Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hurricane Warning

No one was quite ready for the storm they saw brewing for weeks leading up to the playoffs. The Carolina Hurricanes were one of the hottest teams heading into the post-season and it didn’t stop there. They were able to squeak out two game 7 winners which included defeating top seeded Boston. With a team of fantasy depth players, Carolina specializes playing a team game rather than relying mainly on their star Eric Staal. Goaltender Cam Ward was able to elevate his game once again and make the league take notice.

Ray Whitney – At 36 years old, Whitney continues to put up close to a point per game. GM’s keep wondering if he can continue this pace or will he be a wasted pick. Whitney had 77 points and played in all 82 games this past season. Look for him to have similar numbers and consider him a great addition on your wing or as a keeper if you have a weaker team.

Eric Staal – The young star really seemed to step up his game in the playoffs. With 75 in 82 games, Staal is a number one center on any fantasy team and should be drafted after the top stars are taken. A young keeper for years to come.

Tuomo Ruutu – After his trade from Chicago, Ruutu looked to fit right in on the top lines in Carolina. He was able to net 54 points in 79 games and net 79 PIMS to his totals. He should be looked at as a depth winger next season that will contribute points and PIMS to your totals.

Rod Brind'Amour – This ageless wonder looked like he took a step back last season. Having 50 points in 80 games, Brind’Amour is still a faceoff wizard and excellent for roto leagues in that category. He has limited fantasy value in other formats and should be a waiver pickup if needed.

Sergei Samsonov – It appears that Samsonov has once again found his ability to play hockey. After bombing in other cities, Samsonov looks like he may have found a home and possibly a place in fantasy hockey once again. A streaky scorer, Samsonov is merely a depth player that can be had on your waiver wire.

Erik Cole – Being traded back to Carolina was a blessing for Cole and his fantasy owners. Once he was traded, he lined up on the top line and not only played a big role in Carolina’s surge towards the playoffs but chipped in at almost a point per game. Not a keeper any longer, Cole should be looked at in later rounds as a decent depth pickup.

Joe Corvo – Owners that decided to keep Corvo from last season were excited about the prospect that this blueliner, with a booming slapshot, was the top dog in Carolina. With only 38 points in 81 games, owners were disappointed with his fall from grace. Look for Corvo in mid-rounds as he should be available and should repeat his totals from last year.

Anton Babchuk – After spending last season in Russia, Babchuk’s return to the NHL was a pleasant one. With 35 points in 72 games, Babchuk was able to step up his game towards the end of the season. Look for Babchuk to hit 40 points next season and keep him on your radar as he may fall to later rounds in your draft.

Joni Pitkanen – Entering his prime as an NHL dman, Pitkanen has already played on 3 teams. There have been questions about his commitment to the league and being able to elevate his game to the next level. A top 4 dman, Pitkanen netted 33 points in 71 games. Look at him as a depth guy as he has fallen down the depth chart in Carolina.

Chad LaRose –Came out of nowhere to score important goals and throw his weight around in the playoffs, LaRose became an important player on the Hurricanes and made owners take notice. Having little fantasy value, LaRose is a great role player and can create room for any player he plays with.

Cam Ward – By far the MVP of the Hurricanes, Ward carried the team to a post season birth and into the semi-finals. Ward has fantastic ability and is a top goaltender in the league. He is the number one goalie on his team and owners should draft him with confidence that he will play the majority of games in Carolina.


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