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Fantasy Pool Look: Buffalo, Calgary and Carolina

Summer is here – time to run down next season's fantasy outlook, team-by-team.

Buffalo Sabres

Coming – Dan Paille, Chris Thorburn, and Jiri Novotny are all likely ready for the NHL, but will there be room?

Going – Buffalo may not be able to match the salary demands of Jay McKee, but that has little fantasy impact. They should be able to keep Teppo Numminen. Mike Grier can be replaced.

The Sabres also have the most restricted free agents in the league, but they have the depth to use as leverage in negotiations. For example: If Taylor Pyatt doesn't accept a contract offer, Thorburn can replace him. Martin Biron may be traded as he may wind up being overpaid as a backup to Ryan Miller.

Team Outlook – In a word – awesome. They have goaltending depth and can roll out 37 lines of offense. Well, maybe not that many, but they have tons of talent up front, both on the roster and in the pipeline. All they need is some depth on defense, and I have full confidence they will address that this summer.

From a fantasy perspective, the only drawback with this team is the fact they have so much depth, you don't know which players will get time in offensive situations. Daniel Briere is a given – he may take a run at 100 points - while Chris Drury and J-P Dumont should be reliable in the low 60s.

I like Derek Roy, Tim Connolly and Maxim Afinogenov for the second wave of offense, provided Connolly can recover from yet another concussion. Jochen Hecht is prone to injury, so his points are usually capped at around 55. Ales Kotalik and Jason Pominville will be behind Thomas Vanek on the offensive depth chart to start 2006.

Team Fantasy Grade: A-

Calgary Flames

Coming –Eric Nystrom should be ready for the big team, but he is not of any interest to fantasy fanatics. Carsen Germyn may surprise in camp, but his upside is minimal. Andrei Taratukhin, in all likelihood, will need to spend time in the American League before making the leap.

Going – Shean Donovan, Brian Boucher, Chris Simon, and Mike Leclerc. Of the four, I can see only Leclerc possibly being re-signed.

Team Outlook – Darryl Sutter may be great for the organization in terms of winning, but he is a fantasy pool owner's bane. Until Calgary stumbles and Sutter gets fired, you're looking at Jarome Iginla getting 75 points, and with one or two exceptions, everyone else being capped in the 40s and 50s.

In my mind, Kristian Huselius could sneak into the mid-60s. I also like Chuck Kobasew breaking out for 55 or 60. Jamie Lundmark finally should flirt with 50 points.

If the Flames can pick up an elite playmaking center, Iginla could get back up to 90 points.

Miikka Kiprusoff will continue to be an elite goaltending pickup.

Team Fantasy Grade: C

Carolina Hurricanes

Coming – Following his playoff performance, Andrew Ladd left little question he is now a part of the roster for good.

Going – Martin Gerber, Doug Weight, Mark Recchi, Matt Cullen, Frantisek Kaberle, among others, are unrestricted. Cullen could possibly return.

Team Outlook – Stanley Cup Champions! Will this be a dynasty, though? They have the youth, the coaching and the goaltending, so at the very least they will be contenders for the next five years or so, much like the Devils, Red Wings, and Avalanche of the late 90s.

Eric Staal will get better still. Erik Cole is, to answer the handful of emails asking, the real deal at a point per game (I have him for 70 points in 70 games next year). The Hurricanes just need a quarterback for their power play. Kaberle was average at best, and Oleg Tverdovsky didn't come through. All in all, the team is exciting, high scoring, and they win. You could do worse than build your fantasy squad around them.

Team Fantasy Grade: A

Fantasy Pool Look will return July 5

Darryl Dobbs' Fantasy Hockey 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 1st of every month in THN's Fantasy section.

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