Patrick Marleau scored 44 goals and 83 points in 82 games for San Jose last season. (Photo by Norm Hall/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 Coyotes, Penguins and Sharks.
Gone – Matthew Lombardi, Zbynek Michalek, Joel Perrault, Jim Vandermeer, Daniel Winnik, Robert Lang, Petteri Nokelainen, Lee Stempniak, Matt Schneider
Incoming – Andrew Ebbett, Ray Whitney
Ready for full time – There is a crop of elite, offensive, future star defensemen joining the NHL full time this season and the Coyotes have two of them. Along with Washington’s John Carlson, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, Carolina’s Jamie McBain, Nashville’s Jonathan Blum and Montreal’s P.K. Subban, Phoenix will enjoy watching their kids try to make a splash this season. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is blessed with poise beyond his years and his offensive touch may remind you of another high-end Swede who plays for the Red Wings. Since the team already has puckmovers Ed Jovanovski and Keith Yandle, OEL will likely be eased into the league.
Another rookie blueliner on the Yotes draws comparisons to Sergei Gonchar. Maxim Goncharov is NHL-ready, though the team may be reluctant to run with two rookie defensemen in the lineup. Phoenix may not want one of Goncharov or Ekman-Larsson to be getting No. 6 minutes. I think Ekman-Larsson makes the team as a top-four guy, while Goncharov becomes a mid-season call-up and plays too well to be sent back down again.
Goal-scorer Brett MacLean has been brought along slowly. He had an impressive camp a year ago and was actually the final cut. Despite that – and despite leading San Antonio in scoring – he wasn’t granted an NHL cup of coffee. That won’t happen this year. He’ll see games in the NHL and one day soon he’ll be a 30-goal scorer.
Kyle Turris has reportedly put on some weight, adding some much-needed strength. He’s still ineligible for waivers, so he could spend one more season in the American League, but the odds are good he’ll get a shot as a third-line center and work his way up from there.
Fantasy Outlook – This is a young team with a deep roster that goes all the way down the pipeline in terms of potential offense and would be a fantasy hockey dream, if not for the defensive style of coach Dave Tippett. His teams tend to open up on offense a little more each year he coaches, but for this season they won’t have any 70-point players. Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was C+)
Gone – Alex Ponikarovsky, Jordan Leopold, Sergei Gonchar, Ruslan Fedotenko, Bill Guerin, Jay McKee
Incoming – Brett Sterling, Zbynek Michalek, Paul Martin, Ryan Craig
Ready for full time – There are two wingers you really need to keep an eye on: Eric Tangradi, a budding power forward, and Dustin Jeffrey, a blossoming top-six center who will be converted to the wing (for obvious reasons). I like Tangradi because the Pens have a one-track mind with him: Sidney Crosby’s winger. They’ve tried him there before and they’ll try him there again. Eventually that will mean big points, provided Tangradi stays healthy. His health isn’t a guarantee though, as he’s missed time each of the past two campaigns and plays the type of game that tends to attract injuries.
Jeffrey was pegged as a potential checking center, but his offense really blossomed last year for AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. As such, he makes an excellent candidate to play on the wing with either Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, although Tangradi may have to stumble (or get hurt) for that to happen.
Fantasy Outlook – Crosby and Malkin have not yet reached their primes and until we see that incredible offensive breakthrough the two are capable of, all we can do is dream. Dream of the day when both players pot 130 or 140 points and pull their wingers and power play defensemen up by 20 points or more from their usual output. Fantasy Grade: A+ (fourth straight year with A+)
Gone – Evgeni Nabokov, Manny Malhotra, Ryan Vesce, Rob Blake, Brad Staubitz
Incoming – Jamal Mayers, Antero Niittymaki
Ready for full time – Logan Couture played 25 games with San Jose last campaign, which is the maximum amount of action a player can see and still retain his Calder Trophy eligibility. The Sharks need scoring depth and they were impressed by how well Couture adapted. He kept mistakes to a minimum and was enough of a scoring threat that he should easily pot 20 in the season ahead.
Big 6-foot-4, 235-pound left winger Frazer McLaren should also win a full-time role. For an enforcer, he brings decent offensive upside. Potentially he could be a 20-point, 180-PIM player. In deeper roto leagues, that’s worth drafting.
Goaltender Alex Stalock is a Niittymaki injury away from being the surprise goalie of 2010-11. Every year there always seems to be one or two of them and it’s from unexpected twists (like the aforementioned injury) that often put them there. Be very quick on the waiver claim button if you see Niittymaki go down.
Fantasy Outlook – San Jose is still one of the best teams in the league, but they lack offensive depth on the farm. However, every season they manage to successfully integrate another good prospect onto their roster so the system works. Their top six will get the points (and defenseman Dan Boyle, of course) and their goalie will get the wins. It’s hard to argue with building your fantasy squad around the Sharks. Fantasy Grade: B (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. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.