Ryan Miller and Zdeno Chara shake hands after the Bruins ousted the Sabres in six games in the playoffs this season. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
For the past seven years, 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 Washington and finishing with Anaheim, so in 2010 we will once again reverse the order.
Potential UFAs – Steve Begin, Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Miroslav Satan, Dennis Seidenberg, Shawn Thornton
Potential RFAs – Adam McQuaid, Daniel Paille, Vladimir Sobotka, Mark Stuart, Blake Wheeler
Looking to add – The Bruins desperately need top-six wingers who can pot 70 points if lined up with a talented center. With David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard, the B’s have plenty of the latter. But when their top winger garners just one more point than his age (Recchi – the 42-year-old had 43 points), you know the B’s are selling their pivots short. The problem is, Boston will be pressed against the cap if they hang on to all their restricted free agents, leaving them with peanuts with which to sign/replace their crop of UFAs.
Ready for full time – Brad Marchand, who has been converted to the wing, will be on the team in the fall. But as a rookie he’ll get no more than 40 points (and probably much less), so he’s not the answer. Another player who is close to NHL-ready is Swede Carl Soderberg. The problem is, he’s a pivot. Soderberg has also teased us for several summers with his “I’ll come to North America this year/no maybe next year” act. He’ll be here in the fall, but he is a risk to be the next Fabian Brunnstrom, himself in and out of the Dallas lineup: talented, but risky. Converting Soderberg to the wing (where Boston needs him) would mean a season in the American League, but does he have the patience for that?
Fantasy Outlook – The B’s are too deep at center and not deep enough on the wings. They’ll score a lot more next season, for the simple fact that 2009-10 was a one-off and the team is better than that, as they showed us in the post-season. The top prospect, from a fantasy standpoint, is Joe Colborne (a natural center converted to the wing), who is a year away, but is underrated and has the ability to be a future star. But something will need to be done about Boston’s lack of top-six wingers, so perhaps he’ll be rushed. Goaltending, of course, is solid. Fantasy Grade: B- (last year was A-)
Potential UFAs – Matt Ellis, Patrick Lalime, Toni Lydman, Adam Mair, Henrik Tallinder, Raffi Torres
Potential RFAs – Patrick Kaleta, Tim Kennedy
Looking to add – The Sabres need a lot more size up front and the great play of rookie Tyler Myers aside, they also need an experienced power play quarterback. Sound familiar? That’s because the team has needed these pieces for years. Buffalo hasn’t addressed these needs via free agency or trade in summers past and they won’t address them this summer, either.
Ready for full time – As we saw in the post-season, Coach Lindy Ruff leaned heavily on newcomer Tyler Ennis. He’s a lock for a top-six spot on the roster in 2010-11 and he’ll clear 50 points – perhaps by the end of February. The small and skilled Nathan Gerbe also saw more responsibility when Ruff desperately needed goals, which indicates the former college star is finally ready. This puts even more emphasis on the need for size – Ennis is 5-foot-9 and Gerbe is listed at 5-foot-6.
After the season goaltender Jhonas Enroth had in the AHL, he is clearly ready for the backup job. If he doesn’t get it, it will be because the team wants him to get more starts in the minors rather than warm up the bench in the NHL.
Fantasy Outlook – There is a lot of potential here for a handful of players to approach a point-per-game average. Goaltending is solid and Myers is a budding superstar on the blueline. As far as regular season fantasy hockey is concerned, this team is a decent one to build around. However, if your league has a post-season component, you may not see the Sabres go very deep unless they address their size issue. Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was C+)
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. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.