It's the 11th annual off-season look at each team from a fantasy hockey standpoint. In keeping with tradition, I run through the teams alphabetically – but switch starting points each year. It's time for the final pair of teams – the Capitals and Jets.
Gone – Jeff Schultz, Joey Crabb, Matt Hendricks, Mike Ribeiro, Ryan Potulny, Wojtek Wolski, Mattias Sjogren, Dany Sabourin
Incoming – Mikhail Grabovski, Tyson Strachan, Brandon Segal
Ready for full time – Fantasy owners anxiously await the arrival of Evgeny Kuznetsov, who would easily be a Top 10 prospect in fantasy circles if his name was Joe Smith and he was coming out of Canadian junior hockey. But his name is Kuznetsov and there will always be the threat of the Kontinental League. That being said, his KHL contract runs out in the spring and after the season he could cross the pond and join the Caps for the final several games. Here's hoping. If he does join the team, he has enough upside to anchor his own line. That is to say, don't ask, “will he play with Alex Ovechkin?” Instead ask, “who’ll get to play with Kuznetsov?”
Winger Tom Wilson is a budding power forward who is going to get a long look in training camp. He got into three playoff games back in May. At this point, it's touch-and-go whether he’ll get a spot, since the roster is pretty set. But a strong training camp would make a big difference. Regardless, he won't be putting up big numbers any time soon.
Dmitry Orlov was probably going to be a regular last year, but he was injured when the lockout ended and didn't work his way back to Washington until late March. It will be interesting to see how the 22-year-old rearguard produces under the Adam Oates system now that things are rolling (assuming they pick up where they left off). Not draftable, but he may be an appealing waiver-wire guy if he gets power play time early.
Fantasy Outlook – In Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom you have two players capable of reaching 100 points. So right there you have a team of fantasy players deserving of at least a ‘B’ grade. After all, someone has to get the assists, right? In Mike Green and John Carlson you have two blue-liners with upside. And as noted above, you have one of the best fantasy prospects in hockey with Kuznetsov. The pipeline depth isn't the greatest when it comes to offense, and the goaltending still has some things to prove. But overall, a player on this team is coveted in fantasy hockey more than a similar player on most other teams. Fantasy Grade: A- (last year was C+)
Gone – Ben Maxwell, Antti Miettinen, Derek Meech, Mike Santorelli, Mark Dekanich, Nik Antropov
Incoming – Matt Halischuk, Adam Pardy, Andrew Gordon, Devin Setoguchi, Michael Frolik
Ready for full time – One of my favorite prospects on defense is Jacob Trouba and in my books a job is his to lose. The talented two-way blueliner will probably spend the first couple of years of his career as a shutdown guy before gradually moving up to quarterback a power play. This is because the Jets already have Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom… and Paul Postma… and Grant Clitsome… and Zach Bogosian. Oh, and they invited Ian White to camp on a tryout basis. No shortage of guys who can move the puck.
Fantasy Outlook – A couple of “ifs” need to come to pass in order for the Jets to move to that next level. They'll be an exciting team that will score at a better clip than they did last year, because Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler still have another gear, but also because Enstrom will be healthy. The Jets could really use a couple more solid scorers and that's where the “ifs” come in. “If” Michael Frolik can score the way he did in Florida now that he's no longer buried on a checking line. And “if” Setoguchi can recapture the magic that saw him tally 22 points in 25 games last season during late February and March. “If’ these things come together, there will be a lot of players on this squad with fantasy appeal. More than you would think. Fantasy Grade: B- (last year was B-)
Here are the grades – all teams.
*Remember folks, the grades are based on the fantasy appeal of the players, and not a projection of on-ice success. The perfect example – I don't believe Toronto will beat Vancouver this season in the win column, but the style of play and number of players ready to put up fantasy-worthy points is more appealing with the Leafs.
Also keep in mind that teams Anaheim through Florida (alphabetically, excludes Chicago and Boston who were still playing hockey in late June) were done prior to free agency opening.
Pittsburgh – A
Edmonton – A
Chicago – A
Tampa Bay – A-
Washington – A-
Minnesota – A-
Boston – A-
Detroit – B+
Florida – B+
NY Rangers – B+
Los Angeles – B+
NY Islanders – B
Ottawa – B
Toronto – B
Philadelphia – B
Montreal – B
St. Louis – B
Vancouver – B-
Winnipeg – B-
Anaheim – B-
San Jose – B-
Carolina – B-
Columbus – C+
Phoenix – C+
Dallas – C-
Buffalo – C-
Calgary – D+
Colorado – D+
Nashville – D+
New Jersey – D
Looking for the perfect Fantasy Guide to supplement your THN Ultimate Pool Guide? Take a look at Dobber's eighth annual Fantasy Hockey Guide!
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. 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.