First and foremost, I have the great privilege of working with Dee Karl, (also known as the 7th Woman) on this particular blog. She was nice enough to give me a hand because the topic just so happens to be based on her favorite players, Sean Bergenheim, and Jason Blake. Since most fantasy experts are telling people to stay away from the Islanders players, except for maybe John Tavares, and Kyle Okposo, I wanted to show Hockey fans that there is more to this team then just those two future stars.
My first player is Sean Bergenheim. Drafted in 2002, 22nd overall, he reminds me of a younger Jason Blake. As Dee put it" When Sean first suited up for the Islanders, without his number on his jersey, you would not have been able to tell if it was Blake or Bergie on the ice. They both are very fast, strong skaters that stay low to the ice. If you blink, you miss them going by you." So I did some stat comparisons between the two and came up with the following. Both are 5'10" and Bergenheim is 205lbs while Blake is listed as 180lbs. So we're looking at pretty much the same style of play. Dee took it a step further "He (Bergie) can be just as yappy, just as agitating and just as productive as the man who is eleven years his senior. Now that he is 205lbs, he is far more physical than Blake, but their work ethic is the same. They both will give 110%--most of the time. The downside to their similarity is they can both be despondent and moody should things not go the way they want them to."
Despite the plethora of similarities between the two, they do have one major difference: age. Both started out their careers slow, both played fourth line minutes, and eventually moving up the lines. However, Bergenheim is 25 years old while Blake is 36. When Blake was 25 he was not in the NHL. He was playing for North Dakota in the college ranks, so Blake is definitely considered a late bloomer. As mentioned before, Bergenheim was drafted 22nd overall in 2002. Dee went on to say this "There were expectations placed on him that perhaps he wasn't ready for. I'm hoping that Sean's hands catch up to his feet, the same way as Jason's did. Maturity should bring "hockey-sense."
However, if Bergenheim is in the same mold, then let's take a look at Jason's stats and find out when he started producing on a larger scale. I came to find out that after playing 194 games, Blake had 19 goals, 39 assists for 58 points. Then starting in the 2002-03 season, Jason amassed 25 goals and 55 points. Bergenheim has had some scary, similar numbers. In his career, Sean has played a total of 183 games, scoring 30 goals, and 57 points. Could this be his breakout year that everyone is hoping for? From a numbers standpoint, sure looks that way. I would have to say yes.
I asked Dee if Sean could be as good as Blake, and here is her response. "Yes, I truly believe that Sean could be "just as good as Blake." I don't know if Sean will ever have a 40 goal season, but he will be improve. As long as he remains healthy, I think that Sean's stats could indeed eclipse Blake's by the end of his career. And due to the fact that he is much younger, he has a better chance at getting his name etched on the Stanley Cup one day."
My final question to Dee was simple. Look into your crystal ball and tell me Bergenheims goals total for the year, points etc. "My Crystal Ball says that Sean should come away this season with at least 20 goals. Last season he only had 9 assists points, but then again, I can;t tell you how he will do in that aspect as I don't know who Scott Gordon will put him on a line with. Every coach that I have spoken to about Sean has told me that he can't play fourth line minutes. He has too much energy and being able to play 4th line is really a skill. So depending on how Gordon uses him is how well he will produce in the assists category. I'll just bet on the 20 goals. I will also bet on his feistiness, his competitive nature, his willingness to stick up for himself and his team mates and a willingness to work every shift like it was his last. This is still the kid that Scotty Bowman praised the first time he saw him. I've always felt that Sean hasn't received the respect he was due from the Islanders once he was drafted in 2002. I think a lot of that had to do with his management. Bergie is another "home-grown" talent on our depth chart. If he is used wisely, he'll have a great season.
Since I'm a numbers person, I'm going to agree that we will see at least 20 goals from Bergenheim. That number seems to match his current progress, Fantasy players may want to keep an eye on him and Islanders fans shouldn't be looking at only Tavares and Okposo this year. For those of you who don't follow Dee, I encourage you to find her on Twitter @7thWoman, and on her website 7thWoman. She knows her Islanders, and after reading her work, you will also.