Summer is here Â– time to run down next season's fantasy outlook, team-by-team.
Coming Â– Sergei Samsonov, Mike Johnson.
Going Â– Richard Zednik, Jan Bulis, Niklas Sundstrom.
Team Outlook Â– It's safe to say switching Zednik and Bulis for Samsonov and Johnson is an upgrade to the offense. With a solid one-two punch already in place between the pipes in Cristobal Huet and David Aebischer, GM Bob Gainey has done a good job upgrading the squad. Captain Saku Koivu seems to be on the road to recovery, and if he can get back into the lineup and play the full season, the Habs will have one of the better offensive teams in the NHL. Music to the ears of fantasy owners.
Where the team is lacking, from a fantasy perspective, is offense from the defense. Andrei Markov (46 points), Sheldon Souray (39 points), and Craig Rivet (34 points) all had career highs last season. It is unreasonable to expect all of them to do it again, and it is doubtful any of them will amass even 50 points. In the farm system, the team lacks an elite offensive forward prospect. Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Perezhogin have some potential, but nothing to make keeper league owners salivate. Overall, Montreal should be a playoff team, and you can likely count on them to finish in the Top 15 in the NHL for offense.
Team Fantasy Grade: B-
Coming Â– Jason Arnott, Alexander Radulov, Josef Vasicek.
Going Â– Scott Walker, Adam Hall, Mike Sillinger, Brendan Witt.
Team Outlook Â– I'm not in the habit of making Stanley Cup predictions in July, but if for some reason I was forced to, I would pick Nashville. This team has three lines of high-octane offense, elite goaltending, and offense from the defense. The only weakness that they have is a lack of a defensive conscience Â– which is just fine with poolies. If Alexander Radulov makes this team, and all indications are that he will, the Preds will have added a future star the best way an NHL team can. Through their system. This team could very well lead the league in goals this year. When your third line could boast the likes of Scott Hartnell, Josef Vasicek and Scottie Upshall, you know you have a powerhouse.
After giving up several prospects over the past year via trades, and in promoting the likes of Radulov and rearguard Shea Weber, the Preds will be a little thin in their system. However, with the youth they have on the pro roster, it's a small price to pay.
Team Fantasy Grade: A+
New Jersey Devils
Coming Â– There is a possibility college star Travis Zajac could make the team.
Going Â– It appears as if the Devils will be forced to trade either Scott Gomez or Brian Gionta due to salary cap restrictions.
Team Outlook Â– Zajac is likely ready to play in the NHL. The Devils are the exact same team they were last year, and with the likelihood of losing Gomez (just awarded a $5-million contract by an arbitrator), they certainly will be weaker. Zajac is some years away from replacing what Gomez brings to this team (pardon my assumption that Gomez is likely gone, but bear with me).
A team with Martin Brodeur in net is hardly a team that is out of the playoff race, and GM Lou Lamoriello did manage to keep most of his core together this summer. Patrick Elias will be around for the entire season this time, so things aren't all bad. New Jersey also has a handful of prospects with decent offensive upside. You could do worse than build a fantasy squad with several Devils.
Team Fantasy Grade: C+ (assuming Gomez or Gionta are gone)
Darryl Dobbs' Fantasy Hockey 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 Wednesday afternoon. Also, get the top 250 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN's Fantasy section.
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