As the number of keeper league hockey pools increase each year, fantasy junkies are becoming more active in the off-season as they prepare their teams for the coming year. Rebuild? Retool? Tweak? Whatever your intentions, it helps to get all the information you can about your players. FPL will look at a pair of teams each week and give you the fantasy lowdown. This week we’ll look through our fantasy-hockey goggles at the outlooks for Calgary and Carolina.
(Originally published by The Hockey News on May 30, 2008)
And don't forget, if you have an off-season hockey question, send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.
Potential UFAs – Craig Conroy, Kristian Huselius, Daymond Langkow, Owen Nolan, Stephane Yelle, Eric Nystrom, Curtis Joseph, Eric Godard, Mark Smith, David Hale, Jim Vandermeer.
Potential RFAs – none.
Looking to Add - Daymond Langkow is reportedly ready to sign – to be made official when the salary cap for next season is announced – but the Flames still need a top-six defenseman. The team also needs to replace the offense Huselius provided. A backup goalie who is willing to warm the benches would also be nice.
Ready for full time – Mikael Backlund is a promising prospect a lot of experts feel is ready for the NHL. Others, though, feel he will need another year. Watch him in camp, but count on him playing in the American League for a season. He is the most promising offensive prospect in the system by far.
Fantasy Outlook - The Flames were in the middle this season – 16th in goals for and 15th in goals against. If they don’t replace Huselius, the offense will suffer dramatically. If they replace him and Backlund pans out right away, the offense will improve. With Miikka Kiprusoff between the pipes, their defense will always be decent.
Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was B)
Potential UFAs – Bret Hedican, Glen Wesley, Ryan Bayda, Keith Aucoin, John Grahame, Trevor Letowski.
Potential RFAs – Patrick Eaves, Tim Gleason, Chad Larose, Tuomo Ruutu, Dennis Seidenberg.
Looking to Add - The Hurricanes will probably go with Michael Leighton as their backup. The underrated goaltender was easily the top guy between the pipes in the AHL this season and certainly deserves the job. The team is in dire need of defensemen.
Ready for full time – Brandon Sutter is ready to make the jump, but his upside is minimal. In the long term he will probably top out at 60 points. The big offensive gun in their system is Drayson Bowman, who recently led his Western League team - the Spokane Chiefs - to a Memorial Cup victory. He’s probably a full season or two away, though.
Fantasy Outlook - The return of Justin Williams and the addition of Joe Corvo (for a full season) will boost the offense dramatically. The Canes were a more successful team once Corvo came on board and he pushed up Frantisek Kaberle’s numbers, as well. The problem with this team has always been the injury bug. They also need a better option on their farm team for a call up than Ryan Bayda. Still, with Bowman and Sutter now on the scene, there is finally hope.
Fantasy Grade: B- (last year was C)