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I only have four “official” ramblings left before I step down from my post here at DobberHockey, and I will do my best to make them my four best ramblings yet!
Read on for everything and anything pertaining to the world of hockey (and, as always, fantasy hockey, in particular).
I have seen both Ryan Malone and Jonathan Drouin pencilled in alongside Stamkos and St. Louis this summer. I simply don’t see Malone playing there. Drouin isn’t a third line talent, and the Lightning will want to ensure he has every opportunity to succeed as a teenager.
I’d still expect Malone to see time there (especially in more physical games and on the power play). Here is how I see the Tampa top nine shaping up for opening night:
Drouin – Stamkos – St. Louis
Killorn – Filppula – Purcell
Malone – Johnson – Panik (or Connolly/comparable prospect)
And after writing about him forever (at least it seems that way…), this is the year that Mark Barberio finally breaks in to the NHL on a full-time basis. Tampa has some defensemen capable of chipping in offensively, but they don’t have a true PP QB on the back end. Barberio could fill that void as early as this season.
To me, the toughest nut to track with my projections has been the forward group in St. Louis. I have written about my thoughts on the subject before, but let me dive into a bit more detail.
The scoring/offensive line:
Why? Schwartz is a natural LW (not many of them on the roster). Roy is the most talented center and is a natural playmaker, while Stewart is the best pure sniper on the team. Give this line the offensive minutes and led the other players do the grunt work.
The two-way/shut-down line:
Big, fast, physical, and skilled. Not many teams in the NHL could compete with this unit from an overall perspective. Even in tough minutes, I’d expect all three to be productive.
The scoring depth/puck possession line:
Size, skill, puck possession – this line has it all. Berglund and Paajarvi will both open up a lot of ice for Tarasenko to work his magic.
Two agitators and a guy who throws massive hits – a fantastic fourth line capable of chipping in offensively (but that won’t be their role with this team).
Sticking with the Blues – Jaro Halak has put some serious work in this summer, shedding 14 pounds of body fat in three months. That is extremely impressive (he stuck around St. Louis to work with strength coach Nelson Ayotte), but also begs the question – what the heck was he eating before?
Hopefully losing the weight and getting stronger in the core/lower body will cut down on the groin issues he has having. This is a huge season for him, as he only has one year left on his deal.
I’ll be shocked if Sharks winger Tomas Hertl doesn’t finish in the top-five in rookie scoring this season.
How many games does Bernier start this year? How about Reimer? I’d be wary of drafting either of them as there is so much uncertainty. Bernier will get every opportunity to start (contract, trade, draft status), but Reimer was really strong last year for Toronto and earned the opportunity to start as well.
What are your thoughts?
Number six – Martin Erat:
An injury cut his 2013 season short - as well as his 2013 playoff run - but Erat's brief time with his new team was promising, as he showed a knack for strong puck possession that had been lacking on the Caps' second line (even if he did have the worst CF% on the team during his brief playoff appearance). Erat has had pretty decent numbers over the course of his career, despite playing in a bit more restrained offensive system in Nashville... to put it mildly.
And while his initial tryout with the Caps was brief, one would imagine that the added freedom that comes from playing under Adam Oates's system should make those decent numbers climb. We hope.
From Dobber on Twitter last night:
Jeff Skinner has 44 points in 76 games since returning from a concussion during the 2011-12 season. #Canes— Dobber (@DobberHockey) August 22, 2013
Henrik Sedin talks contract, Luongo, and more with Sportsnet. I see the Sedins going the SelanneLidstrom route - one-year deals every year until they decide to hang it up.
I have Henrik and Daniel pegged for 75-80 points this year and I could see them around the PPG mark for at least three or four more years. Their style of play won't change much as they get older - they don't rely on their physical talents as much as their mental and instinctual ones.
How much are the Leafs going to have to pay Kessel next year? $8 million per? The team will be happy to know that the salary cap could hit $80 million in a few years (more on that soon), as they are close to the max right now with a few important players yet to be signed.
I have come around on Kessel a bit as a player. In fantasy circles there aren't many better goal scorers, and his overall game (defense, playmaking) is a lot better than it was a few years ago.
Imagine what he could do with an actual top line center on his line?
A prospect profile of Henrik Tommernes (Canucks) – his SEL comparables are pretty interesting.
I dig the new Sharks uniforms – nice clean classic look – and a return to the teal. I didn’t like the black jerseys as much – too generic.
After taking a vicious knee-on-knee from Alex Edler at the World Championships, Eric Staal says the knee is feeling good.
I’ll be interested to see if the tweaks made to Letang’s training (less volume) will lead to less injuries – he has battled a variety of ailments in recent years. If he ever stays healthy for 75+ games, his numbers across the board are going to be tough to beat for any NHL defenseman.
Letang’s strength and power is really impressive, but he could be an example of a guy who loves fitness and exercising so much that it leads to overtraining (David Booth was guilty of this when coming to Vancouver – he would spend so much time in the gym that fatigue crept in at the end of games).
I hope those who are interested have learned lots from my fitness and nutrition posts over the past year or so. I am taking on a select number of clients this fall for some online coaching/training. If you have any fitness or health goals you are struggling to get to, reach out to me to see if there is a way I can help!
Here are 10 fitness tips for the month of August – squatting, building muscle, the dangers of sitting, and more.
A look at the NHL logos over the years:
BioSteel camp, Day 1:
And Day 2:
I still have to name my final two sleepers of the year for 2013-14…. Any guesses? And bonus points for reading all the way to here.