Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Vancouver
For the last 13 years (12 with The Hockey News) I have reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them. My 14th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Gone – Ronalds Kenins, Radim Vrbata, Linden Vey, Yannick Weber, Dan Hamhuis, Jared McCann, Matt Bartkowski, Chris Higgins, Brandon Prust
Incoming – Michael Chaput, Borna Rendulic, Jayson Megna, Loui Eriksson, Erik Gudbranson
Impact of changes – Well there’s the obvious change that every fantasy owners is talking about right now and that’s the uniting of Eriksson with his fellow Swedes Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. The twins are former 100-point players, they have never played with a true star winger, they turned Radim Vrbata from a 51-point to a 63-point player, and in the World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament games the two look like dynamite alongside Eriksson. The latter is coming off a 30-goal, 63-point season so this line is guaranteed to combine for 240 points!
Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Step on the brake there my friend. No, step harder.
Alright, just stomp on the damn thing. Now keep your foot there and listen up.
While I really do agree that this line will be fantastic to start the season, to the point where each member of the troika crosses the 20-point threshold before the 25-game mark, I don’t want you to overrate things. All three of these guys always start the season fast. Last year, for example…
Daniel, first half: 38 points in 41 games. Second half: 23 points in 41 games
Henrik, first half: 34 points in 39 games. Second half: 21 points 35 games.
Loui, first half: 34 points in 38 games. Second half: 29 points in 44 games
So sure, perhaps they flirt with a point-per-game over the first 20 or 30 games. But will it hold up? The twins are turning 36 in a couple of weeks and have added a World Cup tournament to their agenda. And who’s going to lure some of the defensive focus off of them from the opposition? Sven Baertschi? Okay – put the pipe down.
No, this line won’t hold up. Eriksson, coming off a contract year in which he shot 16.3% accuracy when he’s usually around 12%, isn’t going to carry the twins down the stretch. Don’t overrate.
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Ready for full-time – Anton Rodin was a promising prospect drafted 53rd overall in 2009. He came to North American in 2011 and after two seasons in the AHL he never really got his footing. So then he returned to Sweden and blossomed into an SHL star, posting 112 points in 134 games over three seasons for Brynas. Now 25, he’s making another attempt and the Canucks feel that he has a real shot – they signed him to a one-way deal that pays him the same whether he’s in the AHL or NHL. Given the lack of scoring options on the roster, Rodin is a dark horse worthy a draft pick in the final round of deep leagues, or a waiver flier. (Read more on Rodin here)
Philip Larsen is more of the waiver-wire variety. Just don’t write him off. The same fantasy owners I’m warning off of overrating the Sedins and Eriksson, I’m asking not to underrate Larsen. Granted, he’s now 26 and he’s already failed to land an NHL spot twice before (Edmonton and Dallas), but he has tremendous upside. He won’t make this team because he’s a great defender, he’ll make it because they have a dire need for his skill set. I would wait one regular season game and if he picks up a point or logs a ton of power-play time, I’d be quick with the trigger-finger on that waiver wire.
Nikita Tryamkin is 6-7, 228 pounds so guess what fantasy categories he’ll help you in? Tryamkin registered 31 hits, 23 BLKS and 10 PIM in the 13 games that he played last season. (Read more on Tryamkin here)
Brendan Gaunce took to the AHL after about two seasons. If he were to stay there for one more year he would probably reach the point-per-game mark. But his versatility in playing any forward position and his skill set that allows him to go ‘checker’ or ‘scorer’ as needed should be enough to keep him in the NHL lineup. The points may take several years to arrive for him though. (Read more on Gaunce here)
Jake Virtanen can now be sent to the AHL. Last year if he was sent down he would have to go to the WHL and play junior hockey, and the Canucks felt that he would learn nothing at that level. Do not assume that he makes this team. If Vancouver has to choose between his playing 10 minutes per game in the NHL and having a 20-point (and minus-15) season…or his playing 17 minutes per game in the AHL and having a 50-point season, they’ll go the AHL route. (Read more on Virtanen here)
Fantasy Outlook – As a fantasy owner I'm still not a fan of the makeup of the NHL roster here. After the twins, Bo Horvat and Eriksson, there is nobody I like – and the Sedins are turning 36. Maybe the brothers have one good year left, or perhaps they have three or four – but it’s a game of hot potato I’d prefer not to play. I prefer minimizing risk, so I don't own the Sedins in any of my three keeper leagues. The pipeline is improving and if Rodin works out then that will help a lot. But for now, this is the bottom part of the rebuild cycle.
Fantasy Grade: D+ (last year was D+)