Sam Gagner


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Part five in a seven-part review takes a look at the teams that failed to reach the postseason and what kind of impact each of them will have on your keeper-league squad. This week, we take a look at Columbus and Edmonton.


Columbus Blue Jackets
Possibly on the way out…
Ron Hainsey has proven himself to be a decent power-play quarterback and they will be in high demand in the summer. The Jackets will be in tough to re-sign him. Dick Tarnstrom and David Vyborny have already signed to play in Europe. Mike Peca is also a UFA, but no word on whether the team is interested in bringing him back.

The team will be looking to add…
There is little doubt in my mind that Derrick Brassard will be on the team full-time next season. If they can’t add a No.1 center, he may get the job by default, even though he may not be ready so soon. There is talk that they will swing a deal to land Patrick Marleau from San Jose. Jakub Voracek had a great camp last fall and a repeat performance will give him a top-six job on the right wing. The team needs a couple of rearguards – a quarterback (to replace Hainsey – and no, Kris Russell is not ready yet) and a stay-at-home type (to replace Adam Foote).

General fantasy outlook…
They’re going in the right direction and Ken Hitchcock will keep them competitive. They may have a Washington Capitals type of surge at the end of the season. A lot depends on whether or not Brassard and Voracek can step in and post 60-plus points this season and if Gilbert Brule can show signs of taking the next step in his career. In two years, this could be a very good team and it may finally be a good idea to start stockpiling these players in your keeper league.

Edmonton Oilers
Possibly on the way out…
Curtis Glencross, Marty Reasoner and Geoff Sanderson are all unrestricted. Jarret Stoll, Joni Pitkanen and Zack Stortini are restricted free agents. Stoll may not get a qualifying offer, due to his poor season, while Pitkanen is asking for silly money. Both could be on the block.

The team will be looking to add…
With Shawn Horcoff and Sheldon Souray returning from injury, the Oil may be content with just letting the kids mature, while injecting the above two components back in. They will stick with Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson between the pipes.

General fantasy outlook…
How far the Oilers will rise will depend on how many of Ales Hemsky, Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner and Robert Nilsson reach their potential. If two of them get there, and two of them come reasonably close, the Oilers could be a powerhouse. That path is not yet set in stone, however, so for now you should not be building your team around them right now. They will again fight it out for a playoff spot, but will likely fall short. However, expect a lot more goals this season.

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