The Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes will begin their defense of the cherished mug with a decidedly different look.
The Canes' biggest change won't come from the fact they have revamped their roster Â– although changes to their lineup are far-reaching: the biggest impact comes via the injury bug.
Both left winger Cory Stillman and rearguard Frantisek Kaberle will be out for long stretches to start the year as a result of shoulder surgeries.
While Carolina lost goaltender Martin Gerber and forward Matt Cullen to free agency and big Josef Vasicek to a trade with Nashville, it is the injuries to Stillman and Kaberle that have the biggest impact from a fantasy standpoint.
Stillman was set to play the left wing with budding superstar Eric Staal and right winger Erik Cole. Stillman's absence from the lineup opens up the door for youngster Andrew Ladd or veterans Scott Walker, Brad Isbister and Ray Whitney. If Whitney wins the job, one of the other three wingers will fill in for Whitney on the second line. As a result, two of the five candidates increase in fantasy value for the first two months of the season.
Kaberle looks to be gone until at least January and coach Peter Laviolette would love nothing more than to give the top power-play quarterback job to Anton Babchuk. Whether he can hang on to that job or not, Babchuk is now (at the very least) secure in a roster spot Â– something that was in question prior to this news. Veteran blueliner Oleg Tverdovsky will also see increased power play time, giving him a second chance after he stumbled out of the gate offensively last season.
Both Ladd and Babchuk make excellent dark horses and could be snapped up late in a basic one-year hockey draftÂ…
Despite the high-dollar value of Philadelphia's offer sheet to current Canuck Ryan Kesler (one year, $1.9 million), he is not fantasy worthy unless your pool counts penalty minutes. Even then, his value is that of a later pick. Offensively, Kesler would peak at 50 points (and he's several years away from that number)Â…
Farm Report: Edmonton has been impressed so far with the play of Norwegian prospect Patrick Thoresen. He could sneak onto the team as a fourth-liner this year. He has 60-point NHL upside down the roadÂ…St.Louis prospect David Backes is making a strong case for a roster spot early on. In all likelihood, though, he will need at least another year of seasoning in the American League. A player with his offensive potential would have no business playing sporadically on the fourth line where he would be out of placeÂ…Another prospects game under his belt and Vojtech Polak continues to show Dallas brass he has what it takes. When the real camp opens, we shall see, but the early indicators have been quite impressive as Polak continues to pile up the points. It was assumed Loui Eriksson would be the rookie winger to step into the lineup, but Polak could have something to say about that.
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 Wednesday afternoon throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN's Fantasy section.
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