-plus points and 90-plus PIM. But just because elite PIM/point campaigns don't come around as often doesn't mean you can't find a dual-threat difference-maker in your upcoming draft.
Here are 15 skaters who provided their fantasy owners with points and PIM at a notable rate last season. Eyeing these players in fantasy drafts -- assuming they stay healthy for a full season -- could give your team a multi-category lift that could result in championship hardware.
2011-12: 81 PTS, 87 PIM
Arguably the most versatile fantasy skater League-wide last season, Neal's chemistry with Malkin should be on full display again in '12-13. He's absolutely worthy of a mid-to-late first-round pick, as he covers points, PPP (30 in '11-12, fourth in NHL), PIM and SOG extremely well. Based on last season, he's even a threat for 90-plus points and 90-plus PIM.
2011-12: 67 PTS, 136 PIM
No player benefited more from Giroux's rise to stardom last season than Hartnell, who set career-highs in goals (37), points (67), power-play points (23) and shots (232). The Flyers' scoring depth is well-documented, so they should finish in the top-five in goal-scoring for the third straight season, thanks largely to Hartnell's presence in the offensive zone.
2011-12: 60 PTS, 127 PIM
Perry is the most recent player to compile a 90-plus point, 90-plus PIM season, and, despite a 38-point drop in production, remains a threat to return to that level. Perry is still worth grabbing in the late first or early second round of a fantasy draft, as he produced 37 goals (T-6th in NHL), 23 PPP, 127 PIM and 277 shots in a so-called "down" year.
2011-12: 52 PTS, 86 PIM
Chara will be a top-five rated defenseman yet again, as he's been a consistent fantasy difference-maker over the past decade. He's been held under 100 PIM in each of the past four seasons, but the Bruins' stability makes him all but a lock to anchor your fantasy blue line with 80-plus PIM, 200-plus SOG, 15-plus PPP and a stellar rating.
2011-12: 54 PTS, 101 PIM
Goaltending may have been the fabric of the Blues' resurgence last season, but Backes' well-rounded play was just as responsible. Backes isn't a goal-scoring phenom, but his 54 points, 101 PIM and 234 shots made him a complete fantasy package. As long as his linemates (T.J. Oshie, David Perron) stay healthy, he's in great position to match his previous career-high in points (62 in '10-11) while hitting the century mark again in PIM.
2011-12: 61 PTS, 135 PIM
Over the past two seasons, Lucic has developed a knack for using his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame to produce at will in a number of important fantasy categories. The 24-year-old has played in 72-plus games in four of his first five seasons, and has become one of the most reliable point/PIM/SOG assets the League has to offer.
2011-12: 44 PTS, 94 PIM
The addition of Jason Garrison to the Canucks' blue line will take some pressure off Bieksa entering the season. That being said, he's fully capable of shouldering the load on Vancouver's top pairing with a 50-point, 100-PIM season. Should be considered a preseason top-15 fantasy defenseman because of his well-rounded profile.
2011-12: 36 PTS, 119 PIM
One of the Canadiens' franchise cornerstones, Subban experienced a drop in goal-scoring in his second season in Montreal (14 in '10-11 to seven in '11-12). However, the rest of his numbers (36 points, 119 PIM, 14 PPP, plus-9, 205 SOG) should re-instill the confidence of fantasy owners in this 23-year-old blueliner.
2011-12: 55 PTS, 87 PIM
Marchand's future may be the most promising of this pool of PIM/point fantasy forwards. He'll likely be working with Patrice Bergeron again on the Bruins' second line, and their ever-growing chemistry should continue to do wonders for Marchand. While it may not come in '12-13, his performance early on in his career indicates Marchand is capable of a 70-point, plus-20, 100 PIM fantasy season down the road.
2011-12: 49 PTS, 114 PIM
With Jagr no longer in the Flyers' equation, the stage is set for Simmonds. The mere chance that he plays on a line with Hartnell and Giroux in '12-13 makes him a glaring fantasy sleeper pick. After doubling his goal-scoring total and posting the second 100-plus PIM season of his career last year, expect Simmonds' value to spike into the vicinity of 30 goals, 60 points, 200 SOG and 100 PIM.
2011-12: 52 PTS, 90 PIM
Burrows' fantasy production may never return to its '09-10 level (67 points, plus-34, 121 PIM), but his place on the Canucks' front line with the Sedin brothers continues to give him high potential entering each new season. Having played in 80-plus games in five of his last six seasons, fantasy owners should keep a keen eye on Burrows -- a steady producer in every offensive category outside of PPP.
2011-12: 67 PTS, 89 PIM
Late-bloomer will likely operate alongside Gabriel Landeskog and either Matt Duchene or Ryan O'Reilly on the Avs' top line. Proved to be one of the League's premier distributors (49 A in '11-12) alongside John Tavares and Matt Moulson, and is still deserving of a middle-round pick.
2011-12: 46 PTS, 138 PIM
While it may be difficult for Clarkson to replicate his 30-goal outburst from a season ago, the gritty element of his game is crucial to the Devils' hopes for 2012-13 minus Zach Parise. If Clarkson feeds off skilled point-producers Patrik Elias and Adam Henrique on the Devils' second line, he could easily put forth 40-plus points, 200-plus SOG and 120-plus PIM again.
2011-12: 41 PTS, 137 PIM
Dual-eligible winger has racked up PIMs his entire career and was not far off point-per-game pace after trade to Colorado last February. Only 25, Downie should operate alongside a quality center -- the Avs are three deep at that position entering '12-13 -- making him worth grabbing in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.
2011-12: 39 PTS, 156 PIM
Will likely be on Buffalo's third line to start the season, but is a candidate to be a supplementary goal-scorer for his new club. Should be targeted in later rounds of deep leagues, as a repeat of his '09-10 season (22 G, 153 PIM, 146 SOG) would pay dividends.
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