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. This year I began with Anaheim and will finish up with Winnipeg in early September. Time to take a look at the Flyers and the Coyotes.
Gone – Jody Shelley, Kurtis Foster, Brian Boucher, Daniel Briere, Ruslan Fedotenko, Andreas Lilja, Ilya Bryzgalov, Simon Gagne, Kent Huskins, Mike Knuble
Incoming – Ray Emery, Yann Danis, Vincent Lecavalier, Kris Newbury, Mark Streit, Michael Raffl
Ready for full-time – Michael Raffl is a 24-year-old undrafted prospect who the Flyers signed in late May. He finished fifth in the Swedish second league in scoring. The Flyers are actually over the salary cap at the moment, so that can only help a player like Raffl, who has a cheap contract at $792,500. Temper your expectations, as he will likely be up and down (from the American League) throughout the year.
After making a good impression last season when he had cups of coffee with the big club, Tye McGinn stands to have a good chance of making this team. If he does, his point total would be modest…but his hits and penalty minutes would be fantasy-worthy. A good final-round pick in leagues that count those stats.
In January, 18-year-old Scott Laughton actually made the team before being sent down after his five-game trial. Although he has a bright future in the NHL, I don't think he makes it this season or even next. He needs to add some bulk and after one final season in the Ontario League, he'll need to apprentice for a year in the American League. But stranger things have happened, such as making the Flyers in the first place. If he were to make the team again, don't expect big numbers. There are too many other Flyers who fill that role.
Fantasy Outlook – Although the prospects with high fantasy value are virtually nonexistent with this organization, the NHL roster is a good one capable of scoring a lot of goals. The top six, in terms of potential scoring, is one of the best groups on the league. The offense from the blueline is only average and the goaltending is boom or bust. So the decent ranking is really based solely on that impressive top six.
Fantasy Grade: B (last year was A-)
Gone – Nick Johnson, Chad Johnson, Chris Conner, Alexandre Bolduc, Jason LaBarbera, Boyd Gordon
Incoming – Thomas Greiss, Tim Kennedy, Mike Ribeiro, Brandon Yip
Ready for full-time – David Rundblad is finally making the jump full time. So says his shiny new one-way NHL contract. Last season he got the hang of life in the AHL, gradually establishing himself as the top prospect Phoenix thought they were getting when they landed him in the Kyle Turris trade. In the NHL, his production will come along slowly unless the team makes room for him by trading Keith Yandle.
Max Domi was the 12th overall pick this summer and there are some who feel his skills are NHL-caliber right now. In all likelihood, he'll get a nine-game trial before being sent back to London, where he will challenge for the OHL scoring title. But if he does manage to stick, he's a dark horse for 20 goals and 40 points, since the Coyotes aren't exactly flush with scoring wingers holding high upside.
We always knew Chris Brown was a solid prospect with pretty good upside as a power forward. But not many expected him to step out of college a year early and dominate in his first year as a professional. His 29 goals in 68 AHL games led the Portland Pirates and was eighth in the league. He even got in five NHL games. At worse, he should be a mid-season call-up. He's very close and doesn't seem to be a prospect who will make fantasy owners wait long for the production to show up.
Henrik Samuelsson has the size (6-foot-3, 216 pounds) and pedigree (27th overall pick in 2012, son of former NHLer Ulf) to make the big club right now. He also has nothing left to prove in the Western League, finishing tied for 20th in scoring with 80 points in 69 games. Samuelsson is one of my favorite rookie dark horses in fantasy hockey as he could potentially make this team and tally 30-plus points right away. He is also a solid dark horse for hits and penalty minutes. Two of Samuelsson, Domi and Brown could make the Coyotes. This situation warrants close monitoring in training camp.
Fantasy Outlook – I really like the defense corps with this team. No other club has this kind of potential firepower from Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson to David Rundblad and Michael Stone. All of these guys can move the puck. All they needed was a skilled forward capable of getting 75 points and they got that when they signed Ribeiro. That will make an impact on the offense – a bigger one than you'd expect.
Fantasy Grade: C+ (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. 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.