I’d like to thank Dobber and Angus for helping set this up, looking forward to doing my mailbag as a weekly feature for all of you with questions.
Lets get to it!
Nights asks: “Assuming the lockout ends in January, which players and prospects will have benefitted the most from the additional development time?”
The lockout presents an opportunity to many young players, whether they’re in the American Hockey League or Europe. For example, Oilers prospect Linus Omark is being given the opportunity to play with Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg and Swiss sensation Damien Brunner. Omark has made the most of that opportunity and is currently tied for the lead in the Swiss National League A in scoring with Brunner, putting up 28 points thus far.
Then you have the prospects that weren’t quite ready for the 2011-2012 season, given an opportunity to show their organization what they are made of. An example of that is Roman Horak, a young skilled player that didn’t quite have the legs to stick with Calgary for a full season. Everybody knew Justin Schultz was NHL ready, that’s why the prospect garnered so much attention before signing with the Oilers. A young defenseman with that kind of upside on the open market doesn’t come around very often.
Back to Horak – he is off to a fantastic start, with 10 goals and 11 points in just nine games with the Abbotsford Heat. He finished the 2011-2012 season with 61 NHL games played and just 11 points. After preparing himself for 2013, lockout or not, Horak is definitely making a good impression on the organization.
Angus asks: “My team in signature, any areas to improve upon? We count the standard categories and added hits last season. Obviously I rely on Sid a lot and am hoping for a Luongo trade.”
UFP - The Crosby Show (keep 17)
C - Crosby, Krejci, Zajac, Ott (LW)
LW - Sharp, Eriksson, Marchand, Booth
RW - Gaborik, Little (C), Purcell
D - Chara, Karlsson, Edler, Giordano, Hedman, McDonagh, B. Smith
G - Luongo, Schneider, Gustavsson
Prospects - Conacher, Barberio, Hagelin, Kassian, Bjugstad, Phillips, Faksa, Donovan
Strong team all around, you’ve got elite scorers, consistent players and very good goaltending. Something I would do is try and upgrade your right wing position, Marian Gaborik will be out for a while and if New York plays a guy like Rick Nash on the first line, he could see his numbers suffer a bit. While Nash is mostly a right-winger, I could see New York using him as a left-winger, to play with Gaborik and Brad Richards once the lockout subsides.
Your farm team could be improved as well, I see Bjugstad as your top prospect, with other players that have upside and nice potential. Hagelin should be a solid winger in the NHL, since he has great speed and a scoring touch. I think its safe to say he will be a top-six player forward with the Rangers. I like the Cory Conacher and Mark Barberio combination as well, should do well with Tampa Bay when they’re ready for NHL action. If you give Kassian time, he could be a stud, but there are tons of player with great upside and potential that never reach it.
With prospects like Zach Phillips and Radek Faksa, they should be top six forwards when they make it to the NHL. They don’t have huge upside, but 60-70 points should be possible if they pan out, possibly more if they work at their games. Matt Donovan is a player that the Islanders seem to like a lot, but he’s not exactly high on the depth chart right now. Mark Streit, Lubomir Visnovsky, Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic are all ahead of him at the moment.
Chico Resch asks: “If you were me, where or how should I look at improving Team Chico”?
12 Man H2H Keeper League
C - E.Malkin(rw)/R.Kesler/J.Schwartz
LW - B.Ryan/M.Duchene(c)/R.Nash(rw)/T.Fleischmann
RW - T.Selanne/C.Giroux(c)/L.Eriksson(lw)/J.Iginla/D.Alfredsson
D - M.Green/D.Byfuglien(rw)/R.Suter/A.Larsson/J.Carlson
G - J.Hiller/J.Halak/J.Howard
You have a good mix of current stars and future stars on that team, but there are a few areas that I would focus on in order to improve that team. Firstly, I would trade Rick Nash if you can get a more consistent player back, I don’t expect more than 60-70 points from Nash in NY. I would also consider trading veterans like Tomas Fleischmann, Jarome Iginla, Jonas Hiller, Jimmy Howard and Daniel Alfredsson.
In terms of core players, I would make sure Evgeni Malkin, Claude Giroux, Matt Duchene and Dustin Byfuglien stick around. I’d be open to trading players like Jaroslav Halak, Loui Eriksson and others for the right price. I think you could use some help on left wing, because Bobby Ryan most likely won’t be eligible there come next season. I see you have a ton of depth at centre, making look at trading a guy like Duchene for a stud left winger that you can depend on.
I really like your D as well; I think that’s the least of your problems. Hiller, Halak and Howard is pretty solid in net, but I think it could be better. This is the kind of team that should be able to pull of a deal where you send one of those goalies and a forward upgrade for a goalie you can really depend on and a forward downgrade.
Kluu asks: “Will the Sharks ever make it to the Stanley cup finals with their current core”? Thornton/Marleau/Boyle+
Sharks management, led by Doug Wilson, seems to believe this team is capable of making a run at the Cup every single year. Frankly, I just don’t see it.
The Sharks are a classic example of a team that will always make a move to improve their team immediately, rather than waiting on certain prospects to make an impact in the future. An example of this comes from the Brent Burns trade, in which they gave top prospect Charlie Coyle and speedy winger Devin Setoguchi to Minnesota in exchange for Brent Burns.
Coyle was just starting to make some noise, after being selected 28th overall in the 2010 NHL entry draft. I remember seeing him play in the World Juniors as a teenager and he really impressed me with his all around abilities. I was truly surprised they made that move, because Coyle could turn into a dominant two-way forward just like David Backes of the St. Louis Blues.
Goaltending is also a question mark for San Jose, you just don’t know what you’re going to get from Antti Niemi. Some games he looks unbeatable, other games pucks are getting by him that should be stopped by an NHL caliber goalie.
San Jose needs to re-tool and I’m surprised they haven’t done so just yet. I would build around Logan Couture and entertain offers for Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe and maybe even Patrick Marleau as well.
They’re a playoff team, but I don’t see them as a cup contender right now.
PrairieDog asks: “Zac Dalpe, is it time to cut bait on this guy? I was expecting a big step forward last year and got quite the opposite and he is struggling early this year in the AHL. I own him in three leagues and have been waiting on him for a while.”
Include me as one that believed in Dalpe, he reminded me of a young Ryan Kesler. He was given an opportunity to play with Carolina and he didn’t do much with it, putting up only three points in 16 games. Perhaps there was just too much hype around the kid, because when I look at his numbers in various leagues I don’t see much to be impressed with. Dalpe was selected in the second round of the 2008 NHL entry draft, 45th overall.
BCHL, Penticton Vees (2007-2008): 63 points in 46 games
Ohio State University (2008-2009): 25 points in 37 games
OSU (2009-2010): 45 points in 39 games
AHL, Charlotte Checkers (2010-2011): 57 points in 61 games
The numbers he has put up are good, but they’re not what you would expect to see from a top prospect. It is possible that Dalpe will develop slowly, so I’m not prepared to call him a bust just yet. I can understand that you’re worried but what’s the harm in just leaving him on your farm team? Let the kid develop – that’s something that Carolina probably realized after his brief stint in the NHL.
Dalpe is serious about trying to make the Hurricanes roster when the NHL is back, which is good to see.
"It's kind of unfortunate the way things are working out (with the lockout), but as far as hockey is concerned it probably is the biggest year of my career," he said. "It's take or break for me. You've got to take the good with the bad, I guess. I'll go down to the American League and I want to have a good year. And I want the team to have a good year, too, because I think we owe to ourselves and Charlotte to rebound from last year."
You always love to hear a young player speak his mind about how determined he is to make an impact, he does have seven points in ten games with Charlotte. Remember, this is no ordinary AHL; it’s at a much higher level with all of the young talent there due to the lockout.
Axeman33 asks: “Will the Oilers make the playoffs this year? Do they make a big trade to improve their back end and if they do, who do you see on the move or do they stay the course building through the draft, waiting for their prospects to blossom”?
While it would be nice to see, I don’t think the Oilers are good enough just yet. Another year of letting all of that young talent grow will do wonders for the Oilers and I do expect them to be much more competitive next year. That will be the time where they have established which players they want to build around and roster tweaks will be made.
Something that will hold them back is the cap hit on Nikolai Khabibulin’s contract at $3.750 million, but that comes off the books in 2013-2014. Ryan Whitney’s ability to stay healthy just hasn’t been there, either. Expect the Oilers to pair him up with young offensive phenom Justin Schultz, or even the steady veteran Nick Schultz.
I really like the way Devan Dubnyk finished the 2011-2012 season and he was rewarded with a two-year, $7 million contract extension. Here’s a look at his game log towards the end of the season.
April 7th @ Vancouver: 42 shots allowed, 39 saves, .929 SV%
Apr 5th vs. Anaheim: 17 shots allowed, 14 saves, .824 SV%
Apr 2nd @ Los Angeles: 37 shots allowed, 35 saves, .946 SV%
Apr 1st @ ANA: 33 shots allowed, 32 saves, .970 SV%
March 28th vs. Dallas: 25 shots allowed, 22 saves, .880 SV%
March 25th @ Columbus: 32 shots allowed, 29 saves, .906 SV%
If you look at his game log, Dubnyk was terrific from March 6th to April 7th as the Oilers starting netminder. His highest GAA during that period was 3.07 (Mar 28 @DAL). Is he ready? We will hopefully find out soon.