Check out Gates Imbeau's "Studs and Duds" below - a review of the preseason and some fantasy projections and predictions for the coming season.
A few bits of news yesterday in the fantasy hockey world have brought up the issue of residual fantasy value once again. Two players, one claimed off of waivers and one injured, will have significant fantasy impacts on other players.
Blair Betts was surprisingly waived by the Flyers. Betts is essentially useless offensively, but he is one of the best defensive/PK centers in the league. In Montreal, he will help Carey Price a lot. He’ll allow the other centers like Plekanec and Desharnais to play easier minutes.
Marc Staal’s injury is crippling. At best, he’s going to miss the two games in Europe. Glen Sather speculated yesterday he could be out for a month. At this point in time, it’s guesswork trying to predict a return date. Without him, the Rangers will have to play a tighter defensive game. Forwards won’t be able to cheat up offensively as much, Lundqvist will be without his best defenseman, and Dan Girardi will be without his partner.
Tim Erixon benefits as he’ll likely slide in to the starting six on the back end, but no one else on New York stands to benefit from Staal’s injury.
What should we expect from Matt Read in Philadelphia? A good read (pun) on why expectations should be tempered.
Predicting a sophomore slump is tough – Michael Del Zotto fell victim to it last season. What do we expect from Cam Fowler this season? He’s looked bigger, stronger, and faster in preseason. He’ll see steady PP time with three all-world forwards and a star defenseman. Can he hit 50 this season? 55?
Kurtis Foster is worth watching in deeper leagues, if for no other reason than the fact that Fowler is so young and Visnovsky has a history of injuries. Beauchemin will also see some depth PP time but Foster is a bit more of a specialist and would probably get the nod if the team needs someone to fill in on the top unit.
The best move Toronto made all summer was trading for Liles. He could very well become the number one defenseman this season. He isn’t physical, but he’s a very smart defenseman who can skate, play positionally, and move the puck. He and Joe Sacco butted heads in Colorado and I’m sure he’s looking forward to a fresh start with the Leafs.
Five for Howling breaks down the Phoenix centers. Much to my surprise, this link doesn’t take you to a blank page.
Tough times in Calgary right now with Erixon playing in New York (a recent 1st round pick who refused to sign with the team) and the Backlund injury news. However, the player Calgary received in the Erixon trade had a great camp – read more about Roman Horak here.
David Moss may move to center in Calgary – the obvious prize winner is going to be Iginla/Tanguay’s middle man. Brendan Morrison will get a look, but he’s old and coming off of another significant knee injury. Jokinen has been tried there without any success, and Matt Stajan isn’t a top line player (or even close to it).
We often times let salary caps determine how we value players. Unless you play in a cap league, this kind of thinking should be irrelevant. Jay Bouwmeester lasted all the way until round 23 in my deep one year league last night (points only). He’s been subpar offensively in Calgary, but he represents tremendous value right now.
How will Ottawa’s second line shake out? A slew of Ottawa writers and bloggers weigh in with their thoughts.
Sullivan-Malkin-Neal to start on the top line for the Penguins tomorrow. Can Sully still keep up with top line talents?
The projected line combos in Tampa are very interesting – I still don’t have a great read on Purcell. Is he a steady 45-55 point guy or was last season a sign of progression into a star forward? I’m also interested in seeing what the incredibly talented – but injury prone – Brett Connolly can do. I hope the team gives him some time on the power play.
Right now the Hurricanes have nine defensemen. McBain, Faulk, Muprhy – most teams would be lucky to have one of them in the pipeline, let alone all three. Pitkanen and Kaberle will get the first crack at PP time. In other situations, I’d have Faulk and Murphy on my radar in one year leagues, but I can’t see either of them playing a significant role on the Hurricanes this season (unless a rash of injuries occur in the first couple of games).
Sheriff Shanahan highlights the differences between a clean and a dirty hit.
The Canucks weigh in on Kesler’s interesting photo shoot for ESPN’s The Body issue. Paraphrasing Bieksa – “this doesn’t help us shake our reputation as the league’s most hated team.”
Crosby was skating very, very hard during Pittsburgh’s practice on Wednesday in Vancouver. My own speculation – he’s back before November.
Copy and paste: Toronto placed Tim Connolly on the injured reserve with an upper body injury.
Kesler appears to be ahead of schedule – he practiced yesterday and looks to be on his way to a lineup return before the speculated November 1st date.
Had my final draft on Tuesday night – one year league, points only. Took Malkin 4th overall, Crosby went 5th (the highest I have seen him taken in any of my one-year leagues). I also put some money down on Malkin at 30-to-1 odds to win the Art Ross (the odds have now lessened).
Martin Havlat is going to decide today if he is ready to go for the season opener. Not exactly the fresh start he was after – missing camp and the entire preseason (skated in camp, but no contact) with his shoulder rehab taking longer than anticipated.
Some stuff from my buddy Gates Imbeau:
Studs & Duds Preseason Recap
3) Top Dogs – Big Board
With the help of a six point night last Thursday, Mike Ribeiro finished the preseason as the league leader, hulking out an impressive ten points in only four games. Drifting behind him was a six player tie for second place with seven points apiece. Scheifele, Tyutin and Mikko Koivu in four games played. Read, O’Sullivan, and Grabovki in six games played.
In terms of line production - Minnesota’s trident of Heatley, Setoguchi and Mikko Koivu took the cake. With 19 points in four games played, the former Sharks each scored at a 1.5 points per game pace while Koivu managed 1.75. The line finished the preseason tied for first in even strength points as well as tied for first in power play points. Who knows? Maybe Heatley was… born to be Wild!
In goal, Hiller, Dubnyk and Steve Mason hopefully got some jitters out of the way with strong play. Mason recorded four wins in four games and finished the preseason with a 1.98 GAA and a solid .934 SV%. Hiller won two of three while punching in a cool 1.38 GAA alongside .955 SV%. Lastly, Dubnyk has two wins and an overtime loss in three games, while holding a very decent 1.53 GAA and .946 SV%.
2) Peripherals please!
Alexander Ovechkin to no surprise took the most preseason shots, posting 21 in only four games. For those counting, that is a pace of 430 SOG over a full 82 season. While everyone knows, or should know that Ovechkin is the king of shots, it was interesting to see that with only one slapper behind OV, stood Anze Kopitar. Don’t get too excited though as the King’s franchise forward has very consistent when it comes to shooting the puck, posting three 230-plus SOG seasons. It is not wise to expect Anze to keep up a 400-plus pace.
Switching over to penalty minutes, you will find one of my favourites, Theo Peckham, leading the way. 28 PIM in five games played gives a hefty number prorated. Peckham lead the league last year in PIMs among defensemen and if the preseason is any indication of things to come, expect that trend to continue.Another preseason favourite was Michael Haley from the Islanders. Unfortunately he got sent down, but my gut says that it won’t be for long. If the Isles need someone to get the “job” done, Haley will be called upon. 21 minutes in three games played will tell you that much. Unless he gets Shanabanned, of course!Finally, if you are looking for a sleeper in blocked shots, go Josh Gorges. Last year’s numbers were low, but that was due to injury. Look for a full rebound. Gorges finished the preseason with 19 blocked shots in just four games played. I drafted him back in July for this reason, and I expect good things from him in that department.
1) Ultimate Road Trip
For those who have followed the Studs & Duds this preseason, you will see that I was big on the European trip. For good reason! The last three Stanley Cup Champions started their respective year overseas. If that trend continues, one of New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks or Buffalo Sabres could be raising the Cup come June. Love these kinds of patterns.Really though that is just the icing on the cake. Truth be told, these trips are a great way to honour veteran players in their home countries while building the best type of team morale. Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist each received their respective chants and ovations as their teammates worked hard to get those wins - sharing memories that will last forever.
More details on that subject here.
3) Key Injuries
Toronto’s Tim Connolly & Montreal’s Andrei Markov are both due to miss their team’s opening night games – not the only ones either. This preseason was a hard pill to swallow for some Clubs, specifically the Maple Leafs. In addition to Connolly, add Nazim Kadri (sprained MCL) and Phil Kessel (lingering groin injury) to the list.Edmonton also received the short end of the stick losing Sam Gagner (ankle), Ryan Whitney (ankle) and possibly Ales Hemsky (sore shoulder).Make sure to adjust your roster before puck drop, as you will surely have one or more red flags to take care of.
2) Contract Demands
Players have it good nowadays. Together, with their agents, demands are higher than ever. This summer, there were some lingering contracts (Josh Bailey, Luke Schenn, Zach Bogosian) that were finally signed shortly before or during the preseason.Most recently, Drew Doughty scored big after refusing to drop down his dollar amount. Can you blame him? Take a second to compare Doughty’s new contract to other similarly paid defensemen, he easily fits in. Kyle Turris does not.The youngster is still without a contract and is demanding a good chunk of coin (well his agent is). The only pull he has was being picked third overall in the 2007 Entry Draft. Pretty sad. Get something done son!
1) Cats with no Claws
Panthers walk out of the preseason at the bottom of the food chain. Montreal nearly had that feat beat but managed a 5-1 win over Tampa to end their exhibition matches. It would have been Price-less to put Montreal here, but the Panthers had to stink up the joint. Hopefully their forwards score a ton because these score sheets will get ugly.