Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Dallas Stars
For the last 12 years over at The Hockey News, I have reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them. Now that I am no longer with THN, my 13th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – I'm seeing several things here. The obvious one is the upgrade in net. I'm not high on Niemi, but I'm even more sour on Kari Lehtonen. Combined, they'll push each other though. With $10.4 million invested in goaltending, the problem had better be solved!
Second, I'm seeing a possible size upgrade on the blue line. Daley (5-11) is out. And three young blueliners with the best shot at making the team are Stephen Johns (6-3, 229), Jamie Oleksiak (6-7, 250) and Patrick Nemeth (6-3, 230). As things stand right now, I have all three on the team for this season and beating out the measly 6-2 Mattias Backman.
And finally, I see an upgrade to the possession game. We can all agree that Sharp can hang onto the puck and push the play a lot better than Garbutt/Horcoff combined. Bottom line – I think there will be a lot more wins this year.
Ready for full-time – None of Nemeth, Johns or Oleksiak have a lot of fantasy upside. That being said, Johns may have a little in leagues with multiple categories, as he is a potential 35-point/90 PIM player – just not for this year.
If Brett Ritchie doesn't make the team out of training camp, he'll probably be up with the club for good by Christmas. A great complimentary goal scorer from off the wing he could sub in on any of the top three lines if a winger gets hurt. Expect 25 to 35 points this year, depending on games played.
I mentioned Mattias Backman earlier. He and centerman Mattias Janmark were brought in from the Red Wings in the Erik Cole deal. Both prospects are 22 and both are signed (and both are named Mattias). They are close to NHL ready, but could each do with a year in the AHL and I think that's what you'll see.
Defenseman Julius Honka had an excellent season in the AHL despite being on 18 and 19. But he's not there yet.
Fantasy Outlook – Dallas has an excellent forward group on the pro team, with an average group of prospects in the pipeline. On defense, in terms of offense, they are average throughout the system. Ditto for goaltending. Since most of fantasy hockey is in the here and now, overall I would say this is a good group of players to build a fantasy team around. Those forwards on the NHL roster are truly enticing in fantasy circles.
Fantasy Grade: B+ (last year was A-)