Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Pittsburgh
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.
Gone – Nick Spaling, Scott Harrington, Thomas Greiss, Taylor Chorney, Blake Comeau, Steve Downie, Paul Martin, Jayson Megna, Andrew Ebbett, Craig Adams, Maxim Lapierre, Christian Ehrhoff, Brandon Sutter, Daniel Winnik
Impact of changes – The holes left on defense are easily filled from within. With Olli Maatta and Kris Letang back from injury, and Brian Dumoulin and Derrick Pouliot ready to make the jump, the team will be fine on the blue line. And they also have Erixon as a depth option – and maybe Clendening will be ready by midseason. With the firepower on the Penguins, it's certainly better suited to Clendening's skill set.
Obviously the addition of Kessel has massive repercussions. His skills are such that he'll inflate the production of whoever he plays with, be it Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Which means the other winger's numbers get inflated. And that's where things get interesting. Because David Perron, Chris Kunitz or even Plotnikov could be beneficiaries here. Whereas one or two of those three players will seriously lose out.
Ready for full-time – Plotnikov is a second-line power forward in the KHL. However, he'll get a chance to play with Team Russia teammate Malkin at least to start. And that would potentially boost a 35-point player and make him a 55-point player. However, we know how these Euro free agent experiments go – for every success there are about 10 failures. A risk, but a worthwhile one if it's in the final round of your draft.
Brian Dumoulin is a two-way defenseman who is ready to make the jump. He was part of the Jordan Staal trade. Although he's had middling success at other levels offensively, he's probably going to be one of those 25- to 35-point rocks on defense.
Derrick Pouliot could be the most offensively gifted prospect defenseman in the world. And on this team, that could be lethal. For now, it would be nice just to see him play 75 to 80 games and get 30 points. After that we can worry about his elite upside and where he goes from there.
Bobby Farnham is a PIM machine. He's probably not going to make the team out of camp (unless the Penguins sign no other free agents, then he has a good shot), but when he does get the call he will be good for two PIM per game.
Oscar Sundqvist is currently Pittsburgh's next-best option at center if Cullen doesn't work out. He's a two-way pivot with size in the mold of a bigger Marcus Kruger. In most leagues, he's not draftable. But he's close to a roster spot and we could see him by January.
Clendening is an offensive defenseman who seemed to over-achieve every time he moved to a new league…until last season. Last year was forgettable in that he got his chance with Vancouver and blew it. A spot was his to lose and he lost it. He can only pray for half that opportunity in Pittsburgh.
Fantasy Outlook – As always, this team will get an A. As the only team in the league with the potential to have two 110-point players, that's just a given because the skaters around them also get production boosts. Phil Kessel and a healthy Kris Letang makes the potential numbers of about 10 Pittsburgh Penguins just ridiculous.
The prospect pipeline is terrible, now that Pouliot has graduated/will graduate. But with this NHL roster still relatively young, I have zero issues with that as a fantasy owner.
Fantasy Grade: A (last year was A)