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 and reviewing the teams in reverse order of regular season finish. This week we take a look at the Kings, the Habs and the Lightning.
Los Angeles Kings
Gone – Willie Mitchell, Linden Vey, Colin Fraser
Incoming - Adam Cracknell
Ready for full time - Tanner Pearson is still eligible as a rookie, just sliding under the wire with 25 games played last season. He made it quite clear in the post-season that he belongs in the NHL for good and in fact played very well as part of "That 70s Line" with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli. There isn't any reason why that line will be broken up in the season ahead, which makes Pearson a dark horse for 45 or 50 points if all three of them remain healthy.
Andy Andreoff is a prospect who has been perfecting the agitator role in the American League. He's probably looking at a mid-season recall as an injury replacement, but he will have fantasy relevance in leagues that count penalty minutes. Brayden McNabb was acquired at the trade deadline and the Kings recently signed him to a one-way contract. That means he'll be on the team, though it will be with minimal ice time and plenty of press box time. That's not to say McNabb will be a bust. That's only an observation based on how things went with Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez and Slava Voynov. All three of them saw a slow transition into the NHL.
Fantasy Outlook: Until they stop winning Cups, the Kings will continue to be a team with Anze Kopitar chalking up 75 points and then a bunch of 50- or 55-point players. You know there is potential for more and you are at times teased into thinking that a big year for offense is on the way, but it never happens.
Fantasy Grade: B+ (last year was B+)
Gone – Ryan White, Devan Dubnyk, Mike Blunden, Brian Gionta, Thomas Vanek, Josh Gorges, Daniel Briere, Louis Leblanc, Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray and George Parros
Incoming - Tom Gilbert, Jiri Sekac, Manny Malhotra, P-A Parenteau
Ready for full time – Sekac broke out in the KHL last season and the Habs were quick to sign him. But many poolies are under the impression that not only is he NHL-ready, but he'll be a decent fantasy contributor. I think you will see him get some cups of coffee with the big club, but his future lies on the third line. He’ll probably not be a staple on too many future fantasy rosters. Nathan Beaulieu played 24 regular season and playoff games in 2013-14, but coach Michel Therrien was very careful with his ice time and how he was deployed. He'll make the team for good this season, but look for the slow transition to continue and a production number of around 25 points. Jarred Tinordi is a towering (6-foot-6) blueliner with plenty of potential for big numbers in the hits and PIM category, much like his father Mark. The 22nd overall pick in 2010 is ready to make the jump, just don't expect any offense. Dustin Tokarski showed the world this past May that he is ready for a full-time backup role. He has to clear waivers to be sent down and Peter Budaj is still under contract to be the backup (and he’s a pretty good one). You may see a three-headed monster situation between the pipes to start the season, but something is bound to give before November and it will likely be Tokarski who sticks.
Fantasy Outlook – The Habs did some retooling in the off-season and if those moves work there is potential for more offense. Couple that with the fact Alex Galchenyuk is finally healthy and has a couple of NHL seasons under his belt and there is no reason why this team can't repeat the impressive campaign from a year ago. P.K. Subban and Carey Price are two of the best owns in all of fantasy hockey, but the prospect pipeline leaves something to be desired for keeper leagues. Fantasy Grade: B (last year was B)
Tampa Bay Lightning
Gone – Tom Pyatt, Cedrick Desjardins, P-C Labrie, Keith Aulie, Anders Lindback, Michael Kostka, Nate Thompson, Teddy Purcell, BJ Crombeen, Ryan Malone, Sami Salo
Incoming - Brenden Morrow, Evgeni Nabokov, Brian Boyle, Mike Blunden, Anton Stralman, Jason Garrison
Ready for full time – After an impressive influx of fantasy-worthy youngsters a year ago (Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov), it's hard to imagine that an even better one will join the team this year. But Jonathan Drouin is just that. Poolies wonder if he will line up with Steven Stamkos, but that's probably not going to happen. And not just because of the pressure it’d put on a youngster for being put in such a spot, but also the fact that Stamkos seems to be doing just fine with Palat and Johnson on his wings. Drouin will develop on the third line to start and likely the second line by December. And within three years you will be wondering which line is the first line - the Stamkos line, or the Drouin line, assuming the team can hang onto Stamkos after his contract expires. Kristers Gudlevskis is known for his stellar performance for Latvia against Team Canada at the Olympics, but he also looked very sharp in cups of coffee with the Lightning late in the season and playoffs. Sure, the team brought in Nabokov to be the backup, but the veteran is fairly injury prone at this stage in his career so we should see Gudlevskis for at least a handful of games this year. Cedric Paquette showed plenty of offensive promise as a junior player, but his future lies on the checking line. Potentially, he could be a 40-point, 150-PIM third-liner, which would make him valuable in a lot of rotisserie leagues, but for the season ahead he will likely post something like 20 points and 90 PIM.
Fantasy Outlook – Fantasy owners are frothing at the mouth when it comes to this team. There is a lot of firepower on the pro team and lots of firepower in the system. So much so that it's hard to figure out which kids are going to thrive on the top line and which ones will be buried on a checking line.
Fantasy Grade: A (last year was A-)
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.
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