June 11, 2014

by Dobber on June 11, 2014

I released the Fantasy Prospects Report last week, but there will be a big update for it 48 hours after the Cup is won…which could be, uh, Friday. This is my eighth annual Prospects Report. My best one.

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Kings in four?

Quite the discussion as to who should win the Conn Smythe Trophy here. Weigh in! At this point, my vote goes to Drew Doughty. You take Doughty out of the Kings’ lineup and they don’t get past the first round. Or any round, for that matter. Jeff Carter, Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar are the only other players who I can say that about. This is a close race and my vote for Doughty isn’t a runaway decision – if Kopitar, for example, got three points tonight and carried the team, it would be enough to swing me.

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Logan Couture underwent surgery on his hand. He injured it in a fight with Mike Richards in Game 6 of the opening round. He’ll be ready for the start of training camp.

Here is the fight. Couture vs. Richards:

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Dan Bylsma is the favorite to be the next coach of the Florida Panthers, and what a great fit he would be. He was at his best in his first two years with Pittsburgh, when the team was extremely young and full of budding stars. And what are the Panthers today? Here are the six candidates – Bylsma, Marc Crawford, Tom Renney, Gerard Gallant, Bill Peters (Detroit assistant) and Ron Wilson. If Bylsma takes over, I can actually see a handful of Panthers reach and even exceed the 60-point mark. A marked improvement would be in the cards.

Speaking of the Panthers, they have apparently received a “fair offer” for the first overall draft pick.

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Joe Thornton, whose three-year contract extension hasn’t even kicked in yet, also has a no-movement clause. Yet every hockey analyst is in agreement that he will not begin the season with the Sharks. So where does he go? There are rumblings that Chicago is a possible destination. But I actually think the Maple Leafs will take a long look at a potential offer.

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Speaking of Chicago, the Blackhawks signed free agent Swedish center Dennis Rasmussen to a one-year deal.

Rasmussen, 23, had a productive season while playing with Växjö of the Swedish Hockey League. A native of Västerås, Sweden, Rasmussen produced 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) to rank 10th in the league. Rasmussen also helped Sweden win a bronze medal at the 2014 World Championships and the 2010 World Junior Championships.

Best I can see here is a Ville Leino-type of start to his career, which as you recall involved most of a season in the AHL followed by half up and half down…followed by a trade that led to him really flourishing. We’ll just gloss over anything that’s happened with him since then. Look! A bird!

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Here is an interesting analysis by Japer’s Rink on how new head coach Barry Trotz used his forwards in Nashville. The main thing I gleaned from that is that Nicklas Backstrom could be looking at fewer defensive-zone starts and more offensive-zone starts, leading to higher production (of course). But there’s lots of cool tidbits in there.

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Nashville prospect Joonas Rask signed with HIFK of the SM-liiga in Finland for next season. Tuukka’s brother had 14 points in 58 AHL games. He’s ranked 408 on my Fantasy Prospects List.

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Mikhail Grigorenko‘s stock has fallen. A lot, in some fantasy circles. But I think it’s unfair. He turned 20 last month and, of course, the Sabres have badly mishandled him. But enough to ruin him? I’m not on board with that just yet. A new management team in place, coupled with the fact that he is eligible to play in the AHL now, should get him on the right track and I think he’s a solid buy-low candidate. His combination of size and skill is rare. You saw at last year’s WJC that he dominates when playing against his peers (five goals, eight points, seven games). His four points in 14 AHL games after his QMJHL season ended leave something to be desired, but my expectations were probably too high. Ideally, Grigorenko will get 45 points in 55 AHL games next season, and get called up to Buffalo in February and tally 10 points in 20 games. Then he’s in the NHL for good and takes big strides from there.

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The Darryl Sutter montage that CBC put together: