Summer is here Â– time to run down next season's fantasy outlook, team-by-team.
Team Outlook Â– The Blues had a great draft this season, but they will have to wait several years for it to pay dividends. In the meantime, their first line is comprised of forwards (Weight, Guerin, and Keith Tkachuk) who are past their prime, and they have no proven quarterback for the power play. On the plus side, Tkachuk has proven he always bounces back from an injury-filled year with a good season and the Blues' goaltending has stabilized with the arrival of Legace. A No. 1 and No. 1A tandem of Legace and Curtis Sanford is probably the best scenario for the team at this point.
Defensively, if healthy, the team is solid on the back end Â– but poolies don't care about that, do they? The only power play quarterback option they have right now is young Dennis Wideman, an offensively talented rearguard, but one who was a dismal minus-31 last season. As far as prospects go, the fire sale St. Louis had last season helped a little, and the 2006 draft helped a little more, but this team has a long way to go in that department. All in all, if you're shopping around this summer trying to acquire some Blues for your fantasy squad, you'll be giving your opponents an easy victory.
Team Fantasy Grade: D-
Team Outlook Â– One of the least active teams in the summer made one of the most significant moves by landing Bell. The final piece of the Joe Thornton-Jonathan Cheechoo puzzle, Bell is the big, skilled left winger the lineup so desperately needed. He was custom made for the job and his production will rise dramatically. The loss of Preissing (as part of the Bell package) pretty much assures rookie Matt Carle has the power play quarterback job. The second line of captain Patrick Marleau and sophomores Steve Bernier and Milan Michalek, gives a nice wave of offense to follow the Thornton line. The only thing still left to address is the fact the Sharks own two solid No.1 goalies in Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov. Neither will want to split duties for long.
This team is a Stanley Cup contender this season, and what's more Â– they'll contend with great goaltending and lots of scoring. Just what the doctor ordered for hockey pools.
The pro team is youthful, but the farm system is, although deep, still a little weak. With the exception of Devin Setoguchi, there aren't any real blue-chippers on the way.
Fantasy Team Grade: A-
Team Outlook Â– It seems as though Tampa Bay lost more quality than they gained, but in actuality their greatest need Â– goaltending- has been addressed and that will go a long way. Acquiring a bonafide No.1 netminder in Denis came at the cost of a 30-goal scorer in Modin, but at least the need is finally addressed after a season of denial. Offense in general will be down for the Lightning, despite a possible bounce-back season from Martin St-Louis, who has the ability to add 30 points onto his total of 61 from a year ago.
With the Lightning's salary-cap situation a little too close for comfort, it's likely Tampa will not be any better in the near future than they are right now. It would seem the team is entering the downswing of the competitive cycle. Fortunately for the Bolts, it's a cycle that is now shorter thanks to the salary cap. There are currently no elite offensive prospects on the way, either.
Fantasy Team Grade: C
Next week: Our final installment with looks at Toronto, Vancouver and Washington.
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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