It’s the 12th annual off-season look at each NHL team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint. Every year I run through the teams alphabetically – but switch starting points each year. This year I’m doing something different and reviewing the teams in reverse order of regular season finish. Next up – we kick off our reviews of the playoff teams.
Gone – Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Mueller, Alex Chiasson, Cristopher Nilstorp, Toby Petersen, Aaron Rome, Tim Thomas, Ray Whitney
Incoming – Jussi Rynnas, Patrick Eaves, Ales Hemsky, Jason Spezza, Anders Lindback.
Ready for full-time – Travis Morin is a 30-year-old American League veteran who is coming off of a career season with Texas. His 88 points in 66 games led all AHL scorers and beat his career high by 33 percent. It earned him a brief cup of coffee with the team, but he was used in a depth capacity. You may see that in the season ahead, so his fantasy value will be minimal if he makes the team.
Brett Ritchie is a goal-scoring prospect who is close. After scoring 41 goals for Niagara (Ontario League) playing with Islanders prospect Ryan Strome in 2012-13, he scored 22 as an AHL rookie last season. He followed that up with seven goals in 13 games for Texas in the playoffs. With Rich Peverley possibly missing the start of the season, Ritchie is a good bet to get at least an early look and he could surprise.
Scott Glennie is not the offensive (read: fantasy) prospect that we thought he’d be, but he’s honed his skills in a checking capacity and could certainly make this team in that capacity. In fact, since he has to clear waivers, he likely will make the team. But his fantasy value is minimal.
Jack Campbell was in line to become Kari Lehtonen’s backup goalie this year, but the signing of Rynnas muddies the waters. Rynnas was a promising prospect for Toronto, and when it was clear that he wouldn’t get an opportunity there, he went to Europe until he turned 27, thus becoming a free agent. Now Dallas has signed him and the contract is a one-way deal.
Fantasy Outlook: Obviously, Spezza and Hemsky are ‘slight’ (tongue in cheek) upgrades to Chiasson and Whitney. The Stars already boasted point-per-game players in Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, but with Valeri Nichushkin another year older and with Spezza and Hemsky on board – look out. You could see three players at 80 points (add Spezza) and two players at 65 (Hemsky, Nichushkin). The ripple effect will also help defenseman Alex Goligoski’s numbers. As for the future of this team, the prospect pipeline isn’t much better than any other team’s in terms of potential fantasy value. But the NHL roster is young enough to make this quite an appealing team in fantasy circles. Fantasy Grade: A- (last year was C-)
Detroit Red Wings
Gone – David Legwand, Cory Emmerton, Daniel Alfredsson, Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo, Todd Bertuzzi
Incoming – Kevin Porter, Andy Miele, Tomas Nosek
Ready for full-time – Nosek is a 21-year-old who finished ninth in Czech League scoring. He’ll spend the season in Grand Rapids and look to make his mark in an organization already deep in young scoring forwards.
Tomas Jurco produced 32 points in 32 American League games last season, but he actually played more games in the NHL (36). The Red Wings had a lot of injury issues last season though, so a roster spot is not assured. Certainly not with fellow prospect Anthony Mantha just as hungry. But Jurco will get his share of call-ups you can be certain.
Mantha took the fantasy hockey world by storm when he dominated the Quebec League last season. He tallied 57 goals and 120 points in 57 games. This, after impressing for Team Canada at the WJC. The 6-4 19-year-old still needs to add bulk, but he boasts so much talent that it’s hard to imagine he won’t get a long look in training camp.
Xavier Ouellet boasted some big numbers in junior with Blainville-Boisbriand of the QMJHL, but his offense as a pro will take several years to develop. It may not develop at all, if he settles into a shutdown role. Very impressive as a rookie for Grand Rapids and during four games with the Red Wings, Ouellet is capable of holding a No.5 or 6 spot for the big club right now.
Fantasy Outlook – Although last year’s leading scorer had just 51 points, the Red Wings still boast two potential 80-point guys in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. And at the rate Gustav Nyquist is impressive, he’ll be joining them soon. With Niklas Kronwall now a 50-point defender and with Jurco and Mantha on the way, the Red Wings boast plenty of fantasy appeal. But much relies on the health of their two veteran superstars and they could end up fighting for their playoff lives once again. 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. 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.