Summer is here Â– and we’ve been running down each team’s fantasy outlook for 2006-07. Here is the final installment.
Team Outlook Â– The team upgraded its defense corps this summer, but how does that help fantasy owners? Rather than spend what little they money they had left under the cap on goal-scoring wingers (which fantasy owners of Mats Sundin would have preferred), Toronto’s money was used to hang on to Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle, and add Kubina, Gill and another center (Peca). The number of fantasy-worthy players has actually been reduced, as they replaced an assist machine in Allison with no additional offense. It is clear they are relying on the likes of Jeff O’Neill to step up his game and for everyone else to at least match what they did last season.
Offense from the defense is the only major fantasy plus for this team. The forwards have potential in Alex Steen and Kyle Wellwood, and rookie Aleksander Suglobov should battle for a spot, but the only elite offensive threat remains Sundin. Raycroft should be a valuable goaltender in fantasy circles, as he will receive an above-average starting goalie workload. In the pipeline, Toronto is coming off a great draft, but they had only a handful of decent prospects Â– none of them elite Â– prior to that. The Buds are by no means a lock for a playoff spot, so don’t look for fantasy value there either.
Team Fantasy Grade: C-
Team Outlook Â– It would be tough to upgrade goaltending any more than the Canucks did this summer, but they sure paid a price Â– not just the price of the trade, but the salary-cap space given to Luongo when they signed him long-term. As a result, there will be less scoring from defensemen and from the right side. This also means there are a lot of dark horses on this team. Whoever wins the spot on the Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison line, or the spot on the Daniel and Henrik Sedin line, is likely to see their offensive numbers go up. Candidates include Matt Cooke, Bulis, Pyatt, Jozef Balej, and Jesse Schultz.
In the system, rearguard Luc Bourdon has a solid future as an offensive defenseman, winger Michael Grabner (14th overall) was a nice pick this year and Cory Schneider looks like he will be a solid goaltender in a few years. Beyond that, the cupboard is a little bare.
The Canucks are no lock for a playoff spot (although Luongo is a great start), but they do still have two good offensive lines and some decent production spread throughout their defensemen.
Team Fantasy Grade: C+
Team Outlook Â– It’s no secret that the Capitals are rebuilding, but some of their prospects are starting to become NHL ready. The entire process looks to take another two full seasons before the Caps will really compete. In the meantime, in fantasy circles, this team will continue to be Alex Ovechkin Â– and whoever else is on the ice with him.
This season Ovechkin will have Dainius Zubrus at center and either Zednik or Semin (who would have to move to his opposite wing) on the right side. Youngsters Kris Beech, Tomas Fleischmann, and Eric Fehr will all look to make the jump to the NHL this year Â– two of them will likely succeed.
The group of fantasy-worthy players to draft for this season is not a large one, but the system is getting deep and Ovechkin is bound to make some of them big-time scorers. This team is improving, but it isn’t there yet.
Team Fantasy Grade: 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 Wednesday afternoon. Also, get the top 250 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.
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