Joe Pavelski defends against Paul Kariya. (Photo by Don Smith/NHLI via 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. Fantasy Pool Look will examine 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 the Blues and Sharks.
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.
St. Louis Blues
Gone – Jamal Mayers, Martin Rucinsky, Ryan Johnson, Matt Walker and Hannu Toivonen (still with organization, but gone to Europe).
Incoming – Matt Foy, Chris Mason, Brad Winchester and Mike Weaver.
Ready for full time – The Blues finally get a boost on offense with the arrival of T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund. Both youngsters will get a shot at the second-line center job, with the loser either moving to the wing or anchoring the third line. Either skilled rookie could be in the running for this year’s Calder Trophy and it would not surprise me if both finish in the top five in Calder voting.
Alex Pietrangelo is considered to be NHL-ready. The fourth overall pick from this past summer brings size, skill and poise to the back end. Temper your expectations for his first season, as 18-year-old defensemen rarely post big points in the NHL.
Defenseman Jeff Woywitka impresses more and more with each call up, but the numbers game may keep him off the roster. However, if he makes it, he will be on one of the two power play units.
Fantasy Outlook – There are some great kids in the pipeline and the Blues are holding firm to their rebuild, which bodes well for the team. However, a defensive coach hinders goal-scoring and therefore hurts the fantasy value of players such as Paul Kariya and Andy McDonald.
Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was C)
San Jose Sharks
Gone – Brian Campbell, Craig Rivet, Patrick Rissmiller, Matt Carle, Sandis Ozolinsh, Mike Iggulden and Curtis Brown.
Incoming – Dan Boyle, Rob Blake and Brad Lukowich.
Ready for full time – Winger Lukas Kaspar, 22, is probably the closest to being NHL-ready. However, his offensive contributions will be minimal. His long-term upside may be in the low 50s. Devin Setoguchi should be on the roster for the full term this time around and will have plenty of hot/cold streaks. In roto leagues, expect him to be on and off the waiver wire a lot.
Fantasy Outlook – With a new coach, expect this team to be reinvigorated. That means Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo should both bounce back and the Sharks will have two good scoring lines again. Having Boyle man the power play will work wonders. Joe Pavelski is a great dark horse. Although the cupboard is somewhat bare in terms of offensive prospects, the Sharks seem to find a decent one to add to their lineup every year or two.
Fantasy Grade: B+ (last year was A-)
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 Thursday through the off-season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.