Vesa Toskala defends the goal with Ryan Malone and Vaclav Prospal on the doorstep. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
For the past six summers, Fantasy Pool Look has given you some insight on what each NHL team has on tap for the summer – from a fantasy hockey standpoint, of course. Last year we ran through the teams every week starting from Anaheim and finishing with Washington. This summer, we’re reversing that.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Potential UFAs - Brad May, Andre Deveaux, Boyd Devereaux, Jeff Hamilton, Ben Ondrus, Kris Newbury, Bates Battaglia, Eric Reitz, Jamie Heward, Curtis Joseph, Olaf Kolzig, Martin Gerber
Potential RFAs - Jeremy Williams, Justin Pogge, Mikhail Grabovski, Ryan Hollweg, Tim Stapleton, Jamie Sifers, Phil Oreskovic
Looking to Add – The Leafs could pretty much add a player in any position to fill any role. Their secondary scoring has plenty of candidates and, for now, Vesa Toskala is still the No. 1 goalie. Otherwise, anything goes when it comes to adding players.
Ready for full time – Jiri Tlusty had a phenomenal second half in the American League and looks ready to join the top six; a spot on the third or fourth line would be wasted on the skilled Czech. Expect at least 40 points in his first full NHL season.
Highly touted University of Denver star Tyler Bozak is another good fit for the second line. He missed much of last campaign with a knee injury, but has still shown enough skill to be the prize of the undrafted NCAA pool.
Defenseman Anton Stralman and forward Viktor Stalberg will make strong cases in training camp. Stralman is ready to run the second power play unit, but it will be up to coach Ron Wilson to give him the opportunity. Stalberg, a left winger, had a breakout year at the University of Vermont, with 46 points in 39 contests. Odds are he will bounce between the Marlies and Leafs for 2009-10 before making the jump for good.
Fantasy Outlook – While the pipeline is slowly filling up nicely, the Leafs still lack an elite presence on the first line. Until they can ice a pivot and two wingers capable of combining for 220 points in a season, Leafs players will not be in demand around fantasy circles. Fantasy Grade: D+ (last year was D-)
Tampa Bay Lightning
Potential UFAs - Matt Pettinger, David Koci, Jason Ward, Wade Brookbank, Brandon Segal, Marek Malik, Josef Melichar, Cory Murphy, Noah Welch, Richard Petiot, Janne Niskala
Potential RFAs - Martins Karsums, Radek Smolenak, Lukas Krajicek, Matt Smaby, Mike Lundin, Matt Lashoff, Karri Ramo, Mike McKenna
Looking to Add - One more top-sixer and a reliable, puck-moving rearguard. A healthy Mike Smith being backed up by Karri Ramo should be a good goaltending tandem and judging by Steven Stamkos’ final quarter of the season, he’s ready to contribute 65 to 70 points from the second line.
Ready for full time – Matt Lashoff blew his golden opportunity to make the Bruins a year ago, but Tampa Bay will have more patience for him. If they don’t solve their puck-moving defenseman problems via free agency, they may look to Lashoff.
Martins Karsums, the other player acquired with Lashoff in the Mark Recchi deal, has escaped the numbers game in Boston and should be a decent 40-point option on the second or third line.
Whether the team selects John Tavares, Victor Hedman or Matt Duchene, they will be adding a player who will step into the lineup in 2009-10.
Fantasy Outlook - Dysfunctional as this team seemed to be last campaign, if the players on their current roster are given the time to gel they will be a pretty good squad. The emergence of Stamkos and the health of their defensemen and goaltender, as well as the arrival of whomever they draft second overall, will give this team far more promise than when they tried to buy their way out of rebuilding a year ago. Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was C).
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Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy 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 Tuesday throughout the off-season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.