Dustin Penner battles with Tomas Kopecky along the boards. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
As the number of keeper league hockey pools increase each year, fantasy junkies are becoming more active in the off-season as they prepare for the coming year. Rebuild? Retool? Tweak? Whatever your intentions, it helps to get all the information you can about your players. FPL will look at a pair of teams each week and give you the fantasy lowdown. This week, we’ll look through our fantasy hockey goggles at the outlooks for Detroit and Edmonton.
Also – don’t forget to send your off-season questions to the THN Fantasy Mailbag, which is posted the last Wednesday of each month during the summer.
DETROIT RED WINGS
Potential UFAs – Aaron Downey, Dallas Drake, Mark Hartigan, Andreas Lilja, Darren McCarty, Brad Stuart, Chris Chelios.
Potential RFAs – Jonathan Ericsson, Valtteri Filppula, Jimmy Howard, Kyle Quincey.
Looking to Add – Detroit already added more scoring depth in Finnish star Ville Leino, an elite setup man in the Finnish league. How Leino adapts to the North American style will decide which line he ends up on – be it the second, third…or not on the team at all. He is a boom or bust fantasy player who could surprise with 60 points this season – but that’s a long shot. The Red Wings are also looking to add a backup goaltender to challenge Jimmy Howard – with the loser being the starter in Grand Rapids of the American League.
Ready for full time – Howard is definitely ready to be the backup and is a dark horse for 30 wins if Chris Osgood gets hurt at all during the season. Detroit plays a team system – probably the best – and any decent goaltender will put up stellar numbers in Hockeytown USA.
Although Justin Abdelkader played a couple of games to end this season, look for him to go to the AHL. Darren Helm should make this squad as a fourth-liner, but his upside is no more than 50 points in the long term.
Fantasy Outlook – It doesn’t look as if the Red Wings will ever be a bad team to build your fantasy roster around. They are always among the Stanley Cup favorites and despite having arguably the best defense in the NHL, they also boast one of the best offenses. There is a big dip in potential offense once you look beyond Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but Jiri Hudler has huge upside and is steadily improving, plus Johan Franzen is a dark horse for 65-plus points if he stays healthy.
Fantasy Grade: A- (last year was B)
Potential UFA’s – Curtis Glencross, Marty Reasoner, Geoff Sanderson.
Potential RFA’s – Joni Pitkanen, Jarret Stoll, Zach Stortini.
Looking to Add - The team will tweak, with players such as Raffi Torres on the trading block. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of watching this young team grow and improve.
Ready for full time – Newly acquired Ryan Potulny should land a spot on the third line right away. The numbers game kept him off the Philly squad this year. Rob Schremp still needs one more year in the AHL, but don’t give up on him in your keeper league just yet.
Fantasy Outlook -The Oilers are getting better and they are building a run-and-gun offense. The team still needs finishers, as Ales Hemsky, Robert Nilsson and Sam Gagner are primarily setup men. When things do fall into place, Edmonton will score a lot of goals. If your pool does not count the post-season, this may be a decent team to build around.
Fantasy Grade: C+ (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 Monday and Friday (only Friday's during the playoffs and off-season). Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.