Dobber’s Offseason Fantasy Grades 2019: Pittsburgh Penguins
Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Pittsburgh Penguins
For the last 16 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 17th 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.
Impact of changes – Every year I get impressed with the way GM Jim Rutherford deftly clears up some cap space with moves that really aren’t so bad. And every year I get equally impressed with his ineptness when he goes out of his way to burn that cap space on crap. Jack Johnson and Erik Gudbranson are fine examples of this. But I digress. This time that cap space was wasted on Tanev. And while he is a fantastic addition to this team, he is not at that cap hit: $3.5 million per year for six years? Ug.
Anyway, the move fills up the roster nicely and gives the team 13 forwards who slot into their roles nicely. If anyone can get Dominik Kahun and Alex Galchenyuk to reach their potential it’s Evgeni Malkin. And those two are the guys I have on Malkin’s wing to start. If they click – watch out. It would create more space for the top line of Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby (and either Dominik Simon or Jared McCann).
Ready for full-time – Another impact the summer changes had on the roster is the fact that Rutherford was able to move Maatta because of the emergence of Juuso Riikola. He played very well for the Penguins in the 37 games that he was up with them and certainly earned his spot. The 25-year-old will be a good No.4 or 5 two-way defenseman, but will start in the 6 or 7 slot initially.
Teddy Blueger finally figured out the AHL in his third season there, posting 21 goals and 39 points in 45 games. Because the Penguins are not very deep in terms of prospects, he was really the offensive option worth calling up – and he delivered. He posted 10 points in 28 games to end the season and even got into a playoff game. He is probably not going to be in the top six this year. Read more on Blueger here.
Goaltender Tristan Jarry has to clear waivers this year in order to be sent down. And he won’t clear waivers. So something will have to give as most teams generally do not want a three-headed goalie monster hanging over their heads. Wherever he lands, or perhaps he stays, he will get in one or two dozen games.
Oula Palve is a 27-year-old high-scoring center from the Finnish League, who posted 51 points in 53 games for TPS. That was good for sixth in the league. Given his age, this is his one shot at playing in the NHL so he will get a long look and may not have a lot of patience to linger in the AHL for too long. His odds of making the team are rather low, given the roster depth. But he could stick around do what Par Lindholm did for Toronto and Winnipeg last season.
Pittsburgh Penguins prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – The Penguins were fourth in NHL scoring in 2017-18 and sixth in NHL scoring in 2018-19. With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, this could go on for some time. And the Pens will just keep filtering players around them year after year, and those players will pop by 10 or 20 more points than they would normally get. I really like this team’s forward lines and who wouldn’t like a top four of Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz and Marcus Pettersson (who I really like and believe holds some fantasy value)? If Riikola could send one of Gudbranson or Johnson to the press box (unlikely), it would be perfect. Goaltending is strong, although prone to injury with Matt Murray – so perhaps I should re-think my ‘three-headed goalie monster’ statement. The prospect pipeline is pretty terrible with zero forward prospects in my Top 100 (Blueger is 103). Thankfully they got Joseph in the Kessel deal or they really wouldn’t have much at all. Joseph is ranked 14th on the list of fantasy prospect defensemen.
Fantasy Grade: A- (last year was A)
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2019 Offseason Fantasy Hockey Grades
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