As the number of keeper league hockey pools increase each year, fantasy junkies are becoming more active in the off-season as they prepare for the coming year. Rebuild? Retool? Tweak?
Whatever your intentions, it helps to get all the information you can about your players. Fantasy Pool Look will examine at a pair of teams each week and give you the fantasy lowdown. This week, we’ll look through our fantasy hockey goggles at the outlooks for the Lightning and Maple Leafs.
Also – don’t forget to send your off-season questions to the THN Fantasy Mailbag, which is posted the last Wednesday of each month during the summer.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Gone – Filip Kuba, Dan Boyle, Alexandre Picard, Mathieu Darche and Junior Lessard.
Incoming – Mark Recchi, Ryan Malone, Radim Vrbata, Andrej Meszaros, Olaf Kolzig, Evgeny Artyukhin, Gary Roberts, Adam Hall, Matt Carle and Andrew Hutchinson.
Ready for full-time – Steven Stamkos will be the team’s No. 2 pivot and I fully anticipate an offensive season similar to Patrick Kane’s last season. Down the road, he could be just as good as Vincent Lecavalier.
Defenseman Janne Niskala will be in tough to crack the lineup. But he has a one-way contract, which may help. He has offensive talent, but Hutchinson, Meszaros, Matt Carle and Paul Ranger already fill that void.
Fantasy Outlook – The team revamped their pro roster, but chemistry issues will keep them hovering between seventh to 10th in the conference. The Lightning can overhaul the NHL team all they want, but it won’t help one of the weakest farm systems in the league. The team is on the right track, though, and things should improve. Under Melrose, this squad should be an offensive one.
Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was D+)
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Gone – Mats Sundin (for now), Bryan McCabe, Darcy Tucker, Andrew Raycroft, Kyle Wellwood and John Pohl.
Incoming – Niklas Hagman, Mikhail Grabovski, Mike Van Ryn, Jeff Finger and Curtis Joseph.
Ready for full-time – Nikolai Kulemin has a spot waiting for him and he should be able to keep it. On this team, he could work his way up to the top line by the end of the season, although he is better suited to a second-line sniper role. Look for a 20-goal season, though he’ll eventually be a 30-goal player.
Anton Stralman also has a spot to lose and with McCabe out of the picture he should log enough power play time to get him over the 30-point hump. He has very high potential, but you may need to wait several years for it to blossom.
Grabovski couldn’t crack the Montreal lineup last year, but in Toronto he is assured a spot. The team talks of him anchoring their third line, but it says here that he will be on the second line before October ends, making him an excellent dark horse in the fantasy world. He boasts a lot of flash and skill, which is more than a lot of Leafs can say.
Fantasy Outlook – Unless Grabovski reaches the potential I see in him right away (which is doubtful) or Nik Antropov plays more than 75 games (which is laughable), Toronto will lack a 65-point player – though defenseman Tomas Kaberle will come close. Furthermore, the Leafs lack high-end offensive talent in the system. Stock your keeper-league team up with Toronto players and you will be doomed to fail for the next several years.
Fantasy Grade: D- (last year was C+)
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 Thursday through the off-season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st 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.