As the number of keeper league hockey pools increase each year, fantasy junkies are becoming more active in the off-season as they prepare 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 Detroit and Edmonton.
(Originally published by The Hockey News on July 11, 2008 - Dobber archives some of his older THN articles here in case you missed them there!)
Also – don’t forget to send your off-season questions to the THN Fantasy Mailbag, which is posted the last Wednesday of each month during the summer.
Gone – Olli Jokinen, Jozef Stumpel, Branislav Mezei, Steve Montador, Jassen Cullimore, Magnus Johansson.
Incoming - Keith Ballard, Nick Boynton, Chris Beckford-Tseu, Cory Stillman, Rory Fitzpatrick, Peter DeBoer (coach).
Ready for full time – With the loss of Jokinen, the Panthers could use an injection of offense from their youth. Judging by his cup of coffee a year ago, Shawn Matthias seems ready to take on the No. 2 or No. 3 center job. The Cats also hope skilled winger Michael Frolik is ready to take the next step. Michal Repik will also get a long look.
Fantasy Outlook – The good news is that DeBoer is a successful and proven coach at the junior level. The bad news, for fantasy owners, is he has his troops play a conservative team game. Couple that with Jokinen’s departure and you won’t see as many goals as you would like to. However, there are several young Panthers on the cusp of (finally) breaking out, such as Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss and the newly rich Rostislav Olesz. All three will need to surprise for Florida to get a sniff of a playoff race.
Fantasy Grade: D (last year was C)
Los Angeles Kings
Gone – Michael Cammalleri, Lubomir Visnovsky, Rob Blake, Jon Klemm, Ladislav Nagy, Scott Thornton, Brian Willsie, Dan Cloutier.
Incoming - Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Brad Richardson, Denis Gauthier.
Ready for full time – Teddy Purcell may have won the American League scoring title this season had he not been recalled to the big club. He impressed in his recall and will impress you as a rookie in your fantasy league. Look for him to play on the top six.
Another potential hotshot is defenseman Peter Harrold. He posted nearly a point per game for Manchester (AHL) and was a plus player in 25 NHL games. With Visnovsky gone, the Kings need a quarterback and Harrold, 25, fits the bill.
Big pivot Brian Boyle is also ready to make the jump, but he will probably need to start out on a depth line due to the numbers game. Checking winger Lauri Tukonen is ready for fourth-line duty.
Last, but certainly not least, Drew Doughty, the second overall pick in last month’s entry draft will get a long look in camp, but may be better served with one more year in junior.
Fantasy Outlook - Last summer I stated in this column that the Kings have everything in place for a powerhouse team of the future and I gave them an “A-” rating. I said they would not make the playoffs, but if you didn’t scoop up their players right away, it would be difficult to do so in the future. Here we are a year later and the Kings did miss the playoffs (for which THN gave GM Dean Lombardi a rather poor rating in their annual GM review), but look at their potential roster a year from now:
Patrick O’Sullivan – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Alexander Frolov – Brian Boyle - Teddy Purcell
Kyle Calder – Michal Handzus – Lauri Tukonen
With Trevor Lewis, Oscar Moller and Wayne Simmonds on the way.
Jack Johnson – Drew Doughty
Thomas Hickey – Peter Harrold
Matt Greene – Colton Teubert
Jonathan Bernier is their goaltender of the future.
This does not reflect the fact they will be picking up free agents next summer, which they will certainly be able to afford. Los Angeles is well on its way to being a league power. They’ll contend for a playoff spot next year, but likely fall short. A year from now, however, they will sail into the post-season easily. They have youth, depth and skill at every position, which makes me wish I were a Kings fan. In a way, I guess I am now… A team to build your fantasy squad on, no question.
Fantasy Grade: A (last year was A-)