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For the past couple of seasons, I’ve written a few columns breaking down each of the Western Conference team’s top-six from the bottom-six. So for the next couple of weeks, I’ll go back to the well once again and give you better insight of each of the Western Conference teams for the upcoming season.

 

At the end of the day, point production can easily be attributed to one thing; opportunity. A top-line player, who is the focal point of his team’s offense, will generally receive every possible chance to succeed and put up big points. A top-six player will receive decent even strength/second unit power-play ice-time, but may not put up dazzling fantasy numbers. A cavalry candidate is a player who may find themselves in line for a top-six role if things fail to remain status quo (injury or poor inconsistent play, etc.) Finally, a bottom feeder will most likely receive checking line time and probably won’t receive ample optimal scoring time to put up fantasy roster worthy numbers. Their big break will only come if there are injuries or sudden collapses of young players from their team’s top-six. We all like to be optimistic with our projections, but there really isn’t a point in projection 80 points for a player who won’t even crack a team’s top-line let alone top-six.

 

If you haven’t read my projections article from earlier this summer, go back and take a gander. I know I had an eye-opening experience when digging up all the stats. Note: Take the line combos with a grain of salt. They are just arbitrary and are used primarily to separate a team’s top-six from the bottom-six. I really don’t want to get into arguments about player X had chemistry with player Y therefore they’ll be on a line together during the season.

 

Now onto the good stuff:

 

Anaheim – Top five fairly locked, sixth role up for grabs

Top Six
Bobby Ryan – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Jason Blake – Saku Koivu – Matt Beleskey

Cavalry

Andrew Cogliano, Teemu Selanne*, Brandon McMillan, and Emerson Etem

Bottom Feeders
Brian McGrattan, Kyle Palmieri, J.F. Jacques, and George Parros,

 

Much of Anaheim’s future top-six will depend on the status of Teemu Selanne. If he decides to return for one more go, the Ducks top-six could boast a very similar roster as last campaign. The latest news on the Selanne front is that he just had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in late June, which will probably delay his decision until training camp in August just to further keep us fantasy poolies waiting. Most of the battle for a top-six spot will be between Beleskey and McMillan, but both are probably waiver wire pickups during the season anyway. With 80 points in 65 games (and more importantly 21 in 15 during the WHL playoffs), with the Medicine Hat Tigers last season, Etem could be a serious dark horse candidate to challenge for a top-six spot during training camp, so keep an eye on that situation.

 

With 146 points in 328 contests, we're still waiting for Cogliano to breakout in the NHL. He didn't get a lot of opportunity in Edmonton and he probably won't get a lot in Anaheim, either. Look for another third line gig for him this season.

 

Last year’s pre-season top-six:

Ryan, Getzlaf, Perry, Blake, Koivu, and Lupul.

 

End of year finish:

Perry

98

Selanne

80

Getzlaf

76

Ryan

71

Koivu

45

Blake

32

 

 

Calgary – Murky top-six, stiff competition from bottom-six

Top Six

Alex Tanguay – Matt Stajan – Jarome Iginla

Rene Bourque – Olli Jokinen - Curtis Glencross

Cavalry

Daymond Langkow, Nik Hagman* and David Moss

Bottom Feeders
Raitis Ivanans, Mikael Backlund, Tom Kostopoulos and Tim Jackman

 

Entering this season, the Flames’ roster is pretty much identical to the line up from last season. Iginla and Tanguay should be the “go to” guys in Calgary, so the major competition will be between the players that end up centering the pair. With Stajan, Jokinen and Langkow all in the mix, I wouldn’t be surprised to see each player get a turn at the roulette table. Look for a pretty even spread out production from the trio. Without Langkow in the mix, Backlund averaged just 12:04 overall and 0:36 per contest for the Flames, add Langkow back into the mix and it could be another tough season for Backlund owners to swallow. With a sub-par 2010-11 season from Hagman (27 points in 71 contests), there’s been a few grumblings about the Flames’ management wanting to bury Hagman’s contract in the minors so beware if you are a Hagman owner.

 

Last year’s pre-season top-six:

Tanguay, Stajan, Iginla, Bourque, Jokinen, and Hagman.

 

End of year finish:

Iginla

86

Tanguay

69

Jokinen

54

Bourque

50

Glencross

43

Morrison

43

 

 

Chicago- Fairly set top-six, slight competition from bottom-six

 

Top Six
Patrick Sharp – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane

Andrew Brunette – Dave Bolland - Marian Hossa

Cavalry

Viktor Stalberg, Jeremy Morin* and Rotislav Olesz

Bottom Feeders
Dan Carcillo, Bryan Bickell, Jamal Mayers, Ben Smith, and Marcus Kruger

 

After another summer of off-season culling, the Blackhawks lost a lot of its offensive glimmer since their Stanley Cup win two campaigns ago. The top-six is chock full of veteran talent with the incoming of the fairly consistent Brunette to the line up. He’s a great addition that won’t take away prime scoring opportunities from Toews and Kane, but should complement Hossa well on the second line. He’s posted seasons of 59, 50, 61, 46, so a yo-yo back to 60 points wouldn’t completely surprise me to the least. Stalberg and Olesz are great complementary players and could see their fantasy value rise if an injury to the top-six occurs. A dark horse candidate to keep your eye on might be Morin. He picked up three points in nine contests during his brief tenure in the NHL last campaign, but his fantasy upside is certainly much higher.

 

Last year’s pre-season top-six:

Sharp, Toews, Kane, Versteeg, Bolland and Hossa.

 

End of year finish:

Toews

76

Kane

73

Sharp

71

Hossa

57

Kopecky

42

Bickell

37

 

 

Next week: the Avs, Blue Jackets, and Stars.

 

Questions or comments? As always I’ll be ready and willing to discuss them in the comments section below.

 

 


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Comments (14)add comment

Colts said:

Colts
... I have it on pretty good authority that Chicago's top three lines should settle out like this:

Brunette, Toews, Kane
Frolik, Sharp, Hossa
Stalberg, Bolland, Olesz

Pretty scary top three lines, especially considering that they can throw on the likes of Carcillo, Bickell, and Mayers as a 4th line or as subs on the 3rd should Stalberg or Olesz falter.

In Frolik and Olesz, the Hawks got some promising talent that did not pan out in FLA due to a bad situation, but both of these guys could flourish in Chi-town.


July 19, 2011
Votes: +0

Ryan Ma said:

Maaaasquito
... RE: Flames age

The problem is that you can always bend stats to make it say what you want... the thing that you have to consider is that the guys you mentioned (Bouma, Nemisz, Brodie) have all played 16, 6, and 3 games respectively. You average them out with Jokinen, Iggy, Tanguay and of course you have an average age of 28... But who's going to be the bulk of the offence, it's the old guys, and Bouma, Nemisz, Brodie are just roster fillers on the 4th line and unable to develop properly...

What a lot of people are saying is that they don't develop their youngsters properly because they never give them a chance. They're more willing to sign "over the hill" veterans like Jokinen, Tanguay than to give their young kids like Backlund, Nemisz, or Howse a more offensive scoring role to develop into proper scoring threats.

What I'm saying is that you can only utilize vets to keep your team afloat for so long before you have to completely rebuild like the Oilers have. Giving just 10-12 minutes a game to your top prospects won't move them any further on the development curve.
July 14, 2011
Votes: +0

Ryan Ma said:

Maaaasquito
... RE: Etem

I agree with you Pierre that he could be a serious dark horse candidate, the problem is it completely hinges on Selanne retiring and him being able to beat out Beleskey and McMillian... Both kinda have a leg up on Etem at the moment. Both Beleskey and McMillian have seen some time on a line with Perry and Getzlaf and generally history wins out over potential.
July 14, 2011
Votes: +0

dsteen said:

dsteen
Flames age The whole "Flames don't give their young guys a chance" is a bit of a fallacy. There is an excellent post on the top Flames message board which looks at this. The poster reviewed who was on their way out from last season: Conroy (39)Staios (37)Modin (36)Morrison (35)Kotalik (32)Regehr (30)Pardy (26)
Who were retained and added: long list.
And who potentially could be on the roster: D - Wilson (2smilies/cool.gif F - Byron (22) F - Bouma (21) F - Nemisz (21) D - Brodie (21)

In the posters words: "Average of the added, retained and potential players is 28.23. That would have had us 13th youngest last year." ...[breaks down potential position battles before concluding] ... "Seems very likely the Flames will be middle of the pack in the NHL teams in terms of AVG age. I think we can call BS on the, "Flames are one of the oldest teams in the league" statement if people are still using it. "

July 13, 2011
Votes: +0

pierre said:

qdenfer666
... emerson could suprise as witn selanne departure ANA could decide too take a younger turn for the best dont you think,i dont see any top six right wing talent elsewere on their roster
July 13, 2011
Votes: +0

Ryan Ma said:

Maaaasquito
... RE: Backlund

Yeah I dunno it just seems that the Flames are extremely hesitant to go the youth route. They're happy to fill the roster with vets to try to get into a playoff position and win. With Langkow, Stajan, and Jokinen in the mix it'd be hard pressed for Backlund to get any significant time IMO.
July 13, 2011
Votes: +0

Ryan Ma said:

Maaaasquito
... RE: Frolik

Yeah I kinda just went with capgeek.com and if the player is still unsigned I kinda just went with their current roster at the moment. It's kinda hard to speculate who will be signed and who won't.

I think for next week I might add a RFA/UFA column just so it's mentioned somewhere.
July 13, 2011
Votes: +0

lcbtd said:

germant
... Awesome read! Looking forward to the rest . . .
July 13, 2011
Votes: +0

Michal Sk said:

StevenY
... Ryan and Russ - i like this series very much and it was very helpful last year while i was making my own projections (which helped me to draft better then ever). I am looking forward to next part already. Thank you very much smilies/wink.gif
July 13, 2011
Votes: +0

horrorfan said:

horrorfan
Backlund I wonder if/when the Flames will give Backlund a chance to centre the top line? I know he's still young and perhaps there are issues that I'm not aware of, but Stajan doesn't appear to be the answer and Jokinen doesn't have great chemistry with Iginla. Langkow could be the wildcard.
July 13, 2011
Votes: +0

Dobber said:

Dobber
... The fantasy guide, I have a line that exploded in the playoffs:

Bickell-Bolland-Frolik

I put Sharp between Hossa and Stalberg/Olesz
July 12, 2011
Votes: -1

KK said:

Kudelskis Krushers
re: Frolik Shoeless, I immediately thought the same thing. I thought that the lines would look like:

Brunette - Toews - Kane
Sharp - Bolland - Hossa
Frolik - Kruger - Stalberg
Carcillo - Smith - Bickell/Olesz

Despite owning him, I don't see Morin on the team until/unless he tears up the A (so a mid-season addition at best). Then again, you never know what direction the Hawks go once Bolland gets hurt...
July 12, 2011
Votes: +0

Martin Bouchard said:

Nhlsim Jackets
Frolik Probably because he isn't signed yet...
July 12, 2011
Votes: +1

Shoeless said:

Shoeless
Did I miss a Frolik trade? No mention of Frolik in Chicago has me wondering if I missed a trade somewhere along the line?
July 12, 2011
Votes: +0
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