The Pittsburgh Penguins will be a force again this season. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)
For the past six summers, Fantasy Pool Look has given you some 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 Anaheim and finishing with Washington. This summer, we’re reversing that.
Gone – Jeff Taffe, Rob Scuderi, Hal Gill, Mathieu Garon, Philippe Boucher, Janne Pesonen, Miroslav Satan, Petr Sykora, Bill Thomas, Mike Zigomanis
Incoming – Chris Conner, Michael Rupp, Jay McKee
Ready for full time – Goaltender John Curry is set to become the backup in 2009-10. Given the fact Marc-Andre Fleury tends to miss several weeks of each year with an injury, Curry could put up a surprising amount of W’s.
Defenseman Alex Goligoski will remain with the big club for the full season. He’ll see quite a bit of power play action, although maybe not on the first unit right off the bat.
There is room up front for another forward or two and skilled youngsters Luca Caputi and Eric Tangradi will battle to stick. Since it wouldn’t make sense to have them on a checking line, they will play with a superstar if they do manage to make the team. Caputi has the inside track, but either one would obviously be a huge fantasy asset in this situation.
Fantasy Outlook – To quote from this same off-season article one year ago: “As long as the Pens have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, it will be difficult to give them a grade less than an A. Those two will pad the numbers of six or seven players on the roster, which makes most Penguins really nice commodities. They are a Stanley Cup contender once again.” Fantasy Grade: A+ (last year was A+; 2007 was, yep, A+)
Gone – Steve Reinprecht, Dmitri Kalinin, Ken Klee, Brandon Prust, Garth Murray, Brian McGrattan, Enver Lisin
Incoming – Adrian Aucoin, Jim Vandermeer, Vernon Fiddler, Jason LaBarbera, Sami Lepisto, Stefan Meyer, Lauri Korpikoski
Ready for full time – Forward Kevin Porter played 34 games with the big club last campaign. He’s ready, but will have to win a spot over a veteran to stick and he is best suited for a top-six role – of which there is no vacancy.
Offensive rearguard Lepisto could make the Yotes, but his work is cut out for him. Fellow prospect Maxim Goncharov is also on the cusp and possesses top-shelf offensive skills, so they will be competing for what may be just one spot. If one of them makes it, look for a season that mirrors what Keith Yandle did last year (four goals, 30 points in 69 games).
Fantasy Outlook – Right now this is a team deep in promising offensive prospects. The problem is, all they are so far is “promise.” Phoenix could take a Chicago Blackhawks kind of step forward within two years, but they still have a long road and lots of work ahead of them if they are to accomplish something that big. Still, not a lot of teams are in a position to make that kind of jump. Although there is some risk, rebuilding your keeper squad around some Phoenix players is still not a bad idea. Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was B)
Gone – Antero Niittymaki, Mike Knuble, Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, Martin Biron, Andrew Alberts, Lasse Kukkonen, Boyd Kaneâ€¨
Incoming – Ian Laperriere, Brian Boucher, Chris Pronger, Ray Emery
Ready for full time – Not only will Claude Giroux play for the Flyers for the entire season, he’ll explode for 65 points or more. Whether he’s given a top scoring role or not – he’s taking one. He won’t give the team a choice in the matter.
James van Riemsdyk is also ready, although the Flyers may give him half the season in the American League to better acclimate him to the pro game. They won’t keep the big man out of the NHL for long, though.
Andreas Nodl was mentally ready last campaign, but was overwhelmed physically. He’s close, but even if he does make the roster you won’t see fantasy-worthy points out of him for at least a couple more years.
Fantasy Outlook – No NHL team boasts five high-end offensive forwards like the Flyers do (Simon Gagne, Daniel Briere, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux). Add Chris Pronger and JVR into the mix and you have an answer to the mighty Penguins. Fantasy Grade: A (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 Tuesday throughout the off-season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.