The Flames re-signed Brendan Morrison for one year. He's rehabbing a torn ACL, and won't be back until the season is underway. He was pretty decent last season during a few stints with Iginla and Tanguay on the top unit.
The guide is out in just over two weeks… some stuff from previous years:
Bryan Bickell – Chicago
Bickell earned a cup of coffee on the top line with Kane and Toews during the playoffs this past spring, but he was obviously more than a bit above his head. He has great size and skates pretty well, but is far from a top line NHL forward. He will only have fantasy value if Chicago experiences a few injuries or needs an injection of size into the top six. He'll be on the team this fall, but probably in more of a defensive or grinding type of role.
Angus Prime Cut: Christian Ehrhoff Grade: Porterhouse
Ehrhoff played 3:00 per game on the power play for the Canucks last season, and 2:06 per game on the penalty kill. With the signing of Hamhuis and the trade for Ballard, he will see less minutes shorthanded, which will free up more of an opportunity to produce. Ehrhoff typically plays in even strength situations with the Sedin twins, and his dynamic skating ability opens up a lot of ice in the neutral zone. Look for him to improve off of last season's career numbers and approach the 50 point mark.
Finished with exactly 50 points.
Steve Downie – LW, Tampa Bay – Downie and Stamkos displayed some chemistry together last season when they skated on a line together (St. Louis was the other winger). That line has the potential to do some real damage, and it also allows the Lightning to spread out their offensive attack. Downie is a very underrated playmaker: he sees the ice very well, and has displayed a ton of puck poise throughout his career. Unfortunately his disciplinary problems often overshadow his offensive skills.
The lowdown on: Carey Price – The Hockey News doesn't frivolously name players the NHL's "Top Prospect". If a player is given that honor, he pretty much becomes an NHL star. Price is 22 years old and already has 47 career NHL wins. He also has a gold medal and Calder Cup (AHL). Not only is the guy a born winner, but the franchise will throw him out there no matter how much he struggles. As a fifth overall pick (2005), the Habs won't let him make them look bad. He got off to a hot start last campaign before he was derailed by a high ankle sprain from which he never really recovered. Now healthy, Price will play behind a defensive system thanks to the arrival of coach Jacques Martin. This screams "superstar". A strong start by Price could force the team to trade Halak.
The lowdown on: David Backes – Is he for real? Maltais argues that he is not in his column above, but I disagree. As a power forward, I figured it would take him six or seven years after he was drafted to show even a hint of what he can do. As he entered the NHL, I thought for sure he would be a 50-point, 150-PIM player with potential for 70 and 200. Even in last year's guide I said: "Backes has really emerged as a feisty power forward. Now that he's getting the big bucks, the potential for 50 points and 180 penalty minutes is there for this very season." He had 54 and 165. So if he did what I figured he could do, is that considered a fluke? Not in my books. Considering he had 46 points in his final 61 games (62-point pace) I think he'll be one of the few players who reach the upside I set for them – perhaps this very campaign.
The HockeyPoolGeek crew did an awesome audit of my H2H keeper last summer (check it out here). They will be back with a few more extensive audits in August. Check the site out, there are some tools that make fantasy hockey pretty easy (especially if you are a stats guy and like to tinker with numbers and different lineup combinations).
A dated, but stil