Mats Sundin

 

Part three in a seven-part review takes a look at the teams that failed to reach the postseason and what kind of impact each of them will have on your keeper-league squad. This week, we take a look at Philadelphia and Toronto.
 

Philadelphia Flyers
Possibly on the way out…
Mike York can’t be gone soon enough for this team. After a miserable campaign in which he tallied just eight points in 34 contests (and he was minus-18 on the year), York will look for work elsewhere. Todd Fedoruk (he of the metal skull) will also likely move on if he is not forced to retire. Robert Esche will also look for work elsewhere, as well as a lot of bit players – all unrestricted free agents. This will be a new team next season.

The team will be looking to add…
The Flyers have plenty of money freed up under the cap – perhaps more than any team in the league. Besides Steve Downie and defenseman Ryan Parent likely making the squad in the fall, the team will be looking to add an elite forward. The rumor that just won’t die is that they will make a pitch for Buffalo star Daniel Briere, who is close friends with Philly netminder Martin Biron. If not Briere, then Gomez is a second target. They will bring in an elite centerman to pass the puck to Simon Gagne and allow Jeff Carter to continue to apprentice on the second line.

General fantasy outlook…
This team will get better in a hurry and could battle for a playoff spot next March. With Biron between the pipes, the team finally has that elite goaltender that they have been looking for. They will be a much better team offensively with the piece that they will be adding. The only thing slowing them down is the fact that the kids (Carter, Mike Richards, R.J. Umberger, Downie, Parent and Claude Giroux) will all need some time to develop and gain experience. Otherwise, the Flyers are well on their way. Their long-term outlook is unbelievably good and their short-term outlook is much improved – both from a fantasy, as well as a realistic perspective.


Toronto Maple Leafs
Possibly on the way out…
Michael Peca, Jeff O’Neil, Yanic Perreault and possibly J-S Aubin are on their way out as unrestricted free agents. Nik Antropov and Bates Battaglia are also UFA’s, but the Leafs are trying to re-sign the former and I just can’t see them not signing the latter as well, given Battaglia’s history with coach Paul Maurice.

The team will be looking to add…
As usual, Toronto will be looking to add another veteran piece that will help them finish eighth or ninth (their two favorite positions to finish in the Conference). This time, the names flying around include Ryan Smyth and Todd Bertuzzi – who, if he keeps playing like he is in the postseason, should be easy to sign cheap. While it would be nice to give Mats Sundin that winger that he has been sorely lacking, Toronto won’t be winning any divisions (or Cups) unless they can undo that hideous Pavel Kubina signing of a year ago plus admit to themselves that Andrew Raycroft is better suited as a backup goaltender. One player that will not be joining the team this year is prospect Nikolai Kulemin, the Russian kid who played oh-so-well with Evgeni Malkin just over a year ago and continued his strong play when the latter left for the NHL. Kulemin still has a year left in his RSL contract, although he may come to camp to give the Leafs a look. The other top prospect, Jiri Tlusty, is likely still two years away. All indications are that Jeremy Williams is NHL-ready and should crack the lineup. The team will also be looking to sign a backup goalie – perhaps re-signing Aubin.

General fantasy outlook…
In a word: bleak. Sundin will get his usual 75 points and the winger that they sign for him will help. As well, Kyle Wellwood is now healthy and should garner 65 or even 70 points. However, if you were to build your keeper-league team around Toronto, you will have a rough go of things for the next several years. Things should improve as Tlusty, Kulemin, goaltender Justin Pogge and next month’s 13th overall draft pick all work their way into the lineup, and the albatross contracts of Kubina and Bryan McCabe slowly expire…but for the immediate future? Bleak.

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