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Past Fantasy Outlooks
One of three Jets forwards under contract through the 2023-24 season, Little is a low-maintenance pivot slotted on the second line with burgeoning wingers Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine. Last year, the veteran appeared in every regular-season game, recording 16 goals, 27 assists, 12 power-play points and a plus-2 rating to remain serviceable in just about any fantasy hockey setup. His average amount of ice time (16:56) dipped for the fourth straight year, but considering Little won a career-high 56 percent of his faceoffs, there's reason to believe that he'll hold steady and see roughly 16 minutes per game. Consider drafting Little for his relatively high floor as he embarks on his 12th campaign.
Little sustained a lower-body injury to open the 2016-17 season, accounting for 23 of the 24 games he missed throughout the year. Had it not been for that ailment, his impressive ratio of 0.80 points per game would have led to a career-high point total over the course of a full, 82-game campaign. Nonetheless, the explosive center still managed a useful 21 goals and 26 helpers in 59 outings. Perhaps the biggest change for the 29-year-old was a drop in ice time, as he slipped to 17:33 per contest after hanging around the 19-minute mark in the prior two seasons. Given the emergence of Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine, the drop in playing time may represent a new norm for the veteran, but if he can stay healthy, owners should expect his production to remain steady.
Little was well on his way to a third straight 50-plus-point campaign, but last season was cut short by an unfortunate back injury. Even still, the top-line center slammed home 17 goals, adding 25 assists and a minus-13 rating. The rating was the worst of his career, but the 28-year-old continued his proficiency as a scorer and offensive threat (even in just 57 games), earning a 13.4 shooting percentage and 12 power-play points. Expected back fully healthy and ready to lead the Jets at the helm, Little needs to stay on the ice in order to keep his role next to powerhouse Blake Wheeler. If he can do so, 50 points should be a breeze with a realistic chance at a career campaign.
While Little wasn't able to replicate the previous season's impressive 64-point campaign, he still turned in another credible effort last year, and he would have come close if not for missing 12 games with an upper-body injury toward the end of the regular season. It was eventually revealed that he played with a dislocated rib during the playoffs, but it's unclear whether that was the injury that caused him to miss time in March. Nonetheless, the 27-year-old is in line to return to his role as a member of the Jets’ first line and top power-play unit this upcoming season, which means he should once again be set to exceed 50 points. He has the luxury of centering the talented duo of Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler, which is a great situation, but Little will need to hold off up-and-coming star Mark Scheifele for minutes on the top line.
Little had a fantastic year in 2013-14, racking up 23 goals, 41 assists, 58 PIM and a plus-8 rating, all of which matched or set career highs. He showed he has what it takes to be a No. 1 center in the NHL, but still has a little more work to do before ranking among the league’s elite pivots. It’s certainly plausible that he could take another jump in production in 2014-15, given his age (26) and capable linemates (Andrew Ladd and Michael Frolik). The Central Division is shaping up to be the toughest in the NHL next season, so there’s a good chance lots of fantasy owners will overlook players on teams like the Jets. As a result, players like Little could be available later than they should be, so keep an eye out for him as a potential value pick.
Although he managed just seven goals in a shortened 48-game season last year, Little did finish with an encouraging plus-8 rating and 32 points. His production last year was especially encouraging towards the end of the season as he managed two goals and nine assists over the team's final 12 games, centering Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler on the team's top line. It would be a big surprise if the trio weren't together to start the 2013-14 season and, given that they likely will be, Little could see a big bump in points and end up with more than 60 this year.
Little's consistency since 2008 has been admirable, notching between 34 and 51 points in each of his last four campaigns. When you factor in the time the Alberta native missed due to injury this past Winter, 2011-2012 was on par with his breakout 2008-2009 season, as Little posted 46 points last year. If your team can withstand the hit Little delivers in the plus-minus column, he makes for a solid pick in the later rounds with his place alongside Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler.
Little bounced back nicely in 2010-11, registering 18 goals, 30 assists and 48 points last year to go along with a team leading plus-11 rating. His speed and skill fit in nicely with the strength of guys like Nik Antropov and Evander Kane. He could post his second career 20-goal season this year and will probably prove to have stability in point production, as he seems settled into his role. Pick him with your hopes on increased consistency and yet still some upside for the 2011-12 season.
After an outstanding 31 goals and 51 points in his first full season with Atlanta in 2008-09, Little managed just 13 goals and 21 assists last season. If you consider Little�s performance last season to be no more than a sophomore-esque slump, he�ll be in for a bounce back year with the consistently improving Rich Peverley as his center for another season. Having said that, the name of the game for Little in 2010 will be proving he can deliver consistently as a scorer in the NHL, so it�s hard to say he�ll automatically bounce back to his 30-goal form of two years ago. The most reasonable expectation this year for Little should be 20-25 goals, and 40-plus points.
): Little showed that he can compete at the top level last season with 51 points and a very impressive 31 goals. The 27th ranked player under 25 by The Hockey News has shown that he could be a candidate to score 30 plus goals year after year. Little has a bright future and the Thrashers are excited that it’s going to be for their squad. He is great around the net and has the ability to finish when the opportunity arises. Also, his ability to see the ice and slow the play down when needed showed great maturity for the youngster, and it paid dividends. Look for the Thrashers to lean on Little more and give him plenty of responsibility. He will see considerable power-play time on the first unit and also could find himself on the top line eventually. A repeat of 51 points is very likely, and 60 or more points will not be a surprise.
Little, the 12th overall pick in 2006, will be looking for more responsibility this year with the Thrashers. He did not play much in the 2007-08 season (6G, 10A, 48G), but there are high expectations for him. He has been skating between Slava Kozlov and Jason Williams during scrimmages, which wouldn't be a bad fit for him. He's still very young and could be a surprise, but I'd stay away from him unless in keeper leagues, or the deepest of leagues.
With 107 points in 57 games, Little had a second straight dominant season for Barrie of the OHL. Little is undersized, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in skill. He will have a chance to win a spot with the Thrashers this season, but there isn't much reason to think he will be an impact player right away. He will likely need some time in the AHL to get used to professional hockey.
Little was the 19th overall pick in the 2006 Entry Draft. He has loads of offensive potential that the demonstrated with a big season in the OHL (42 goals and 67 assists in 64 games). The only real knock on Little is that is he’s just that…Little. At 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds Little would have struggled in the old NHL but he should flourish under the new system. He’ll need a bit of seasoning but expect him to be making a fantasy impact in the next two years. He’s somebody to definitely have on your radar screens.
Little may be little (5'10" and <200 lbs) but he more than makes up for his size with his speed, his nose for the net and his buttery soft hands. While he does not have the top-end potential of fellow draft-mates Phil Kessel, Jonathan Toews, Jordan Staal or Michael Frolik, Little is going to be a very safe and consistent number two center in the NHL. In fact, he has the kind of intangibles -- leadership, work ethic and the ability to make those around him better -- that will make him money in the bank for his NHL squad and your fantasy team.