Summer is here Â– time to run down next season's fantasy outlook, team-by-team.
Team Outlook Â– Philadelphia has been a perennial Stanley Cup contender for quite some time, but its lack of speed caught up to them in the playoffs last season. They did address that issue somewhat this summer, but not enough to change matters significantly. There are also issues of having two No. 1 goaltenders and the on-going concussion problems of former captain Keith PrimeauÂ…
With an ever-improving Joni Pitkanen leading the offense from the blueline and Peter Forsberg now likely to play most of the coming season, the Flyers will score a lot of goals. The trio of Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and R.J. Umberger have a year of experience under their belts and their totals should increase. The core of this team (you can add Simon Gagne and Calder to the above) is quite young and their goaltending could be very good.
In the system, the offensive potential of their prospects is average at best.
Team Fantasy Grade: B-
Team Outlook Â– The biggest enigma of all the NHL teams. Ladislav Nagy is a true star, but can he get past the 55-game barrier that has held him back for two seasons now? If he stays healthy, the Coyotes have a decent first line. Their second and third lines are filled with question marks. The only sure things the Coyotes have going for them is their fourth line (Tyson Nash, Mike Ricci, and Laraque), their goaltending (Curtis Joseph and Morrison), and their defense corps.
Speaking of the Phoenix blueline brigade, they likely have the best top-six in the league, led by Jovanovski. There will be no shortage of offense from the defense, Cujo will perform as he usually does, and the fourth line will rack up the penalty minutes. Scoring up front will come as long as Nagy can stay in the lineup.
Team Fantasy Grade: C+ (with potential)
Team Outlook Â– This up-and-coming team still has a ways to go, particularly if Malkin stays in Russia for one more year. However, all the building blocks are there and this team has the potential to be one of the league's highest-scoring teams in a couple of seasons. There is no question that a rebuilding keeper-league team would be wise to grab a few Penguins.
For the immediate future, Sidney Crosby will likely among the league's top scorers, and he'll take his linemates up the scoring chart along with him. In the event Malkin doesn't join the squad, 2006 second-overall pick Jordan Staal could sneak onto the team and contribute 40 points right away. On the blueline, Sergei Gonchar, Ryan Whitney, and Noah Welch have the ability to add a ton of offense Â– Gonchar could see 70 points this year (he had 45 points in 44 games to end last season). Those poolies in leagues that count plus-minus may want to steer clear of this team this season, and this may not be the year to draft goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury unless you are looking beyond this year.
Team Fantasy Grade: A-
Next week: St. Louis, San Jose, Tampa Bay.
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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