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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Williams did just about everything the Hurricanes asked of him last season, with the exception of getting them back into the playoffs. Brought in last July on a two-year, $9 million contract, the veteran finished the season with 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists), good enough for third in team scoring behind Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. Looking ahead, the soon-to-be 37-year-old is expected to assume the role of team captain under new coach Rod Brind'Amour, serving as a very important source of accountability in a locker room full of up-and-coming young players. From a fantasy perspective, drafting anyone over the age of 35 bears a certain amount of risk, and Williams is certainly no exception to that rule. He makes for a good late-round selection in most drafts, but returning to the 50-point threshold at this stage of his career seems like a stretch. Don't overpay to get him.
Well known for his postseason heroics in the past, Williams managed zero goals and three assists over seven games before the Capitals were eliminated from last season's playoffs, likely precipitating his departure from Washington. The Caps also couldn't fit in the $4.5 million cap hit he earned from Carolina at the start of free agency, so the 35-year-old winger will move on to serve as a veteran presence in the Hurricanes’ top six, where he'll be surrounded by an abundance of rising young talent. Fantasy owners shouldn't come in with great expectations for Williams, who notched exactly 100 points over the two seasons (162 games) he spent with the Caps. If he backslides in the direction of 40 points, he'll be unownable in shallow leagues, but those in deeper formats will probably appreciate his steady yet unspectacular production.
The Caps almost certainly had Williams’ playoff proficiency in mind when they picked him up prior to last season, but they didn’t quite get what they bargained for – although he turned it on over their final four postseason games, he still finished with a modest seven playoff points while the team was bounced in the second round. In the regular season, though, Williams experienced a nice bump in scoring along with his move across the country, as he cleared 50 points for the first time since 2011-12. As he enters his age-34 campaign, Williams can’t be expected to do much more than that; the Caps will hope for another campaign of good health (he’s missed just one game in the last five years) and a better turn once the second season rolls around again.
Mr. Game 7 is in D.C. for one reason and one reason only – postseason glory. He paces himself over the regular season by playing his best slow-and-steady tortoise routine. But come the playoffs, he transforms into one of the best clutch performers in history. Quite simply, Williams rises to new heights in do-or-die situations. But before you get all excited by the Caps' run to the Cup in 2015-16, you need to remember you’re playing for the regular season. And that means you’re dealing with a slow-starting, mediocre winger who’ll be hard-pressed to deliver much more than 40 points. There’s room in some formats for a guy like that. But make sure you go into the draft with your eyes wide open.
Williams' 43 points (19 goals and 24 assists) in the regular season largely qualified as a disappointment, despite that effort being good enough for third on the team in points. However, his massive playoff performance erased whatever ill feelings may have lingered. He was one of the focal points in a revitalized Kings offense that took home the Stanley Cup, earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason MVP in the process. Williams spent most of his time alongside Anze Kopitar in the regular season, but bounced around other lines in the playoffs to great success. Heading into camp, it's unclear if Williams will skate on the team's top line or elsewhere, and a bounce-back season figures to hinge on his eventual linemates.
It took Williams a bit to find his scoring touch last season, but he managed to finish with 11 goals despite a prolonged slump to start the year. He figures to be back in a top-six role again this year and will probably play alongside Anze Kopitar on the Kings' top line. Expect another 60-point season.
Williams earned a spot alongside Anze Kopitar last year and made the most of his opportunity with 59 points (22 G, 37 A, 9 PPG) in 82 games. The chemistry he showed with Kopitar gives him the inside track to skate with Kopitar on the team's top line to start 2012-13.
Williams stayed healthy until a late-March shoulder injury and it resulted in his highest point total (22 G, 35 A) in four years. He needed offseason surgery, but is reportedly ahead of his schedule in his rehab. Williams should have a spot on one of the Kings' two scoring lines if he can stay healthy and could put up similar numbers again this year having Anze Kopitar or Mike Richards as his pivot.
Williams was enjoying a fine season (24 points in 33 games) with the Kings, skating alongside Anze Kopitar and Ryan Smyth, before breaking his leg in late December. He registered just five points in 16 games after the injury and clearly wasn't the same player. It was the third straight season that Williams has missed a significant chunk of games and it's getting harder and harder to ignore that fact. Watch his role closely this training camp. If he can regain the chemistry on the team's top line he could be in for a fine season but he could also be pressed for ice time by Wayne Simmonds.
Whether you want to classify Williams as “on the rise” or simply “due for a rebound” can be argued but either way he’s primed for a better season. He’ll get a chance to skate with Kopitar on the team’s top line in all likelihood and he’s now two years removed from ACL surgery. If the Kings have any thoughts about a playoff berth they’ll need Williams to return to his back-to-back 30 goal form of ’05-07.
He's a good bet to return to the 30-goal level he reached in back-to-back seasons before his knee injury. Assuming he's healthy, expect something on the order of 25 points on the power play.
The down side of last year's numbers is that Williams's power play productivity crashed and burned in the second half. He is fuly capable of a point-per-game pace, but the dropoff in the second half last year is ominous.
Williams will turn 25 on Opening Night, and has all the marks of a possible fantasy monster. He was the steadiest scorer on the Carolina roster in the last few months of the 2005-06 regular season. If he remains on a line with Rod Brind'Amour, he could push the 90-point mark (although 80 is a safer bet). His peak season, when it comes, will probably be something like 105 points with 15 or 20 power play goals.
Williams offers an excellent combination of size and speed, and will spend the season on one of Carolina's top two lines. Despite his youth (he'll turn 24 about the time they drop the puck on the new season), he has 258 NHL games under his belt. That's a lot, considering last season's washout. Expect something on the order of 0.6 PPG, perhpas more if he adds a few pounds of muscle.