Despite a slow start, Eric Staal still managed to post 70 points in 70 games this season. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
For the past seven years, 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 ‘Washington' and finishing with ‘Anaheim,’ so in 2010 we will once again reverse that. This week: the Flames and Hurricanes.
Potential UFAs – Vesa Toskala, Chris Higgins, Jamal Mayers, Eric Nystrom, Craig Conroy, Brian McGrattan
Potential RFAs – Ian White
Looking to Add – The Flames are pressed against the cap and don’t have a lot of wiggle room. Ideally, they’d wave a magic wand over Daymond Langkow and turn him into a first-line center, thereby bumping Matt Stajan to the second line. The Flames will look for a backup goaltender, a depth winger and a depth defenseman.
Ready for full time – Mikael Backlund, the most talented forward in Calgary’s system, will probably be with the team next season. He finished the 2009-10 campaign with the big club and although another year in the American League would be best for his development, the Flames don’t have a lot of options in terms of offense, so they’ll turn to Backlund a little early. A 45-point season is probably in the cards to start, but he’s potentially a point-per-game player down the road.
Fantasy Outlook – They’re not a playoff team, their prospects are more the ‘plugger’ type than the ‘creative scorer’ type and outside of Jarome Iginla, nobody on this team will get 70 points. In fact, if Rene Bourque gets hurt (again), nobody will get to 65. If Calgary wins games, it will be due to a defensive system and a strong rebound year from goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. Not good for poolies. Fantasy Grade: D (last year was C)
Potential UFAs – Ray Whitney, Brian Pothier, Manny Legace
Potential RFAs – Alexandre Picard, Justin Pogge, Bryan Rodney, Brett Carson, Justin Peters
Looking to Add – A second-line center and a first- or second-line winger. Carolina has some cap room, but they also have a lot of prospects who are close to being NHL-ready, so they might decide to build from within. They could also use one or two gritty fourth-liners.
Ready for full time – Justin Peters is ready to become the full-time backup and could put up decent numbers with 20 or 25 starts. Left winger Jiri Tlusty has already signed a one-way deal. He’s blown some gift-wrapped opportunities in past training camps, but it would take a monumental collapse to keep him off the roster now. The inconsistent, but talented Tlusty could post anywhere from 25 to 55 points – depending on which Tlusty shows up this year.
Young hotshots Drayson Bowman and Zach Boychuk are also close, but may be mid-season additions. Both are destined for top-six jobs in the near future. Defenseman Jamie McBain’s 10 points in 14 games to end the season in the NHL gives you an indication of how ready he is for the big time. In fact, it says here he’ll surprise and top 45 points as a rookie.
A wildcard is 22-year-old Jerome Samson. The undrafted former Quebec League star posted 78 points in 74 games in the AHL last year and looked OK during a cup of coffee with the Canes, putting up two assists in seven games. He could be one of those Alex Burrows types who appear from nowhere and become 60-point players.
Fantasy Outlook – Carolina had a strong second half of the season and scored a lot of goals. The emergence of Jussi Jokinen and the arrival of some talented kids make this team a pretty solid offensive squad. They are young and will only get better, so the Hurricanes make for a pretty decent team to build your keeper league roster around. 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. 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.