Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Philadelphia
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 – This boils down to a coaching change, a swap of depth defensemen (Grossmann to Medvedev) and an upgrade at forward from Rinaldo to Gagner. And Rinaldo's grit is simply replaced by Radko Gudas, who you may remember was acquired midseason but because he was injured (knee) you didn't get to see him in a Flyers' uniform. Well, he's healthy now and ready to get you 20 points and 120+ PIM.
The coaching change could be significant in that Hakstol may feel that the likes of Sean Couturier and Matt Read deserve minutes in offensive situations. This is something that they've been robbed of over the past two years. They are potentially very good fantasy owns. But if it's more of the same situations for them, then they'll remain the weak owns that they have been.
The big question is Gagner. Can he click with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek? The odds are – no. But the downside is second-line duty and top PP ice time, which would still see him get his usual 45 points. And with the 'chance' of things working out with Giroux, that's a pretty nice range we're looking at with Gagner: 45-60 points.
Ready for full-time – The Flyers signed 32-year-old Medvedev out of the KHL and he's not coming all the way over here at his age to play in the AHL. Besides, they signed him to $3 million on a one-way deal. He's not going anywhere. I expect his numbers to pretty much replace Grossmann's.
Brandon Manning is a 25-year-old who played 11 games for the Flyers last season. He's at an age where it's now or never. His AHL numbers show promise in both the points and PIM categories, but given Philly's depth at the position when it comes to prospects, he has little hope of seeing big numbers at the NHL level.
Of Philly's elite five defensemen – Shayne Gostisbehere, Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim and now Ivan Provorov – Gostisbehere would have been the one NHL-ready right now, had he not wiped out most of his season from a knee injury. Still, with a good start in the AHL we could see him make the jump midseason.
Fantasy Outlook – Elite forwards in Giroux and Voracek make this a decent team to load up on. However, as they showed last year, if none of the secondary scorers produce then it quickly makes a team unappealing. Wayne Simmonds is consistent in terms of multi-category production, but to win over fantasy owners they need to see two of Sean Couturier, Sam Gagner, or Brayden Schenn to take that next step into the 60-poing club.
As far as defensemen go, the NHL roster is sub-par. Sure, I'd like to own Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto this year, but not enough to make an effort to acquire them. And Radko Gudas is a multi-category option, but he has injury questions marks. No, it's the prospect defensemen who are appealing. Elite. Hell, "elite" doesn't begin to cover it. Just those five potential studs make Philly's entire farm system pretty good and fantasy owners can't wait to see them. In fact, they're so good that it's overkill – now poolies can't decide which ones will pan out! These five young players are the reason Philadelphia's fantasy hockey grade moves up a full letter.
Fantasy Grade: B- (last year was B)
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