Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Training Camp Notes: September 30th

Evander Kane (C) – ATL – The 4th overall draft pick has made enough of an impression in Atlanta to warrant and extra look in real NHL action. Kane will undoubtedly stay up for his 9 games allowed before it affects his contract status. He is penciled in on the third line with Colby Armstrong and Rich Peverley for now and will be hard pressed to climb the depth charts as Atlanta already has their top six in place. Kane remains a high-end prospect in keeper leagues, but he should be returned to the minors once his 9 games are up.

Robert Lang (C) – PHO- The veteran forward has signed a year deal with the Coyotes and should add another leadership presence in the dressing room. With 39 points in 50 games last season in Montreal, Lang should automatically become a top 6 forward in the desert. His fantasy value is minimal at this time and should only be considered in very deep leagues, if he gets hot.

Maxim Afinogenov (RW) – ATL - The speedy Russian is looking to rebound from two horrible seasons in Buffalo. Marred by injuries, Afinogenov skates like lightning but is too unpredictable for his teammates to coordinate a balanced attack. Signing in Atlanta will give the winger a fresh start as well as many fellow countrymen to play will. Plagued by injuries and unpredictability, Afinogenov is worth a waiver claim just to see what he can do in Atlanta.

James Van Reimsdyk (LW) – PHI – The 20 year old has impressed the Philadelphia brass so much they waived Randy Jones to be able to carry him on the roster. Look for JVR to bounce around the top 9 forwards and get time on the second powerplay unit. If he is available in your league, pick him up as he has loads of potential and a great prospect to have on your roster.

Nathan Gerbe (C) – BUF – Small in size but not in talent, Gerbe was sent down to Portland to continue improving his game. The 5’6”, 173 lbs, 22 year old, is extremely small by NHL standards. Gerbe should get a call up to Buffalo once the injury bug hits. Gerbe has excellent potential to be an NHLer, think Danny Briere, but will have to make the transition to wing at the pro level as his size works against him at the center position.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Schremp: Voted on to the Island

The New York Islanders have claimed Robbie Schremp off waivers from the Edmonton Oilers.

Schremp, the former London Knight and Youtube legend, never seemed to fit into the Oilers plans. After tearing up the OHL in 2005-2006 with 145 points in just 57 games, Schremp couldn't crack the Oils roster the following year. He has registered three decent years in the AHL since then but his lack of a two-way game has kept him out of the big show. After failing to make the Oilers squad for the 4th straight season, Schremp had to be placed on waivers before being demoted to the AHL.

The Isles have taken a flyer on Schremp as his skillset is too good to pass up. Fielding only a few good young players, and a bunch of AHLers, the Isles had the roster space to give him a shot. The Isles will have to place him back on waivers if they intend to send him down so Schremp will get quality NHL minutes to prove he can play at this level. With few skilled wingers, Schremp could quickly be the Isles best option to play with rookie John Tavares. Follow this situation closely because the two could make some sweet magic together. Or Schremp could be on waivers by mid-October...


Training Camp Notes: September 29

With training camps winding down and final cuts just around the corner there have been a few surprises so far and more to come in the upcoming days leading into opening night.

Matt Duchene (C) – COL – The 3rd overall selection has made the opening day roster and looks to be on the 2nd line. On a weakened Avalanche team, owners must keep in mind that he is a long term prospect and not to expect too much from him this season. Being sent down is not out of the question.

Cody Hodgson (C) – VAN – The young center has not impressed the Canucks management thus far. Still recovering from a back injury, Hodgson now sits on the bubble to make the team. Owners should probably expect to see him sent back to his junior team with the hopes of cracking the roster next season. He remains an excellent prospect in keeper pools.

Cory Schneider (G) – VAN – After Roberto Luongo signed his new contract in the off-season the future of Schneider with the Canucks looks bleak. A blue chip goaltending prospect, Schneider was returned to Manitoba after losing the back-up battle to Andrew Raycroft. He will now get a chance to dominate the AHL once again. Look for Schneider to be called up at some point when the Canucks realize that Andrew Raycroft cannot play at the pro level any longer. The demand from other teams will continue to grow at that point, and he should be traded for a hefty ransom. Draft Schneider and wait it out if you can as he should be a starter in years to come.

Peter Regin (C) – OTT – The 6 foot, 200 lbs Centre appears as if he has made enough of an impact to secure a spot on the opening night roster. Regin had a taste of the NHL last year appearing in 11 games and scoring 2 points. During pre-season action, Regin lined up as the second line center, displacing Fisher to the wing. The transition worked well as Fisher netted 4 points that game. Consider picking up Regin in deeper leagues and keep an eye on his ice time and line-mates. If he becomes the second line center, grab him on your waiver wire in deeper leagues.

Danny Syvret (D) – PHI – Securing a spot on one of the top Eastern Conference teams is no small feat, but the 24 year old will start the season as the Flyers number 6 d-man. With a successful season in the AHL last year, 57 points and 44 PIMs in 76 games, Syvret should make a smooth transition to the NHL. With Randy Jones being placed on waivers, Syvret will gain valuable experience learning from veterans like Pronger and Timonen. Syvret offers very little value at this time but may turn into an option in deeper leagues in the future, keep an eye on him.


Blue Jackets Acquire Anton Stralman

The Columbus Blue Jackets acquire defenceman Anton Stralman from the Calgary Flames for a 3 round pick in 2010.

The Blue jackets are in desperate need of a powerplay quarterback and the Jackets are going to give the 23 year old a chance to play regular minutes in the NHL. Stralman continues to have minimal fantasy value in pools but owners should keep an eye on him if he indeed climbs up the depth chart in Columbus.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Training Camp Notes: September 27

Carey Price (G) – MON – The young netminder is looking to be in top form already this preseason. Price turned away 29 Buffalo shots and came away with a 3-2 victory. It appears that Price has worked hard this off-season to improve on some of his flaws in his very technical approach to playing goal. Look for Price to come out solid and be challenged by back-up Jaroslav Halak for the starting role. A tandem situation is still a possibility is Price struggles.

Jimmy Howard (G) – DET – The 25 year old has finally been able to crack the Red Wings line-up. Although still pegged as the back-up, Howard should play on a more regular basis than a traditional back-up. Veteran Osgood doesn’t appear he can handle the rigors of a full schedule any longer which will push Howard into more of a tandem role. Draft Howard late in rounds of your draft as he now has increased fantasy value, especially if you can change you goalies on a daily basis.

Chris Mason (G) – STL – The Blues are on the way back up and their goaltending has never been so strong. The Blues blanked the Stars 5-0 last night and mason was on top of his game. Stopping all 29 shots, the 33 year old goaltender is heading into the season as the top guy in ST. Louis. Mason is a solid choice, however Ty Conklin is a more than capable back-up that with challenge Mason for starts. If you draft Mason, grab Conklin as well, as the Blues will be playing the hot guy in net.

Martin Brodeur (G) – NJD - The veteran back-stopped the Devils to a 1-0 win over the high flying Flyers stopping all 21 shots. The 37 year old shows no signs of slowing down and is looking to break Terry Sawchucks shutout record this year. Brodeur is an elite keeper and the best goalie to ever play the game.


The Deep Sleeper

So, you’ve scanned through your fantasy magazines and websites to compile a list of sleepers for this upcoming season. Every list you have read may have two or three different players on it, but you’ll notice that there are several players that make each list. Let’s call them the “Trendy Sleepers.”

The “Trendy Sleepers” are easy to call. They are players who have:

* Finished the 08-09 season strong – Rich Peverly, ATL
* Dominated in the AHL or Europe last season - Jonas Gustavsson, TOR
* Should play a bigger role with their club based on their team losing higher depth chart players via free agency or trade – Ville Leino, DET
* Hot shot rookies who could be ready to contribute – Cody Hodgson, VAN

If you have read several fantasy publications, or visited fantasy websites like JFH, these players are already household names. The problem is, every GM in your draft wants these guys and usually drafts them a few rounds too early. So to get them, you end up “reaching” with a pick that should be used on a sure thing.

In this article, we want to give you a list of Deeper Sleepers. These are guys who may fall into any of the four categories above, but they have done it under the fantasy radar. You won’t find these guys in your average sleeper list, but they could end up being just as, if not more, productive this season.

James Wisniewski (D) – ANA - Wisniewski played only 48 games last season, split between Chicago and Anaheim, after recovering from off-season surgery. Wisniewski finished strong with Anaheim and ended up with a total 24 points in 48 games. At 25, he is already part of the Ducks top 4 and contributes with PIMS as well. Grab him in the last few rounds of your draft or quickly snatch him off the FA list.

Fearless Forecast – 75GP, 9G, 28A, 37P, 95PIMS

Vladimir Sobotka (C) – BOS - Sobotka has been a productive player in the AHL the past few seasons but has been buried on the Bruins’ depth chart. With Kessel moved to Toronto and Krejci rehabbing off-season surgery, Sobotka finds himself with a spot in the productive top 9. At 22, Sobotka still has a lot of untapped potential and could be a steal by season’s end.

Fearless Forecast – 74GP, 19G, 20A, 39P

John Moore (D) – CLB - The 21st pick in the June Draft, Moore is looking to make the huge jump straight from the USHL to the NHL. He has been all the talk at the Jackets’ training camp and already has NHL size and speed. Moore is a fantastic skater who is a threat to jump in the rush at any time. He looks like a younger Mike Green at times, including the odd defensive gaffe. If he does make the club he could produce decent numbers, however even if he is sent down, he is a lot closer to the NHL than originally thought. Grab him in keeper leagues and hope he sticks.

Fearless Forecast – 9GP, 1G, 2A, 3P (*Returned to Kitchener after 9 games)

Jamie Benn (LW) – DAL - Benn has been on fire this pre-season and has looked uber-comfortable playing with Mike Ribeiro. His play is forcing the team to give him a longer look on one of the top two lines. Benn was the best player in the WHL last year, scoring 46 goals in just 56 games with Kelowna. The Stars have some great playmakers but don’t have a lot of finish around the net. Benn could immediately take advantage of that and become a go to sniper in Big D. Snatch him up if he is still a FA in your league.

Fearless Forecast – 75GP, 22G, 21A, 43P

Max Pacioretty (LW) – MON -
“Patches” looked very good in his 34 game call-up with the big club last night. A speedy, power forward, Max should take advantage of some open roster spots and contribute for the Habs this year. Not a roster lock, he will be an early call-up and will find ways to score. Keep an eye on him as a FA. Target him in keeper leagues.

Fearless Forecast – 56GP, 11G, 16A, 27P

Patrick Hornqvist (LW) – NAS -
Hornqvist was a “Trendy Sleeper” last year after scoring goals in bunches in Sweden. The adjustment to North America was not easy for Patrick and he found himself going back and forth from the NHL to the AHL. In 28 NHL games, Hornqvist received limited ice-time and put up a mere 2 goals. Coach Barry Trotz needed Hornqvist to become a more complete player and he has responded well this preseason. Lining up on the Preds top line with Arnott and Dumont, Hornqvist has 6 points in 4 games and looks like a different player. Grab him as an FA and hope he can stick on the Preds top line.

Fearless Forecast – 72GP, 23G, 20A, 43P

Niklas Bergfors (RW) – NJD - Bergfors is another player who has been a “Trendy Sleeper” in the past. A talented prospect, Bergfors struggled to put up big numbers in his first two AHL seasons. Things seemed to come easier for him last year in Lowell however, as he put up 51 points in 66 games. The Devils have been patiently waiting for him to develop to enhance their secondary scoring. Bergfors has has a solid pre-season and looks to have locked down a roster spot. How productive he’ll be on a Jacque Lemaire team is the bigger question though.

Fearless Forecast – 68GP, 13G, 16A, 29P

Artem Anisimov (C) – NYR - If you have followed JFH this pre-season, you know how much we love Anisimov. He dominated the AHL as a 20 year-old, using his great size and hockey smarts. Still developing his speed, the lanky pivot has all the tools to be a top-line centre. He looks to have cracked the Rangers' roster as the team’s 4th line centre. He should quietly move up the depth chart as the season progresses and he could be a very productive player in the second half. Grab him off FA before someone else does.

Fearless Forecast – 74GP, 18G, 19A, 37P

Martin Hanzal (C) – PHO -
At 22, Hanzal already has two full NHL seasons under his belt. A complete player, Hanzal still has a lot of untapped offensive potential and should get a chance to show it this season. He struggled coming back from off-season back surgery last year but came to training camp in great shape. He lead the Yotes in ice-time last night, the first game under new coach Dave Tippett. Hanzal is the kind of player a coach loves as he can be played in any situation. Look for an offensive spike this year. If he is available, grab him as a solid depth centre.

Fearless Forecast – 82GP, 18G, 31A, 49P

Torrey Mitchell (C) – SJS -
Mitchell scored 10 Goals in his rookie season of 2007-2008, impressing Sharks brass with a strong finish to the year. Mitchell though missed all of last season recovering from a broken leg. He did make a cameo in the playoffs last year and showed that he still has his blazing speed. A skilled, two-way pivot, Mitchell could surprise this year and push Joe Pavelski for 2nd line ice-time. Watch his progress early as he could pay huge dividends if he lands on one of the Sharks scoring lines.

Fearless Forecast – 80GP, 17G, 22A, 39P

Viktor Stalberg (LW) – TOR -
Stalberg has been the toast of Toronto this September with his outstanding pre-season. Producing 5 goals and 7 points in 7 games, Stalberg looks to be a lock on one of Toronto’s scoring lines. The Big Swede is amazing to watch as he can hit a high gear like few others. His large frame and lightning speed allows him to track down and recover pucks in all three zones. Stalberg can score too as he was a Hobey Baker finalist after sniping 24 goals for Vermont last year. Viktor is effective in any situation, which means he’ll get lots of ice-time under head coach Ron Wilson. If Stalberg is still on your FA wire, consider yourself lucky and grab him before finishing this article.

Fearless Forecast – 70GP, 20G, 17A, 37P

Michal Neuvirth (G) – WAS -
Neuvirth was selected 11 picks after Simeon Varlamov in the 2006 Draft. I guess the Caps were hedging their bets on a future #1. Neuvirth has followed Varlamov up the depth chart and was excellent as the #1 in Hershey following Varlamov’s promotion to the big club late last season. While Simeon is getting all the love in fantasy drafts this year, it wouldn’t surprise us to see Neuvirth end the year as the Caps #1. Simeon had a magical ride last season but it didn’t finish well against the Pens. He showed he has holes in his game, and if NHL teams get the scouting report, Varlamov could get sent back down to Hershey to iron them out. Varlamov’s loss would be Neuvirth’s gain. Keep an eye on Varlamov and handcuff him with Neuvirth in keeper leagues.

Fearless Forecast – 11GP, 7W, 2.54GAA, .910SV%


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Training Camp Notes: September 26th

Viktor Stalberg (LW), TOR - We mentioned Stalberg in an earlier column but he is worth mentioning again. His play this pre-season has got stronger with each game. He has tremendous speed and size and uses that to his advantage to track down pucks on the forecheck and backcheck. Every time his huge 6'3, 210 frame hits top gear, you are left in a state of awe. Trying to put the finishing touches on making the big club, Stalberg was all over the ice against Detroit last night. He had 2 goals and an assist in over 18 minutes of ice-time. His first goal showcased his great wrist shot, which helped him snipe 24 goals for Vermont last year. A Hobey Baker finalist, grab Stalberg off the FA list and hope he can stay in Ron Wilson's good books. He is a deep sleeper that should be targeted in keeper pools.

Maxim Afinogenov (RW), ATL - Mad Max played a strong game for the Thrashers last night, scoring a goal and an assist in 16 minutes of ice-time. The speedster has struggled to stay healthy and produce with the Sabres over the past 3 seasons. A change of scenery might be what Max needs. He had many offers to go to the KHL but wanted to return to the NHL to prove he could still be a difference maker. If Max can land on one of the top two lines in Atlanta, he could have a bounce-back year. Playing with any of Kovalchuk, Antropov, Kozlov, White or Little should help him get back to being a relevant goal-scorer. Watch him early and be prepared to snatch him off the FA list if he produces.

Jonas Gustavsson (G), TOR - The long-awaited debut of "the Monster" took place in the Motor City last night. After having a minor heart procedure at the beginning of camp, Gustavsson has been practicing with the team, waiting for the incision to heal. He played just one period last night, stopping all 7 shots he faced. The Monster uses his huge frame to get in front of shots and has surprising quickness for a goalie that big. While he showed a bit of rust last night, Toronto is commited to this guy and will give him every chance to steal the starter job from incumbent Vesa Toskala. With an improved Toronto Defence, Gustavsson could be a great sleeper goalie this season and have a Pekka Rinne-type of year 1 impact. Target him in your drafts and keeper leagues.

Vladimir Sobotka (C), BOS - Sobotka has been on the cusp of making the Bruins for two straight years but has been buried on the depth chart behind all of Beantown's other young talents. After putting up 44 points in 44 AHL games in Providence last season, he has nothing left to prove at that level. He is an AHL+ player waiting for a shot at a regular NHL job. This should be his year. With David Krejci coming off surgery for a torn labrum and Phil Kessel traded to Toronto, suddenly their are some openings in Boston's very talented top 9. Sobotka is looking to seize one of those spots and had an assist last night in over 17 minutes of ice-time. Watch him early as he could be a great FA pick-up if he lands a permanent gig with the Bruins.


Friday, September 25, 2009

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Mark & Chris

Training Camp Notes: September 25th

Marian Gaborik (RW) – NYR – One of the premiere talents in the league takes his game to Broadway. Already having issues with his groin, Gaborik tallied 2 goals and added an assist to lead the Rangers to victory. Gaborik is one of the most gifted players in the league, and when healthy, is an elite fantasy player. If he can stay healthy he is worth your first round draft pick.

Andy McDonald (C) - STL – After an injury sidelined McDonald last season, and held him to only 46 games, the Blues pivot is looking to rebound by playing a full season and continue at his point per game pace. McDonald tallied 2 powerplay goals last night in 16:19 minutes of ice-time. Look at McDonald to be a solid selection as he is the Blues top center on a young and improving team.

Louie Eriksson (LW) & James Neal (LW) – DAL – This young duo is leading the charge in the youth movement in Dallas. Eriksson and Neal scored a combined 5 points last night against the Avalanche, which propelled the Stars to the victory. Eriksson is looking to improve on his 63 points from last season and will factor into the Stars top 6 this year. Neal needs to shake the sophomore jinx in order to improve on his 37 points from last season; he will be a top 9 forward in Big D and has a goal scorer’s touch.

Jonas Hiller (G) – ANA – The solid Swiss goaltender seems to be the top choice in Anaheim right now. Hiller backstopped the Ducks to a victory over the previously undefeated Canucks. Stopping 23 of 25 shots, Hiller appears to be ready for prime time in Anaheim. The Ducks should be a solid team and give Hiller plenty of support to earn victories and put up good numbers this season. Look at Hiller as somewhat of a sleeper goaltender entering the season.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Training Camp Notes: September 24th

Jamie Benn (LW), DAL - Benn was the best player in the WHL last season and a scoring machine during the Kelowna Rockets Memorial Cup run. His play in that tournament raised his stock in the Dallas system and he quickly became their top prospect. Given an opportunity to make the club this pre-season, Benn is earning a top 6 spot. Last night he played with Mike Ribiero and finished with a goal and a fight. Benn is tied for the pre-season scoring lead with 4 goals in 4 games. The Stars love Benn and would like to see him thrive on a top line. Look for him to start the season in the top 6 and watch his early-season progress. Draft Benn in the late rounds of your keeper leagues and hope for the best.

Jack Johnson (D), LA - Johnson played just 41 games last year and has battled injuries in both of his two NHL seasons. That said, he has always had a ton of potential and the Kings want to see it come to fruition. They moved the highly-productive Kyle Quincy to Colorado during the offseason to open up more opportunities for Johnson. Johnson should start seeing a lot more powerplay time which could help spike his production. Last night, Johnson had an assist while logging over 23 minutes of icetime and a team-high 1:05 on the powerplay. Johnson has 5 points in 4 pre-season games and could form a dynamic duo with Drew Doughty on the kings blue-line starting this season. Grab Johnson in the middle rounds of your draft and earlier in keeper leagues. He could finish the year a #2 fantasy d-man.

Evander Kane (C), ATL - The other big centre picked in the top 5 of last year's draft, Kane has an outside shot of making the Thrashers opening night roster. Kane played just under 17 minutes last night, with over 3 minutes on the powerplay and penalty kill respectively. The Thrashers love his size and responsible, two-way game. Kane may crack the opening night roster but it would probably come as the 4th line centre. Don't expect a ton of production this year, but Kane is worth holding onto in keeper leagues.

Matt Duchene (C) COL, Brayden Schenn (C), LA - The two top 5 picks played against each other last night. They combined for 0 points and a total of 2 shots on goal. Schenn had over 18 minutes of ice-time and played in all situations. Duchene was given 15 minutes of ice-time, but played 2:40 on the powerplay.

Although he didn't register a point last night, Schenn impressed in his first pre-season game with 2 goals and 1 assist. The Kings are soft up the middle and would like Schenn to make the squad if he is ready. Brayden should play a few more times over the weekend, and if he can keep up his solid play, he could find himself centering the Kings 2nd or 3rd line come opening night. Draft Schenn in your keeper league.

While the production hasn't been there for Matt Duchene this pre-season, he has impressed the Avs coaching staff with his speed, versatility and smart, two-way game. Expect Duchene to make the Avs starting roster and draft him in keeper leagues.

Nik Antropov (C), ATL - Big Nik proved last season that he doesn't need to ride shotgun to Mats Sundin to put up points. After being traded from Toronto to New York at the deadline, Antropov quickly became the Rangers most dangerous offensive player. Atlanta signed the big centre to a 4 year contract in the off-season, with the hopes of him becoming one of their top offensive players. Antropov has looked great so far in the pre-season with 5 points in just 2 games. He had a goal and an assist last night playing over 16 minutes on a line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Bryan Little. If Antropov maintains chemistry with Kovalchuk, he could be in for a career year. Draft him in the middle rounds as he could be a cheap, highly productive forward.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Training Camp Notes: September 23rd

Jakub Voracek (RW) & Nikita Filatov (LW) – CLB – The sophomore and rookie sensations teamed up last night against Boston and tallied 5 points between them. Voracek scored 1 goal and had 2 helpers, while Filatov had 2 assists in the contest. While Voracek has nailed a spot in the top six, Filatov should be an obvious choice to fill another hole and add secondary scoring to a team that needs it. Both players should be drafted in earlier rounds of keeper pools as they both possess great scoring potential.

Claude Giroux (RW) – PHI – The Flyers iced what appeared to be their final roster against a less powerful Red Wings club. Giroux finished the game with 2 assists, +3 in 14:30 minutes of ice-time. The Flyers have a very potent offense loaded with young snipers and a veteran defence that will add a valuable component to a strong team. If you can grab any top 9 Flyers in your pool you will be rewarded with a great season as they appear to be a team that should finish top 3 in their conference.

Jonathan Quick (G) – LAK – The NHL looked towards Kansas City as an untapped market that would be a possible destination for hockey in the future. With the beautiful Sprint Center vacant of any major sports teams, 9,972 fans showed up to watch the NY Islanders battle the LA Kings. Goaltender Jonathan Quick played the entire contest for the Kings and kicked away 17 shots to beat a weakened Islanders team that did not have John Tavares in the line-up. Quick is the number one guy on a young and improving Kings hockey team. He should get the majority of starts and have respectable numbers for the course of the season. He should be on your draft day list as a late round sleeper.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Training Camp Notes: September 22nd

Kyle Turris (C), PHX - The 3rd overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft has been sent down to San Antonio for more seasoning. While highly skilled, the knock on Turris has always been his wirey frame and inability to play against NHL-sized Defenceman. The Yotes apparently believe he is not quite there yet as he becomes one of the early surprise demotions to the AHL. After 20 points in 63 NHL games last year, Phoenix may keep Turris in San Antonio and hope he can dominate there before another promotion. Hold on to him in keeper leagues but cut bait in standard leagues.

Evgeni Grachev (C), NYR - Grachev, a 3rd round pick from the 2008 draft, was one of the most dominant players in junior hockey last year. The big Russian put up 80 points in 60 games with the Brampton Battalion, making a smooth transition to North American ice. The 19 year-old has been turning heads at Rangers camp and had an impressive game playing with Anisimov and Callahan last night. Grachev's play may get him an extended look to start the year, however the Rangers will probably send him back to Brampton or down to Hartford (as a European skater, he is eligible to play in the AHL). Watch Grachev's play over the next few weeks and grab him in a keeper league.

Matt Gilroy (D), NYR - The highly sought-after free agent signing is getting lots of pre-season ice-time. Gilroy played 21:34 last night, including 4:51 on the Powerplay. The Rangers are also giving young Defenceman Michael Del Zotto and Bobby Sanguinetti a long look as their PP quarterback, however it is Gilroy who is signed to a large, 1-way contract. Gilroy has looked good this pre-season but I'm not sure he is worth the hype. Watch his minutes in the first 10-15 games as Tortorella may quickly lose patience with Gilroy's run-and-gun defensive play.

Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta & Michael Cammaleri, MON - Watched some of the Penguins/Habs game last night and this newly acquired top line was all over the ice. The three pnit-sized forwards have shown instant chemistry and dynamic speed. Expect all three to have strong years - bouncebacks for both Gomez and Gionta. Draft any of the three pint-sized producers and expect to be rewarded.

Theoren Fleury (RW), CGY- OK, I go out a few days ago and say that Fleury won't do much more then score the shootout winner in his first pre-season game. How does he respond? One goal and two assists over the next two games. Fleury is starting to find his niche in Calgary as a secondary scorer and may actually force Sutter's hand to stay on this roster. At 41, Fleury could be a magical story and provide the Flames with something they have been lacking for years...a scoring threat on the 2nd line. I am still betting against Fleury, but get your popcorn...this is getting interesting.


Monday, September 21, 2009

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Mark & Chris

Training Camp Notes: September 21st

Curtis Glencross (LW), CGY – Once cast-away from Edmonton, Glencross has finally found a home in Calgary. He tallied 1 goal and 3 helpers while playing on the top line last night. At this point the left-wing position on the top line in Calgary is not set as Glencross, Bourque and Dawes fight to play with Iginla and Jokinen. Keep an eye out for the winner.

Martin Havlat (RW), MIN – Havlat played in his first game as a member of the Wild and it couldn’t have been sweeter. Playing against a weaker Blackhawks pre-seaoson team, Havlat still scored 2 goals and led his team to a shutout victory. Havlat still possesses magnificent skills and will average a point per game.

Jordan Eberle (C), EDM – The energetic 19 year old has been playing lights out since the beginning of training camp. His smallish size has made him a speedy offensive weapon that fits the Edmonton style of play. Held pointless, he has been arguably one of the top Oilers thus far in camp, out-playing some of the ‘skilled’ veterans.

Calvin De Haan (D), NYI – One of the surprises of June's draft, the Isles picked De Haan much higher then many scouts anticipated. So far in training camp, De Haan has looked poised but still green around the collar. The young d-man is an offensive threat and will one day be a top guy on the Islanders blueline. Keep an eye on him in long term keeper leagues as he would be the perfect compliment to Streit on that powerplay.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Training Camp Notes: September 20th

Artem Anisimov, (C) NYR - Anisimov was one of my big sleepers coming into this season. The 6-3 Russian Centre put up 81 points in 80 AHL games last year, as a 20 year-old. He has great offensive insticts and developing speed/power. Head coach John Tortorella has already called Artem out as a candidate for the Blueshirts vacant #1 Centre job. How did he respond? A highlight reel goal and an assist last night in 16:27 of icetime. Take a flyer on Anisimov, he could pay off and become this year's Kris Versteeg.

Brayden Schenn, (C) LA
- The "other Schenn" made a big impact last night. The 5th overall selection in June's draft scored two goals for the Kings who beat the Ducks 4-1. Schenn played in all situations last night and has a decent shot at cracking the opening night roster. Maybe the most complete forward coming out of the draft, he could have some fantasy impact if he sticks with the Kings. Don't expect big point totals for another year or two though.

Nick Foligno & Mike Fisher, (LW & C) OTT - Ottawa made the Heatley trade with the hopes of acquiring some scoring depth. Well Foligno and Fisher aren't ready to be demoted to the third line quite yet. The pair combined for 8 points last night, led by Fisher's 3 goals. Both players are capable of producing during stretches but need to find consistency in their game. If he stays healthy (a BIG if), Fisher could lead the Sens 2nd line, surrounded by Alfreddson and one of Cheechoo/Michalek/Foligno. Based on that landscape, he could be primed for a career year of 50+ points. Foligno is out to prove he is more then just a 3rd liner. Look for him to top 20 goals this year and get some time on one of the top 2 lines.

Nikita Filatov, (LW) CLB - Filatov needs to impress this pre-season if he wants to stick with the Big club. Last night did not help his cause. Nikita received 17:05 of ice-time, and led the team in powerplay ice-time. The results, no points, 1 shot. Hitchcock needs more then that if he is going to give the youngster a spot on the top 6. Watch this situation carefully as Filatov has said he would rather go back to Russia then spend another year in the AHL.

Cody Hodgson, (C) VAN - Hodgson scored his first goal of the pre-season last night, though it was an empty-netter. The Canucks gave Hodgson just under 15 minutes of ice-time but over 3 of that was on the powerplay. It looks like Vancouver wants Hodgson to break in on the 3rd or 4th line and work his way up. This could limit his fantasy value this season, but he is still a stud in keeper formats.

Michal Neuvirth, (G) WAS - Neuvirth, the other goaltender picked high in the 06 draft (Varlamov was selected in the 1st, Neuvirth early 2nd), played a strong game last night against the Hawks. He gave up two goals in 26 shots and made several big saves. Varlamov enters the season as the #1 goalie but the rookie still has some flaws in his game. Neuvirth could surprise many and be the Caps #1 goalie by mid-season. Watch him closely and grab him if Varlamov stumbles.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Training Camp Notes: September 19

Atlanta – Zach Bogosian (D) – This sophomore is coming off a strong second half last season after he broke his leg earlier on in the season. An important piece of Atlanta’s future, Bogosian logged an enormous 31:16 minutes seeing time on the powerplay and in short-handed situations. This kid will be a monster this year.

Tampa – Victor Hedman (D) – The second overall draft pick skated in his second pre-season game. In his first 2 games in the NHL Hedman has averaged 27 minutes of ice-time and has played in all situations. He has not tallied a point yet, but that will come in time.

Detroit – Ville Leino (LW) – The talented Finn should be a lock this year with Detroit. The only question is which line will he play on? Leino had 2 assists last night in 15:56 minutes of ice-time and will only gain confidence the more he plays.

Colorado - Matt Duchene (C) – Hitting the score sheet last night, Duchene was arguably the best player on the Avalanche. Duchene scored 1 goal and assisted on another and played 3:11 on the powerplay. He is a bright spot on a rather dim Avalache team.

St. Louis – Erik Johnson (D) – His recovery has seemed to come full circle as Johnson played in his first game last night. With 1 assist, Johnson logged 20:06 minutes of ice-time, had 3 shots and was +2. Look for his minutes to increase once the season starts.

Edmonton – Mike Comrie (C) – What a home coming for Comrie. Feared that he would be booed once he stepped on the ice, fans were chanting Comrie’s name after his 4 assist night. His totals will come down to earth once the season starts but keep an eye on the waiver wire for him.

Anaheim – Luca Sbisa (D) – The young d-man was a part of the Pronger trade at the draft and is fighting for a spot with the Ducks. In 23:54 minutes of ice-time, Sbisa scored a goal, an assist, +2, 2 PIMs, and 2 shots on goal. He also played 4:51 minutes on the powerplay.

Vancounver – Henrik Sedin (C), Daniel Sedin (LW), Cody Hodgson (C), Sergei Shirokov (RW) – The Sedins continued their scoring by beating up the Sharks. Henrik had 2 goals and 2 assists in the game, while Daniel scored 1 goal and had 2 helpers. Hodgson also scored a goal and had 12 PIMs in only 7:22 minutes of ice-time. Shirokov played wing with the Sedins and helped his cause to stay with the Canucks by getting two assists. Keep an eye on him, if he makes the club he will be a sleeper in all drafts.


Fantasy Q & A - Kadri a Keeper?

Question from Dale:

Hey guys,

I really liked what I saw from Nazm Kadri last night in the Leafs pre-season game, as well as Andrew Angelage a few nights earlier in a rookie game. Both have had successful OHL careers and might show something in the near future for the Leafs. I think Kadri looked very much like a young Russ Courtnall considering the speed and size comparisons.

What are your thoughts on Kadri? Who is he comparable to?

And what about Angelage? I could really see him shine in the near future given the Leafs goaltending struggles in the past few years. He reminds me of Sean Burke.

- Dale

JFH Response:

Hey Dale,

Thanks for the question.

I was a little surprised when the Leafs grabbed Kadri at 7th overall. While he is known as a fiesty, talented forward, I thought Burke was going to draft Jared Cowan and continue to "build from the net out." That said, I have been impressed with the pick ever since. Kadri has top-end skill, something we haven't seen a lot of in Toronto over the years. I think Russ Courtnall was one-dimensional, where I see Kadri being much more of a complete player. He reminds me a lot of Doug Gilmour/Pavel Datsyuk - an undersized, shifty forward that can always create something.

Offensively, only Tavares and Duchene have a higher ceiling coming out of the 2009 Draft then Nazem. He has looked great in two pre-season games but expect him to go back and lead the London Knights this year. He also should play a pivotal role on the Canadian Junior team this December. Grab Kadri if you are in keeper leagues as his value may skyrocket with a dominant season in the OHL.

As for Andrew Englegage, the former Windsor Spitfire goaltender has turned a few heads at Leafs camp. Invited to camp after backstopping the Spitfires to the Memorial Cup, Englegage has shown that he is more then the product of a great team. He has good size and poise. I think he will get himself a contract and start in the Central Hockey League. Keep an eye on him but he has no fantasy value at this point, keeper or not.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Official: Kessel A Leaf

The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded a 2010 1st round pick, 2010 2nd round pick and a 2011 1st round pick to the Boston Bruins for the rights to Phil Kessel. Kessel then agreed to terms with the Maple Leafs on a 5 year deal worth $27 Million (5.4M cap hit).

The deal that has been talked about since the NHL draft has come to fruition. Brian Burke, who has preached about the re-build in Toronto, makes his boldest move yet - moving three high draft picks for a young, skilled 36 goal-scorer. Pessimistic Leafs fans will complain that Burke gave up to much but Kessel is only 3 years removed form being a top 5 draft pick and is proven...something you can't say about any of those future picks.

Here is a fantasy breakdown of the deal:

Phil Kessel:
Kessel is coming off a breakout year where he lit the lamp 36 times. Still only 21, Kessel could develop into one of the league's top snipers as he is lightning fast and has a great shot. "Phil the Thrill" made the Bruins in his draft year and has progressed in leaps and bounds since then. He has had to grow up fast after battling testicular cancer in his rookie year and then mono last year.

The move to Toronto could be good and bad for Kessel's fantasy value. In keeper leagues, he is a great pick-up, but be weary of not overvaluing him in standard leagues. Here's why:

1. The loss of Marc Savard
Kessel is coming off a career year where he played with one of the top playmakers in the NHL in Marc Savard. The Leafs don't have a playmaking pivot like Savard and their top centre Mikael Grabovski is a shoot 1st, pass 2nd type of centre.

2. Rehab
Kessel won't join the Leafs until November/December after having off-season rotator cuff surgery. Kessel is a shooter, which makes shoulder injuries that much tougher to come back from. He will likely take the first few months back to get fully comfortable on the ice.

3. Chemistry
As mentioned in point #1, the Leafs don't have many playmaking forwards to get Kessel the puck, and because of this, he could struggle to find chemistry with any of their top 6 guys. Of all the players on the Leafs current roster, the two most natural fits for Kessel would be youngsters Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri. Neither are guaranteed a spot on this year's team though which means Kessel could be spending his winter months isolated on the top line.

Fearless Forecast:
2009-2010 52GP, 21G, 17A, 38 Points
2010-2011 80GP, 38G, 36A, 74 Points

Again, Kessel will have a huge fantasy impact next year, just don't expect it this year. If you have him in your pool, shop him to your resident Maple Leafs homer who will surely overpay.

Get the Just Fantasy Hockey Forecaster for FREE with Kessel's updated fantasy value HERE, or click the top right logo for instant download.


Training Camp Notes: September 18th

Training camp is in full swing, and here at Just Fantasy Hockey we're going to break down what you need to know. Every morning, we'll post a blog that highlights performances from intriguing fantasy players and any other relevant training camp news.

What a moment for Theo Fleury last night in Calgary. The dimunitive winger scored the shootout winner in front of the home crowd. It was an amazing moment for Fleury but it may be the peak of his comeback. Fleury looked a step behind and will struggle to make an impact this pre-season. He will likely get a ticket to Abbotsford and, like Claude Lemieux last year, will need to impress there to get a mid-season call-up. Stay away fantasy players.

The big news of the night was the impressive debut of former Boston College standout Colin Wilson. The Nashville centre had a goal and two assists in only 11:26 of ice-time. Wilson may break camp as the Predator's #2 centre and should challenge Cody Hodgson, John Tavares and Nikita Filatov for the rookie scoring title. Only thing holding him back is head coach Barry Trotz's tendency to slowly break in rookies. Draft early in keeper leagues and keep an eye on his progress and ice-time early on.

Maple Leafs fans are starting to get a taste of the future. Nazem Kadri scored his first pre-season goal last night and has not looked out of place in two games. That said, I still can't see Kadri making this team. Tyler Bozak has been one of the most dangerous players on the ice in both pre-season games and looks to be a lock on the roster. Former Vermont winger Viktor Stalberg has also been impressive with his unique blend of size and top-speed. The Leafs are crowded up-front with bottom 6 forwards so it's tough to see where these impressive rookies could fit in. Grab Bozak in the late rounds though, he could be a steal...a very smart player that reminds me of David Krejci. He should be able to match Krejci's rookie season of 27 points in 56 games.

Colorado rookie Matt Duchene played in his first pre-season game last night and went pointless in 12:38 of ice-time. He did receive a team high 2:38 on the powerplay though, showing you that the Avalanche are going to give him every opportunity to make this team. I expect Duchene will make the Avs and have a decent rookie year. Think 35-40 points. Keeper leagues, draft early.

Buyer beware on Kyle Okposo. The promising young Isles winger got absolutely drilled by Dion Phaneuf in last night's game. Phaneuf hasn't thrown a hit like that in a year and a half. Okposo was carried off in a stretcher and has suffered a "mild" concussion. He could be out for a while so keep tabs on his recovery and hope for the best if you already drafted him. Okposo was set for a breakout season.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sykora Signs in Minnesota

The Minnesota Wild have signed winger Petr Sykora to a 1 year, $1.6 Million dollar contract.

At 32, it seems as if Petr Sykora has been playing in the NHL forever. Joining his 6th team in 8 years, Sykora moves away from the Stanley Cup champion, Pittsburgh Penguins and the top scorers in the league, to Minnesota, where they are attempting to forge a new identity.

Over his many seasons, Sykora’s stats have had a terrible yo-yo effect. With 81 points back in 2001-02 with New Jersey, Sykora has only broke the 60 point mark one time after that. With moving to Minnesota, he will be playing with less skilled players which will affect his totals. A goal scorer by nature, Sykora should have no problem breaking the 20 goal mark. Look for him to score 45 points and grab him in later rounds of your draft as his fantasy value has fallen.

Get the Just Fantasy Hockey Forecaster for FREE with the Sykora's updated fantasy value HERE, or click the top right logo for instant download.


Pre-Season Rookie Watch

Toronto - Tyler Bozak (C) – The 23 year old played his first game for the blue and white and used every opportunity to make his point to coach Wilson to stay with the big club. With 17:28 minutes of ice-time, Bozak tallied a short-handed goal and had two other shots on net. He was involved in many offensive opportunities and looked like a seasoned sniper.

Philadelphia – James Van Reimsdyk (LW) – Another older rookie has looked quite impressive in his two games so far this pre-season. Van Reimsdyk scored the lone goal against Detroit, with 2 shots on goal and 14:36 minutes of icetime and lit the lamp in the Taverse City rookie tournament. Keep an eye on him as he should be on the Flyers opening night roster.

NY Islanders – John Tavares (C) – The #1 overall draft choice took to the ice for his pre-season action against the Oilers. Finishing a -1 on the night, Tavares skated for a whopping 22:50 minutes and was second on the team in total ice-time.

Pittsburgh – Eric Tangradi (C) – Playing in his first NHL tilt, the rookie got to play shotgun with Sidney Crosby. In 14:31 minutes of ice-time, Tangradi had 2 shots on net and assisted twice on goals by Crosby. Keep an eye on Tangradi, if he is able to make the team he may find himself of a line with Crosby or Malkin, he is that skilled.

Ottawa – Erik Karlsson (D) – The highly touted prospect has finally made his way to the NHL. Playing in his first game, Karlsson had 7 shots on net and 20:44 minutes of ice-time. Not bad for his first game and defiantly worth taking a look at in deeper leagues.

Phoenix – Kevin Porter (C) – The unknown Porter has been on fire in his first two pre-season games for the Coyotes. Porter netted 3 assists against a split-squad Kings team and skated for 21:15 minutes and assisted on the Coyotes lone goal against Anaheim with 21:26 minutes of ice-time. Keep an eye on him as he could fall into sleep category soon.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Northwest Division Sleepers

Calgary – Rene Bourque (LW) – Injuries hampered the speedy winger last season and held him to 58 games. With Cammalleri and Bertuzzi off to other teams, Bourque should now be the default winger on the top line. If Bourque can stay healthy and stays on the top line he will definitely surpass his 40 points from last year.

FEARLESS FORECAST – 70 GP – 26 G – 26 A – 52 PTS

Colorado – Kyle Quincey (D) – Another rookie that made an impact last year was Quincey. He was made expendable in Los Angeles this off-season because of their exceptional depth on defence. By moving to Colorado, Quincey will anchor the Avalanche powerplay and repeat his numbers in his sophomore season.

FEARLESS FORECAST – 75 GP – 6 G – 29 A – 35 PTS

Edmonton – Denis Grebeshkov (D) – The big Russian is another weapon on the Oilers already offensive blueline. A top four defenseman, Grebeshkov also helps out on the second powerplay unit as well. With 39 points in 72 games a repeat of his performance from last year is not out of the question.

FEARLESS FORCAST – 75 GP – 8 G – 34 A – 42 PTS

Minnesota – Marek Zidlicky (D) – Minnesota is stepping away from its defensive style of play and going offensive for the first time since coming into the league. Zidlicky is one player that will benefit from the changeover. Scoring 42 points in 76 games last season, a repeat in totals should be expected from the unknown defender.

FEARLESS FORECAST – 78 GP – 12 G – 31 A – 43 PTS

Vancouver – Alex Burrows (LW) – This hard-nosed and gritty winger not only can score goals but fights as well. He is the perfect compliment for the Sedins and their lack of physicality. Burrows scored 51 points last year and added 150 PIMs, a feat he will surely repeat this season.

FEARLESS FORECAST – 82 GP – 27 G – 26 A – 53 PTS