Going stride for stride with my Western Conference counterpart, I am providing an Eastern Conference version of Ryan Ma's Earmarked for Success. As Ryan has cautioned, please do not fret over the line combinations. We are merely separating the top-six players from the bottom-six on each team, which can be applied to potential fantasy success for the upcoming season. Top-six players obviously get the lion's share of ice time, both at even strength and on the power play.
I decided not to use the same terminology Ryan uses, so here's a quick breakdown of mine if you couldn't figure it out. Keep in mind that this terminology should be applied for fantasy hockey purposes in the coming season only.
- Golden Boys – Each team's top six. The top-six role is theirs to lose.
- Challengers – These guys want to crack their way into the top six and depending on the situation, they just may.
- Checkers – these players are essentially fourth line players. Some may have very bright futures, but the path of the current team doesn't seem to have top-nine minutes in store for them.
I'll look at three or four teams each week, going in alphabetical order. Here's Part II:
Florida – up for grabs
David Booth – Stephen Weiss – Kris Versteeg
Tomas Fleischmann – Mike Santorelli – Scottie Upshall
Sean Bergenheim, Shawn Matthias*, and Tomas Kopecky
Marcel Goc, Matt Bradley, Ryan Carter, Evgeni Dadonov, Michal Repik, and Jack Skille
Florida is one of the toughest teams to predict. This offseason, former Blackhawks GM Dave Tallon has almost completely overhauled his entire offense. David Booth and Stephen Weiss are certainly locks for top-six minutes, but the rest of the team is a complete coin flip. Versteeg and Upshall will likely see top minutes on the RW side. Santorelli is highly praised in the Panther organization and his strong performance last season should give him the edge for second-line center duties. Fleischmann is capable of playing center, but he was much more effective on left wing last year. He scored 21 points in 22 games in Colorado while playing wing versus 10 points in 23 games in Washington where he played center. These six are most likely to start the season in the top rotations.
Bergenheim's strong postseason should be an indicator that he is hungry for a top role. Kopecky will also push hard for a top-six spot and if he is able to knock off one of Versteeg or Upshall, my money is on Upshall being the one to slide. Shawn Matthias is still an RFA, and assuming he signs, he will have to prove he deserves a top-six role before it is handed to him.
Bradley and Carter are both role players who should slot in on the fourth line and Goc is having a hard time proving he still has top-nine minutes in him. Evgeni Dadonov had a great stretch last season with 17 points