Looking at some World Cup line combos, Connor McDavid's run at the Art Ross, Henrik Zetterberg's decline and Frederik Andersen's decline …
Team North America Lines
NA lines at this point: Drouin-McDavid-Scheifele, Gaudreau-Eichel-Saad, MacKinnon-RNH-Larkin, Miller-Couturier-Matthews/Trocheck
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) September 5, 2016
This is exciting stuff. How couldn't you root for this team? The buzz is ramping up, too. If Nathan MacKinnon and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins stick together, that line could be extremely dangerous. They're older(ish) players on the roster and will both have a bit of a chip on their shoulders after weaker seasons last year.
Vincent Trocheck's inclusion on this team highlights his ascend into the higher ranks of skilled players. He should still be a bargin in casual circles, but playing in this tournament could drive up his name value.
Team Canada Lines
First look at Team Canada lines:
Marchand-Crosby-Bergeron. Couture-Toews-Seguin. Tavares-Getzlaf-Stamkos/Perry. Duchene-Giroux-Thornton.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) September 5, 2016
It's basically picking names out of a hat, and the Canadians should cruise to victory. Assuming they care, of course. Steven Stamkos is a player to watch because it'll be interesting to see if he can gain some momentum to parlay into a strong start to the season.
Claude Giroux stands to benefit from the extra work, too. He is poised for a slight rebound this year, and this tournament should help him prove his health following offseason surgeries on his hip and abdomen.
Team USA Lines
US lines: Pacioretty-Pavelski-Kane; Parise-Stepan-Wheeler; Abdekader-Kesler-Oshie; van Riemsdyk-Backes-Dubinsky; Palmieri
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) September 5, 2016
This isn't a very strong hockey team. The two bottom lines would be mediocre in the NHL, and it should prove difficult to have a balanced scoring attack throughout the roster. Plenty of shot blockers here, though.
Following his breakout 2015-16 campaign, Kyle Palmieri should benefit from game action, and he stands to hit the ground running again this fall. Playing a full season with Taylor Hall will help him sustain his production this year, too.
Team Finland's lines today: Laine-Barkov-Jokinen, Granlund-Koivu-Donskoi, Teräväinen-Filppula-Lehterä, Korpikoski-Haula-Komarov, Aho.
— Sami Hoffrén (@shoffren) September 5, 2016
Look at Patrik Laine sitting atop the depth chart. He's a solid tournament away from beginning his tenure with Winnipeg in a similar role. It's also interesting to see him paired with two Panthers. If Jaromir Jagr went down or struggled, could Jussi Jokinen be the next man up alongside Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov?
Like the USA team, there doesn't look to be a lot of firepower in the bottom-six group, and potentially less offensive punch in the top two lines. Yet, Finland will likely prove to be the better club.
#TeamRussia 1st practice lines: Ovi-Kuzy-Kuch, Kulemin-Geno-Tarasenko, Namestnikov-Anisimov-Panarin. Datsyuk,Shipachyov,Dadonov & Telegin DO
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) September 5, 2016
It's a new international tournament, but Russia still has the same issue. The stars are plentiful, but the defense is gross. If Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov paced the tournament in scoring, would Barry Trotz be inclined to start them together on a line?
Nikolai Kulemin has played with Evgeni Malkin a lot internationally, but it doesn't seem like the best fit in 2016. There are enough talented players (Vladislav Namestnikov) who would likely make for a better fit alongside Malkin and Vladimir Tarasenko, assuming Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov play together.
Sweden's lines: Sedin-Sedin-Eriksson, Forsberg-Backstrom-Hornqvist, Silfverberg-Kruger-Hagelin, Landeskog-Soderberg-Rakell #WCH2016
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) September 5, 2016
There are a lot of intriguing combos, but the Daniel Sedin–Henrik Sedin–Loui Eriksson line could prove to have the biggest fantasy impact. This provides the trio with an extra few weeks of chemistry building and then a free run in competitive games.
I'm likely higher than most on Eriksson and touched on him already Saturday. This just sets up nicely, and having a head start on the rest of the league only stands to help all three get off to a nice start.
Mark Scheifele, who trains with Connor McDavid in the summer, said McDavid is an even faster skater this season.
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) September 5, 2016
What's so important, though, is McDavid's ability to create at full speed. We've seen so many burners who skate faster than they can think and process the game.
Remember, the Art Ross has had 11 different winners over the past 14 seasons, so it isn't like there is a locked-in favorite. McDavid could post a point-per-game season, and anytime you hit 80 points in this era, you're in the running.
Count me 100 percent out on Henrik Zetterberg. He's going to miss time in training camp with his knee injury, and any injury can quickly linger into the regular season. He's also entering his age 36-campaign following his worst offensive season since his rookie year (0.61 points per game).
The cliff is often steep and unexpected for players in their 30s, and while there is no denying the potential for a bounce-back showing Zetterberg, the likelihood of a further decline is just as probable, isn't it?
Or, what if Zetterberg just produces another 13-goal, 50-point season? That doesn't cut it in many leagues. And what's further troubling is that despite starting 59.9 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, he posted a mediocre 51.2 CorsiFor percentage.
Oh, and after all that, there is also the wonky back.
Fredik Andersen is set to miss three to four weeks, but both Lou Lamoriello and Mike Babcock aren't concerned. Shanahan said Andersen would be ready for training camp, and Lamoriello said Andersen would be ready for the regular season.
Fantasy owners shouldn't be too concerned, either, maybe. Though, the injuries are beginning to add up for Andersen. He's suffered a concussion and has missed time with both upper- and lower-body injuries since entering the league.
With all that said, the injury could be minor. Andersen might not have missed a start if it was playoff time. I'm interested to know if there are any clearer sources outlining the significance and nature of the injury. Hit the comments if you've got a scoop.
Sometimes, it is difficult to separate your fandom from fantasy when it comes to your favorite teams. All summer long in my daily baseball columns I've looked at the stacked Chicago Cubs and hesitated to consistently recommend them. I don't like to come off biased, and I'm typically more critical and pessimistic about my own team.
Yet, I'm intrigued by Toronto making a splash this year, and I can see Andersen pushing towards a fantasy finish between the top 12 to 15 goaltenders.
Babcock is a huge factor, and there is a lot of talent. A sign of things to come starts this year, and it should begin with a faster team capable of generating more offense. More offense means less time in the defensive zone, and Toronto was already the third-best CorsiFor percentage team last year.
Thanks for tuning in, Dobberheads.
- Top 100 Keeper League Goaltenders - August 2019
- Ramblings: The Lowdown on Provorov, Parayko, Nylander, Virtanen, six other players of fantasy interest, plus the Kuznetsov fallout (Aug 24)
- Ramblings: Brassard with the Islanders; Eriksson Ek extended; draft analysis
- Ramblings: Colin White signs long-term; Jaskin to the KHL; positional battles - August 22
- Capped: Team by team buy and sell, part 3
- Frozen Tools Forensics: Impending contract years, part 2
- Fantasy Hockey Podcast: NHL Audio Almanac and projections preview: Carolina Hurricanes
- The Journey: CHL Teams to Watch in 2019-20