Scott Hannan and Andrew Ladd chase after the puck. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
For the past seven years, Fantasy Pool Look has offered insight on what each NHL team has on tap for the summer – from a fantasy hockey standpoint, of course. As we did in 2009, we’ll run through every team alphabetically. This week – the Blackhawks and Avalanche.
Potential UFAs – Kim Johnsson, John Madden, Nick Boynton, Adam Burish and Kyle Greentree
Potential RFAs – Andrew Ladd, Jack Skille, Ben Eager, Antti Niemi, Colin Fraser, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jordan Hendry, Hannu Toivonen, Bryan Bickell
Looking to Add – More like looking to subtract; salary, that is. The Hawks were already in cap trouble before they won the Stanley Cup, but now they owe some bonuses that will count against next year’s cap number. Jonathan Toews, for one, will receive $1.3 million for winning the Conn Smythe Trophy. The easy answer is trade Cristobal Huet. But what team would want an average (at best) goaltender with consistency issues who makes more than $5.5 million? Far easier to hide him in the minors. But that will only free up enough space for the Hawks to sign a couple of their RFAs. So other than Huet in the minors, don’t be surprised to see a trade of one (or two, or three…) of Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg or Dustin Byfuglien.
Ready for full time – If Huet goes to the minors, Corey Crawford will backup Niemi and could get as many as 30 starts. If some of the aforementioned key wingers are dealt, Jack Skille will finally make the team and if skilled Russian Igor Makarov crosses the pond, he’ll get a long look as well. Under the right circumstances, either of those youngsters could debut with 45 points in 2010-11. Despite being highly touted in fantasy circles, Kyle Beach is probably looking at a year in the American league to begin his pro career. But the rookie salary cap makes all of these players that much more tempting to keep on the big club.
Fantasy Outlook – The Blackhawks are offensively gifted and deep on the NHL roster and in their system. They are going to be a Stanley Cup contender for the next few years and score a lot of goals while they’re at it. Fantasy Grade: A+ (last year was A)
Potential UFAs – Brett Clark, Ruslan Salei, Darcy Tucker, Marek Svatos, Brian Willsie, Stephane Yelle, Darren Haydar, Matt Hendricks, Chris Durno, Tyler Weiman
Potential RFAs – Peter Mueller, Kevin Porter, Chris Stewart, T.J. Hensick, Brandon Yip, Kyle Quincey
Looking to Add – A couple of depth defensemen and a couple of checking-line forwards. This team did a marvelous job of using the assets already in their system in 2009-10 and it wouldn’t make sense to go after a star player via free agency to take ice time away from one of several youngsters on the cusp of becoming a star.
Ready for full time – We saw auditions from a handful of promising prospects this season. Yip is a lock to remain with the team, his energy and surprising scoring touch is beyond valuable. Both Porter and Ryan Stoa also showed they belong and are certainly ready to take the next step, although for Stoa it may not happen until mid-season.
On the blueline, Kevin Shattenkirk is Colorado’s next quarterback – John-Michael Liles and Quincey are just keeping the spot warm for him. With a strong camp, Shattenkirk could step in immediately and have a 40-point season.
Fantasy Outlook - The surprise team of 2009-10 will not catch anyone off guard next time around. Furthermore, with so many rookies coming off strong campaigns, the Avs could be susceptible to a team-wide sophomore jinx. Regardless, they are fun to watch, they score a lot of goals and the pipeline is flush with offensive talent. Fantasy Grade: B (last year was D+)
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.