Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An Ageless Wonder

The San Jose Sharks have
re-signed veteran Rob Blake to a 1 year, $3.5 million dollar contract.

Fantasy Outlook: Blake looked rejuvenated last season helping the Sharks win the President’s trophy. The 39 year old defenceman had 45 points and 110 PIMS in 73 games last season.

Blake will once again help anchor the power-play with partner Dan Boyle and remains an excellent fantasy option as he will contribute in all categories and reward owners heavily. At 39, he may not have many years left and owners of Blake may shy away from drafting him in a keeper pool - opting for younger talent. If given the opportunity, draft him in early mid rounds once the premier, keeper defenders are taken.


Fantasy Value Quick Hits

Peter Budaj – Was given the opportunity to be the number one guy on a weak Avalanche team last season. Budaj should no longer be a fantasy option unless you are in desperate need of a goalie as the Avalanche will surely sign a number one guy and Budaj will serve as a backup.

Keith Tkachuk – The 37 year old is coming back for another campaign in the gateway City. Recording 49 points in 79 games, the veteran now has minimal fantasy value and should be looked at as a depth player on all rosters. If leadership could be measured, he would be a keeper in all formats.

Jussi Jokinen – The young speedster signed a 2-year contract in Carolina where he looks to have finally found a home. A shootout specialist, he is looked at as a great third line option with very little fantasy value.

Dave Bolland – Rewarded with a 5 year contract, Bolland plays an important role in Chicago. With 47 points in 81 games, Bolland has fantasy potential and may climb the depth charts on the Blackhawks pending injuries to the team. The ability to play wing and center helps his value, especially if he is listed as a winger in your pool.

Petr Prucha – Coming over from New York has only helped increase Prucha’s fantasy value. With increased ice time and less pressure to perform, Prucha should seize the opportunity and excel. Look at him as a sleeper pick in late rounds or on the waiver wire. He may be an asset if he gets hot.

Alex Goligoski – This young blueliner is on the cusp of seeing a regular shift in the NHL. Signed to a new 3 year deal, Goligoski could be a top four dman in Pittsburgh next season and see time on the second powerplay unit. A great pick in later rounds.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Billy and the Kid

Bill Guerin has agreed to a 1-year deal with the Penguins. 

Fantasy outlook: Guerin proved he still has some pop as he meshed well with Sidney Crosby down the stretch and during the Pens'  victorious playoff march. In a total of 41 games with Pittsburgh (Regular Season and Playoffs), he scored 12 Goals and 15 Assists for 27 points. 

While his goals have declined in each of the past two seasons, the 38 yo should continue his youth revival flanking Crosby/Malkin for parts of next season. Expect him to finish with around 45 points and have numerous hot and cold streaks throughout the year. Draft Guerin as a reliable vet in the later rounds, but be careful not to overrate him due to a decent playoff. Consider that his "inflated" stat totals with the Penguins still only add up to 54 points over a full season (pro-rated).


Sunday, June 28, 2009

1st Round Picks & Who May Help You Next Year

Another NHL Draft came and went this past Friday. I don't remember watching a more hyped draft then this one. The uncertainty over the top 3 picks, the big names being tossed around in trade rumours and finally one man's public quest to bring John Tavares to the Blue & White. In the end, the draft produced expected results and only 1 notable trade - Pronger donning the Black & Orange (see Mark's and my take on that trade below).

Below are the results from the 1st round as well as the handful of players that could make a fantasy impact this season.

1. New York Islanders - John Tavares, C
2. Tampa Bay Lightning - Victor Hedman, D
3. Colorado Avalanche - Matt Duchene, C
4. Atlanta Thrashers - Evander Kane, C
5. Los Angeles Kings - Brayden Schenn, C
6. Phoenix Coyotes - Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D
7. Toronto Maple Leafs - Nazem Kadri, C
8. Dallas Stars - Scott Glennie, RW
9. Ottawa Senators - Jared Cowen, D
10. Edmonton Oilers -Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, LW
11. Nashville Predators - Ryan Ellis, D
12. NY Islanders - Calvin de Haan, D
13. Buffalo Sabres - Zack Kassian, RW
14. Florida Panthers - Dimitri Kulikov, D
15. Anaheim Ducks - Peter Holland, C
16. Minnesota Wild - Nick Leddy, D
17. St. Louis Blues - David Rundblad, D
18. Montreal Canadiens - Louis Leblanc, C
19. New York Rangers - Chris Kreider, C
20. New Jersey Devils - Jacob Josefson, C
21. Columbus Blue Jackets - John Moore, D
22. Vancouver Canucks - Jordan Schroeder, RW
23. Calgary Flames - Jacob Josefson, C
24. Washington Capitals - Marcus Johansson, C
25. Boston Bruins - Jordan Caron, C
26. Anaheim Ducks - Kyle Palmieri, RW/C
27. Carolina Hurricanes - Philippe Paradis, C
28. Chicago Blackhawks - Dylan Olsen, D
29. Tampa Bay - Carter Ashton, LW
30. Pittsburgh Penguins - Simon Depres, D

Players with 2009-2010 Fantasy Impact:

John Tavares, NYI: Tavares immediately walks on to one of the Isles top 2 lines and their top PP unit. Surrounded by young talent, Tavares should quickly assume a leadership role with the team and become their top offensive threat. Doug Weight should be back in Long Island and find himself setting-up and mentoring Tavares. With an underrated Frans Neilson and a promising young pivot in Josh Bailey on the depth chart, it is likely that Tavares will move to the wing opposite Kyle Okposo. Look for Weight to start the season between Tavares and Okposo. This instantly improves both Weight and Okposo's value and also does wonders for the Isle's PP QB Mark Streit.

Forecast: 79 GP, 37 G, 32A = 69 Points

Victor Hedman, TB: GM Brian Lawton has already stated that he expects Hedman in the team's line-up next season. While he should log a lot of minutes by season's end, the Lightning will ease Hedman into NHL duty, similar to Drew Doughty last season. With only Meszaros and Ranger ahead of him on the PP depth chart, Hedman should get plenty of opportunity on a talented 2nd PP unit to start the year. Don't expect instant success for Hedman but he should come on strong in the 2nd half once he gets adjusted.

Forecast: 82 GP, 5 G, 20A = 25 Points

Brayden Schenn, LA: Schenn already has a complete game and could push for a spot in Hollywood. Their top 6 is loaded but the Kings know they have a special player here and may decide to keep him in LA in a 3rd line role. Schenn will not get huge minutes but could see some 2nd PP unit time. Look for him to put up decent numbers but have minimal fantasy impact next year.

Forecast: 72GP, 12, 19A = 31 Points

Zack Kassian, BUF: Kassian is a big bodied player that could fit nicely on Buffalo's 3rd or 4th line. He is already over-sized for the OHL and can develop his puck skills with the big club. While not expected to put up huge point totals, he could immediately become the Sabre's enforcer and take on all comers - similar to Lucic in his rookie year. Look for Kassian to put up big PIMs this year and target him in leagues that reward it.

78GP, 6G, 17A = 22 Points & 175 PIMs

Other Notables: While I have stated before that Duchene, Kane and Cowan will all be given a shot at making their respective NHL teams, I believe all three will be returned to Junior to further develop their game and play key roles on the Canadian WJHC team's title defence. If they do manage to stick with their NHL clubs, please review my forecasts from my mock draft to get a sense of their fantasy impact.


Another Desert Dog

The Phoenix Coyotes have acquired talented defenceman Sami Lepisto from the Washington Capitals for a 5th round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft.

Fantasy Outlook: Lepisto was unable to crack the Capitals line-up last season despite getting 4 points in 7 games. The talented Finnish dman played 70 games in the AHL with the Hershey Bears amassing 42 points in 70 games and adding 80 PIMS.

Look for Lepisto to add some much needed offense to the Coyotes back-end next season. Fantasy owners should keep this kid on their radar as he may be a steal as a late round pick or available on your waiver wire.


One More Year

Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne have informed the Anaheim Ducks of their intentions to return to the team next season.

Niedermayer, a UFA, will be returning for what should be a final year in the league with hopes of capturing another Stanley Cup and a gold medal at the Olympics in 2010. Last season Niedermayer continued building on his amazing stats as he had 59 points in 82 games with 70 PIMS. At 35 he remains an elite defenceman in the league. Fantasy owners should not hesitate when drafting Niedermayer but should be cautious as he is reluctant to commit on more than a season at a time.

The Finnish Flash has also decided to come back for one last kick at the can. His main motivation will be to participate in the 2010 Olympics later this year. Selanne still possesses his sniper ability that he came into the league with. Look for him to excel on the second line this season and improve on the 54 points in 65 games last season.

Fantasy owners need to be aware that this should be the last year in the league for these superstar players and should be drafted accordingly.


Draft Day Dealing

The 2009 NHL Entry Draft started out with a bang as the Philadelphia Flyers attempted to steal the show by trading for hulking defenceman Chris Pronger. The deal saw Philadelphia acquire Chris Pronger and forward Ryan Dingle from the Anaheim Ducks for defenceman Luca Sbisa, winger Joffrey Lupul ,two first round picks and a conditional third round pick in 2010 or 2011.

Fantasy Outlook: Look for Pronger to continue being a thorn in the side of the top players in the league. In moving to Philadelphia, Pronger has once again become the top defenceman on his team. He will bring leadership and grit to an improving team and allow for more stability in the backend. His numbers should remain similar to what he had in Anaheim and may rise slightly with his increased responsibilities. With one year remaining on Pronger’s contract, look for the Flyers to try and sign him long term.

Pronger still remains a top dman in the league and will help a fantasy owner regardless of the style of pool you are in. He will contribute both points and penalty minutes on a consistent basis and is not an injury risk. Look to draft him in early mid rounds.

Joffrey Lupul has the unlucky fortune of being traded for Chris Pronger for the second time in his career. Lupul heads back to Anaheim where he will be given the opportunity to play on the top two lines for a young and improving team. Playing in 79 games last season, with 25 goals and 25 assists, Lupul’s numbers should rise next season.

Lupul is a great option for a depth player on your fantasy roster at this point. He should welcome the change going back to sunny California and his numbers should reflect that. Look for Lupul to be available in keeper leagues and should be chosen in mid rounds of our draft. He may have the ability to creep into keeper territory depending on the season he has.

Luca Sbisa, a 2008 first round pick, will be joining a young and talented Anaheim blueline. Sibsa had 7 points in 39 games last season with the Flyers and added 36 PIMS. Given Anaheim’s depth on the blueline, look for Sbisa to start the year in the AHL or as a sixth dman. Fantasy owners should watch as Sbisa has the ability to put up points and PIMS and may be worth taking a flyer on in deeper leagues.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

The 2009 NHL Draft: Why You Should Care...

The 2008 NHL Draft produced 10 kids that played in the NHL last season. With the salary cap expected to shrink one year from now, and bigger, long-term contracts becoming an albatross, more and more NHL teams are forced to rush their draftees to the Big Show.

Below is the JFH 2009 Mock Entry Draft. But it wouldn't be JFH without outlining both the immediate and 3 year fantasy impact each player is projected to make.

1. New York Islanders are proud to select...Victor Hedman

Reason: Garth Snow and the Islanders are desperate to re-inject some credibility to this once dynasty of a franchise. While Tavares would be the Marketing department's pick, Hedman provides a once-in-a-generation combination of size, skill and smarts. Projected to be a future Norris trophy winner and huge minute-muncher, Hedman is the kind of player you build a franchise around. Look for Snow to explore trading down to #2 if the Lightning (or trade partner) want to take Tavares at #1.

Immediate Impact: Hedman will walk on to the Islanders weak D and should be playing large PP minutes with playmaker Mark Streit by mid-season.

Fearless Forecast 2009-2010: 80GP, 7 G, 21A = 28 Points

Fearless Forecast 2011-2012: 82 GP, 15G, 34A = 49 Points

2. The Tampa Bay Lightning are proud to select...John Tavares

Let's face it, Tampa will not select Tavares - unless they manage to move Lecavalier beforehand. If he drops down here, they will move the pick to address other needs and drop down. Some team will be getting a great player from the blue-line in. Tavares possesses superstar potential but all of the extra attention has exposed some weaknesses in his game. That said, after switching Agents last summer, Tavares has re-dedicated himself to the game and I believe he will be able to overcome the knocks on his skating and 2-way play. Whoever trades for this kid will be adding a perennial Richard trophy threat.

Immediate Impact: Tavares will play in the NHL next season, regardless of where he ends up. The question will be how deep is that team and how many key minutes (PP) can they afford to give the 18 year-old?

Fearless Forecast 2009-2010: 76GP, 33G, 28A = 61 Points

Fearless Forecast 2011-2012: 82 GP, 46G, 42A = 88 Points

3. The Colorado Avalanche are proud to select...Matt Duchene

Colorado fans have been spoiled with Joe Sakic ever since the team moved to the rockies from Quebec. As Sakic nears the end of his career, the team is positioned to get a player who is billed as a future Joe Sakic. Duchene is the most complete high-end talent in the draft, which has some scouts thinking he will go even higher then 3. He has top-end speed, great skill and a strong hockey IQ. Duchene will become a great two-way player and a reliable #1 Centre for years to come.

Immediate Impact: Duchene will be given every chance to make the team out of training camp. If Sakic comes back for the "Olympic year," the Avalanche would love to have him mentor their future star. Look for Sakic to shift to wing and play with Duchene all season.

Fearless Forecast 2009-2010: 75GP, 18G, 25A = 43 Points

Fearless Forecast 2011-2012: 82 GP, 34G, 43A = 77 Points

4. The Atlanta Thrashers are proud to select...Evander Kane

Atlanta fans have long-needed a tough, physical scoring forward with Captain material. They thought they were getting that with Dany Heatley but one bad decision later and he's out of town. The good news is, Evander Kane is all of that...and more. With great speed, good hands and a mean-streak, Kane will be the type of player that will bring crowds back to HOTlanta. Expect the team to move Kovalchuk within the next year as they use Kane as the new franchise building-block.

Immediate Impact: As shown in the WJHC, Kane can adapt and play any role asked of him. This will serve him well as he will immediately step into the NHL and on to the Thrashers' 3rd line. Look for him to progress to the 2nd line throughout the season.

Fearless Forecast 2009-2010: 82GP, 16, 22A = 38 Points

Fearless Forecast 2011-2012: 82 GP, 35G, 32A = 67 Points

5. The Los Angeles Kings are proud to select...Brayden Schenn

The Kings have one of the best young nucleuses in the game. Already loaded on great young Dman (see Doughty, see also Hickey, see also Jack Johnson, see also Teubert) the Kings acquire some much-needed toughness to compliment their skilled forwards in Kopitar, Frolov, Brown and Justin Williams. Schenn is the complete package (often compared to Mike Richards) - a guy who will play on your top line, top PP unit, top PK unit and frequently lay out opponents with his shoulders or his fists. The Kings are very happy to land such a high-end complete player here.

Immediate Impact: I would say Schenn is 50/50 to make the Kings next season. A great camp could get him the longer 9-game look which the Leafs gave his brother last season before he earned the permanent address. Schenn will have to take advantage of the opportunity though as the Kings have a lot of good young players in their top 6.

Fearless Forecast 2009-2010: 72GP, 12, 19A = 31 Points

Fearless Forecast 2011-2012: 82 GP, 28G, 43A = 71 Points

6. The Phoenix Coyotes are proud to select...Jared Cowan

The Hamilton Coyotes (sorry for the typo) are a team that has raked in high draft picks over the years. Now busting out with young offensive talent (see Mueller, see also Turris, see also Boedker, see also Tikhonov, see also Lisin) the Coyotes go after the other "big kid on D." Cowan already has an NHL body at 6'5, 220 and showed everyone what he was capable of as a 17 yo in the 2008 Memorial Cup Championship run with Spokane. A knee injury hurt his draft status this year but all reports from the combine show he is fully recovered. The 'Yotes get a big, mean shut-down Dman to compliment their skilled forwards for years to come.

Immediate Impact: Cowan should make the Coyotes top 6 D next season. Look for his progress to mirror that of Luke Schenn's (last season) as he steadily earns more ice-time throughout the year. The Yotes would love to re-sign Jovanovksi to help mentor Jared.

Fearless Forecast 2009-2010: 78GP, 4G, 13A = 17 Points

Fearless Forecast 2011-2012: 82 GP, 8G, 21A = 29 Points

7. The Toronto Maple Leafs are proud to select...
Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson

The Leafs take MPS by default, only if Burke fails to trade up and grab a Tavares, Duchene, Kane or Schenn. MPS provides the Leafs with great size and speed from the wing and should fit well into Burke's top 6. While some question his finishing ability, MSP should become a great playmaking winger for years to come. He has as much offensive upside as Schenn and Kane but is much more of a risk as he has to adapt to the North American style of game.
Immediate Impact: The Leafs try hard to get MSP to come over and play in the CHL but he stays in Sweden for another year. Expect him to follow the trail of Mikael Backlund who came over to the CHL as a 20 yo.

Fearless Forecast 2009-2010: Playing in Sweden

Fearless Forecast 2011-2012: 82 GP, 17G, 31A = 48 Points (Rookie Season)

8. The Dallas Stars are proud to select...Oliver Ekman-Larsson

The Stars have some good young talent up front in Eriksson, Brunnstrom and Neal and look to find a successor to Sergei Zubov on the back end. OEL is the fastest riser in this year's draft and has many scouts drooling at his potential. Possessing the classic Swedish set of skills, he is smooth-skating, quick to move the puck and smart in his defensive coverage. He should provide the Stars with a future PP QB that can play big minutes. With Brunnstrom, Eriksson and OEL running the PP, the Stars will look a lot like the current Red Wings in a few years.

Immediate Impact: OEL will spend at least another year in Sweden and look to be a big part of a very-skilled World Junior team. Look for him to come over in a couple of years.

Fearless Forecast 2009-2010: Playing in Sweden

Fearless Forecast 2011-2012: 78 GP, 7G, 22A = 29 Points (Rookie Season)

9. The Ottawa Senators are proud to select...Zack Kassian

The Sens look hard at Dmitri Kulikov here but can't pass up the size and toughness of Kassian. Considered this year's Milan Lucic, Kassian is as tough as they come and has shown some skill in Junior. At 6'3, 215, Kassian can already step into the Senator's line-up and provide some much-needed toughness (especially with Neil on his way out via FA). The Sens will try to get some high-end skill back in the Heatley trade and use this pick to address a long-standing toughness issue with this club.

Immediate Impact: Kassian is already a man playing with boys in Peterborough. He will have a great camp and step right into the Sens 3rd or 4th lines. Look for the Sens to sell a lot of Kassian jerseys by the end of the season.

Fearless Forecast 2009-2010: 82GP, 8G, 17A = 25 Points & 175 PIMs

Fearless Forecast 2011-2012: 82 GP, 17G, 19A = 36 Points & 235 PIMS

10. The Edmonton Oilers are proud to select...Ryan Ellis

Reason: The Oilers also look hard at Kulikov (who seems to be dropping to a lucky team) but have had issues with European rearguards in the past (see Pitkanen, see Smid. see Grebeshkov - although he finally had a promising season after being a much-hyped prospect). The Oilers love Ellis' compete level. He is perhaps the smartest player in the draft and can run a PP like like nobody else. He'll have to get over his size issues but this kid is too good to let that hold him back. At the very least he becomes a top PP QB, but his ceiling is a top 3 Dman who can play in all situations.
Immediate Impact: Though he could run their PP out of training camp, the Oilers give him the 9-game look before sending him off to Windsor to help a very good team defend their Memorial Cup Championship.

Fearless Forecast 2009-2010: Playing in CHL

Fearless Forecast 2011-2012: 75 GP, 11G, 23A = 34 Points

Sunday, June 14, 2009

From Russia With Love

Ray Emery has returned to the NHL by signing a 1 year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. The signing not official until July 1, the Flyers have officially announced the deal with a press conference.

In 36 games last season in the KHL, Emery posted 22 wins, 8 losses, 2 shutouts in 36 games with a 2.12 goals against average and .926 save percentage.

Fantasy owners should not expect the world from Emery in his first year back in the league. Even though he posted great numbers in the KHL, the NHL is a more competitive league and Emery has already proven he does not have the head to handle it.

Look for Emery to be strong out of the gate but struggle and tandem come mid-season as the length of the schedule and intensity may not be something he will be comfortable with.


March of the Penguins

The Stanley Cup champions faced a lot of adversity this season. They lost their powerplay quarterback for the majority of the season, fired their head coach midseason, brought in new faces at the trade deadline and were never favored in the playoffs. All of these seemingly negative experiences proved to be the reason why the Penguins were so successful this season. They were able to come together as a team and excel when they needed to the most. Expect Pittsburgh to be flying next season as they try and defend their championship.

Evgeni Malkin – The Art Ross, Conn Smyth and Stanley Cup champion was brilliant the entire season. He led his team when Crosby was injured and came through in the playoffs when it counted most. Malkin could very well go number one in any draft as he is as good as Crosby and Ovechkin.

Sidney Crosby – Capturing the Stanley Cup in his fourth year of play and to be the youngest captain to ever win the cup is an amazing feat. You cannot lose with Crosby on your team as he has tremendous heart and skill. The top choices in the majority of drafts, you can’t lose of the caliber of talent he possesses.

Chris Kunitz – Coming over in a trade from Anaheim, Kunitz fit in nicely playing on the top line. He may not be among the scoring leaders in the league but Kunitz will be able to compliment the top lines in Pittsburgh well. He should be over the 60 point mark next season and should be considered a keeper at this point. Draft him in early mid-rounds as his potential in unknown at this point.

Jordan Staal – With his new 4 year contract kicking in next season, Staal looks to be in Pittsburgh for the long haul. He has many talents and is used primarily on the third line and in short handed situations. With 49 points in 82 games, it appears he has reached his points potential. Staal has minimal fantasy value as he will never be a heavy point producer but looked at as a role player.

Bill Guerin – After being traded from the lowly Islanders at the deadline, Guerin immediately impacted the Penguins and added experience and leadership that was needed for them to win the Cup. With 2 Stanley Cups to his name, Guerin has a big choice in the offseason, retire at the top of his game or come back for another kick at the can. Owners should not dismiss him yet. If Guerin signs with the Penguins he will have a lot of fantasy value playing on the top line, draft him accordingly.

Petr Sykora – At 31 years of age, it seems Sykora has been around forever. Scratched for the majority of the playoffs will not help his value as a UFA this offseason. Look for Sykora to move on from Pittsburgh and possibly end up playing in Europe. He should have no keeper value at this point and should only be drafted for depth if he does play in the NHL next season.

Kris Letang – Points can be deceptive as Letang was looked upon to run the powerplay when Gonchar went down for the majority of the season. Scoring 33 points in 74 games, Letang really upped his game in the playoffs. He will be given a bigger role next season as he has shown he can compete at the NHL level. Draft him as an up and comer and you won’t be disappointed.

Miroslav Satan – The end is near for Satan. Signed in the off season to play wing on the top two lines, Satan ended the season in the minors and only factored into a few playoff games. A UFA this offseason, he may not get the money or teams willing to invest in the underachiever. Look for him to be playing overseas now that he has won the cup.

Sergei Gonchar – With a major shoulder injury sidelining the star for the most of the season, Gonchar was able to come back and make an immediate impact on the blueline. With 19 points in 25 games, he anchored the powerplay and provided leadership during the Penguins surge into the playoffs. One of the top dmen in the league, he should be drafted accordingly as he will always be on the top of the league in defensive points.

Marc-Andre Fleury – The progression of Fleury’s talent has been right on queue. A gifted butterfly goaltender, Fleury has excelled playing in Pittsburgh and their high powered offensive system. Owners should hold on to Fleury as he should always put up winning seasons playing on a team with the top offensive talents in the league. Draft Fleury with the likes of Lundqvist, Nabokov, Brodeur etc, as he is looked at as the top goaltender for his team and will get you points.


Detroit Rocks City

Finishing the season third best in points and going to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Detroit Red Wings should look at the season as a success. A deep and talented team, the Wings faced little adversity on their way into the playoffs. Once there, their poise and leadership proved strong and they were able to overcome a game seven with Anaheim and lost to Pittsburgh in a heartbreaker game seven. Look for more of the same in Detroit next season as their only variable will be resigning Hossa or keep some of their talented depth.

Pavel Datsyuk – Nominated for the Hart trophy was a call to the rest of the league that Datsyuk is one of the most talented and underrated players in the league. He has the ability to stickhandle out of a telephone booth and make amazing plays. A keeper on one of the top teams in the league, he should be drafted in the top rounds of any draft as you won’t be disappointed as Datsyuk is just getting better.

Henrik Zetterberg – A complete player, Zetterberg plays against the league’s best and still puts up points. While playing on the ‘second’ line most of the season, he was put up decent numbers with 73 points in 77 games. Expect more of the same next season as he has great talent and scoring prowess.

Marian Hossa – It appears that Hossa is one unlucky guy. Two seasons is a row he has come up second best and at times disappeared in the playoffs. A UFA in the offseason, Hossa wants to remain in Detroit if the numbers are right. Look for him to remain in Detroit as it does seem he wants to win a cup. Owners should expect similar numbers next season as well.

Johan Franzen – The mule came up big in the playoffs and showed he is a force to be reckoned with. Not a scoring machine, Franzen uses his body and skill to fight for open ice and create room for his line-mates. With 59 points in 71 games, Franzen should be looked at as an excellent depth player and drafted in mid-rounds.

Nicklas Lidstrom – He may not be up for the Norris trophy this year, but Lidstrom is still tops in the league when it comes to talent and offense from a defenseman. With one year left on his contract, Lidstrom’s future may be in limbo after the season. Keep him if you have him and draft him early in all formats.

Brian Rafalski – An excellent season ended with Rafalski scoring 59 points in 78 games, a career high. Playing on the top team, with the best defensive partner in the league, Rafalski should repeat his numbers again next season. Draft him accordingly as he is signed longer term than his partner.

Niklas Kronwall – A coming out party this season as Kronwall bested his overall points by 16 with 51 points in 80 games. A potential keeper after a career year, look for him in your draft as he is now a great option, even on a deep Detroit team.

Tomas Holmstrom – Father time has taken his toll on Holstrom’s body. Playing in only 53 games and netting 37 points, Holstrom left owners looking for other options waiting for him to finally be healthy. Injuries may be a concern now and he should only be looked at as a depth option in mid-rounds.

Chris Osgood – One of the most underrated goaltenders in the league. Osgood has had a successful career to this point and game within 1 game to adding to his cup collection. He struggled during the regular season and left owners wondering what was really going on with him. All the questions have been answered in the playoffs as he was able to take the number one spot back. Look for Osgood to tandem with another goalie next season as the regular season may be too long for the aging tender.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Flying High in the Windy City

Hockey is back and alive in the windy city as the young Blackhawk team was able to reignite a love for hockey that has been quiet for years. With the core of the team, with an average age of under 25, buzz around Chicago should be alive for years to come. With the success of sophomores Kane and Toews and a young and mobile defensive core, the Blackhawks went deep into the playoffs and gained valuable experience in their brief resurgence. The only question leading into the summer is their goaltending with UFA Khabibulin a big reason they were successful.

Martin Havlat – Finally healthy, Havlat rewarded his owners with 77 points in 81 games. A UFA this offseason, Havlat has stated he wants to stay in Chicago but will go where the money takes him. He should still be looked at as an injury risk as he somehow stayed healthy during a contract year, hmm. Draft him accordingly as you never know when he will go down.

Patrick Kane – In his second year in the league, Kane gained valuable experience by helping lead the young Blackhawks deep into the playoffs. With 70 points in 80 games, Kane produced similar numbers as he did last season. His ceiling is not known yet but he should increase his production next season. Draft him in your first round or look at him as a keeper.

Jonathan Toews – The young captain not only upped his totals from last season but led his team deep into the playoffs in his second year in the league. Toews has great playmaking ability and leadership qualities. Look for him to improve on his 69 points from last season as he started out slow. A keeper and an early draft pick in all leagues.

Kris Versteeg – His first full season in the league, Versteeg found himself playing on the top line on the young team. With 53 points in 73 games, he is a great option as a depth player and look to draft him in the mid-rounds if he is not kept.

Brian Campbell – His first season in Chicago was a success. Not the best defensive player on the team, Campbell leads the Hawks PP unit and tallied 52 points in 82 games this season. Look for a repeat performance next season, just be wary of his plus minus if your league uses that as a category.

Duncan Keith – Once of Chicago’s top dmen, Keith was stable, even outstanding during the playoffs last season. With 44 points in 77 games, Keith may be kept by fellow GM’s and should be on your radar once the top dmen are picked in your draft.

Patrick Sharp – Suffering from injuries last season, Sharp played in 61 games and netted 44 points. It appears that Sharp was a catalyst at times as Chicago struggled when he was out of the lineup. If he is not kept in your league, grab him in the early mid-rounds as he should hit 70 points next season if healthy.

Cam Barker – In one word, Barker was a success when he was called up last season. Scoring 40 points in 68 games, Barker helped anchor the power-play and was another weapon on an already deep team. Look for Barker to repeat his point totals next season and possibly going into keeper value as well.

Dustin Byfuglien – This part time dman / winger has an edge to him that creates room for his teammates on the ice. He has the ability to score and fight which makes opponents take notice. If your league has Big Buff listed as a dman, you should grab him earlier than you would if he played D.

Brent Seabrook – A stable and trustworthy dman, Seabrook is a defensive anchor on the Blackhawks. Paired with Keith, Seabrook doesn’t put up as many points but can be looked at as a depth player.

Nikolai Khabibulin – This past year was a crazy ride for the Bulin Wall. He was put on waivers, almost played in Russia, pushed aside Huet to be the number one guy, led the Hawks deep into the playoffs and got injured at the end. A UFA this summer, Khabby showed he can still be a top goalie in the league and lead a team into the playoffs. Depending on where he ends up, draft him accordingly.

Cristobal Huet – Pushed aside by Khabibulin, Huet was never given a real opportunity to earn the starting role. Going into next season there are questions surrounding Huet, his contract and possibly bringing back Khabibulin. If Huet is the number one guy, he has keeper value because of the young team he is on. If Khabby comes back, stay away from him.

Antti Niemi – Should challenge as the backup in Chicago and may make a push as the top guy if Huet struggles. Keep an eye on him.


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.


What's a Bruin ??

The Bruins had high hopes heading into last season and they did not disappoint. In a city where they are used to winning, Boston had captured the attention of hockey lovers once again. With the acceleration of developing youth, an all-star performance by their goaltender and heavy contributions by their star players, the Bruins captured the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins were not able to complete their quest in the playoffs by losing a heartbreaker in overtime during game 7. Moving ahead, Boston must make some shrewd choices in handing out contracts and keeping the youth and core together.

Marc Savard – With his troubled past and ego problems behind him, Savard finally looks like a true star player. He has great playmaking ability and an edge that gets him just enough PIMS to add extra value to him. Savard is a keeper and should be drafted in top rounds of all drafts.

David Krejci – Relatively unknown at the start of the year, Krejci was a pleasant surprise for owners that grabbed him off the waiver wire. Inking a three year contract recently, Krejci looks to have found a permanent place on the second line in Boston. Owners should keep this young stud as he scored 73 points in 82 games and looks to be getting better.

Mark Recchi – With 61 points in 81 games, Recchi looks to be a player that will continue to produce regardless of age and team. It will be hard to ignore his point total on draft day, especially if he resigns with Boston in the off-season. Keep him on your radar on draft day as a mid-round pick.

Phil Kessel – This third year player had his coming out party this season. Kessel looked like a dangerous sniper with paired with Savard. Rumors have him moving out of Boston but regardless of where he goes, Kessel should be on your keeper radar and should be drafted accordingly.

Michael Ryder – A year removed from his disastrous season in Montreal, Ryder tallied 53 points in 73 games. A force in the playoffs, especially against his former team, Ryder will be a great selection as a winger on your team next season. He should be paired on the top line again and should hit 60 points next year.

Zdeno Chara – This monster of a man anchors the backend in Boston. The captain is the top shut-down guy and also put up 50 points in 80 games. Look at Chara as a top dman in the league and draft him accordingly.

Dennis Wideman – An underrated dman in the league, Wideman plays a ton of minutes and adds points on the PP as well. With 50 points in 79 games, Wideman should be looked at as a keeper and drafted after the top dmen in your league are taken.

Blake Wheeler – Playing in 81 games and netting 45 points, Wheeler had an excellent rookie campaign. Look for Wheeler to have similar numbers next season depending on the line he ends up in Boston. Add him as a depth player for now but he should flourish in his third year of play.

Milan Lucic – A gifted agitator, Lucic made some enemies during the playoffs. He has the ability to put points on the board and get some huge penalty minutes. With 42 points in 72 games, Lucic’s numbers should increase next season and with his PIM totals getting inflated as well. He is should be looked at as a keeper now as he has many valuable qualities.

Patrice Bergeron – After last year’s concussion, owners were quick to dump Bergeron. Having played in 64 games and netting 39 points, Patrice looks like he is on the road to recovery. He should be looked at as a depth guy right now until he can prove he can play at a top level again. Look for him to be on the Bruin’s second or third line.

Tim Thomas – The unorthodox tender had a career year and netted himself a huge contract. Thomas is now the undisputed number one guy in Beantown and owners that picked him up were rewarded heavily. He is now a keeper and should put up good numbers again next season.


Rocky Mountain Low

There are many questions heading into the offseason for Vancouver. With major components of their team heading in free agency, the Canucks must act quickly to determine the direction they want to go. With an abundance of cap room, the Canucks will now have to focus their attention on signing their all-star goaltender long term as well as add much needed scoring and depth, which they lacked. Don’t expect the Mats Sundin experiment to continue as that was in one word, a disaster. There will be new faces in Van city next year but they will still be competitors as long as Luongo is in net.

Daniel Sedin – At a point per game, Daniel and Henrik have the ability to score the big goals late in the game to elevate their team. Pending UFAs in the offseason, they will be a package deal and will command a big pay day as they have hit their primes. They should be drafted in the first 2 rounds of your draft as they will continue to be a point per game.

Henrik Sedin – See Daniel above.

Ryan Kesler – Elevating his game this year, Kesler looked brilliant at times. With 59 points in 82 games, he bounced around the lines as a depth player with an edge. Kesler should be looked at as a midround pick in your draft as he continues to improve and is an excellent depth option.

Pavol Demitra – It seems that injuries are now a constant with Demitra. Playing in 69 games and scoring 53 points, he should be looked at as a second line center or a depth guy on your team when healthy. Demitra is more a waiver selection now and should be passed on in your draft.

Alexandre Burrows – Looked like a force when playing with the Sedins, Burrows has the ability to get points and pims when playing on the top line with top talent. When he is moved around, Burrows is not as effective. Look to draft him as a depth guy that when he is hot should be put into your lineup.

Kevin Bieksa – After a season of horrible injuries, Bieksa was able to bounce back and reward owners with 43 points in 73 games. He should get even more ice-time next season and he puts up a lot of pim’s as well. He is a keeper at this point and he should only get better.

Alexander Edler – A strong season put Edler on owner’s radar. With 37 points in 80 games, Edler will only get better the more he plays. He is not keeper worthy yet but look for him to hit over 40 points next season.

Mats Sundin – Having sit out for half the season really hurt Sundin’s production. He left owners waiting in anticipation all season hoping he would show up and finally put up some numbers. Regrettably, Sundin fell short and was the most overpaid player in the league. He is now a buyer beware if he comes back next season.

Mattias Ohlund – The reliable Ohlund had a good season by playing in all 82 games but fell short in the points department with only 25. A UFA this off-season, Ohlund looks to be leaving Vancouver and play in another city. Owners should not be fooled by the departure. He should only be considered as a depth guy when necessary.

Roberto Luongo – One of the top goalies in the league, Luongo can win games by himself. Given the captaincy by the Canucks, he is a leader on and off the ice. Luongo is poised to have a huge season next year as he is coming into his final year with Vancouver. A first round pick and a keeper in all leagues.