Four years ago (over at The Hockey News, since DobberHockey wasn’t born until November of 2005) I strongly urged my readers in keeper leagues to start acquiring some of the young Penguins. I warned that trying to get one in 2008 would be next to impossible.
Sure enough, it has come to pass. Besides the main players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, other players saw their value skyrocket simply because of the logo on their chest. Jordan Staal had 70-point potential, but because he landed in Pittsburgh you can add 10 points to that. Petr Sykora was a depth player at best by the time his tenures ended in Anaheim and Edmonton. He signs with the Penguins and poolies tripped over themselves getting to the phone to call the Sykora owner of their league, trying to acquire him. Miroslav Satan was practically a dropsy last summer, but was a hot commodity when owners saw who he signed with. Ryan Whitney had 55-point potential, which is pretty good for a rearguard. However, in Pittsburgh he was considered by many (including yours truly) to be the best defenseman to own because in that lineup you could conceivably add 20 points.
Well folks – the best is yet to come.
You see, Crosby and Malkin are still several years away from their prime. They are getting older, stronger, bigger and more experienced. With that comes more production. You are already seeing it right now in the postseason, with those two producing at upwards of 1.75 points-per-game.
Besides those two improving, there is help on the way. The Pens have done a marvelous job with stopgaps. That is – cheap free agents with skill who can play with the Dynamic Duo. But the likes of Satan, Sykora, Ruslan Fedotenko, Bill Guerin, Janne Pesonen and Chris Kunitz are second-tier. The other way to supplement Sid and Gino is via the farm system.
The above six players are, as I said, “stopgaps”. Maybe not so much Kunitz, who is actually under contract for another three years, but the other five are. If you haven’t noticed, the team has drafted some solid, skilled forwards and these kids are getting closer. When they arrive, the team will have them for cheap for three years. I’ll say this much – their upsides are a lot higher than an aging Miro Satan or an inconsistent Ruslan Fedotenko.
The research is mostly complete for DobberHockey’s third annual Fantasy Prospects Report and you are about to get a sneak preview. (Note: these are paraphrased from the Prospects Report. The Report also includes projected upsides, percentage odds of making it to the NHL and odds of hitting that upside). Here is what is on the way in Pittsburgh.
Luca Caputi – Besides scoring in his first NHL shift, he scored once every 3.5 games as an AHL rookie. This on the heels of 51 goals and 111 points in the OHL. It’s clear he won’t be on a checking line, so where does that leave him? He won’t make the team in the fall, but will be a midseason call-up. His impact will be felt in 2010-11.
Eric Tangradi – A big power forward (6-4, 221) with loads of talent. He has the size and physicality to clear the way for any superstar centermen who he happens to be playing with, yet he has the hands and feet to keep up. Oh, and he’ll pick up a lot of points on the way. He is as close as Caputi is, but his size may see him sneak onto the team this fall if there is room.
Keven Veillieux – Another huge, talented winger (6-5, 214). He had 48 points in 29 games for Rimouski in the QMJHL. He’s about two years away.
Casey Pierro-Zabotel – He’s pretty sizable himself at 6-2, 210 pounds and he projects as a second-liner, Alex Tanguay type of complementary player. He’s coming off a 115-point season for the Giants of the WHL. He is also about two years away.
Alex Goligoski - Bottom line, he is the top candidate to be another Mike Green among all prospects.
So in 2010-11, you could see the following combinations:
Caputi – Crosby – Tangradi
Pierro-Zabotel – Malkin – Veillieux
Trust me when I say that beats the likes of Pascal Dupuis.
I like to compare this team to the Oilers of the 80s (and I’m not the only one). The combined skill of Crosby and Malkin is comparable to Gretzky and Messier. Marc-Andre Fleury reminds me of Grant Fuhr – he’s scary (tell me you weren’t more confident in Simeon Varlamov than Fleury in Round 2) but stops just enough to win. Now, however, you can see that the new versions of “Glenn Anderson”, “Jari Kurri” and “Paul Coffey” are on the way. Until this point, you’ve only seen modern-day versions of “Brett Callighen”, “Matti Hagman” and “Risto Siltanen”.
No article next week as I put the finishing touches on Fantasy Prospects Report.