Some big moves in early July completely changed the face of your fantasy squad. In part three of a four part series, let’s take a further look at where some of these guys fit in with their new teams and, by extension, your fantasy league.
While Roman Hamrlik has shown flashes of offensive talent at various times in his career, he will by no means replace the howitzer that Sheldon Souray held. He is a 40-point player, give or take, and that won’t change in his new uniform. As such, you can expect more from the other guys. For example, Andrei Markov’s goal totals will increase, as he will not be as tempted to feed Hamrlik as he was to feed Souray when manning the power play. As well, Mark Streit emerged as an offensive presence towards the end of last season and has a genuine shot at 40 or even 45 points this season.
Bryan Smolinski is a great all-around addition to this team, but from a fantasy perspective you know exactly what you’re getting and it isn’t much. His usual 45-points will apply again this time around.
The addition of Tom Kostopolous gives them a depth winger with some streaky offensive potential and surprising penalty minutes. Only roto leagues that count PIM’s would find value in him as a reserve winger. His numbers won’t change from what they were in Los Angeles.
Lastly, the departure of David Aebischer clears the way for Jaroslav Halak to step in as the backup goaltender. While Carey Price was nothing short of impressive – even dominant at times – in the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs in the spring, he would be best served dominating the league for an entire season before making the jump. Besides, the Habs are in capable hands with Cristobal Huet and Halak.
One of my favorite topics this summer, as well as my controversial opinion about it, is the Nashville Predators and how they will remain in the top five in the Western Conference next season. Granted, the team lost Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen, Paul Kariya, Peter Forsberg and Tomas Vokoun, but this well-coached team is still looking good. And all for a budget that is still short of the NHL’s salary floor by around $1.5 million!
Between the pipes they have Chris Mason, who is every bit as good as Vokoun was, but with a cleaner bill of health. Backing him up will be a battle between Pekka Rinne, Dan Ellis and newcomer Dov Grumet-Morris, a former college grad and Philadelphia draft pick who put up stellar American League numbers last season. Considering Rinne’s contract is two-way this season (and one-way next year), he’s likely the odd man out.
On the blue line, the Preds have added the services of Greg De Vries. Between his veteran experience, as well as expanded roles for future superstar Shea Weber and youngster Ryan Suter, the Preds are still the envy of many NHL squads from the back end.
Up front, I have two words for you – Alexander Radulov. He’ll start off on the second line, but by the end of the season the team will be revolving their entire offense around him. He can eat up at least six minutes per game more than he had last season, which will offset some of the loss of Kariya. Forberg’s presence in the lineup last season took away ice time from David Legwand and Jason Arnott. That wasn’t necessary. Yes, I’m saying that Forsberg’s arrival hurt the team more than it helped. With him out of the lineup, it will be addition through subtraction. Legwand can continue to develop into that steady 70-point centerman, while Arnott has already established to poolies what he can do – and he will be allowed to do it.
As for replacing Hartnell – that’s where Steve Sullivan comes in. While still a question mark in terms of recovering from offseason back surgery, it is expected that he will be back in the lineup with his soreness behind him.
New Jersey Devils
Somewhat unexpectedly, the Devils lost both Brian Rafalski and Scott Gomez – Rafalski being the surprise. They replaced Rafalski with Karel Rachunek. That’s a pretty big drop-off in talent and pool