For the past six summers, Fantasy Pool Look has given you 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. Keep in mind the ratings reflect the current and potential offense of teams (fantasy value) and not necessarily the outlook for the wins and losses of the on-ice product.
Gone – Mathieu Roy, Ales Kotalik, Dwayne Roloson, Kyle Brodziak, Craig MacTavish (coach)
Incoming – Nikolai Khabibulin, Pat Quinn (coach)
Ready for full time – It doesn’t look like anyone in the system is ready to make the jump this season, although a case could be made for potential star Jordan Eberle. However, there are a handful of youngsters who have already seen a lot of NHL action who will battle for what could amount to a single spot.
Gilbert Brule, Ryan Potulny and Rob Schremp will all give it a whirl this fall. Brule is showing some promise as a solid third-liner, so he may be the best fit. Potulny seemed to produce whenever he stepped onto NHL ice last season (which wasn’t often) – for him it will come down to how much he can impress coach Quinn. Schremp is on the outside looking in, as he is either a top-sixer or bust…and there is no room in the top six.
Fantasy Outlook – If Patrick O’Sullivan shows some fourth-year magic on the top line, this team could really surprise. Until that happens, the Oilers boast one star up front: Ales Hemsky. He needs some help. Secondary scoring is improving with each year of experience that Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano earn, but the system is average in terms of offensive prospects. There will be a lot of offense produced from the blueline, as the Oilers boast a plethora of puck-moving defensemen. Fantasy Grade: C (last year was C+)
Detroit Red Wings
Gone – Mikael Samuelsson, Tomas Kopecky, Jiri Hudler, Marian Hossa, Ty Conklin, Chris Chelios, Aaron Downey, Darren McCarty
Incoming – Jason Williams, Patrick Eaves, Jeremy Williams, Doug Janik, Todd Bertuzzi
Ready for full time – Darren Helm certainly proved he’s a Red Wing for good after a monster playoff performance. The “next Kris Draper” will spend the campaign learning from the veteran. Helm will offer the same tenacious checking as well as an offensive touch that Draper has always lacked.
Justin Abdelkader is also ready, although with Todd Bertuzzi signing, Abdelkader will once again ply his trade in Grand Rapids.
Ville Leino was nothing short of impressive in his first campaign in North America. He had 55 points in 70 combined NHL and American League games and is certainly capable of approaching that number in his first full big-league season.
Jonathan Ericsson will finally man the blueline in Detroit for a full season. Although he is offensively gifted, he will probably need to wait two more seasons before getting some decent power play time. Look for a gradual year-by-year offensive progression not unlike Niklas Kronwall’s.
Jimmy Howard will be the backup goaltender and given the inconsistency in last year’s regular season from starter Chris Osgood, the youngster could see his share of action. The team probably hopes for a 55/25 split in games, but I think you could see it closer to 45/35 – all it takes is a prolonged stumble from Osgood.
Fantasy Outlook – As long as the Wings keep plucking gems from the late rounds of the draft, they will continue to be a top-5 team in fantasy circles. They lost a lot of offense this off-season, but plugged some of those holes. Fantasy Grade: B+ (last year was A-)
Gone – Tobias Stephan, Sergei Zubov, Brendan Morrison, Chris Conner, Steve Begin, Joel Lundqvist, Mark Parrish, Darryl Sydor, Landon Wilson, Dave Tippett (coach)
Incoming – Alex Auld, Jeff Woywitka, Warren Peters, Karlis Skrastins, Marc Crawford (coach)
Ready for full time – There is still one forward spot up for grabs. Jamie Benn will get a long look in camp, although if he doesn’t earn a spot on a scoring line the team will probably let him develop for a year in the American League. If that happens, look for Swede Tom Wandell to get the spot. Wandell brings offensive upside, but can also play a checking role, which fits Dallas’ needs.
Fantasy Outlook - With Brad Richards back to full health and Fabian Brunnstrom and defenseman Matt Niskanen taking another step forward in their development, the team will improve over last year. Backup Auld should push Marty Turco a little harder, which only helps. The pipeline is above average in terms of prospects with offensive potential. 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. 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.