As keeper league hockey pools increase in number each year, fantasy junkies become more active in the off-season as they prepare their team for the coming year. Rebuild? Retool? Tweak? Whatever your intentions, it helps to get all the information you can about your players.
Throughout the off-season, FPL will look at a pair of teams each week and give you the fantasy lowdown. Bucking the trend of past years, we will review alphabetically – in reverse. Just to be different.
(Article originally posted by The Hockey News, ESPN.com and MSN.ca)
Gone – Ladislav Nagy, Eric Lindros, Darryl Sydor, Patrik Stefan and Matthew Barnaby.
Arriving – Brad Winchester, Toby Peterson and Todd Fedoruk.
Looking to Add - Although they should have approximately $4 million in cap room after they re-sign restricted free agent Jussi Jokinen, the Stars will likely stand pat for now and keep their space for moves later in the season. Scoring is desperately needed, though.
Ready for full-time - Left wing Joel Lundqvist is ready for a full-time role, as is winger Loui Eriksson. Both players saw more than a few games with the big club, but this time around they will see 80 games with second or third-line ice time.
Lundqvist showed some chemistry with Mike Modano on the top line, while Eriksson clicked with second-line pivot Mike Ribeiro. Lundqvist is more of a two-way forward who will won’t see huge numbers this year, whereas Eriksson, an offensive stud, has the potential for 55 points in his first full campaign.
Down the road, Lundqvist has 65-point upside, while Eriksson could go as high as 75 or even 80. Assuming, of course, that Dallas changes their coach and coaching style. More on that…
Fantasy Outlook - Dallas is now known in hockey pool circles as the ‘Siberia of fantasy hockey.’ It’s where offensive players go to die. Last season not one player reached 60 points on this team. They won games with their defense, which makes few Stars desirable, beyond Marty Turco.
In the season ahead, the emergence of Eriksson, a rebound from Jussi Jokinen and the health of Brenden Morrow should see several players reach 65 points…but they still won’t hit 70. There are no blue-chippers in the pipeline, but there are several with potential.
Fantasy Grade: D+ (last year was C-)
Columbus Blue Jackets
Gone – Anders Eriksson, Aaron Johnson, Alexander Svitov.
Arriving – Michael Peca, Jan Hejda and Jiri Novotny.
Looking to Add - The Jackets need a legitimate No.1 center. Their previous need of a third-line center was recently filled with the signing of Michael Peca, who steps in to replace the Russia-bound Alexander Svitov. Look for Peca to log a pile of minutes with his new team.
Ready for full-time - Blueliner Kris Russell has the strongest chance to win a spot. The team is also in desperate need of a power play quarterback and, although young, Russell certainly fits the bill. If he were to make the team, a 40-point season would not be out of his reach.
Right wing Joakim Lindstrom is also on the cusp of making the team, but may simply be a victim of the numbers game again. Columbus’ first-round pick in 2007, Jakub Voracek, could also make the squad, but is a long shot.
Fantasy Outlook - The games will be tighter and the Jackets will win more of them. Also, Rick Nash will rebound, which is critical for this offense.
If Nikolai Zherdev can get going with even a 55-point effort, things will look a little brighter.
All in all, however, Columbus is still a very weak team to be building your fantasy squad around. There are several solid prospects in the system, so there is some hope for 2009-10.
Fantasy Grade: C (last year was C+)