September 5, 2013

Mike Schmidt

2013-09-05

 

 

Now is the time to purchase the 2013-14 Fantasy Guide. The fantasy articles are as great as always, but I've really immersed myself in the team-by-team projections. There is a ton of valuable information available there that you just won't get anywhere else.

 

New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer echoed previous statements made by GM Lou Lamoriello in saying that Martin Brodeur is the squad's No. 1 goalie heading into the regular season. However, he also referred to newly-acquired netminder Cory Schneider is a "fantastic 1A" and mentioned that position battles like this one "sort themselves out." I still expect Schneider to be the better option for fantasy, but statements like DeBoer's further confirm my desire to avoid both goalies in fantasy drafts this fall.

 

While we're on the topic of goalies… It seems longtime Calgary Flames workhorse Miikka Kiprusoff has yet to officially retire. I think this is much ado about nothing. The Flames have embraced a youth movement, and the soon-to-be 37-year-old Kiprusoff doesn't fit into the organization's long-term plans. Don't even give Kipper another thought. After all, Dobber doesn't even have him ranked among his top 50 goalies.

 

Two fantasy-relevant players still dealing with injuries as fantasy drafts approach are Montreal 's Brian Gionta and Carolina's Joni Pitkanen. Gionta is still dealing rehabbing from surgery on a torn biceps tendon. The lingering ailment could cause him to miss the start of the regular season, but it isn't expected to keep him out of the lineup for long. Then there's Pitkanen. I always targeted him as a well-rounded and cost-effective defenseman to round out my fantasy blueline, but Pitkanen's missed 78 games over the course of the past two seasons and has never been the most durable of players. Now he's struggling to deal with a lingering heel injury sustained last April, one which caused to him to have surgery. There is no timetable for his recovery, so Pitkanen is someone to avoid in drafts. However, this news does bode well for Ryan Murphy's fantasy value. The top prospect and Calder Trophy candidate could be in line for significant time on the power play in Pitkanen's absence.

 

 

The Chicago Blackhawks have retained yet another member of their Stanley Cup champion squad of 2013. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson gets a five-year, $20.5 million deal, one which will keep him under contract through the 2018-19 season.

 

I've been thinking quite a bit about how I plan to approach my drafts in the coming weeks. My strategy almost always involves taking the best player available in the first four or five rounds (with an emphasis on forwards with multi-position eligibility) before starting to target certain positions to fill out my starting lineup. My approach toward selecting bench players in the late rounds is to select high-upside young players and proven players coming off injury-riddled campaigns. That being said, I'm always one to reevaluate my draft strategy from year to year. Does anyone have a particular approach that works well for them? I know Amato does.

 

Sometimes I think I imagined that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored four goals this past season. Let me put that stat into context: Matt Stajan and Chuck Kobasew each scored five goals during the 2013 campaign. To make matters worse, a lingering shoulder injury makes him a difficult player to project in the short term. While there's no doubting his status as a budding franchise center and dominant power-play weapon, I'm a little concerned about how Nugent Hopkins's surgically-repaired shoulder will affect what he's able to offer his fantasy owners during the season's first several weeks. It's a good sign that the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft