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Posted - 05/17/2010 :  09:25:58  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
In fantasy hockey we are always looking for the next big thing, the overlooked, unwanted and undervalued. It is rare that we take a look back and appreciate what a player has done. With the Detroit Red Wings out of the playoffs, it is unknown whether the unrestricted free agent, Nicklas Lidstrom will play another game in the NHL.

With 18 NHL seasons under his belt the 40 year old has been a force on any fantasy team he has been a part of.

Over the past few seasons Lidstrom has become one of those rare players that are now playing with people who aspired to be like him. Also over the past few seasons Lidstrom has started putting his name all over the record books. His career achievements include a World Championship, 4 Stanley Cups, 11 All-Star selections, 6 Norris Trophies, a Conn Smythe and in 2006 Lidstrom joined the elite triple gold club winning an Olympic Gold with Sweden.

When looking at his value on a fantasy hockey team it is obvious that he is a consistent threat at the defensive position and provides piece of mind to fantasy owners. In his 18 NHL seasons he has played less than 75 games only once. He is 7th all time among defensemen with 1046 points, 5th in +/- with a +431 and 10th in games played with 1412, he is also the active career leader in all of these categories. Even more impressive is the fact that Lidstrom is the overall leader in every defensive category for Europeans. Not only has he set the bar for European defensemen but he also set a new standard as the first ever European captain to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Having never posted a single season with a minus rating, averaging .74 points per game and quarterbacking one of the most consistent powerplays in the league Lidstrom is an ageless wonder that will not be replaced on any fantasy lineup. The important question for fantasy owners is who will replace him in Detroitís lineup?

Brian Rafalski is the obvious short term replacement. Already an offensive force Rafalski will step in nicely as the quarterback of Detroitís powerplay should Lidstrom not be back next season. However, at 35 years old Rafalski is only a real option in single year leagues. As a long term solution the picture is rather unclear in Detroit. However, with Niklas Kronwall signed through the 2011/12 season he seems the most likely to fill the void that Lidstrom will leave over the next several seasons. At 28 years of age Kronwall still has many years left in him and could produce upwards of 60 points on a number 1 powerplay unit. If Lidstrom has laced up his skates for the last time the league will lose a great star and role model that truly is irreplaceable on any NHL or fantasy team!

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