If you haven’t picked up Dobber’s 2013-14 Fantasy Guide yet – what are you waiting for? It is hands down the best guide in the business. With updates from now until September you won’t get better bang for your buck. And this year’s guide is definitely the best one yet. I know we say that every year but it’s true. Because we are competitors and perfectionists all we want is to make the best fantasy guide we possibly can. So every year we raise the bar for ourselves.

 

Some of the best content in there definitely comes from Terry Campkin on the impacts of realignment and reverting back to an 82-game schedule with inter-Conference games. It’s a notion I also touched on in my piece for the guide featuring fantasy stock drops. Here’s an excerpt:


The year also provided the wrinkle of having no inter-conference games. It would be impossible to prove either way but it is possible that there was a disparity in talent level between the two conferences, which created an uneven testing ground for players to demonstrate their talents.

 

In 2013 the Eastern Conference was the higher scoring of the two conferences. So if you believe in this disparity at all then you have to suspect that either the goalies in the Western Conference are about to get bombarded or a cold front is headed East.

 

Personally, I think we will see a little bit of both. Goaltenders in the West are going to have it tougher when they face the high scoring Eastern teams while stars in the East will suffer from having to face the stingy Western teams. There are three teams in particular to watch for however; Winnipeg heading West and Columbus and Detroit heading East. Terry touches on the implications of those moves in the guide and I won’t step on his feet here so consider this one more reason to go pick up the guide.

 

*

 

The St. Louis Blues re-signed winger Magnus Paajarvi on Friday. The deal is for two years at $1.2 million per. Who says the bridge contract is dead?

 

This deal leaves the Blues with just north of $7.6 million in cap space with only Alex Pietrangelo to re-sign. I’ve expressed before that I think he’d be worth all of that and then some. Franchise defensemen – true franchise defensemen – are among the rarest commodities in the NHL. I’d argue that a team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup without one since the Penguins did in 2008.

 

A franchise defenseman is not an essential piece to winning but it makes things a hell of a lot easier and for St. Louis Pietrangelo absolutely is essential and he could be that piece for a lot of teams. How another team hasn’t sniffed around with an offer sheet is beyond me. A team – and there are seven who currently have the cap space – could offer Pietrangelo $8 million or more per year and force the Blues to jump through hoops to match and be cap compliant or be stuck taking the compensation picks.

 

And it’s worth noting that the Big Cahuna for restricted free agent compensation is now at $8.410977 million or more per year so a team could offer just south of that and only have to give up two first rounders, a second and a third assuming Pietrangelo signed and the Blues didn’t match. That would be well worth it in my opinion.

 

Of course, it’s extremely unlikely it comes to that. Few teams have had the balls to take a shot in restricted free agency for whatever reason. Perhaps they just have a fear of barns. Still, it’s got to be a bit unnerving for Blues fans to see Pietrangelo not locked up yet.

 

The good news is that with this being an Olympic year and Pietrangelo being a candidate for the Canadian Olympic team it is unlikely this will come to a training camp hold-out scenario like it did when it came time for Drew Doughty’s extension with the Kings a couple years back. This is because Pietrangelo will need every game to prove himself worthy of sporting the maple leaf in Sochi considering how stiff the competition will be.

 

So if you are a Blues fan or simply a Pietrangelo owner concerned about him getting off to a slow start or a non-existent start just keep in mind Pietrangelo will be highly motivated to be on the ice as much as possible and producing as much as possible.

 

*

 

More Blues/Team Canada news. The Blues extended Jay Bouwmeester earlier this week. That’s a really great move. Bouwmeester may have been overhyped for a long time but he’s still a really good NHL defenseman. I still can’t believe how cheap the Blues acquired him. I know some teams didn’t have the cap space but there should have been other teams in there driving up the price.

 

In any case, Bouwmeester paired with Pietrangelo after the trade last season and I’d expect him to do so again. In a perfect world he could ride Pietrangelo’s coattails to another 40-point season. I don’t think it happens just yet but the potential is there even if Bouwmeester is third in the pecking order in terms of power play time for Blues defensemen.

 

It’s also worth mentioning that if this pairing is a real hit you could see it Sochi. There’s a real dearth of top flight left-handed Canadian defensemen. Bouwmeester certainly bears consideration as smooth skating lefty and if Pietrangelo plays lights out hockey and the Blues find themselves in first place come December then Bouwmeester-Pietrangelo could get in just like Keith-Seabrook made Team Canada in 2010.

 

So what I’m saying is, there are a lot of motivated individuals on the Blues blue line.

 

*

 

In other RFA news the Los Angeles Kings re-signed forward Kyle Clifford for two more years.

 

Clifford’s fantasy value rests in leagues that count hits but he does have some mild upside as a sleeper. There is room in LA’s top six for a left winger, which is Clifford’s natural position. Both Matt Frattin and Tyler Toffoli will be gunning for that spot as well. My money would be on Toffoli winning the job. Considering Clifford has proven himself a perfectly capable bottom six forward it will be all too easy for the Kings to slide him back into the bottom six. Still, Clifford has some Bryan Bickell-esque potential should things break right.

 

*

 

There have been a couple of interesting discussions taking place on the DobberHockey forums recently that I wanted to offer an opinion on:

 

First, the myth that Nashville is where offense goes to die.

 

I couldn’t disagree with that notion more. Nashville ranked eighth in scoring in 2011-12 along with having the single most efficient power play in the league that season. I grant you that not a single Predator managed more than Martin Erat’s 58 points that season but still, that’s some good team offense. Simply put, the Predators are well coached and thus can attempt to win despite lacking the high end forwards who typically score a great number of points. If you put a star forward on the Predators roster you’d almost certainly see him produce. That’s why it was disappointing for some (myself included) that Seth Jones fell to the Predators in this year’s daft and not Jonathan Drouin.

 

Just take a look at the Predators’ all-time roster and show me a proven scorer who underwhelmed while there. Hell, even JP Dumont scored 72 points in a season for the Predators.

 

What does this mean for you, now? Well Shea Weber is still one of the best defensemen in fantasy hockey and Seth Jones could well be on his way. Also, Roman Josi is a major sleeper for next season. No great forwards to look out for but there’s still value to be had.

 

Second, Dobber’s 70-point projection for Nathan Mackinnon in the fantasy guide.

I don’t think Mackinnon goes for 70 points next season. It’s not that he doesn’t have the talent or that the lineup is too clogged. I actually think Mackinnon is the exact sort of prospect who could come in and deliver right away. He certainly has the skating ability and a ton of skill. He also has that dogged mentality and a really strong lower body such that he can probably take the hits at the NHL level.

 

Depth up the middle shouldn’t be an issue either. Paul Stastny has essentially become an overqualified third-line center – Colorado’s answer to Mikhail Grabovski – so he won’t pose much of an impediment to Mackinnon. The Avalanche also have plans to play Ryan O’Reilly on the wing next season so he’s out of the way as well. That makes Mackinnon the second line center or at least something to that effect. Certainly he’ll get the minutes he needs to succeed both at even strength and on the power play.

 

My issue is more with the fact that the Avalanche have quite possibly the worst group of defensemen in the entire NHL. At this point Tyson Barrie is quite possibly their best defenseman and he’s played all of 42 NHL games. You can have all the offensive talent in the world and it won’t mean anything if the team can’t even move the puck up ice.

 

A good comparable for this is probably Jeff Skinner who managed 63 points as a rookie three seasons ago for the Carolina Hurricanes. No doubt Mackinnon is the better player coming into his rookie season and no doubt the Hurricanes had a pretty miserable group of defensemen that season but they at least had Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason gobbling up minutes for them and also a capable power play quarterback in the otherwise horrific Joe Corvo.

 

Colorado wishes they had Corvo this year. That’s how dire their situation is on the blue line. Barrie is probably ready to take a leap but even if he does that makes what two, perhaps three capable defensemen? I just think the Avalanche will have too much trouble moving the puck out of their own end to wind up with a rookie scoring 70 or more.

 

*

 

Steve Sullivan is 99.9% sure he is going to retire. Thanks for the memories, Steve!

 

 

 

*

 

Anything you want to discuss from the fantasy guide you can discuss here.

 

If you have any special requests for my next Cage Match article give me a holler @SteveLaidlaw or in the comments below.


Write comment
Comments (4)add comment

JimmyMac said:

JimmyMac
... Great stuff in here! Always appreciate the effort Steve, especially in the off-season.
August 03, 2013
Votes: +0

Dobber said:

Dobber
... Excellent ramblings - and your point on the Avalanche is the first real solid point against that I've seen so far, and actually has me thinking harder on the matter. And isn't that what a good ramblings should do? Well done!
August 03, 2013
Votes: +0

Ross The Boss Palmer said:

Ross The Boss Palmer
... Wow awesome ramblings. Really took me by surprise, was written as if it was in a critical part of the season.


It seems the bottle of EJ Kool-Aid is truly empty. I wonder if it will end up at the recycling depot this season or will it remain as litter on fantasy lawns.
August 03, 2013
Votes: +0

Atomic Wedgy said:

Atomic Wedgy
Great stuff Nice ramblings mate. Many great and insightful thoughts in there. Not all ramblings are this good, so thanks very much and keep it up.
August 03, 2013
Votes: +0
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy