For the past seven years, Fantasy Pool Look has given you some insight on what each NHL team has on tap for the summer – from a fantasy hockey standpoint, of course. Last year we ran through the teams every week starting from Washington and finishing with Anaheim, so in 2010 we will once again reverse that. Finally, with the Ilya Kovalchuk issue settled, we can take a look at the Devils. We also finish off the set with the Canucks and Capitals. Training camp is around the corner!
New Jersey Devils
Gone – Andrew Peters, Yann Danis, Rob Niedermayer, Paul Martin, Martin Skoula, Matt Halischuk, Cory Murphy, Dean McAmmond, Mike Mottau, Jay Pandolfo, Jacques Lemaire (coach)
Incoming – Johan Hedberg, Henrik Tallinder, Jason Arnott, Anton Volchenkov, John MacLean (coach)
Ready for full time – Speedy left winger Mattias Tedenby is close to being NHL-ready and he’ll get a long look in training camp. However, the Kovalchuk signing almost certainly takes Tedenby out of the picture to start the season. Expect either a mid-season call-up or he’ll be on the team in 2011-12. He is a potential first-liner.
Things look better for Jacob Josefson. The talented two-way pivot projects to be the perfect complement to a star winger and the Devils certainly have a couple of those. He also has the benefit of Arnott being ahead of him on the depth chart; the broken-down veteran will almost certainly get hurt for at least a dozen games this year. That means Josefson will at least get a cup of coffee at some point and he’ll see some power play time.
Defenseman Matthew Corrente currently sits No. 8 on the depth chart, but it’s not as though Anssi Salmela has a death grip on a roster spot. The 22-year-old Corrente could sneak in there with a strong camp. Potentially, though not this year, he could be a 40-point, 100-PIM rearguard.
Fantasy Outlook – With a new coach to open things up a little and a 50-goal scorer now officially on the roster, this is a quality team to pick a few players from this season. But how many more years does Martin Brodeur have? Did they sign Kovalchuk only to lose Parise next summer? That’s a serious concern, because if Parise tops Kovalchuk in points this season – as I believe he will – he won’t settle for $6.6 million. Fantasy Grade: B- (last year was C)
Gone – Willie Mitchell, Matt Pettinger, Brad Lukowich, Pavol Demitra, Andrew Raycroft, Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, Kyle Wellwood, Ryan Johnson
Incoming – Raffi Torres, Bill Sweatt, Tyler Weiman, Dan Hamhuis, Manny Malhotra, Joel Perrault, Jeff Tambellini, Keith Ballard, Victor Oreskovich
Ready for full time – The Alex Burrows injury (he is recovering from shoulder surgery) opens the door for several youngsters to battle for a single roster spot up front. Newcomer Tambellini, who never managed to secure a full-time role with the Islanders, is in the mix. Sergei Shirokov, a phenom at last summer’s development camp, and Sweatt, a former Blackhawks prospect (and short-lived Maple Leaf), will also get a look. The favorite is Jordan Schroeder, however. Although he is a small (5-foot-8, 182 pounds), Schroeder was Vancouver’s first round pick in 2009 and made a strong impression in the American League late last season.
Cody Hodgson is Vancouver’s top prospect and one of the better prospects in all of hockey. Barring another sore-back-induced weak camp, he will be on this team and has to be considered one of the 10 best Calder favorites. However, he has been hampered by back problems for a couple of years now and even though he strengthened it significantly over the summer, you have to be cautious with him. In fact, a lot of poolies overlook the problem altogether and overrate him. That may be something for you to take advantage of in your league.
Fantasy Outlook – A strong, young team just became even stronger. The Canucks lacked depth to cover off injuries, their defense was above average, but not great, and they needed an upgrade in the faceoff circle. Signing Malhotra addressed the latter, the team now has too many solid defensemen to keep them all, and if four forwards get hurt they can now be replaced by NHL-caliber players. Of all the teams in the NHL, it could be argued none has all the bases covered quite like Vancouver. Fantasy Grade: A (last year was C)
Gone – Shaone Morrisonn, Boyd Kane, Joe Corvo, Alexandre Giroux, Milan Jurcina, Jose Theodore, Brendan Morrison, Quintin Laing, Scott Walker
Incoming – D.J. King, Brian Willsie, Dany Sabourin
Ready for full time – John Carlson is a favorite to win the Calder Trophy (he’s in my top three Calder picks). The talented, composed blueliner played his way up the depth chart in the post-season to the point he was seeing more than 20 minutes a game. He has all the offensive potential of a Mike Green, but without the defensive drawbacks. Enough can’t be said about Carlson and he is a must-own in all fantasy formats.
Pencil in the underrated Mathieu Perreault for the second-line center job. The team will initially try Tomas Fleischmann there (assuming they don’t trade him), but ‘The Flash’ is better suited for the wing and Perreault will impress enough to get a shot. He’s a point-per-game player at the AHL level and was a plus-4 with nine points in 21 games with Washington last season. That was supposed to be a cup of coffee, but he played so well he earned an extended stay. With Perreault, you’ll get overachieving results. Many have his upside as a third-line energy winger, but I think he could be a second-line, 65-point player within three years.
Michal Neuvirth will be the backup for Semyon Varlamov and some believe he’ll be the starter by mid-season. I think that’s possible if Varlamov gets hurt, but I don’t think Neuvirth will get there on talent vs. talent. That’s not a slight on Neuvirth, but support for Varlamov. Braden Holtby is another top prospect goaltender who bears watching if one of the first two gets hurt.
Two-way center Marcus Johansson has been the most impressive prospect in development camp. He could probably use a season in the AHL, but he could also steal a spot from Perreault with a huge training camp. If that happens, I wouldn’t expect more than 35 points this year, though.
Fantasy Outlook – How can you give the top offensive team in the NHL anything less than an ‘A’? Lots of offensive players to choose from, plus a few more in the farm system. Those in the system are made even more appealing thanks to the possibility of playing with Alex Ovechkin in a few years. Fantasy Grade: A+ (last year was A)
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league – check out the latest scoop every Tuesday. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.
Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.
Want more fantasy insider information or to contact The Dobber? Check out dobberhockey.com.