Sunday, May 24, 2009

Capital Gains

With some of the most talented hockey players in the game on one team, the Washington Capitals are poised to be great for many years to come. After a dominate regular season and over-coming a come from behind series win, the Capital played some of their best hockey in the post season. With their top players stepping up and their youth developing at a rapid pace, look for the Caps to repeat their strong performance next year.

Alex Ovechkin – One of the most exciting and passionate players in the game today. Ovechkin loves to shoot and score goals. There is no denying he is one of themost exciting players to watch in a long time. Draft Ovechkin in the top 3 of your draft. Your preference may vary but you cannot go wrong drafting this stud.

Nicklas Backstrom – Excelling in his third full year of play, Backstrom managed over a point per game and looks more confident in all aspects on the ice. Look to draft him in your first round of your draft. He will be playing with AO for years to come and there is no telling how what his point ceiling is.

Alexander Semin – A dynamic and lethal shooter, the only thing slowing down Semin is injuries. He managed 79 points in 62 games and possesses magnificent talent. If he were to ever stay healthy for a full season he may challenge for the scoring title. Owners that draft him should take into consideration he will miss time due to injury but scores a heap when healthy.

Mike Green – Loaded with offensive talent, Green lead all dmen in goals. Bases on point production, Green is one of the top 5 in the league and looks to have a green light from his coach to score goals. He should be on your radar early as he is a long term keeper.

Brooks Laich – Producing 53 points in 82 games, Laich had a great season. Shuffled around the lines, he never managed to have the same linemates. Look for Laich to improve his totals to 60 points next year and will be a great depth addition.

Viktor Kozlov – An injury plagued season limited Kozlov to 67 games and 41 points. Age, health and up and coming players will have an effect on his draftablity. Look at Kozlov as a depth guy and grab a younger player if you can.

Sergei Fedorov – Experience is the key to Fedorov’s game. He scored some huge goals in the playoffs and acted as the second line center most of the season. Even though he doesn’t produce on the score sheet much, his versatility is key. He should be looked at in deeper roto leagues for faceoffs and the odd assist.

Michael Nylander – No one really knows how Nylander fell out of favor in Washington, but he spent the majority of the playoffs and end of the season in the press box. When he did play he was playing on the checking line and a non-factor. Look for Nylander to be on his way out of DC and playing somewhere else next fall. He will be a buy cheap player.

Karl Alzner – With 5 points in 30 games last season, Alzner had a taste of what the NHL was like last year. Sent down for more seasoning, Alzner should be with the Caps next season. He will never be an offensive force but will be a bruiser on the blueline in Washington for years.

Sami Lepisto – A bit on the smallish size, Lepisto has great potential and needs a bit more experience before hitting the NHL. Owners should keep an eye on him come draft day and draft him in late rounds. Hold on to Lepisto as he may very well be Greens partner on the PP.

Jose Theodore – After being pulled from goal in game one of the playoffs, Theodore’s stock has once again dropped like a rock to the bottom of the sea. Owners that thought they had a solid asset should now be on look out for another goalie or drafting Varlamov.

Simeon Varlamov – After stealing the show in the playoffs, Varlamov showed he is ready for the starting role next season. Still needing some experience, the job will be his to lose in the fall. Owners should keep an eye out for him on draft day.


Everything Is Just Ducky

The Anaheim Ducks went up against two giants in the playoffs and defeated the Sharks and took the Red Wings to game seven. At times last season, the Ducks looked as if they didn’t have enough skill to make it to the playoffs as they were being defeated handily by opponents. It came down to the leaders making the difference. Lead by some young, gritty forwards and sock solid defense, the Ducks managed to turn their season around into something special.

Ryan Getzlaf - Like a fine wine, Getzalf is only getting better with age. He showed this post season that he can lead his team through adversity and come out on top. With 91 points in 81 games, Getzlaf is a scoring machine. He is the Ducks go to guy in all situations and should be regarded as a top 10 player in your draft.

Corey Perry – It appeared he took a step back last season as his points didn’t reflect the impact he had on the ice. During the playoffs, Perry stepped up his game and owners should be pleased with his performance. Perry has long term keeper value and should be drafted in early rounds in your draft as he is young, gritty and close to a point per game.

Scott Niedermayer – Still a dominate player in the league, Nidermayer has the ability to change the speed of the game every shift he is out there. Playing in every game this season, Neidermayer finished with 59 points. If he comes back next season, he should be kept. He has the skill to repeat his totals without breaking a sweat.

Bobby Ryan – After playing a quarter of the season in the AHL, Ryan finally got his chance and made it count. A finalist for the Calder trophy, he looked to be a dominate player with and without the puck. Ryan has tremendous value as he has found a home playing on the top line. Draft him in the first 5 rounds or hang onto him if you already have him.

Teemu Selanne – Age and injuries have caught up to Selanne. Still possessing a bullet shot, this sniper has only one kick at the can left. Owners should be aware that Selanne is under contract for one more year and should be weary of drafting him too early.

Chris Pronger – One of the most hated players in the league, Pronger still has the skill and passion to be one of the best dmen in the game. With the cap problems in Anaheim, it does appear that Pronger will be playing elsewhere in September. He will be the top guy wherever he ends up and owners should look for more of the same for him.

Andrew Ebbett – With 32 points in 44 games, Ebbett came from out of the blue to center the second line of the Ducks. He showed grit and skill as he was able to keep up with the sppedsters on his wings. Ebbett should be looked at as a depth player at this point and can be had on waivers.

James Wisniewski – A trade deadline acquisition, Wisniewski fit right into the Ducks top four dmen. He has the ability to play on the powerplay and be solid defensively. Look for Wisniewski to upgrade on his 24 points in 48 games next season and should be drafted as a depth guy.

Ryan Whitney – Another key deadline acquisition, Whitney needed a change of scenery. An offensive, mobile dman that makes the occasional mistake defensively. Whitney will have the opportunity to play with some of the best defensemen in the game and it will only help him in the long-run. At this point I would not put Whitney in the keeper pile but you should take a long look at him at the draft next season if he falls into the mid rounds.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere – A sub-par season, hampered with personal issues found Giggy losing his starters position. There are many questions going into next seasons to where he will be playing as he does have a no trade clause. Owners may need to look elsewhere as it appears Giggy has more on his mind than hockey.

Jonas Hiller – Surpassing Giguere this season to take the starters role, Hiller looked very strong in the playoffs ousting the Sharks and taking the Wings to the brink. Hiller will be the top guy in Anaheim next year and owners should expect him to continue his strong play.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Flame On

At times last season the Calgary Flames looked to be one of the top teams in the league, let alone the Western Conference. As the season wound down, many factors hampered their success in the playoffs. By mismanaging the salary cap, trading depth for Olli Jokinen, an injury riddled defense corps and a tired goalie lead to the round one defeat in the playoffs. There are many questions moving ahead, but the core group of players will remain intact and will lead the Flames to another winning season next year.

Jarome Iginla – One of the best and most durable players in the league, Iginla is a true leader and a premiere player. He is a consistent player and is an above a point per game. He should be taken in the top 10 players in the league and has more value because he is a winger.

Michael Cammalleri – A UFA this summer, Cammalleri will be able to pick where he wants to play the next few season. He had 82 points in 81 games last year and owners should expect more of the same wherever he signs. Cammo should be looked to be drafted in the top 5 rounds after the top tier players are gone.

Olli Jokinen – There are many questions surrounding Jokinen. Many people see him a great player a leader. Never having played in a true hockey market until his trade to Calgary, Jokinen disappeared in the last games before the playoffs. Because he is in Calgary, he may have a lot more perceived value than he truly does. Buyer Beware on this one.

Daymond Langkow – Bouncing between the top two lines last year cost Langkow in the point department. Owners grew frustrated as they thought he was going to have a career year and ended up on the waiver wire on most leagues. He may be looked at as a sleeper now but he doesn’t look to be on the top line anymore, draft him accordingly.

Craig Conroy – Merely a depth player at this point, Conroy will put up points depending on the line he end up on. Consider him a waiver pickup in all formats.

Dion Phaneuf – Even though he only had 47 points in 80 games, Phaneuf is looked at as one of the top young dmen in the league. Owners should not shy away that he had an average season last year. Phaneuf should be drafted in the top 2 rounds in any format.

Todd Bertuzzi – With 44 points in 66 games many would say that he had a successful season. Bertuzzi does have a natural ability to play the game but his best years are behind him. A UFA this summer, he may be willing to take a pay-cut to stay in Calgary. Draft him with caution or pass entirely. Bertuzzi will never play another full season as he has too many long lasting injury problems.

Rene Bourque – An exciting young player, Bourque had 40 points in 58 games. When healthy he adds an element of speed and skill to the wing. Bourque has the ability to turn into a keeper and should be drafted in mid rounds.

Curtis Glencross – His first full season in the league was a success. With 40 points in 73 games, Glencross is a depth player at this point in his career. Fantasy owners should look for Glencross for depth in deeper leagues as he scores in bunches.

Miikka Kiprusoff – Returning to form last year, Kipper played in all but 6 games last year. It appeared as if he looked tired towards the end of the season and was unable to rebound. Kipper is still a top 5 goalie in the league and will play every night unless he is ill. Draft him accordingly and owners will be rewarded.


Orange Crushed

A mix between bullies and snipers is the best way to describe the Philadelphia Flyers. Having built a young and deep team, the Flyers have only looked up after finishing dead last 2 seasons ago. Much of their main focus is on the top two lines as they are gritty and sharpshooters. The Flyers have been forever plagued with the fact they have never had a true all-star goaltender. That is may be addressed this offseason as well as their lack of depth in the backend. That being said, there are plenty of fantasy options to keep in mind on this team.

Jeff Carter - Surpassing everyone’s expectations last year, Carter had a career year with 84 points in 82 games. He will no longer slip on draft day and should be looked at repeating his totals again next season. He should be drafted as a long term keeper a top two center in Philly.

Mike Richards – Another great season for the captain. He is a complete player that has a great ability to create plays, score goals and throw down the gloves when needed. He has developed into a top keeper center that should be taken in the top 2 rounds.

Simon Gagne – A huge bounce-back season, Gagne played in all but 3 games and was close to a point per game. Look for more of the same next season as Gagne should only be considered a small injury risk. He should be drafted in the top 5 rounds as he is a keeper and in the prime of his career.

Scott Hartnell – An all-round good season, Hartnell played in all 82 games and ended with 60 points. He plays a gritty game that contributes to his fantasy value. Hartnell plays a power-forward type game that lands him in the penalty box more often than not. Keep him on your radar as a sleeper keeper or in middle rounds of your draft.

Joffrey Lupul – After 3 campaigns with 50 points, Lupul looks like he has hit his fantasy ceiling. His names have been in rumors as a salary dump in Philadelphia, he will be a great addition as a depth player on draft day. If Lupul does get moved, don’t expect him to break the 50 point mark and draft him before his time.

Mike Knuble – A UFA this summer, Knuble will be looking to cash in. It will be a long shot for him to return to Philly, he is more of a depth player at this point in his career. Knuble has no keeper value and should be looked for 50 points no matter where he signs in the off-season.

Kimmo Timonen – The power-play quarterback in Philly, Timonen was able to put up 43 points in 73 games last season. He is a reliable dman and is always good for 40 points. He should be taken after all top tier defenseman are gone and may have keeper value in deeper leagues.

Claude Giroux – This young winger has made a great impact on his team and has made several veterans disposable. Giroux should improve on his play next season and looks to be playing on the top line. HE should be drafted earlier on in deeper leagues especially in a keeper format.

Daniel Briere – An injury riddled season plagued Briere last year. After returning from injury, it appears Briere may have lost his spot as a top two pivot in Philly. He looked awkward playing wing and may be moved if they can find someone to take his monster contract. A great talent, Briere’s value has fallen and is poised for a better season next year.

Daniel Carcillo – This PIM monster has a bad temper and is a perfect fit in Philly. Carcillo should be looked at as a penalty guy and as small added value when he scores. He should be on your radar come draft day.

Martin Biron – A UFA this off-season, Biron is more than a back-up goaltender. He has the ability to be very good in short bursts. He may be the number one guy in Philadelphia next season because of salary restrictions and should be looked on as a goalie on a great team that will get you wins.


Straight Jackets

Overall, the Blue Jackets season was a huge success. There were some big surprises that popped out of their roster of mainly depth players. Playing a defensive system, winger Rick Nash continued scoring phenomenal goals and rookie goaltender Steve mason lead the league in shutouts. Columbus is a young team that continues to build toward the future and with their first successful season under their belt, they should only be going up from here.

Rick Nash – The only superstar that plays on the Jackets. He is a top flight talent and a gifted goal scorer. The only question it comes to Nash is will he ever break the 80 point mark? Draft him in rounds 2-3 as he is and elite, young keeper.

Kristian Huselius – After having a career year in Calgary, Huselius took a step back last year. He is a great depth player that can play on the top line but is too streaky to rely on. A great mid round pick.
Jason Williams – After a trade from the Thrashers, Williams started accumulating points on a regular basis. He has the ability to put up 60 points in a season and owners should look at him as a very late round pick or a waiver claim.

R.J. Umberger – A great depth center with a bit of an edge to him. Umberger had the opportunity to play on the top line and gather valuable experience. With point totals similar to his years in Philly, Umberger should be looked at as a late round pick in a draft as he is not the top guy on the depth chart.

Antoine Vermette – A trade deadline acquisition, Vermette looked to fit right in on the second line in Columbus. Not looked upon as a point producer, Vermette is one of the best utility guys in the league. He is a great depth player especially in a roto format.

Jakub Voracek – His rookie champagne had its ups and downs. Managing 38 points in 80 games, Voracek should have a great season next year given the opportunity to play on the top two lines. Owners should draft him in middle rounds in a keeper format and a little later in other formats.

Fedor Tyutin – having played in every game last year, Tyutin had a career year. He was a valuable waiver pickup for any GM that grabbed him. Look at Tyutin to put up similar numbers next season and be the powerplay quarterback.

Derick Brassard – Limited to a mere 31 games last season, Brassard managed 25 points playing on the top line. Brassard looks to be the top pivot in Columbus and play with Nash. He should be looked at as an asset in next year’s draft, especially if Nash resigns long term. Brassard is a keeper now and should be drafted as such.

Kris Russell – Increased his point totals in his second year, Russell has offensive talent as a defenseman. Look for his totals to increase next season as you will be able to steal him in late rounds or on the waiver wire.

Jared Boll – One of the teams enforcers, Boll is strictly a penalty machine. He will be available on the waiver wire but keep an eye on him if you need PIMS.

Nikita Filatov – The highly touted prospect was limited to just 8 games last season managing 4 goals. Look for Filatov to play half the season in the AHL again and he will only be rushed to the big league if he hits his stride. Filatov should be looked at as a top prospect and long term keeper.

Steve Mason – An outstanding season, Mason was one of reasons the Jackets reached the playoffs for the first time. Most likely winner of the Calder trophy, Mason is a keeper and the top guy in Columbus now. Don’t let him slip to far in the draft as other GM’s will try and get him in later rounds.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bombing on Broadway

With high expectations and little follow through, the New York Rangers fell apart once again this season. This season proved again that there are huge problems in the Big Apple. The Rangers went through scoring droughts, a coaching change, Avery’s antics and a game 7 disappointment to the high flying Capitals. Their need for a true goal scorer should be front and center this off-season but will they have the budget as GM Glen Sather seems to overpay just about everyone that puts on a Rangers jersey.

Sean Avery – The ultimate agitator in the league, Avery spent the majority of the season away from the NHL. When he plays he is the most hated player by opponents and teammates. He is a questionable keeper now and may be on his last legs in the league. Draft him at your own risk as the reward may be high.

Scott Gomez – Highly talented, Gomez may be the most overpaid player in the league. Having a career season in New Jersey years ago, he signed a huge contract in New York and has never lived up to his hype. Owners should look elsewhere on draft day for a centerman. There are plenty of young centers with greater upside than Gomez who is on a downwards slide.

Chris Drury – A leader by nature, Drury should be looked at as a depth center as he has only been consistently around the 60 point mark for a couple seasons now. Draft him in mid to late rounds.

Nik Antropov – A career year with 59 points should indicate to owners that Antropov is merely a depth player on most fantasy teams. While he does offer PIMS as an incentive to draft him, being a UFA may offer more upside come draft day. Look for Antropov to fall of draft day and may be had late or on waivers.

Nikolai Zherdev – A proto-typical Russian player, Zheredev oozes will natural ability. When he is not in the coaches doghouse, he can be found on the top line. An RFA this offseason, there are whispers Zherdev may play in Russia next season. He may not be cut out for the hard hitting league.

Brandon Dubinsky – A streaky scores with an edge. Dubinsky mirrored last year’s totals while upping his PIMS. He has a good upside but is not draft worthy yet. Look for him when he heats up on the waiver wire.

Ryan Callahan – Upping his totals each year, Callahan spent time on the top line at the end of the season scoring some big goals for the Rangers. He has the ability to put up points and get PIMS which offers GMS more incentive to draft him in late rounds.

Michal Rozsival – The most offensive dman the Rangers have, Rozsival took a step back last season. Look at him as a sleeper dman as he does have the potential to put up better number than last year.

Henrik Lundqvist – One of the most talented goaltenders in the league, Lundqvist has the ability to steal games. Looked upon as a top goalie in the league, he is as only good as the goal starved Rangers most nights. He should be drafted in the first 3 rounds of any draft.

The following players have little to no fantasy value and should be looked at a depth players only: Wade Redden, Daniel Girardi, Paul Mara, Derek Morris and Marc Staal.


Shark Bait

This was the year the San Jose Sharks were supposed to win the Stanley Cup. Instead this was the year they failed miserably. The Sharks were able to add what seemed to be all the right pieces in the offseason for their run to the Cup. They were outstanding for three-quarters of the regular season and slowed down near the end. Their ousting by the eight seeded Ducks will always be remember as the ultimate insulate, especially when they look up to see their Presidents Trophy Banner.

Joe Thornton – Even though he struggled in the postseason, Big Joe is top 5 in any draft. He is one of the most complete players in any format and should be drafted as such.

Evgeni Nabokov – One of the best goalies in the league, Nabakov had a great regular season but looked terrible in the playoffs. Like Joe, Nabby is a top 5 goalie and should be drafted as such, in the top 2 rounds of any draft.

Patrick Marleau – The Sharks captain had a resurgence this season with close to point per game stats. Look for the Marleau rumors to continue this offseason as he was non-existent in the playoffs. Owners should not be shocked if he is finally moved and his stats may suffer in that case.

Devin Setoguchi – In his second season with the Sharks, Seto had a huge leap forward playing with Thornton and looking good on his wing. If he can stay there Setoguchi should improve on his numbers next season and now has keeper value.

Joe Pavelski – Known as Little Joe, Pavelski anchors the second line and as upped his totals in every year with the club. Look as Pavalski as a depth player and should be drafted in later rounds or stolen as a waiver pickup.

Dan Boyle – In his first season as a Shark, Boyle continued his offensive ways and made the Sharks a favorite all year. Boyle is a top 3 dman and should be drafted in rounds 2 or 3 of a draft. He will continue to put up great numbers and average in the top dmen in the league.

Milan Michalek – It appears as though Michalek as found his offensive ceiling. Bounced between the top 2 lines, Michalek plays the majority of the games and should be looked upon for 60 points per season. For that reason, he should be drafted in the mid rounds of any draft and may have limited keeper value depending on your team.

Ryane Clowe – A streaky scorer, Clowe has the ability to put up good numbers in short bursts. Playing a power-forward type of game, Clowe has settled in nicely on the second line. Look to draft Clowe as a depth guy until he can go over the 60 point mark.

Rob Blake – at 38 years old, Blake has still showed he game can a force on the ice and score sheet. A UFA this season, Blake should return to the Sharks again and continue putting up great numbers. If he comes back, he should be kept or drafted in middle rounds of a draft.

Christian Ehrhoff – A career year last year, Ehrhoff showed he has more value than a depth defenceman. Owners should keep him on their radar after the top tier dmen are gone from their drafts. He has proven he can play an important role on the powerplay.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Known as Pickles, Vlasic managed to have a great season playing along with the veterans. More of a fantasy depth guy, Vlasic should be drafted after the top tier dmen are gone.

Jonathan CheechooBUYER BEWARE !!! Cheechoo has officially gone from top line player to sitting in the press box. His fantasy value has hit rock bottom and owners should NOT draft him in any format. If Cheechoo does get traded, as rumors speculate, his value will still be low and you should go after a more consistent player.


Better the Devil You Know ...

The 2008-09 season was filled with adversity for the New Jersey Devils. Starting the season off well they lost All-star goaltender Martin Brodeur with a torn bicep muscle. All seemed to be lost until career backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen appeared on scene. The Devils maintained pace with the top teams in the Eastern Conference until Brodeur was ready to make his return.

With Brodeur back, the all-time win record by a goaltender was in sight. On March 17 2009 the Devils defeated the Blackhawks and Brodeur surpassed Patrick Roy as the NHL’s win leader by a goaltender. After that the wind in the Devils sails died. They finished the season on a losing skid and continued the lackluster performance in the playoffs.

Martin Brodeur – one of the best goaltenders to ever play the game. Draft him early and never trade him. He is aging but can still perform better than most goalies in the league.

Zach Parise – This young sniper is a breath of fresh air in the defensive style of the Swamp. He has shot up in all draft charts and in now a long term keeper.

Patrick Elias – Has once again emerged as a catalyst in Jersey. This streaky players has the ability to put up big points but is too streaky. He is a mid round pick at best now because of his age and disappearing factor.

Jamie Langenbrunner - The captain had a career year but can he keep this as a consistency? I doubt it, draft him accordingly in later rounds.

Travis Zajac – His best year to date, this youngster will continue to develop as long as he plays with Parise and New Jersey plays offensively. He should be considered a sleeper and can be stolen late.

Brian Gionta – Only 29, it seems like eons ago he had a 48 goal season. His value has fallen so has his draft ranking. Gionta is a UFA and should remain in New Jersey. Look for similar numbers next year.

Paul Martin – The strongest and most offensive Devil rearguard, had a decent season as New Jersey doesn’t get much help from their backend. Look elsewhere for help as you will be able to draft more offensive help on other teams.

David Clarkson – The resident tough guy, Clarkson has the ability to put up points and defend his teammates. A great depth pickup in roto leagues can be had late or on waivers.

These following players have limited fantasy value and should be looked at a depth players and waiver pickups: Danius Zubrus, Brendan Shanahan, Brian Rolston, Jonny Oduya and Scott Clemmensen.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Not So Blue

Last season was a huge success for the St. Louis Blues. Despite being swept in the playoffs, the Blues were able to overcome serious injuries to their team leaders and watch their rookies carry the load. The future looks bright for the fans in the gateway city and fantasy gm’s should not shy away from selecting these hard working Blues.

Erik Johnson – The 2008-09 season was a disaster for Johnson. Not only did he miss the playoffs, he was unable to participate in one game all season. He should be fully healed from tearing both ligaments in his knee and fantasy owners should be happy. Johnson has high end talent and should be taken mid-early rounds of a draft.

Brad Boyes – He has finally found his stride and has improved on his totals over last year. He should continue go put up point per game numbers and does so silently. Look for Boyes to slip on draft day as he is not a household name yet.

David Backes - In his third year Backes has improved on both his point totals and penalty minutes totals as well. His stock will continue to rise and should be looked at as sleeper come draft day.

David Perron – One of only a handful of players playing fulltime in his draft class, Perron beat the sophomore slump by upping his totals. Look for more of the same next year.

Keith Tkachuk – This veteran will just go away. A leader on a young team, Tkachuk is no longer the point producer he once was. His value has fallen and should be looked at as a depth option now.

Patrik Berglund – The young Swede had a strong start to the season but faded as the season grinded along. Berglund is the face of the franchise and will be the top guy in a few years.

Andy McDonald – Finishing the season close to a point per game, McDonald will be the top guy next season. Owners will be rewarded by drafting him in later rounds as he can still play.

T.J. Oshie – A decent rookie season has Oshie as a depth player, for now. Look for him to develop further next year.

Carlo Colaiacovo – After a trade from Toronto, Colaiacovo found his way on the top power play unit and racking up a lot of points. Always an injury risk, he is worth taking a risk on because of his offensive upside.

Paul Kariya – When healthy, Kariya is still a top winger in the game. Kariya should be back with a vengeance next year but owners should be weary of his hip injury as it may linger. He still is keeper worthy and should be taken in early mid-rounds in a draft.

Alex Pietrangelo – He had 8 games in the big league before being sent down. Pietrangelo needs more seasoning in the AHL before he is considered an NHL worthy d-man.

Chris Mason – Exceeding expectations last season, Mason led the Blues’ march into the playoffs. A solid goaltender, Mason looks to be the number one guy heading into next season. Owners should look at Mason as a backup to their number one tender as he is on a young team and they could be streaky.


Hanging Them Up

After 15 seasons in the NHL, Markus Naslund is calling it a career. After a 35 year career, the former first round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins, has citied dissatisfaction with his game as the main reason for hanging up his blades.

As a Canuck, Naslund enjoyed his best years in the league, playing with Todd Bertuzzi and Brendan Morrison. They formed a powerful line that led the Canucks and intimidated their opponents. Though his game has slowed down in recent years, Naslund is still an experienced veteran able to lead a team but not contribute as a top tier player. I tend to think that there are other factors at play with Naslunds decision. It may be a lack of chemistry, being at odds with Tortorella or the Sean Avery factor. I think you will see Naslund play in Sweden next year and on the Olympic team in 2010.

Fantasy owners of Naslund should be able to recover the loss of the winger. Since his best years are behind him, owners should concentrate on getting younger. There will be plenty of options in the off season as teams with too many keepers are looking to dump players for draft picks.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Booms & Busts - Playoffs - Bad Hab-its

The playoffs is a vital time for star players to show up and show that they have what it takes to take their teams to the promised land. It is also a time that star players disappear and get blamed for their teams’ short comings.

In this series I will analyze the fantasy booms and busts for the 2009 playoffs.

Montreal Canadiens

The hopes were high for the bleu, blanc et rouge for their century season. Having finished strongly last season, the Habs were immediate favorites to hoist the cup. It definitely was set-up to be a magical season. Their season started out strong and went downhill fast. Goaltender Carey Price battled injury and confidence issues, injuries to their top lines players, a mafia scandal involving players, a benching of their best player, an owner looking to sell, and a four game sweep by the Bruins topped it all off as a disaster. Looking ahead, the Canadiens have many personnel choices to make and as a fantasy owner things look cloudy.

Carey Price
– overall had a disappointing season. Price looked strong in the playoffs and looked to get some of his confidence back that he was lacking in the middle of the season. Stick with this kid as he is still on his way up.

Alex Kovalev
– One of the only players to show up during the playoffs, Kovalev’s future is uncertain. Look for him to return to one of his old clubs. When Kovalev wants to play he is dangerous. As a fantasy option he is still a keeper even though age is not on his side. Consider him a mid-round choice, maybe sooner if he signs in Pittsburgh.

Saku Koivu
– The captain had a decent season. No longer a top tier player in the league, Koivu will have the option to return to Montreal next season being a UFA. A second line player at best, Saku should be looked at as a depth or waiver wire pick-up for owners.

Alex Tanguay
– Even with an injury plagued season, Tanguay was able to put up 41 points in 50 games. Look for Montreal to make a strong pitch to retain his services next season. Owners should consider keeping him or drafting him in rounds 4 to 7, once the second tier players get selected. He will have another productive season wherever he ends up.

Christopher Higgins
– At this point in his career Higgins is merely a depth player and offers little in the way of a fantasy option.

Andrei Kostitsyn
– Implicated in a mafia scandal, Kostitsyn was a shadow of the player he was last season. At this point he is a keeper risk as he has fallen out of favor in Montreal and should be taken in the mid rounds in a draft.

Andrei Markov
– Injured during the playoffs, Markov was second on the Habs during the regular season in scoring. Markov is a top d-man in the league and is a definite keeper and should be taken in rounds 3 - 5 in any draft.

Tomas Plekanec
– Disaster is the only word to describe Plekanec’s season. Starting on the top line and ending up in the press box, he only scored 39 points in 80 games. Plekanec is no longer a keeper and should only be drafted as a depth move at this point. That being said, he could be a sleeper next season.

Mathieu Schneider
– After being traded from Atlanta, Schneider turned Montreal’s power play around last season. This aging vet can still be a presence on any team. Owners should consider Schneider a possible keeper in deeper leagues or a mid round pick. It all depends where he signs in the off season.

Robert Lang
– The trade from Chicago rejuvenated Lang and he was able to play an important role for Montreal before his season ending injury. Lang’s fantasy value at this point is no more than a waiver pickup.

Yannick Weber
– The young d-man stepped up in the playoffs due to injuries and proved he can play. Keep an eye on him next season as he is an offensive minded rearguard.