Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Toronto Maple Leafs
For the last 14 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
This year, due to Dobber’s battle with cancer, he recruited Cam Robinson (of Frozen Pool Forensics fame) to pinch hit. The 15th 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 – The Leafs aren’t messing around. They appear to recognize that you simply must make hay while the sun shines and in this case, you need to make a run when your best players are earning chump change on their ELCs. Going out and signing two 37-year-olds and a 36-year-old may not scream the best use of cap space, but the team appears set in all positions heading into camp and the roster is veteran laden with the healthy dose of elite young talent. Marleau joins the team and appears destined for a spot on the top power-play unit, but reports indicate he may start the year next to Nazem Kadri on the “checking line.” The 19-year NHL vet can still fly up and down the wing, but keep your expectation realistic when forecasting the big free-agent signee. Ron Hainsey brings leadership and depth to a remaining blue line with an average age of 24.6. Moore comes in to secure the fourth line pivot position left vacant by Boyle. 22-year-old Andreas Borgman signed a two-year entry-level deal after being named the SHL-rookie of the year and winning a championship with HV71 last season. He’ll look to push for a roster spot but may need some time to transition.
Ready for full-time – Kasperi Kapanen had a strong showing in his draft-plus three season. The 21-year-old became one of the AHL’s most consistent and dangerous offensive players, recording 18 goals and 43 points in 43 contests. He didn’t look out of place with the big club over the course of eight regular season and another six playoff games either, playing just 10 minutes a night. He even tacked on a very crucial game winner in Game 2 against the Capitals. Kapanen looks ready to step in on a full-time basis but the numbers game will likely keep him bouncing up and down on the proverbial bus to the American League all season long. If injury occurs in the top six, Kapanen has the skill to take an opportunity and run. Read more on Kapanen here.
Andreas Borgman had himself quite the season in the SHL. The 6’0” rearguard took home a league title, the rookie of the year honours and produced two goals and ten points in 14 playoff games. His signing with the Leafs should be seen as a nice boon for a club that doesn’t boast the best depth on the back end. Borgman will come to camp and look to press for a job on the third pair, but some adapting at the AHL-level is always an option. Borgman owns legitimate top four potential down the line. Read more on Borgman here.
Fantasy Outlook – It’s amazing what a couple of nice draft picks can do for an organization. Clearly, William Nylander was a steal at eighth overall in 2014 and the quick transition by Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews thrusts the organization right near the front of the pack for premier, young assets. With such a skillful young core being built, the Leafs also boast quality depth options for your fantasy team as Tyler Bozak, JVR and Nazem Kadri should all be counted on to bring a myriad of stat-filling abilities. On the back end, Jake Gardiner appears to have taken the job on the top power play and until Mike Babcock starts trusting Morgan Rielly with prime ice, don’t expect his production to spike anytime soon. Nikita Zaitsev could be a player that witnesses a nice progression in year two as he fought some tough deployment and underlying luck-based numbers. Frederik Andersen showed the world that he was worth every penny of the big contract handed out to him. While his first month of the season witnessed him post dreadful numbers (.876 SV% and 3.67 GAA over seen starts) he then decided to play at a Vezina-level the remaining 59 games, winning 31 and posting a .922 save percentage and 2.57 goals-against average. He’ll look to get off to a better start and prove to be a worthy number one for your fantasy team.
Fantasy Grade: A (Last year: C+)
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