Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2010-2011 By the Tens -- Forwards: Eric Fehr

Eric Fehr

Theme: “Promises are like the full moon, if they are not kept at once they diminish day by day”
-- German Proverb

Eric Fehr was drafted in 2003, famously one spot ahead of Ryan Getzlaf (famous among Caps fans, at least), and before he would post two consecutive seasons with Brandon in the WHL in which he scored at least 50 goals. Since then, Fehr’s career has been a battle – to overcome injury, to escape the occasional sentences to the coach’s dog house, to find the scoring touch he had in junior hockey. The Caps have had glimpses of the latter from time to time, including once on a famous stage (to which we will return).

But the facts are these – Fehr has not yet played 70 games in a season. He has topped the 20 goal plateau only once, and he has suffered repeated injuries to his shoulders that have cast doubt over his future as a productive professional hockey player (he had post-season surgery on his right shoulder that could render him unready to start training camp in September).

Last season, largely due to injury (he missed 23 games to shoulder injuries and two other for “upper body” injuries), he regressed from his 2009-2010 numbers. And when he was in the lineup, he was not approaching his 2009-2010 scoring rate. In fact, except for a brief spike in production around the New Year – a six game stretch from December 19th through January 8th in which he was 4-3-7, plus-5 – he had a dismal season (6-7-13, minus-5 in his other 46 games).

Again, though, there were glimpses. When he was healthy or fresh, he could produce. Consider this; Fehr began the season with two goals in his first three games. When he returned from his 22-game injury hiatus on March 9th, he recorded a pair of goals in his first game back. He had three goals and five points over four games after missing two of three games (for personal reasons) at the end of December. Those three instances account for 7-6-13 of his total production for the year, covering only eight games of his 52-game season. His overall ten-game splits look like this:

Even with his diminished capacity and limited production, there were glimpses. Among forwards playing in at least half the Caps’ season, Fehr finished fourth in goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 (numbers from And he did that largely by being the only goal scorer on what line he played on – he was next to last among that same group of forwards in goals for/on ice per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. Comparing the two sets of numbers, he looks to have done much of the scoring on his line.

He did benefit, however, from the fact that he faced the weakest competition of any Caps forward that played at least half the season with the team (although the quality of competition he faced was comparatively weak as well – fourth weakest among those 11 Caps forwards). Still, he could not muster a level of production level to match what he did last year, in what is now his career year in the NHL:

Odd Fehr Fact… If Fehr could have duplicated his home production on the road, he would have had a nice season. On an 82-game basis, Fehr produced at a 20-23-43 pace at home, 11-6-17 pace on the road.

Game to Remember… January 1, 2011. On the game’s biggest regular season stage, Fehr had what might have been his best game as a Cap. In the 2011 Bridgestone Winter Classic against the Pittsburgh Penguins, he had his second two-goal game with Washington (first of two in the 2010-2011 season) – one of them the game-winner, the other a third-period insurance goal (the two goals being scored in a four-shift span for Fehr). He added two blocked shots and was plus-2 for the night, all while playing in less than ten minutes in the Caps’ 3-1 win.

Game to Forget… March 15, 2011. Fehr played in a grand total of 5:16 in a 4-2 win in Montreal. He skated nine shifts , recording only a single shot on goal and one takeaway before departing with an “upper body” injury that would keep him out of four of the next seven games. Starting with that game, Fehr would record no goals and only nine shots on goal in the last eight games in which he played. His season was done, but he didn’t know it yet.

Post Season… Fehr did manage to play in five games and gamely recorded ten shots in the effort (one goal), but by that time his shoulder was likely keeping him from making anything close to a meaningful contribution. And the longer it takes for Fehr to accomplish that feat, the more it seems the chances diminish day by day.

In the end, Fehr had to endure another frustrating season, and Caps fans must wait until the fall to see if his surgically-repaired shoulder (the second time on his right one) will permit him to edge a little closer to the goal-scoring promise he had when drafted. What makes things doubly frustrating is that the Caps have had opportunities on the wing for someone of Fehr’s potential – someone who can finish, either with a nasty wrist shot or swatting home loose pucks from in front. That he hasn’t cashed in on those opportunities seems to be as much a circumstance of injuries interrupting his progress as any deficiencies in Fehr’s game.

Going forward, the Caps will have Alex Ovechkin, Mike Knuble, and Alexander Semin on the wings (well, probably Semin). With Brooks Laich’s future with the team in considerable doubt, the door is nudged open once again for a player with Fehr’s skills. Whether his shoulders are strong enough to push it open the rest of the way is the unsettled question.

Grade: C+

The Peerless Prognosticator Presents: Your 2011 Peerless Draft Prog-"Mock"-tications

Well, here we are. The 2010-2011 season has been put to bed, the awards are getting dusted off to be handed out, and the draft is upon us. This year, the brain trusts of 30 NHL teams will descend on Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to ponder just which 18-year old their fans will want traded as a 23-year old. Teams have been going over combine results, talking with amateur coaches, and consulting tarot cards in an effort to find that perfect fit, that one key element that will propel them to a Stanley Cup. Guys, all you had to do was come visit The Peerless, who brings you the most mocktastic of mock drafts.

Cousin, is “mocktastic” even a word?

Hey, Fearless…it’s one of those bloggy kinds of words one uses to put some oomph in the narrative.

I see…like Faulkner.

“Faulk who?”

And of course, where there is Fearless, there is Cheerless…you guys here for the draft?

“Yes, cousin, and I was just wondering. Have you even seen any of these fine young men play hockey?”


“Why should that matter, cuz? He seen the Caps play hockey and his prognosteecations ain’t worth pig spit, neither.”

“You are wise, Cheerless.”

Shall we begin?...

1. Edmonton: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C (Red Deer/WHL)

What do the Oilers need?... To stop picking first! Two years ago, the Oilers selected Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson with the tenth overall pick. Edmonton goes the hyphenate route again by taking the consensus number one pick in 2011. No Nugent has ever played in the NHL, but Dean Hopkins played in one game for the Oilers in the 1985-86 season; Larry Hopkins played in 60 games in the NHL for Toronto and Winnipeg. Nugent-Hopkins seems to be a lock to be the greatest Nugent or Hopkins ever to play in the NHL. His profile says that he “was named the 2008 BC Minor Hockey Player of the Year, an honor handed out annually to a BC Amateur Hockey Association player who best exemplifies sportsmanship, leadership, and hockey skill.” Sort of like the Lindsay, Messier, and Lady Byng rolled into one. The Lady Byngsayier?

2. Colorado Avalanche: Gabriel Landeskog, LW (Kitchener/OHL)

What does Colorado need?... Sakic, Forsberg, Roy. Sorry, none of those available in this draft. The last time the Avalanche drafted this high or higher, they were the Quebec Nordiques. That was back in 1991, when Quebec selected Eric Lindros with the first overall pick. Ah, those were the days… Lindros was the last of three consecutive number one overall picks (Owen Nolan and Mats Sundin being the others). We tried to find an anagram for “Gabriel Landeskog.” It broke the machine.

3. Florida Panthers: Jonathan Huberdeau, C (Saint John/QMJHL)

What does Florida need?... Last year, we said “Mr. Peabody and Sherman to show up with their Wayback Machine to transport the club back to 1996.” It still applies, seeing as how in all the years since they’ve been in the playoffs twice and have won more than 35 games only three times. This will mark the second straight number three overall pick for the Panthers. The last time they had one before that, it was Nathan Horton in 2003. And he had a fine year…for Boston. Oops. Jonathan Huberdeau was born in St. Jerome, Quebec…he played for the Saint John Sea Dogs. Florida is prepared to remame the city the Panthers play in, “St. Sunrise,” if the Panthers draft Huberdeau.

4. New Jersey Devils: Adam Larsson, D (Skelleftea/SWE)

What do the Devils need?... to realize that the glory days are probably over for a while. The last time the Devils picked in the rarified air of the top ten was 20 years ago, when they selected Scott Niedermayer with the third overall pick. Only once since 1996 have the Devils had their first selection higher than the 20th overall pick. Devils fans, this is probably new for you, picking this high, so set your alarms. Adam Larsson says his favorite food is “my mother’s meatballs.” Not…going…there.

5. New York Islanders: Dougie Hamilton, D (Niagara/OHL)

What do the Islanders need?... time. The Isles have done rather well with first round picks lately. Each of their last four first picks in the first round – Kyle Okposo, Joshua Bailey, John Tavares, and even Nino Niederreiter from last June’s draft have appeared in NHL games. Trouble is, the Islanders are making too much a habit of this. Each of those picks was a top-ten selection. As for Dougie Hamilton, what’s the over/under on when he becomes “Doug” Hamilton?

6. Ottawa Senators: Ryan Strome, C (Niagara/OHL)

What does Ottawa need?... A new logo. The one they have looks like part of an ad for Caesar’s Palace. As for young Mr. Strome, he describes his most embarrassing moment in hockey as “’crying after a penalty’ when he was four.” Maybe we should have had Vancouver picking him.

7. Winnipeg Team to be Named Later: Ryan Murphy, D (Kitchener/OHL)

What does Winnipeg need? You mean other than a name and a jersey? Who cares, at least they got all their tickets sold. When asked which three people he would like to have dinner with, Ryan Murphy responded, “Bill Gates, Oprah, and Sidney Crosby so he ‘won’t have to pay the bill.’” He’s going to be an owner some day.

8. Columbus Blue Jackets: Sean Couturier, C (Drummondville/QMJHL)

What does Columbus need? Jim Tressel as head coach. He’s local, he’s a winner, and he probably knows where a guy can get a deal on tattoos. Sean Couturier was born in Phoenix, Arizona and claims Bathurst, New Brunswick as his home town. Huh, too bad he won’t last a few more picks and go to the Coyotes. He could tell them about moving from Phoenix to Canada.

9. Boston Bruins (from Toronto): Mika Zibanejad, C (Djurgarden/SWE)

What to the Bruins need? Silver polish. As for young Mr. Zibanejad, his mother is Finnish and father is Iranian, and he speaks Swedish, Finnish and English. We can’t help wondering what it’s like waiting for him to decide what to order for takeout. We’re betting “Tex-Mex.”

10. Minnesota Wild: Nathan Beaulieu, D (Saint John/QMJHL)

What do the Wild need? Well, to get wild would be a nice change. Okay, so Nathan Beaulieu’s favorite team is the Washington Capitals, and his favorite activity away from the rink is golf. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

11. Colorado Avalanche (from St. Louis): Joel Armia, RW (Assat/FIN)

What do the Avalanche need? Well, we’ve already covered Sakic and Roy, which by the way is not an animal act in Vegas (although “Roy” can get out of hand from time to time). As for Joel Armia, if you are going to play for a team named “Assat,” be prepared for all the jokes about choice of head fashion.

12. Carolina Hurricanes: Sven Baertschi, LW (Portland/WHL)

What does Carolina need? Rod Brind’Amour to say, “I changed my mind.” Sven Baertschi’s goal celebration is described as, “nothing special, just a big smile.” Awwww… isn’t that cute.

13. Calgary Flames: Mark McNeill, C (Prince George/WHL)

What does Calgary need? Someone to figure out a way to clone Jarome Iginla. Mark McNeill's most embarrassing moment came “during peewee summer hockey when he fell behind the net and was unable to move because his jersey was caught on the boards forcing the game to be stopped.” Somewhere, a Sedin just had an idea.

14. Dallas Stars: Duncan Siemens, D (Saskatoon/WHL)

What does Dallas need? Something big. Doesn’t matter what, but they’re in Texas, and everything has to be big! Duncan Siemens is pretty big (6’2”, 192). Asked about his shootout move, he replied, “shoot.” Hockey is, as you can see, a rather simple game.

15. New York Rangers: Oscar Klefbom, D (Farjestad/SWE)

What do the Rangers need? A Larry Brooks/John Tortorella reality show…”Odd Couple from Hell.” One scout said this of Oscar Klefbom… “Worst-case scenario, he’s a big, strong guy who can play against the other team’s top players." Best case scenario is what? Raise the dead?

16. Buffalo Sabres: Tyler Biggs, RW (USA U-18/USHL)

What does Buffalo need? More players named Tyler…Myers, Ennis. Can’t ever have enough. Well, what do you know. Another Tyler. As for Tyler Biggs' shootout move, he says, “Close eyes and shoot the puck.” Beer leaguers all over North America will read that and say, “see? I coulda been a prospect!”

17. Montreal Canadiens: Nicklas Jensen, LW/RW (Oshawa/OHL)

What does Montreal need? A baseball team (insert Nats joke here). Nicklas Jensen’s favorite player is Alex Ovechkin, his shootout move is “Ovechkin fake-shot deke,” and his goal celebration is “Ovechkin going nuts.” He’s more of an Ovechkin fan than Ovechkin's mother is.

18. Chicago Blackhawks: Mark Schiefele, C (Barrie/OHL)

What does Chicago need? To get rid of hot dogs with salads on them, and those poppy seed buns…the seeds are always getting stuck in my teeth. Mr. Schiefele is is to Pavel Datsyuk what Mr. Jensen is to Alex Ovechkin. Favorite player? Datsyuk. Favorite shootout move? “Datsyuk’s move.” Almost sounds like a remake of “From Russia With Love.”

19. Edmonton Oilers (from Los Angeles) : Zach Phillips, C (Saint John/QMJHL)

What does Edmonton need? More of their own picks (not those of other teams) in this area of the draft…it’d be a sign they are improving. Zach Phillips is one of nine Saint John Sea Dogs on the NHL’s Central Scouting list of ranked skaters. Edmonton is actively exploring the possibility of drafting the Sea Dogs en masse and calling it a day.

20. Phoenix Coyotes: Boone Jenner, C (Oshawa/OHL)

What does Phoenix need? A Groupon offer for moving van services. Boone Jenner’s shootout move is ““Try to put it where the goalie isn’t; I change it up.” Did we say hockey is a simple game?

21. Ottawa Senators (from Nashville): Tomas Jurco, RW (Saint John/QMJHL)

What does Ottawa need? A do over on Zdeno Chara? Tomas Jurco names as his favorite players, Marian Hossa and Marian Gaborik. He is, in fact, changing his own first name to “Marian” (ok, he’s not).

22. Anaheim Ducks: Jamie Oleksiak, D Northeastern (HE)

What do the Ducks need? To do something about Jonas Hiller’s mask. I mean, really, spring for a paint job, eh? Jamie Oleksiak once played for the Detroit Little Caesars. He’s 6’7”, 244… sounds like he ate a Detroit’s Little Caesar’s.

23. Pittsburgh Penguins: Scott Mayfield, D (Youngstown/USHL)

What does Pittsburgh need? Well, we’re not sure, but if they need anything the league will bend over backwards to make sure they get it. NHL Central Scouting's Gary Eggleston says, “Scott plays the body well and is physical but not in an overly rambunctious way.” OK, how about a “truculent" way?

24. Detroit Red Wings: Jonathan Miller, C (USA U-18/USHL)

What does Detroit need? Nicklas Lidstrom to just say, “screw it, I’m playing forever.” Jonathan Miller’s favorite home cooked meal is “Hamburger Helper.” A man after Cheerless' own heart.

25. Toronto Maple Leafs (from Philadelphia): Joseph Morrow, D (Portland/WHL)

What does Toronto need? To make the number “1967” illegal to print or to say out loud. Joseph Morrow’s favorite breakfast food is “eggs benedict.” What, no “eggs benedict helper?”

26. Washington Capitals: Brandon Saad, LW (Saginaw/OHL)

What does Washington need? Got what they need right hereAs for Brandon Saad, he’s perfect. Born in Pittsburgh, grew up 30 miles from Pittsburgh, favorite team is the Penguins, favorite player is Sidney Crosby, loves Primanti Brothers. Really, who better to be a Cap?

27. Tampa Bay Lightning: Jonas Brodin, D (Farjestad/SWE)

What does Tampa Bay need?  I don’t really much care what they need. Not after that sweep of the Caps. Jonas Brodin’s shootout move is “shoot often.” Someone needs to take him aside and explain the concept.

28. San Jose Sharks: Connor Murphy, D (USA U-18/USHL)

What does San Jose need? To offer a human sacrifice for all the misfortune they have endured from the hockey gods over the years. Take Dany Heatley…he hasn’t done much lately. As for Connor Murphy, there seems to be a certain fearlessness about him. He went from the Columbus Junior Blue Jackets to Ann Arbor for the US NTDP. From Buckeye country to Wolverine conntry…gotta like that in a kid.

29. Vancouver Canucks: Ty Rattie, RW (Portland/WHL)

What does Vancouver need? To have all 82 regular season and all playoff games played at home. The three dinner guests Ty Rattie would like to invite are: Patrick Kane, Tiger Woods, and Derek Jeter. All of whom make a living by doing damage with large sticks. Guess it would be a working dinner to get tips.

30. Toronto Maple Leafs (from Boston): Matt Puempel, LW (Peterborough/OHL)

What does Toronto need? Well, anyone do anything about that making “1967” illegal yet? Matt Peumpel’s goal celebration is “kiss the finger.” Well, we suppose it beats “pull my finger.”

And there you have it, your 2011 Peerless Prog-“mock”-tications. As always, do not use them for any cash wagering, unless you plan to cut me and the cousins in on the winnings. Happy draft partying!