A few prospect signings today - Erik Gudbranson (FLA) and Adam Larsson (NJD). Both players have a very good shot at cracking their respective NHL club this season (especially Gudbranson in Florida).
Helping Larsson's chances - the fact he signed for an entry-level deal that pays him just under a million (including bonuses). He must be already drinking the Lou kool-aid, as a 1st round pick of his stature would usually get a deal with a bonus structure up to $2 or $3 million (Nugent-Hopkins' contract has a cap hit of $3.7 million).
For the cap space strapped Devils, it will be a lot easier for them to keep Larsson around if he is only making $950k as opposed to a few million (even if the bonuses aren't earned, they count against the salary cap).
Friday is my "day off" from my day job, so I'll be logging some serious minutes on the Fantasy Guide today. Out in a little over two weeks (August 1).
Some writeups from last year's Prime Cuts list in the Guide:
Angus Prime Cut: Lubomir Visnovsky Grade: Porterhouse (above career average numbers expected)
The once dominant Anaheim defensive core has been reduced to one of the league’s worst in three short seasons. Gone are Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, and Francois Beauchemin. Visnovsky will be counted on to pick up a great portion of the slack. The Ducks are extremely top heavy talent-wise at forward, and Visnovsky will benefit from logging lots of minutes on the first power play unit with Getzlaf, Perry, and Ryan. He moves the puck very well and has a bomb of a shot. Look for him to approach 60 points in 2010-11.
Matt D’Agostini – St. Louis
The Blues are blessed with great depth at forward, but for whatever reason they struggled to score goals in 2009-10. With the retirement of Keith Tkachuk and the departure of Paul Kariya, there will be more ice time for the younger forwards, including D’Agostini. He’ll start off on the third line, but St. Louis will try to balance their scoring out on three lines (it seems like quite a few teams are opting to do this). He’s not big or fast, but he has great hands and is very crafty. With enough power play time, he could become a relevant fantasy player even in one-year leagues.
Casey Wellman accepted his one-year, two-way qualifying offer from the Wild. He'll be in tough to earn a top six spot out of camp, but he should be one of the first to get a promotion if there is an injury. He works very hard and has projectable size and offensive skills.
I like Wellman as a sleeper for the next few years. Some may say: if you can't crack the top six in Minnesota, where can you crack it? There is some truth to that, but I haven't seen Wellman been given an honest shot yet. Right now, Heatley, Koivu, Latendresse, Setoguchi, Bouchard, and Cullen are locks. Some injury prone players in there...
The Habs locked up energy forward Ryan White to a one-year, one-way contract. White has value in very deep leagues that count hits and PIM. He has some offensive abilities, but likely won’t be in the role to show them off.
One easy trick to spot overachievers as well as potential sleepers – compare one-year shooting percentages versus career percentages. Sergei Kostitsyn’s shooting percentage was nearly double his career average last year. Ryan Malone was well below his career shooting percentage.
Two down, two to go. The Rangers locked up another RFA, giving Brian Boyle a three year deal worth a shade over $5 million (total). Boyle is a 6’7” monster on the ice, and he has decent hands (he scored over 20 goals). It remains to be seen where he lines up, but he brings a lot of stuff to the table that will ensure he sees enough ice time to approach 20 goals each season.
The rich get richer – TSN announced yesterday that they have stolen Pierre Lebrun away from Hockey Night in Canada. One Pierre gone (McGuire), another Pierre on the way in.
It sounds like the Blackhawks are expecting Marcus Kruger to make the team as the third center. He didn’t look NHL ready to me last season (a step behind, weak on the puck), but perhaps that will change with a summer of hard training.
This is bad news for those of you in pools that use Sharp for his faceoff prowess (with LW eligibility). He still delivers great numbers in a variety of other categories – SOG, G, PPP, plus-minus, etc, but he was even more valuable with his faceoff wins. I’m not sold on Kruger yet, but I think Dave Bolland needs more offensive ice time – he’s too good to be given 15-16 minutes per game.
I like Blake Comeau as a hockey player. He is an honest player who does everything pretty well. However, I don’t know if he has a ton of long term upside, as the Isles have a few forwards who should leapfrog him on the depth chart pretty soon. I was putting together some mock lines…
(addition: missing Parenteau - an oversight on my part. Short term, he could play with the top two, like he did for last season. However, a strong camp from Nino and a slump would be all it takes to slide down. He'd likely bump Hunter down to line four if that was the case).
And pretty soon, the likes of Strome, Kabanov (still a risk, but progressing nicely), Cizikas, and so on will have to be factored in. Niederreiter is far from a lock for line one, and I’d give Comeau a decent shot at playing some top six minutes throughout the season.
Mathieu Perreault signed an interesting contract. He took less at the NHL level to get more at the AHL level - sounds like he expects to be playing primarily in Hershey. I wouldn't blame him, looking at Washington's forward depth. Her's a guy to watch if he gets traded or when he leaves for another team. Has legit top six upside.
Wellman's first NHL goal - it truly is the dog days of summer: