Ottawa finished fifth in the East with 95 points, while Philadelphia finished seventh with 88. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/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 that. This week we look at the Rangers, Senators and Flyers.
Gone – Steve Valiquette, Aaron Voros, P-A Parenteau, Jody Shelley, Alex Auld, Olli Jokinen, Bobby Sanguinetti, Anders Eriksson, Enver Lisin
Incoming – Todd White, Alexander Frolov, Steve Eminger, Derek Boogaard, Martin Biron, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen
Ready for full time – Only two youngsters have a real shot at a roster spot, although Evgeny Grachev will get a long look in camp. A spot is likely Zuccarello-Aasen’s for the taking – the small, skilled late-bloomer led the Swedish Elite League in points and was third in goals. He’ll start on the third line and if there is early success, he could move into the top six.
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh turned pro this summer and should land a regular spot, one that could open up if New York decides to shed salary and buries Wade Redden and his contract in the minors. McDonagh holds some fantasy value in the PIM category.
Fantasy Outlook – The players on their way out are not as good as those on their way in, so the product on the ice for this season is an upgrade. The system is also fairly solid in terms of offensive prospects with fantasy upside. Still, a playoff spot is by no means a guarantee and there doesn’t seem to be greatness in the Rangers’ future. They seem to be a team destined to finish anywhere from 10th to 20th in the league year in and year out. Fantasy Grade: B- (last year was B)
Gone – Andy Sutton, Anton Volchenkov, Matt Cullen, Jonathan Cheechoo, Shean Donovan
Incoming – David Hale, Sergei Gonchar
Ready for full time – The Sens will give Olympic standout Roman Wick a long look at camp. He’ll battle Bobby Butler and Ryan Shannon for the final spot up front and could push Shannon and his one-way contract to the minors. Wick was a standout in the Swiss League and has similar offensive upside to Peter Regin.
Butler was NCAA Hockey East’s player of the year last season and was coveted by several NHL teams. It remains to be seen whether his impact will be akin to Jesse Winchester’s or if he could potentially be a second line, 25-goal scorer. If it’s the latter, you probably won’t see it this year.
Defenseman Brian Lee is hoping to finally secure a full-time NHL position, but highly touted Patrick Wiercioch will be battling for the same job. Given that Gonchar, Erik Karlsson, Filip Kuba and Chris Campoli are around, the Sens are already set in terms of puckmoving rearguards. So Lee and Wiercioch may have to wait another year (if Lee makes it at all).
Fantasy Outlook – Jason Spezza really came on in the second half last season (45 points in his final 36 regular season and playoff games). Assuming he’s found his mojo, he’ll boost the point totals of several players on the team. But he is the glue that keeps the offense together and if he posts another 60-point season, the Sens are in trouble. Karlsson is a fantastic defenseman – already one of the best in the NHL and it says here he will out-produce Gonchar. The Senators system boasts an above average bounty of puckmoving defensemen, but is below average when it comes to forwards. Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was D+)
Gone – Danny Syvret, Simon Gagne, Jared Ross, Jonathan Matsumoto, Ryan Parent, Arron Asham, Ray Emery, Lukas Krajicek
Incoming – Matt Walker, Nikolai Zherdev, Andrej Meszaros, Jody Shelley, Sean O’Donnell
Ready for full time – The Flyers have five lines of NHLers and seven very solid NHL defensemen. It would be surprising if any prospect can crack that armor this fall. Goaltender Serge Bobrovsky could make an appearance later in the season, given that both Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton were injured last spring and No. 3 Johan Backlund can’t seem to stay healthy at all. Bobrovsky may be one to stick on your radar if you see the Philly goaltenders start to fall.
Fantasy Outlook – The Flyers did well to address one of their two weaknesses – depth on the point. As for the other weakness, goaltending, I think it’s overblown. I believe Leighton is an underrated goaltender who’s as good as any free agent or overpaid goaltender in the league. If Ville Leino recaptures his playoff magic and Zherdev truly has learned the defensive aspects of hockey, Philadelphia will be scary good. Fantasy Grade: A (last year was A)
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.