Eric Staal leads the Carolina attack, scoring 75 points in 82 games last season. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
For the past six summers, Fantasy Pool Look has given you 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.
Gone – Frantisek Kaberle, Patrick Eaves, Dwight Helminen, Dennis Seidenberg
Incoming – Stephane Yelle, Aaron Ward, Andrew Alberts, Jay Harrison
Ready for full time – Hobey Baker nominee Jamie McBain has a better-than-even chance at making the squad. The future power play quarterback will be brought along slowly, as most defensemen are. However, he could surprise with as many as 30 points this campaign, as he should see time on the second power play unit.
Winger Drayson Bowman is on the cusp, but would be best served with a year in the American League. Still, he will be the first call-up when the Canes need a forward and he has a promising future in their top six.
Fantasy Outlook – Carolina is an underrated team that really came into its own once Paul Maurice took over as coach last December. Eric Staal returned to his superstar form, Sergei Samsonov started finding the net and goaltender Cam Ward really hit his stride. The team has added even more depth – especially on defense – and their system now boasts several offensive prospects with an NHL future. Fantasy Grade: B (last year was B-)
Gone – Todd Bertuzzi, Wayne Primeau, Warren Peters, Adrian Aucoin, Mike Cammalleri, Jim Vandermeer, Jordan Leopold, Mike Keenan (coach), Andre Roy, Rhett Warrener
Incoming – Anton Stralman, Nigel Dawes, Brian McGrattan, Jason Jaffray, Staffan Kronwall, Garth Murray, Fredrik Sjostrom, Brandon Prust, Jay Bouwmeester, Brent Sutter (coach)
Ready for full time – Stralman is my favorite to stick as the No.7 defenseman and perhaps earn his way up the depth chart from there. He has already shown glimpses of his potential as a power play quarterback and will almost certainly get a look on the second unit at some point during the season.
Mikael Backlund will get a long look at camp and could be moved to the wing and play in the top six. I think he’ll play a year in the AHL, but wouldn’t completely rule out his chances with the big club. When he does stick, he has the skill to warrant Calder consideration.
Fantasy Outlook – The Flames will be hard-pressed offensively to replace the likes of Cammalleri, but with Bouwmeester joining Dion Phaneuf the team boasts the best 1-2 punch in the league on defense. However, that probably won’t help your fantasy squad too much. It remains to be seen if that combo can ignite the power play, which was a pitiful 21st overall last year. In the system, outside of Backlund there are only a couple of prospects with any kind of offensive upside. This team is much better in “real life” than in fantasy circles. Fantasy Grade: C (last year was C+)
Gone – Teppo Numminen, Michael Funk, Jaroslav Spacek, Mikael Tellqvist, Maxim Afinogenov, Dominic Moore, Andrew Peters
Incoming – Jeff Cowan, Mike Grier, Cody McCormick, Steve Montador
Ready for full time – Although Nathan Gerbe will get a long look in camp the diminutive winger will probably be a late cut. However, what you may see is a call-up as early as November – and if he shows his skills, it’ll be awfully hard to send him back down. The 5-foot-5 forward was an NCAA Hockey East all-star, a Frozen Four tournament MVP and now the AHL’s top rookie. When he gets to the show, you can be sure it won’t be in a checking capacity.
Fantasy Outlook – The Sabres remain a deep, young team that boasts a lot of skill. They still lack size and that makes it difficult to gauge the potential success of some of their talented prospects. After all, how many forwards shorter than 5-foot-10 can a team have? So while the likes of Gerbe, Tim Kennedy and Tyler Ennis look great, it’s difficult to see all of them in the show on the same team. Fantasy Grade: C+ (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 throughout the off-season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.