It’s the 12th annual off-season look at each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint. Every year I run through the teams alphabetically – but switch starting points each year. This year I’m doing something different. I’m reviewing the teams in reverse order of regular season finish.
(Editor’s Note: This post was supposed to go up in early June, but due to a mix up it wasn’t published…until now. This is an edited version changed to reflect moves made since it was originally written. We apologize. The final installment of Darryl’s off-season outlooks, his final article for thn.com, will go up
Saturday morning Sunday afternoon.)
Gone – Olli Jokinen, Devin Setoguchi, Chris Thorburn, Al Montoya, Zach Redmond
Incoming – Mathieu Perreault, Michael Hutchinson, T.J. Galiardi
Ready for full time – Goaltender Michael Hutchinson had a breakthrough season in the ECHL and the American League and he even had a strong showing in the NHL. At 24, he’s probably ready for backup duties. However, this was one year of greatness after several years below mediocrity.
A long shot, but a good one, is future stud Josh Morrissey. He boasts all the upside of a Jacob Trouba, but would have to climb over a couple of veterans (albeit depth ones) to get on the team. And he’s probably best served by another year of development. That said, Trouba made it so that the team had no choice but to keep him. Morrissey could do the same. If so, he would be one to watch in fantasy hockey.
Fantasy Outlook: The Jets were 15th in goals scored in 2013-14, they were 15th in 2012-13…and in 2011-12 the Jets were 14th. You can probably make a reasonable prediction as to where they will finish in 2014-15, but I get the feeling that things will improve slightly. Mark Scheifele was just starting show that he’s a star in this league when he went down with injury. Trouba is also going to take a big step forward. This could be a top-half team in terms of offense. Goaltending is still an Achilles heel and the pipeline isn’t as flush as it used to be. Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was B-)
Gone – Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Joe Corvo
Incoming – David Legwand, Alex Chiasson, Aaron Johnson, Carter Camper, Alex Guptill, Mike Hoffman
Ready for full time – Mark Stone showed down the stretch that he is ready for NHL duty full time. Durability has been an issue since he turned pro, as he played in just 114 games the past two seasons combined. But he’s dominated offensively at the AHL level for Binghamton and more than held his own in the Ottawa lineup. He’ll make the team as part of the third line and don’t be surprised if he’s worked his way up the depth chart by Christmas.
Mike Hoffman is coming off of a season in which he scored 67 points in 51 games for Binghamton. Clearly there is nothing more for him there. Despite the big points in the AHL and QMJHL, Hoffman projects as a third-line checker with some scoring pop. Then again, I remember pundits saying the same thing about Patrick Sharp once upon a time. Just tuck Hoffman away in the back of your mind and in a couple of years you could very well be gunning for him on the waiver wire.
J-G Pageau has already shown he can play at the NHL level, but the numbers game kept him in the AHL last season. It could very well keep him there again this campaign, although the Spezza trade has certainly opened things up. However, Pageau is in a tough spot in that Curtis Lazar is a season away from making the jump – at most.
Lazar’s path to the NHL could be a short now that the team has moved Spezza. Considered one of the best prospects in hockey for not only his offensive pop but his two-way ability, Lazar will get a long look in training camp. There is nothing for him to learn in junior hockey, so the Sens will have a tough decision to make. He is too young to quality for the AHL.
Mark Borowiecki is a tough, physical defenseman who finally has a one-way NHL contract for the coming season. He should make the team as a result and he is a dark horse for 150 penalty minutes.
Fantasy Outlook – The Sens were 21st in total offense last season and 26th the year prior. The future is pretty bright with the likes of Stone, Lazar, Matt Puempel and others on the way, not to mention the tremendous progress of future stud defenseman Cody Ceci. There were several players who had “off” years in 2013-14, so there is every reason to believe that things will be better. Fantasy Grade: B (last year was B)