Living in Prince George, B.C., there isn't a lot to cheer about as a fan of the WHL's Prince George Cougars. It was another disappointing season as the Cougars won only 12 games and star player Brett Connolly was dealing with multiple injuries. Connolly is a big game, high scoring player who is expected to go in the top 10 of the NHL Entry Draft this year, which gives me hope for next year.
Even though the Cougars are not bringing excitement to Prince George, several former Cougars are in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Three of the four remaining teams have a Cougar on their roster and all three are playing major roles.
Blair Betts is playing on the third and fourth line for Philadelphia and playing a shutdown role. Betts is everything you look for in a checking centre and although he is a good NHL player, he should never, ever be on your fantasy roster. He provides the Flyers with face-off, penalty killing and leadership qualities and will be a key player as the Flyers look to move to the Cup finals, but none of those qualities will help improve your fantasy team.
San Jose Sharks winger Devin Setoguchi scored 31 goals and 65 points as a rookie in the NHL last season but suffered the sophomore jinx in Year 2 with only 20 goals and 36 points. Setoguchi has rebounded nicely in the playoffs with five goals and eight points in 13 games.
Setoguchi showed great chemistry with Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe in the first round against Colorado when he scored three goals, three assists, averaged more than five shots a game and scored the overtime winner in Game 2. Setoguchi, who was also in the WHL with the Saskatoon Blades, has shown that on the right line he can score points. Though he may not yet be a keeper for your fantasy squad, he should be an early pick as he could develop into a 40-goal and 40-assist guy.
The former Cougar having the biggest impact is Chicago Blackhawks winger Dustin Byfuglien. He has six goals, eight points and two game-winning goals in the last six games.
In the first round against Nashville, Byfuglien was virtually invisible. He finished the series with no points, a minus-3 rating and managed one or less shots in four of the six games. All that changed halfway through the second round. Byfuglien is developing into a power forward in the mold of Tomas Holmstrom; he is a player who likes to set up office right in front of the goalie and will score a bunch of garbage goals. If your hockey pool rewards goal scoring and penalty minutes, Byfuglien should be a player on your draft list. Byfuglien will be a 25-goal and 100-plus PIMs player for several years to come.
The other added bonus with Byfuglien is that he is usually listed as a winger and defenceman, which gives you options when dressing your lineup.
So even though there wasn't a lot to cheer this season in the WHL as a Cougars fan, it is nice to see Cougars alumni making a big impact in the Stanley Cup playoffs.