The Flames re-signed Brendan Morrison for one year. He’s rehabbing a torn ACL, and won’t be back until the season is underway. He was pretty decent last season during a few stints with Iginla and Tanguay on the top unit.
The guide is out in just over two weeks... some stuff from previous years:
Bryan Bickell – Chicago
Bickell earned a cup of coffee on the top line with Kane and Toews during the playoffs this past spring, but he was obviously more than a bit above his head. He has great size and skates pretty well, but is far from a top line NHL forward. He will only have fantasy value if Chicago experiences a few injuries or needs an injection of size into the top six. He’ll be on the team this fall, but probably in more of a defensive or grinding type of role.
Angus Prime Cut: Christian Ehrhoff Grade: Porterhouse
Ehrhoff played 3:00 per game on the power play for the Canucks last season, and 2:06 per game on the penalty kill. With the signing of Hamhuis and the trade for Ballard, he will see less minutes shorthanded, which will free up more of an opportunity to produce. Ehrhoff typically plays in even strength situations with the Sedin twins, and his dynamic skating ability opens up a lot of ice in the neutral zone. Look for him to improve off of last season’s career numbers and approach the 50 point mark.
Finished with exactly 50 points.
Steve Downie – LW, Tampa Bay - Downie and Stamkos displayed some chemistry together last season when they skated on a line together (St. Louis was the other winger). That line has the potential to do some real damage, and it also allows the Lightning to spread out their offensive attack. Downie is a very underrated playmaker: he sees the ice very well, and has displayed a ton of puck poise throughout his career. Unfortunately his disciplinary problems often overshadow his offensive skills.
The lowdown on: Carey Price – The Hockey News doesn’t frivolously name players the NHL’s “Top Prospect”. If a player is given that honor, he pretty much becomes an NHL star. Price is 22 years old and already has 47 career NHL wins. He also has a gold medal and Calder Cup (AHL). Not only is the guy a born winner, but the franchise will throw him out there no matter how much he struggles. As a fifth overall pick (2005), the Habs won’t let him make them look bad. He got off to a hot start last campaign before he was derailed by a high ankle sprain from which he never really recovered. Now healthy, Price will play behind a defensive system thanks to the arrival of coach Jacques Martin. This screams “superstar”. A strong start by Price could force the team to trade Halak.
The lowdown on: David Backes – Is he for real? Maltais argues that he is not in his column above, but I disagree. As a power forward, I figured it would take him six or seven years after he was drafted to show even a hint of what he can do. As he entered the NHL, I thought for sure he would be a 50-point, 150-PIM player with potential for 70 and 200. Even in last year’s guide I said: “Backes has really emerged as a feisty power forward. Now that he’s getting the big bucks, the potential for 50 points and 180 penalty minutes is there for this very season.” He had 54 and 165. So if he did what I figured he could do, is that considered a fluke? Not in my books. Considering he had 46 points in his final 61 games (62-point pace) I think he’ll be one of the few players who reach the upside I set for them – perhaps this very campaign.
The HockeyPoolGeek crew did an awesome audit of my H2H keeper last summer (check it out here). They will be back with a few more extensive audits in August. Check the site out, there are some tools that make fantasy hockey pretty easy (especially if you are a stats guy and like to tinker with numbers and different lineup combinations).
The Blackhawks had a busy day yesterday, re-signing Michal Frolik for three years (cap hit about $2.33 million, thanks for the correction), and inking depth defenseman Sami Lepisto to a one-year deal.
Lepisto will likely skate as the number seven defenseman and move up in the case of injury or poor play.
Frolik’s contract was a bit surprising to me – seems high (at least considering the three year term). He never looked completely comfortable in Chicago after the trade, and has seen his development stall over the past few years. Chicago obviously feels that he has more room to grow, or they wouldn’t have made this kind of financial commitment to him.
The Blackhawks also announced that Pat Kane will undergo wrist surgery, correcting an injury he suffered during offseason training. He should be fully recovered by training camp, but he won’t be able to train at full capacity leading up to that point. A bit of a setback, and definitely something to keep in mind on draft day.
The Caps locked up Karl Alzner to a cap friendly deal. He’ll receive $1.3-ish (thanks for the correction) million per for each of the next two seasons.
Who centers the second line in Ottawa? It could be Bobby Butler, who recently signed a two-year, one-way contract with a cap hit just north of $1 million. Butler, Greening, and Condra all have one-way deals, which makes sending them down to the AHL a little bit harder.
Filatov will definitely be tried out with Spezza on the top line, and either Michalek or Alfredsson will likely occupy the other wing. The second line – tons of contenders – Butler, Condra, Greening, Foligno, and even Peter Regin, my failed sleeper pick of 2010-11.
Back to Pittsburgh – I hope this is obvious to more people. The long term solution is so obvious – put Malkin with Crosby. Malkin is effective at center, but having him and Crosby together allows him to carry the puck up the ice from the left wing position (I see them as alternating positions more or less).
Staal is way too good for a third line role, and he is a prototypical two-way center. Perfect for the second line. I’d love to see Pittsburgh try out Malkin-Crosby-Neal and Dupuis-Staal-Sullivan/Kennedy.
Vincent Lecavalier owners should be optimistic heading in to 2011-12. Sure, playing with St. Louis was the main reason why he scored 17 of his 25 goals in the final 30 games of the season, but his peripheral stats all increased (some dramatically) from first half to second – he doubled his hits and PIM, his plus-minus was better, and he had more shots on goal.
To me, that says that Lecavalier was more involved on a game-to-game basis. The more involved a player is (especially an offensive producer), the more he produces – it isn’t rocket science.
Callahan and Dubinsky remain unsigned – if both receive larger-than-anticipated arbitration awards, the Rangers can simply buy out Wojtek Wolski.
Are the Predators gearing up for a major trade? An interesting take here.
After watching some of Vancouver’s games from last season, two things came to mind:
1) I am curious to see how Christian Ehrhoff’s offense is replaced. He contributed a lot to help Sedins and Burrows both at even strength and on the PP.
2) I am equally curious to see how Edler does now that he isn’t playing the defensive role on his pairing (assuming he lines up with Sami Salo to start the season). A lot of times he would hang back and let Ehrhoff do his thing.
What a goal…. Thanks for passing this one along: