The Boston Bruins finished first in the Eastern Conference last season because of the strong depth throughout their system. (Getty Images)
For the past six summers, 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 Anaheim and finishing with Washington. This summer, we’re reversing that. Keep in mind the ratings reflect the current and potential offense of teams (fantasy value) and not necessarily the outlook for the wins and losses of the on-ice product.
Here is the final installment.
Gone – Stephane Yelle, P-J Axelsson, Aaron Ward, Shane Hnidy, Jeremy Reich, Steve Montador, Martin St-Pierre, Manny Fernandez and likely Phil Kessel
Incoming – Andy Wozniewski, Derek Morris, Steve Begin
Ready for full time – On 15 other NHL rosters, Vladimir Sobotka would be a promising and much-hyped young regular. On the deep Bruins, he will struggle to get into all the games. From a fantasy standpoint, he has a 70-point upside in the long term and 55 points in the short term. But since he may not crack the top 12 - let alone the top six - expectations should be tempered.
Offensive minor-league rearguard Johnny Boychuk will finally get his shot. The Bruins recently signed Andy Wozniewski to give Boychuk a bit of competition for that seventh spot on the blueline, but it is Boychuk’s to lose. He’ll run the second power play unit with Matt Hunwick and could flirt with 30 points.
Fantasy Outlook – The Bruins have a lot of scoring depth at all positions and their pipeline is also flush with talent. Fantasy Grade: A- (last year was B)
Gone – Eric Perrin, Garnet Exelby, Colin Stuart
Incoming – Nik Antropov, Anthony Stewart, Noah Welch, Pavel Kubina, Josh Gratton
Ready for full time – Anssi Salmela got his feet wet in North American last year and is ready to take on a bigger role. He won’t get onto the top power play unit, but the offensive rearguard should be on the second squad.
Two-way forward Spencer Machacek should also get on the team this season, but he will need to gain experience before he warrants fantasy consideration. Another winger, Brett Sterling, will also get a look. He is running out of chances to make a splash, so he will need to score – which is what he does best – early and often if he plans to stick. Otherwise, he may be a career minor-leaguer.
Fantasy Outlook – The rebuilding Thrashers have a superstar in Ilya Kovalchuk, a couple of players who could get 70 points and a handful of players in that 55 to 65 range. There is not a lot to choose from for fantasy leagues – especially if your league includes plus-minus – and their pipeline is average at best. Fantasy Grade: D+ (last year was D+)
Gone – Drew Miller, Francois Beauchemin, Chris Pronger, Rob Niedermayer, Bret Hedican, Brad Larsen
Incoming – Luca Sbisa, Steve Eminger, Evgeny Artyukhin, Nick Boynton, Saku Koivu, Joffrey Lupul
Ready for full time – Sbisa is ready for a full schedule in the NHL, but he won’t be handed the job. The team will not want him as a seventh defenseman, so he’ll need to win a No. 4 or No. 5 job to stick. Offensive rearguard Brian Salcido is also in the mix, but may be a victim of the numbers game.
Fantasy Outlook - The emergence of Andrew Ebbett, the reacquisition of Lupul and the signing of Koivu make this team a lot deeper offensively. However, there is not a lot of offensive potential in the pipeline. Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was B+)
Fantasy Grades, Summer of 2009
Not necessarily in order of the quality on the ice, here is a list of this year’s grades that measure the team’s appeal to fantasy owners in keeper leagues (ties are in alphabetical order):
Pittsburgh - A+
Chicago - A
Philadelphia - A
Washington - A
Boston - A-
Detroit - B+
Los Angeles - B+
St. Louis - B+
Carolina - B
Columbus - B
Minnesota - B
NY Rangers - B
San Jose - B
Anaheim - C+
Buffalo - C+
Dallas - C+
Montreal - C+
Nashville - C+
NY Islanders - C+
Phoenix - C+
Tampa Bay - C+
Calgary - C
Edmonton - C
New Jersey - C
Vancouver - C
Atlanta - D+
Colorado - D+
Florida - D+
Ottawa - D+
Toronto - 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 throughout the off-season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.