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 Penguins and Sharks.
Gone – Douglas Murray, Brad Thiessen, Tyler Kennedy, Trevor Smith, Matt Cooke, Jarome Iginla, Mark Eaton, Brenden Morrow, Warren Peters.
Incoming – Matt D'Agostini, Nick Drazenovic, Andrew Ebbett, Brendan Mikkelson, Rob Scuderi, Chris Conner, Harry Zolnierczyk
Ready for full time – Beau Bennett has already shown he can keep up with Evgeni Malkin. Provided he avoids the sophomore slump (he played 26 games, two over the limit to still be called a “rookie”), he'll be on the Malkin line again. If Malkin stays healthy, Bennett will flourish. Even if Malkin is hurt, Bennett has shown he can still chip in with a modest amount of points. A safe pick for 35 points and a dark horse for 60.
Brian Dumoulin is a solid two-way defenseman who was part of the trade that sent Jordan Staal to Carolina. He was named Hockey East's Best Defensive Defenseman twice and was also a two-time NCAA all-star. His first pro season had its ups and downs, but by the middle of 2013-14 he should start getting some call-ups. But the Penguins are too deep on defense for him to be considered for a full-time position this season.
Fantasy Outlook – It's time for the annual 'A' rating of the Penguins. And as long as Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are both on this team, Penguins players will continue to be highly coveted in fantasy hockey. We're talking about a team that managed to put Chris Kunitz in seventh place in league scoring. This is a squad that made Pascal Dupuis average (pro-rated) more than 60 points per season over the past two years. Now watch what happens with Bennett. Fantasy Grade: A (last year was A-)
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Gone – Scott Gomez, Tim Kennedy, Thomas Greiss, T.J. Galiardi
Incoming – Tyler Kennedy
Ready for full time – Alex Stalock is the latest in a steady flow of goaltenders San Jose has developed. The Sharks may not have the deepest prospect pool – in fact, it's been one of the shallowest in the league for the past decade – but they have always been a bit of a goalie factory. Stalock will do well as a backup, yet at the same time pose no threat to Antti Niemi. Stalock isn’t as promising as Greiss, but could hold his own if Niemi became injured.
Tomas Hertl is a talented pivot drafted 17th overall last summer. He performed very well playing against men in the Czech League and will cross the pond in the fall to play in North America. He has a shot at making the team, but would have to move to the left side for that to happen. He's on some pre-season lists for potential Calder Trophy voting, though in a one-year fantasy league I would wait until the final round to draft him.
Defenseman Matt Tennyson was a highly sought-after free agent in 2012 after completing three productive years of college. His first pro season was also a success, as he posted 27 points in 60 games for Worcester (American League) and he even added two points during a four-game cup of coffee with San Jose. At this point he is first in line for a call-up, as the big club already has its seven defensemen in place.
Fantasy Outlook – This is an aging core that many think is entering a “do or die” season. If they don't win the Cup this year, it could be time to dismantle and rebuild. After all, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle are set to become unrestricted free agents next summer. From a keeper league standpoint, San Jose's situation is the same as always – solid NHL team, shallow pipeline. Fantasy Grade: B- (last year was B)
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.