As your fantasy hockey playoffs draw to a close, in keeper leagues now becomes time to evaluate your roster and determine who to keep around for next year. Over the coming months, we’ll take a deeper look at the validity of some players as keepers on your team. In our first installment, we looked at Washington Capitals LW Alexander Semin. In this edition, we'll examine Minnesota WildLW Guillaume Latendresse.
38 pts, 27 G, 11 A, Even, 7 PPG, 1 PP A, 4 GW
If you go to Montreal, the name Latendresse isn't terribly popular. The Habs selected him in the second round (45th overall) in 2005 and he entered the organization with all sorts of hype. He's a big kid (6'2-225) who was never able to establish his role with the Montreal club, and was labeled a bust. In 23 games to start the 2009-10 season, Latendresse had two goals and just one assist, and was -4 for the Habs.
On Nov. 23, Montreal gave up on one of their top young players and traded him to Minnesota for another top prospect being prematurely labeled a failure, LW Benoit Pouliot.
Since that trade, Latendresse has found new life in Minnesota. He's playing five minutes per game more than he was in Montreal and has rewarded the Wild for those minutes. In 43 games for Minnesota, Latendresse has 25 goals (seven on the PP), 10 assists and is +4; extrapolating those numbers onto a full 82 game season, Latendresse is scoring at a 48-goal pace.
The (pun intended) wild part of these numbers is that Latendresse is only owned in 13 percent of ESPN leagues with two weeks left in the regular season; in almost any league, you could still grab this 22-year-old kid off waivers and end up keeping him for next year (I'm looking at you, Steve Mason owners). Consider he has as many game-winning goals as Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, and he didn't exist for the first quarter of the season!
Verdict: Consider him. There will be a lot of free agent and trade movement this summer because of the salary cap, and it's easy to fall in love with the half-season Latendresse is having with the Wild. If he indeed lives up to the hype he had when drafted by Montreal in 2005, he could be a sleeper to score 40 goals next year. That's a big IF to consider when using one of your keeper slots, so whether or not you keep Latendresse likely depends on your roster.