Every September, rosters spots are up for grabs and rarely do we consider big an impact the result could be in fantasy leagues. What if Petri Kontiola, who had a very good camp in Chicago last year, beat out Kris Versteeg for that final spot? Would he have later received Calder consideration? Instead of making his fantasy owners look smart, he’s playing in the KHL now. All because of what may have amounted to a couple of exhibition games. There are a dozen examples like that each year and here are some situations to watch for.
First, let’s run through the goalie battles quickly. These will not have huge fantasy repercussions because only a backup job is at stake. Granted, there are some competitions for the No.1 job, but none will be determined in training camp.
Carolina: Mike Murphy vs. Michael Leighton – Murphy has been huge in camp (prospects tourney) so far.
Chicago: Corey Crawford vs. Antti Niemi – A playoff appearance by Crawford leads me to believe that he has the inside track.
Atlanta: Manny Legace vs. Johan Hedberg vs. Ondrej Pavelec – Pavelec may bolt for the KHL if he loses.
Detroit: Jimmy Howard vs. Dan Cloutier – Cloutier’s a long shot here.
New Jersey: Yann Danis vs. Jeff Frazee – The latter would be best served seeing lots of action in the AHL.
Phoenix: Al Montoya vs. Jason LaBarbera – Just when you think Montoya’s finally won a job, LaBarbera gets signed.
Onto the forwards – the real fantasy impact.
Boston: Blake Wheeler vs. Mark Recchi vs. Vladimir Sobotka
For Grabs: A top nine spot and 50 points.
Repercussions: In Recchi’s case, he could find himself waived much like he did in Pittsburgh, if can’t outplay the kids. If David Krejci comes back early and trading Phil Kessel brings another forward back, two of these three could be in trouble.
Inside Track: Sobotka would make 15 other teams right now, but not Boston. Give Wheeler a slight edge over Recchi, but I doubt training camp will decide this.
Buffalo: Nate Gerbe vs. Patrick Kaleta vs. Clarke MacArthur
For Grabs: A regular roster spot. Also, a second depth spot is available. If MacArthur loses, we may never hear from him again.
Repercussions: For Gerbe and MacArthur it could mean occasional stints on the second line, as well as some power-play time and 50 points.
Inside Track: Kaleta should take the depth spot and the Sabres will give Gerbe every opportunity to win a job. Given his rather weak 10 NHL games last year, give MacArthur a very slight edge.
Calgary: Curtis Glencross vs. Nigel Dawes vs. Rene Bourque vs. David Moss vs. Dustin Boyd vs. Mikael Backlund
For Grabs: Three spots in the top six.
Repercussions: If healthy, this could mean 55 points for all three winners.
Inside Track: Bourque is almost a certainty and I also favor Boyd and Dawes. This should be decided in camp, but the losers will still play on the third line. Backlund is the exception, as he would play in the AHL.
Chicago: Jack Skille vs. Dustin Byfuglien
For Grabs: A third-line job and early stints in the top six while Marian Hossa recovers.
Repercussions: This is Skille’s chance to prove he is an NHLer. Failure could mean healthy scratches or a demotion.
Inside Track: Byfuglien. He has the big contract and the big body. The Hawks need to showcase him so they can move his cumbersome salary.
Colorado: Ryan Stoa vs. T.J. Galiardi vs. T.J. Hensick
For Grabs: A top-six spot
Repercussions: There could be some Calder consideration if Stoa or Galiardi take it. They’ll be in the AHL this year otherwise.
Inside Track: I still like Stoa. He’s got the hands, size and maturity to play on the top line.
Columbus: Nikita Filatov vs. Derek Dorsett
For Grabs: A roster spot
Repercussions: If Filatov makes it, it will be at Dorsett’s expense. If he doesn’t make it, he has stated that the KHL is a possibility. If he goes there, he could be the Alexei Morozov of your fantasy league. If he stays, he could be the next Ilya Kovalchuk. Talk about boom or bust!
Inside Track: Given the fact that he has beefed up 15 pounds and is as ripped as Rod Brind’Amour, I give a big edge to Filatov.
Dallas: Jamie Benn vs. Fabian Brunnstrom
For Grabs: A top-nine spot
Repercussions: If Brunnstrom wins, Benn will just start his NHL career a year later. If Benn wins, Brunnstrom will see a lot of press box time and the “Fabian Experiment” could be classified as a failure.
Inside Track: Brunnstrom.
Detroit: Patrick Eaves vs. Ville Leino vs. Jason Williams
For Grabs: Two top-nine spots and first shot at the top six “when” Tomas Holmstrom or Daniel Cleary get hurt.
Repercussions: The loser will hang out with the press during games. The winners could see the happy side of 50 points.
Inside Track: Leino stands out, while the other two are seriously 50/50 in my books. It will be interesting. At least Eaves can play a checking role, though, which will help him stick.
Edmonton: Patrick O'Sullivan vs. Dustin Penner
For Grabs: First-line spot with Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff
Repercussions: For O’Sullivan, it could mean as many as 65 points, or 35. For Penner, it could mean as many as 50 points or 30.
Inside Track: O’Sullivan is entering his fourth year, and Penner has already had a ton of chances.
Florida: Evgeni Dadonov vs. Michal Repik
For Grabs: Top nine spot and some spot duty on the power play.
Repercussions: The winner could get 35 to 40 points, whereas the loser will play a year in the AHL.
Inside Track: Give Repik a slight edge, although given that Dadonov spurned the KHL to come over he could get a bigger shot than his play warrants.
Minnesota: Andy Hilbert vs. Antti Miettinen
For Grabs: A top six spot.
Repercussions: If Hilbert, who is only on a tryout, loses then his NHL career is probably over. Otherwise, he could get as many as 45 points. For Miettinen it would mean the difference between 50 and 35 points.
Inside Track: Miettinen has a big lead here.
Montreal: Max Pacioretty vs. Guillaume Latendresse vs. Sergei Kostitsyn
For Grabs: A second-line job.
Repercussions: For all three it is a chance to establish themselves as strong fantasy players. Latendresse probably won’t get another chance like this – he’ll be a third liner for good. Pacioretty will get two or three more chances. Kostitsyn will probably get one more chance besides this one.
Inside Track: I like Pacioretty here, but it’s close.
Nashville: Ryan Jones vs. Nick Spaling vs. Colin Wilson vs. Ben Eaves vs. Cal O'Reilly vs. Patric Hornqvist vs. Mike Santorelli
For Grabs: A top six spot on the wing and a top nine spot at center.
Repercussions: If Eaves and/or Hornqvist do not win out, they could flee to Europe. The winners could see as many as 40-55 points this season.
Inside Track: Jones, Spaling and O’Reilly are my favorites and it is tough to rule one of them out. It will be a big camp to watch for sure.
Next week – a quick run-through of the defensemen, as well as some intriguing battles on the Island, the Rangers, the Caps and more.