Post-vacation thoughts on Evander Kane, Cody Franson, Jiri Tlusty, Mark Giordano DobberProspects and more... (Gooding is a victim of the BC blackout - so Dobber will post the Monday one Sunday...Gooding's Sunday Ramblings will be up on Monday)
Alright, cool, I can breathe again. During a poorly-timed (late) site re-launch that coincided with the release of the Guide I quite literally worked 120 hours that week and then hopped directly into the car where my wife and kids were waiting, and then off to a wedding for three days. Returned for another busy week to get ahead of the game so that vacation will be trouble-free. Well it was, thank you. And after 10 days off I'm back in the driver's seat and I'm actually working my usual week without anything crazy happening. Very excited about that.
A few things that I want to address. Because I have my team-by-team outlooks here on this site instead of The Hockey News where it was the last 12 years, I think some new people are reading it and are expecting something different. The goal of these:
1. To give you a quick lowdown on the prospects on the cusp
2. To give you a high-level feel for how this team is put together and how it will perform offensively over the next several years.
It is not to give props to each star on the team, or give each player you own a pat on the back. If you are looking for something more in-depth, there are 100s of articles and rankings on this site, as well as a Fantasy Guide and Prospects Report. But mentioning even the five key players on each team and giving a paragraph on each is giving you info you probably already know. Just a quick-and-dirty outlook, that's all.
What brought that on was some criticism of my not including Evander Kane in my Buffalo analysis. I didn't really say anything about Zetterberg (in the Detroit analysis), Getzlaf (Anaheim) or Bergeron (Boston) either. But I can understand the point, given that Kane hasn't yet skated for the Sabres yet and so 'technically' is an offseason addition. Kane is probably going to score 25 goals on this team, and he'll also miss at least a dozen games. These are things that I think most fantasy owners know, but probably need to see it written by several different authors across the Internet to feel more comfortable with the valuation. I don't want to give away too much Guide stuff in these quick outlooks, but for Kane I'll post my projection here: 67-28-22-50, 60 PIM. And I have him on a line with O'Reilly and Ennis, while the second line consists of Moulson - Eichel - Gionta.
Immediately before I left for vacation, I fired off some articles to Puck Daddy to launch the Yahoo fantasy hockey season. Here are the links:
Forwards (by Demetri Fragopoulos)
Rookies (by Brendan Ross)
I took to Twitter and the Forum on Sunday, asking if there was anything that happened in the hockey world over the past two weeks that you wanted me to weigh in on. I'll go over some of those responses now.
Cody Franson is closing in on a contract with the Buffalo Sabres and that's him settling. He played chicken with the system and he lost. And that's the fault of his agent. I'm not down on the agent for this too much, we all make mistakes, and if an agent wants to play the system to maximize the contract for his client then that is to be encouraged. But in this gambit, he failed. Most teams are settled on their roster and settled in their cap situation. I think Gerry Johansson (Franson's agent) was trying to get a four- or five-year contract for Franson and I think he was doing it because Franson's play and career trajectory is unstable. He's a big man, a talented man with high-end hockey sense. But he's soft and he's not quick, and a lot of coaches will punish him for this. "Punish" meaning a cut in ice time, some benchings, etc. This is why he was amazing in Toronto one year, terrible another year, mediocre another year, and terrible with Nashville. Micheal Del Zotto was in the same boat. So the smart play here is to get him signed long term. But it didn't work. So now he's just trying to get Franson any contract that's beyond one year. Which means - Buffalo. Which could be a good fit, but it makes me uneasy. Yes, I own Franson in two of my keeper leagues and I would definitely feel more comfortable with him in a dozen other spots. If it's two years, I'd feel a lot better about things if he would get north of $7 million. We shall see.
Mark Giordano's contract was a big gamble by the team, but they didn't have a lot of choice. Giordano signed for six years at $6.75 million per. He would get that and then some with any other team as a free agent. Obviously when he's 37 (and 36, and 35) he's not going to be worth that much. But it should be a bargain for the next three years. That being said, I hope they understand that they're paying him that much money to play 70 games and not 82.
Patrik Berglund is out until Christmas after undergoing shoulder surgery last week. What this news means is that Robby Fabbri's odds - in my opinion - of making this team just improved from 50-50 to 70-30. Instead of safely projecting a nine-game trial run before being sent to Guelph (OHL), I'm boldly projecting 32 points in 73 games. There's certainly upside for more in his rookie year, but in a Ken Hitchcock system I doubt he'd make a 55-point splash or anything like that.
Phil Kessel is likely going to start on Evgeni Malkin's line with Sergei Plotnikov. I'd bet good money that things won't end up this way come March, but that's just because they rarely, rarely, rarely do. But that's the line I think they have penciled in. And that's not to say that Crosby won't benefit from Kessel. He certainly will. Not only does this open things up a bit for both lines, but the power play is going to be ridiculous. I was very cautious in my projections here in the Fantasy Guide, but this is only because the leading scorer last year had 87 points. So I'm reluctant to project anyone getting 100. But honestly, the two superstars could get back to 100. And Kessel could set a career high. I would 'hope' for this, but I certainly wouldn't play the game of fantasy hockey based on this as etched in stone.
I'm looking at the unrestricted free agents still out there and the only ones with even a shred of fantasy interest on my part are - Jiri Tlusty and Tomas Fleischmann. I have no interest in Martin Erat. No interest in Mike Richards. None in Derek Roy. None in Marek Zidlicky. And none in Stephen Weiss.
Well, maybe a tiny bit in Weiss. Like 1%. But only because of that three-week spurt of production that he had with Detroit last season in between injuries. If he's fully healthy and in the right situation, then I could see plucking him off the wire. Not drafting him. Wire-plucking.
And if Weiss is 1% then Fleischmann is 3%. I think his last 20 games or so with Florida showed enough production that maybe he still has it. And his performance in limited action with Anaheim doesn't sway me one way or the other. He's another 'project' who could turn things around. But like Weiss, he's wire-fodder and not draftable.
So that leaves Tlusty. And if I'm giving Weiss a 1% shot and 'Flash' a 3% shot, then I'll put Tlusty down for 8%. He's draftable as a final pick in a deep draft. I can still see him going to New Jersey and becoming a 45-point player there (which would probably contend for the scoring lead).
I noticed some of the training camp invites are starting to get announced. None are draft-worthy, but here is a summary:
Petr Budaj (LA)
Eric Boulton (NYI)
Sergei Gonchar (PIT)
Tom Sestito (PIT)
Scott Gomez (STL)
Devin Setoguchi (TOR)
Again - zero interest. Even in Setoguchi. Even in Gomez. Even in Gonchar.
We have been working hard over the past two weeks on DobberProspects, fixing the bad links and formatting. I expect this to be an ever-evolving thing with that site, but over the next few days things should be back to normal there. And the content has always been there, it's just that with the relaunch you had to work a little harder to find it (and squint as you read the unbroken paragraphs). Thanks for your patience.