Pacioretty

 

(Part One)

 

Going stride for stride with my Western Conference counterpart, I am providing an Eastern Conference version of Ryan Ma’s Earmarked for Success. As Ryan has cautioned, please do not fret over the line combinations. We are merely separating the top-six players from the bottom-six on each team, which can be applied to potential fantasy success for the upcoming season. Top-six players obviously get the lion’s share of ice time, both at even strength and on the power play.

 

I decided not to use the same terminology Ryan uses, so here’s a quick breakdown of mine if you couldn’t figure it out. Keep in mind that this terminology should be applied for fantasy hockey purposes in the coming season only.

 

  • Golden Boys – Each team’s top six. The top-six role is theirs to lose.
  • Challengers – These guys want to crack their way into the top six and depending on the situation, they just may.
  • Checkers – these players are essentially fourth line players. Some may have very bright futures, but the path of the current team doesn’t seem to have top-nine minutes in store for them.

I’ll look at three or four teams each week, going in alphabetical order. Here’s Part II:

 

Florida – up for grabs


Golden Boys
David Booth – Stephen Weiss – Kris Versteeg
Tomas Fleischmann – Mike Santorelli – Scottie Upshall
Challengers
Sean Bergenheim, Shawn Matthias*, and Tomas Kopecky
Checkers
Marcel Goc, Matt Bradley, Ryan Carter, Evgeni Dadonov, Michal Repik, and Jack Skille

 

Florida is one of the toughest teams to predict. This offseason, former Blackhawks GM Dave Tallon has almost completely overhauled his entire offense. David Booth and Stephen Weiss are certainly locks for top-six minutes, but the rest of the team is a complete coin flip. Versteeg and Upshall will likely see top minutes on the RW side. Santorelli is highly praised in the Panther organization and his strong performance last season should give him the edge for second-line center duties. Fleischmann is capable of playing center, but he was much more effective on left wing last year. He scored 21 points in 22 games in Colorado while playing wing versus 10 points in 23 games in Washington where he played center. These six are most likely to start the season in the top rotations.

 

Bergenheim’s strong postseason should be an indicator that he is hungry for a top role. Kopecky will also push hard for a top-six spot and if he is able to knock off one of Versteeg or Upshall, my money is on Upshall being the one to slide. Shawn Matthias is still an RFA, and assuming he signs, he will have to prove he deserves a top-six role before it is handed to him.

 

Bradley and Carter are both role players who should slot in on the fourth line and Goc is having a hard time proving he still has top-nine minutes in him. Evgeni Dadonov had a great stretch last season with 17 points in 36 games, but he’ll have an uphill battle finding the same opportunity this year. He is a dark horse to step into the top-nine with his work cut out for him.  Repik and Skille are both highly talented, but have not proven themselves as valuable offensive threats yet at the NHL level.

 

Montreal – Top-six fairly secure with pressure from line three


Golden Boys
Mike Cammalleri – Tomas Plekanec  - Andrei Kostitsyn 
Erik Cole – Scott Gomez – Brian Gionta
Challengers
Max Pacorietty, David Desharnais , and Lars Eller
Checkers
Travis Moen, Ryan White, Mathieu Darche, and Aaron Palushaj

 

Montreal is in a pretty good position. They have a clear, number-one line in Cammalleri, Plekanec, and Kostitsyn, all three of which have skated together for a while now. Next they have a solid second line composed of veterans Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, and newcomer Eric Cole. Cole has seen his share of injuries in the past, making a top-six spot within reach for the Challengers.

 

Max Pacorietty was really starting to prove his worth last season until Zdeno Chara cut his season short. It looks as though he will return to full health and although he will likely begin the year on the third line, he’ll be knocking on the door with authority for a top-six role. David Desharnais is a player who just won’t quit and he will be seeking more ice time as well. Lars Eller hasn’t yet proven as much as the other two Challengers, but the third line is a perfect place for him to develop. All three of these players are emerging prospects hungry for more ice time and they’re one injury away from receiving a bigger role. Fantasy owners take note that opportunity is certainly within reach.

 

Moen, White, and Darche are the likely checkers on this team, with Palushaj receiving the occasional cup of coffee. Leblanc will eventually work his way into the team, but nothing to get excited about from a fantasy perspective this year.

 

New Jersey – top three or four cemented, next spots available


Golden Boys
Ilya Kovalchuk – Travis Zajac – Nick Palmieri
Zach Parise* - Patrik Elias – Dainius Zubrus
Challengers
Vladimir Zharkov, Brian Rolston, and David Clarkson
Checkers
Eric Boulton, Rod Pelley, Dave Steckel, Tim Sestito, Stephen Gionta, and Adam Henrique.

 

New Jersey obviously has Kovalchuk, Zajac, and Elias slated somewhere in their top-six. Young Nick Palmieri skated the majority of his shifts on the top line with Kovalchuk and Zajac, so there’s a strong possibility he will remain in that role. Zach Parise is still unsigned and there are rumors that the Devils will not be able to retain him. Assuming they are able to reach an agreement, Parise will likely play left wing, fighting for time with Kovalchuk. It’s highly unlikely either play right wing. I have Zubrus slated in the top-six, but any of the Challengers below could easily capture this role.

 

Vladimir Zharkov has proven himself as a responsible Russian player, a fairly uncharacteristic term for a young Russian forward. Zharkov likely won’t produce top offensive numbers, but is certainly a player who can fill in when called upon. Brian Rolston is a shadow of the player he was five years ago, but he’s still capable of producing in spurts. He and Zubrus would be more effectively used on the third line (or in Albany), but the lack of depth should have one playing in the top-six. David Clarkson is the one guy who could push both of the old guys to the third line, but we’re still waiting to see his offensive ability on a consistent basis.

 

Although they both have no-trade-clauses, expect the Devils to try to push Zubrus and/or Rolston to waive their NTC and accept a trade elsewhere. I’m not sure how he does it, but Lou Lamoriello has a habit of making moves like this when others would seem to think he’s backed up against the wall.

 

Adam Henrique is a dark horse to see some offensive minutes this year after a strong pro rookie season in Albany. The 2008 third-round choice is a talented player who would benefit immediately if Zubrus and/or Rolston were to be traded. Sestito and Gionta have seen NHL time, but Henrique could prove to be the one who sticks.

 

Next week – New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators.


Write comment
Comments (15)add comment

Jeff said:

number54
You Need a New New Jersey I think you flat out forgot Tedenby exists, or he'd be in your top 6, hands down. Also, Rolston was never in the cards as a top-6 winger in NJ for 2011-12. Did you honestly think he'd be back after his team WAIVED him in February?
August 07, 2011
Votes: +0

Jasper Thebeau said:

alias
Montreal I'd be a little surprised to see Kostitsyn in the top 6 and Pacioretty out of the top 6. Kostitsyn played his best last year when skating with Lars Eller. Add to that last season when Pacioretty said he would prefer to be top 6 in Hamilton than bottom 6 in Montreal, he only got called up when a top 6 position was available, and the fact that he was Montreal's best player for a stretch of 15 games or so before he got hurt. Kostitsyn has the goods to be in the top 6 but I believe he has to prove to Jacques Martin that he has the dedication & consistency to stay there.
July 23, 2011
Votes: +2

david said:

newper114
Article yeah whenever you put together articles you are going to get feedback good and bad. the first part you did i thought was really good. this one i am not so much a fan. but its still a good write up and good thoughts.

MTL: i am with you on the top 6 but COLE is where you might have gotten some facts wrong. I know in the past he was a LW but i believe in carolina years ago he actually was LW/RW depending on the need. I dont remember where I saw it but I was reading a mtl blog that cole is slated to start on the top line with plek and cammy, meaning he would be shifting to RW. not that those lines are a given to happen but that was what was being said. he has a big body and will throw it around to clear out space for cammy and plek to put the puck in the net.

NJ: I am a devil fan so ofcourse i will have alot to say about this. but again i like the overall idea. parise will be a devil next season. ofcourse yes you are right they could always trade him but they wont walk away from any contract he is given so expect him to be a devil. AND if thats the case they wont split him and zajac up. also they dont like elias as center so look for him to be 3rd line LW with zuburs and something.

Kovy will most likely play with josefsen and palmeri. wish they had a better option but so be it, like you said they are stuck with rolston and his cap hit.
July 22, 2011
Votes: +1

Michal Sk said:

StevenY
Tim Tim - There are always discussions about this type of article and it was same last year when i watched this series very closely. If you miss something, or forget to mention some of the options the teams have with some players still not signed, somebody will mention it soon or later...so far i think you are doing very good job. The only thing as i mentioned already - i liked the old terminology more than yours (which is not so important detail).
July 22, 2011
Votes: +0

Karbinkopy said:

Karbinkopy
re: Tim Lucarelli In that case, keep up the good work. You've done a great job considering the time constraint you were given. The little things that you may have missed are basically only known by those that follow the respective teams closely. Example, I knew about Parise and Zharkov because I have Parise on my fantasy team and I previous had Zharkov until I saw the writing on the wall in the middle of the season last year and dropped him. Thank you for you effort it is appreciated.
July 21, 2011
Votes: +0

Tim Lucarelli said:

duballstar014
... As always, I appreciate all of your feedback, both positive and negative. This is a completely new area for me to analyze (I literally found out 10 days ago that I would be doing this series) and it's certainly been a learning curve.

I want to give you guys the best possible analysis I can so please bare with me and keep the feedback coming.
July 21, 2011
Votes: +0

Karbinkopy said:

Karbinkopy
Parise New Jersey has taken Parise to arbitration, so it is guaranteed that he will be playing for New Jersey this year. That's the reason why there hasn't been any offer sheet talk about Parise. Whether they do get a deal done, or whatever the arbitrator decides Parise's salary comes to for this year, Parise will be a devil.

Zharkov is on a two way contract and Mattias Tedenby will knock him down to Albany considering that Zharkov spent the first half of season in the minors and was only an injury recall late in the season, while Tedenby was called up in November and pretty well played the rest of the season. Tedenby played 58 games to Zharkov's 38 games last year and had way better numbers. Tedenby slots in on the left wing on the third line and may challenge for the top six.

I appreciate your efforts, but in comparison to the Western conference counterpart, I'm finding these articles a little less than solid in their research and analysis.
July 21, 2011
Votes: +0

sheldon said:

golfguy1672
... Hey Michael. Read the top of the post. Don't fret about line combos. He is purely showing who will be in the top 6.
July 21, 2011
Votes: +0

Michael Shewchuk said:

Pengwin7
Zajac + ??? While I realize that Zajac & Kovalchuk played together last year, the greater chemistry was Zajac & Parise in previous years. That Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner line was very dynamic and posted some insane production and +/- numbers. Any coach in his right mind should hook those two back up.

Look at Travis Zajac's last 3 years:
2008-2009. Zajac, 67pts, +33. LW = Parise.
2009-2010. Zajac, 62pts, +22. LW = Parise.
2010-2011. Zajac, 44pts, -6. LW = Kovalchuk.

Kovalchuk should (I'm not saying he "will"... saying he "should" - as in my personal recommendation) play with Elias. Kovalchuk & Zajac simply did not exhibit the chemistry that Parise & Zajac show.

Parise - Zajac - Palmieri
Kovalchuk - Elias - xxxxxxx
July 21, 2011
Votes: -2

Santo (aka Ross10019) said:

ross10019
... Great read Tim, love these off-season articles to get you thinking!

Only disagreement I have is with the Habs top 6. There are three things that are certain in life: Death. Taxes. MaxPac will line up with Gionta/Gomez in the top 6.

cheers!
July 21, 2011
Votes: +0

Tim Lucarelli said:

duballstar014
... Sorry, here's how I meant to write those lines:

Golden Boys
Ilya Kovalchuk - Travis Zajac - Nick Palmieri
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Jacob Josefson/Mattias Tedenby
Challengers
Vladimir Zharkov - Mattias Tedenby/Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson

@zboslett, just keep in mind that there's really only one spot open in the lineup if they stick to last year's lines (with Parise, Zubrus, and Rolston on the team and the new contracts) to be had between Zharkov, Tedenby, Josefson, Gionta, and Sestito. Regardless, you are right that I should have added them. Palmieri could certainly be outplayed as well and lose the top spot I have given him.
July 20, 2011
Votes: -1

Tim Lucarelli said:

duballstar014
Josefson/Tedenby Both are solid prospects and I have both on my list, but I think until the Zach Parise situation gets settled, neither have their spots in the top six. Both are clearly top-six capable players, which leads me to believe that they would be better served in the AHL than in the NHL at this point.

Josefson and Tedenby played most of their shifts in NJ last year together with Clarkson on the wing. I could certainly see that being the case if Zubrus and Rolston are on the way out (which they should be, but remember, they both have NTC's). Let's say Rolston and Zubrus are both out. Then, we would be looking more like:

Golden Boys
Ilya Kovalchuk - Travis Zajac - Nick Palmieri
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Jacob Josefson/Mattias Tedenby
Vladimir Zharkov - Mattias Tedenby/Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson

Rolston and Zubrus make up almost $8.5 million combined and Tedenby and Josefson are not fourth line players. Until there's legit space for them, I don't see them in the lineup.

However, they could certainly bump Zharkov out and I should have included them. I had them on my depth chart, but I just thought it was too many names to include. Judging by the first three comments, I clearly should have kept them in my analysis.
July 20, 2011
Votes: +1

Sean Robinson said:

Big Dog Daddy
jersey forwards how do tedenby and josefson fit into the mix? tedenby scored 22 pts in 58 games.
July 20, 2011
Votes: +0

ccsitdown said:

ccsitdown
Jersey No action for Josefson or Tedenby this year?
July 20, 2011
Votes: +0

zboslett said:

Mr Pockets
Devils No mention of two of the high end prospects almost assured a roster spot this fall in Josefson and Tedenby? Seems a glaring hole in this writeup. No mention of those guys with half a season or more of NHL time but Sestito, Gionta, and Henrique get mentions?
July 20, 2011
Votes: +1
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