This is the 10th off-season for Fantasy Pool Look and for the 10th summer in a row I’ll be analyzing each team’s outlook. I’ll have my fantasy hockey goggles on, of course. In keeping with tradition, I run through the teams alphabetically, but switch starting points each year. This year I began with Winnipeg and will eventually work my way to Anaheim. Contract information courtesy of CapGeek.com. Time to explore the Senators and Rangers.
Gone – Matt Carkner, Zenon Konopka, Filip Kuba, Jesse Winchester (UFA), Matt Gilroy (UFA), Alex Auld (UFA), Nick Foligno
Incoming – Guillaume Latendresse, Marc Methot, Mike Lundin
Ready for full time – Mika Zibanejad will be a top-six forward in the future, but he also has the skill set to hold his own on a checking line. That should be enough for him to get a long look in camp as the possible third-line center. He made the team last year, but the Sens got off to a slow start and felt it was best for him to put in another year in Sweden. Between Zibanejad and Peter Regin, the third-line center battle in training camp will be interesting.
Jakob Silfverberg won every award possible in the Swedish League last season. He captured player of the year as voted by the league and a similar award as voted by his peers. He finished second in league scoring and later led his team (Brynas) to the championship, earning playoff MVP honors. Then he joined the Sens and was tossed right onto their NHL playoff roster for the last two games (pointless in 18:21 of ice time). He’s as ready to slide into a second-line role as an unproven player can be and I recommend drafting him in all keeper league formats.
Although Mark Stone acquitted himself well during his one playoff game with Ottawa, in which he notched an assist, he is best off playing a full American League season.
Fantasy Outlook – Assuming Daniel Alfredsson returns, I really like Ottawa’s top six, though they could run into trouble if Latendresse spends the majority of the season on the IR. I like how the Sens’ goaltenders are set up from No. 1 to No. 3 and any team with Erik Karlsson on the blueline has offensive spunk. The pipeline has above-average promise in terms of fantasy appeal. Fantasy Grade: B (last year was D+)
NEW YORK RANGERS
Gone – Steve Eminger (UFA), Ruslan Fedotenko, Brandon Prust, Chad Johnson, John Mitchell, John Scott, Jeff Woywitka
Incoming – Taylor Pyatt, Micheal Haley, Arron Asham
Ready for full time – Chris Kreider is a 6-foot-3, 230-pound power forward with great hands and shooting accuracy. The Rangers knew they were getting a good one when he joined the team in mid-April, but they didn’t know he was this good. Injuries forced coach John Tortorella to give Kreider more ice time and he ran with it, scoring five goals in his last 15 playoff games. Kreider’s ice time started off at a conservative eight minutes per game in his first four contests, but he soon started seeing 16-plus minutes and was a key player. He’ll make the jump full time in 2012-13 and I expect his projected stats to mirror those of Blake Wheeler. Wheeler had similar hype, stature and upside and he took four years to come into his own, but in the meantime was a 40- to 50-point player.
Dylan McIlrath, the 10th overall pick from 2010, is a top blueline prospect for the Rangers and though he is only 20, was thought to be close to NHL-ready. But he dislocated his knee in prospect camp this past weekend and his recovery will interfere with his off-season training.
That means less competition for fellow rearguard Tim Erixon, but he strikes me as someone who needs another half-season in the AHL.
Fantasy Outlook – The Rangers were very successful on the ice, but on the stat sheets (what fantasy owners care about) things weren’t so rosy. After Marian Gaborik, only one player topped 55 points and that was Brad Richards at 66. A couple of players should take the next step offensively - Derek Stepan and Michael Del Zotto come to mind - and Brandon Dubinsky should rebound at least a little bit. The addition of Kreider helps, too. But I am afraid the coaching style will prevent eye-popping numbers from anyone besides Gaborik. And speaking of Gaborik, he’s hurt practically every other season and is set to miss the start of 2012-13 after off-season shoulder surgery.
As for the pipeline, there are many appealing youngsters, but they are several years away. The Rangers do boast the league’s premier fantasy goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, who is consistently among the leaders in goaltending stats. As far as icing a “real” hockey team is concerned, I like how this team is built. But if I’m not a Lundqvist owner, the Rangers don’t appeal to me in fantasy circles. Fantasy Grade: C+ (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.