While the Flyers went out earlier than expected, the Coyotes overachieved in making it to the conference final. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
This is the 10th off-season for Fantasy Pool Look and for the 10th summer in a row I’ll be taking a look at each team’s outlook. I’ll have my fantasy hockey goggles on, of course. In keeping with tradition, I run through the teams alphabetically, but switch starting points each year. This year I began with Winnipeg and will eventually work my way to Anaheim. Contract information courtesy of CapGeek.com. Time to take a look at the Coyotes and the Flyers.
Pending UFAs – Shane Doan, Daymond Langkow, Ray Whitney, Taylor Pyatt, Michal Rozsival, Adrian Aucoin, Kurt Sauer, Patrick O’Sullivan, Marc Pouliot, Alexandre Bolduc, Justin Pogge
Pending RFAs – Brett MacLean, Andy Miele, Chris Summers, Gilbert Brule, Kyle Chipchura
Looking to add – The Coyotes are set on the blueline and between the pipes, so full focus will be on forwards. Failure to re-sign Doan or Whitney would leave a huge void to fill. Adding scoring pop is a must. Of course, this would be made easier if the ownership situation is finally resolved.
Traditionally, the Coyotes have gone for bargains via the free agent market, so Alexander Semin is out. But cheaper players such as Kristian Huselius, Brad Boyes and Andrei Kostitsyn are feasible. But all three of those examples are far from consistent and none have been impressive the past two years. However, a strict system under Dave Tippett could be just what the doctor ordered for any of these underachievers. Hey, he turned Radim Vrbata into a 35-goal scorer.
Ready for full time – Michael Stone will make the jump over David Rundblad. The 22-year-old Stone was impressive during his stint with the big club and he has offensive potential. He needs to make his mark now or risk losing his tenuous spot on the depth chart. With Rundblad and Brandon Gormley each having elite upside, Stone’s window of opportunity is small.
Speaking of small windows, MacLean has about run out of options. His hands are better than most in the NHL, but his wheels leave something to be desired. No NHL coach trusts him with more than eight or nine minutes of ice time and it’s hard for him to make an impression as a result. He won’t get a one-way contract and he’ll also need a few injuries on the depth chart above him to get a chance.
Gormley would be a lock on most teams. On this one, however, he’ll see a year in the American League. Still, if he impresses in a mid-season call-up, he can make it difficult for the team to send him back down. He should be owned in all keeper leagues by the time summer is over.
Defenseman Maxim Goncharov has struggled in the AHL and he may not have the offensive pop we thought he’d bring two years ago, but his game will translate better at the NHL level. He has excellent size and strength he likes to use.
Fantasy Outlook – From the NHL roster down through the pipeline, the Coyotes are deep on defense and in net, but are lacking up front. Antoine Vermette should bounce back and become a 60-point player and Vrbata has clearly emerged. Mikkel Boedker is ready to take the next step, too. Adding skilled Western League scoring champ Brendan Shinnimin helps the future. Still, if they don’t re-sign Whitney, the Coyotes will once again become a team without any 65-point players…for a while. Fantasy Grade: C- (last year was C)
Pending UFAs – Jaromir Jagr, Blair Betts, Pavel Kubina, Matt Carle, Michael Leighton
Pending RFAs – Marc-Andre Bourdon, Tom Sestito, Harry Zolnierczyk, Jakub Voracek
Looking to add – Who the Flyers are looking to add and whom they need to add are two different questions. Frankly, if this team is healthy, it has a winning lineup. The Flyers were knocked out of the playoffs with defensive defenseman Nicklas Grossmann playing on one leg and steady blueliner Andrej Meszaros out. I won’t get into Chris Pronger discussions here, because his career is in jeopardy and the team will proceed with that in mind.
The Flyers would like to re-sign Jagr and Carle as well as get into the Ryan Suter sweepstakes. While signing Carle is a must, they no longer need Jagr as long as James van Riemsdyk is healthy and Voracek continues to improve. Suter would, of course, be an upgrade on any of their defensemen, but not a necessary one.
Ready for full time – The youngsters who we saw forced into the lineup late last season are mostly ready for a full-time job in the NHL. Eric Wellwood has found a home on the fourth line, with upside for the third line. Erik Gustafsson has shown he can be a depth defenseman and hold his own while developing into a potential No. 4 guy who posts decent production on the second PP unit.
Late-bloomer Matthew Ford can fill in as a depth player. The Flyers acquired the 27-year-old in February and he went on to score 19 goals in 31 games for Adirondack. But the team is too deep, with their top nine spoken for. So there is no room for a player like Ford, barring an eye-popping camp.
Fantasy Outlook – This team loves scoring goals and the makeup of the Flyers indicates this will be the case for the next couple of years at the very least. That’s music to a fantasy owner’s ears – unless you own a Philadelphia goaltender. Fantasy Grade: A- (last year was A-)
Next week we’ll take a break from the outlooks and recap the draft – which youngsters are closest to making an impact on their new team?
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.
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