Feeds:
Posts

Posts Tagged ‘30 teams in 30 days’

The Canucks were victims of misfortune last year in the playoffs. They'll play possum to survive in 2011-2012

KEY SUBTRACTIONS

The Canucks will miss Ehrhoff's shot on the powerplay.

Alex Bolduc, C
Christian Ehrhoff, D
Tanner Glass, C/LW
Rick Rypien, C/RW
Lee Sweatt, D
Sergei Shirokov, RW
Jeff Tambellini, LW
Raffi Torres, LW

KEY ADDITIONS

Matt Climie, G
Andrew Ebbett, C
Todd Fedoruk, LW
Marco Sturm, LW
Byron Bitz, RW
Mike Duco, RW
Mark Mancari, RW
Owen Nolan, RW
Alexander Sulzer, D

QUICK PICKS

Henrik could stand to learn how to roof the puck from time to time.

Henrik Sedin, C:  Take him for bolstering assist totals.  He’ll get around 70 assists alone.  If he has anything like his Hart trophy season, Hank could crack 100 points again.  Extremely consistent on a day-to-day basis, but fewer big nights than your Stamkos, or Ovechkins.

Daniel Sedin, LW:  Like his brother Henrik, Daniel shows gifted playmaking but scores more often than does Henrik.  Easily a 30 goal scorer this season, perhaps another 40 again like in ’11.

Alexandre Burrows, RW:  The weirdest complementary player to two bonafide superstars in the NHL.  On any other team, Alex is a legit third liner, maybe second, yet on the Canucks he gets you 60 points and makes the Sedins better.  He missed training camp last year and took a while to get going.  That won’t happen again in 2011/2012.

Roberto Luongo, G:  He is an extremely consistent goaltender and his positional play improved remarkably last season, his first working with Rogie Melanson as his goalie coach.  Expect Roberto to have less of the bad games and more of the good ones as he’s better known for.  Say what you will, Luongo gets it done.  Good for 40 wins this year.


SLEEPERS

Alex Edler, D:  With Ehrhoff out of the picture, expect Edler to pick up the slack and make plays in the departed German’s stead.  He has all the talent to get around 50 points or more next season, and will with a clean bill of health.

BUYER BEWARE

Kesler took a pounding last year in the playoffs. Expect him to sit out about 10 games to begin the year.

Ryan Kesler, C:  You take him because you love his tenacity and grit, and just want to be able to play him in your lineup.  You don’t because he has a nagging hip flexor which he tore against San Jose in the playoffs of 2011.  Probably a down year for Kes.

Mason Raymond, LW:  We’re really not sure in Vancouver what’s going on with the speedster Raymond.  Even if he were healthy he’s usually good for about 50 points.  With a broken back courtesy of a cheap shot by Johnny Boychuk it remains to be seen if he’ll ever lace them up again.

Mikael Samuelsson, RW:  This is another player who injured himself in last season’s Stanley Cup run.  God knows how short this team’s work would have been if everyone stayed healthy.  Avoid drafting.  He’s too old to come back from a sports hernia.

Marco Sturm, LW:  When Sturm still had cartilage in his knees, he was worth a pick because of his ability to finish.  Goodness knows what the Canucks expect out of the 31 year-old who has had successive surgeries and been slowed down to mortal levels.  I am very curious to see where he fits.

Cody Hodgson, C:  This goes out to the most die-hard Canucks newbies who see the second coming of Crosby in this kid.  He’s been given the keys to the Porsche, the Mansion and the bank accounts, and he still hasn’t proven anything in Vancouver.  I still shake my head at anyone who considers drafting him.  His days with this team are numbered.

PREDICTIONS

How Boychuk's snapping of Raymond's spine went unpunished goes well beyond anyone's comprehension.

Hattrick Payne says:  I wish to set the record straight.  After all the hoopla and nonsense surrounding the Canucks coughing up a 2 games to none lead, then later a 3-2 lead to an inferior, albeit healthier, team no one really had a chance to actually have a look at some of the non-calls and silliness that was going both ways, yes, both ways in that series.  The Boston faithful, so quick to point out that poor, innocent little Patrice Bergeron’s finger was chomped on by the malevolent Alex Burrows, and poor innocent Nathan “look at my pass” Horton didn’t deserve an old-time hockey play at the blue-line forget that the Bruins rolled on health, emotion and goaltending towards an improbable upset in the finals.  All things being equal, and I mean that, equal, as in equal punishment for Boychuk’s dirty hit on Raymond, equal health for all players involved, equal and poised officials and not the ones who let things get out of hand, then we’re talking about a parade in Vancouver instead of a pitiful display of fan support in Boston, another American market that only cares when their team actually wins something.  In Canada, you see, when we don’t win there are riots and passionate debate about the sport.  In the good ol’ U S of A, if your team misses the playoffs a couple seasons, there’s apathy and talk of folding the franchise.  The riots were dumb, but the issue is more complicated than many of the simpletons on the internet are making it out to be.

That aside…

Luongo proved that he has what it takes to make the finals. His team will need to respond with big goals.

Next season will be a humbling experience for the Canucks who had everything go their way, except for one or two games in the finals.  The bad luck out of the way in the regular season, with a few bad losses, and players performing sluggishly to start will culminate with a composed and mature run to the playoffs, and a deadly outlook come opening day of 2012’s Stanley Cup chase.  Vancouver will play possum this year while they lick their wounds and rest up.  They’re not dead yet.  They’ll make playoffs, and surprise more than a few teams while Boston struggles to maintain lofty expectations.  As long as Luongo holds up, the team will be fine.

 

Mark Twain says: The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Ovechkin must play like it's 2009 again, and lead the league in goals in order for his team to be successful.

KEY SUBTRACTIONS

Jason Arnott, C
Matt Bradley, RW

Vokoun will finally have an elite team in front of him that isn't trying to score goals on him, but for him.

Andrew Gordon, RW
Boyd Gordon, RW
Scott Hannan, D
Andrew Joudrey, C
Tyler Sloan, D
Marco Sturm, LW
Semyon Varlamov, G
Brian Willsie, D

KEY ADDITIONS

Chris Bourque, LW
Troy Brouwer, RW
Jeff Halpern, C
Roman Hamrlik, D
Christian Hanson, C
Ryan Potulny, C
Danny Richmond, D
Tomas Vokoun, G
Joel Ward, RW

QUICK PICKS

Backstrom and Ovechkin are the wheels that need to keep on turning in Washington this season.

Alex Ovechkin, LW:  Expect Ovechkin to put it all together this year, defensive responsibilities and flashy offence, and have another 90-100 point campaign.  He is dynamic in every sense of the word, but teams focus on Ovie a lot.  If the Caps can ever get some secondary scoring to keep teams number one defensive unit honest, watch out.

Alexander Semin, RW:  Plays somewhat in the shadow of Ovechkin, but many believe him to be a franchise player if playing on any other team.  He has a tendency to run his mouth but he does tend to back it up as well.  Last season was a bit ugly for Semin, playing in only 65 games.  With a full season in 2011-2012, Semin should be back to his usual levels and slick moves.  85 points is within reach for Semin.

Nicklas Backstrom, C:  He’s called soft, a choker, and a weakling but all Backstrom does is rack up stats in every category available.  Take Backstrom for a return to form in 2011-2012 with about 85 points.  The Caps 19th best offense is bound to bounce back next season.  Backstrom will play a huge part.

Tomas Vokoun, G:  You’ll want to get on the Vokoun bandwagon this season, which might be his best as a pro since he had 36 wins in Nashville in ’06.  Take Vokoun for career numbers across the board, 43 wins, several shutouts and a solid GAA.


SLEEPERS

There aren't too many D-men capable of 70+ points in the NHL. Green's injuries aside... he's worth the risk.

Mike Green, D:  Hip flexor issues, concussion problems, missing the last 20 games of the season, 24 points, all scream don’t pick.  Capitals camp has been pretty hush hush about Green’s status, but insiders indicate that he’s ready to go.  With coach Boudreau hoping to return to the Caps’ explosive ways of the past, expect a big bounce-back season for the elite offensive defenseman.  70 points is not out of the question.

Brooks Laich, LW/C:  He’s one of the best Swiss-army knives in the league.  Very solid 2-way player, which is why everyone seemed to be chasing him this free agent season.  He’ll get around 50 points or so, and tends to be streaky, so get him and trade him when he’s hot.

Roman Hamrlik, D:  Hamrlik could see his points spike upwards of 45 this season on a team with plenty of firepower, especially on the powerplay.  He’s an experienced blueliner who will help move the puck, and find the right forwards.

BUYER BEWARE

Joel Ward, RW/LW:  I’m not convinced his point-a-game pace in 2011’s playoffs is the truth about this player.  Chances are he’s a 30-40 point man who will provide depth scoring during the playoffs.  I would avoid drafting Ward.

Mike Knuble, RW:  He’s a big part of the Caps secondary scoring, but the aging winger’s streak of 8 straight 20 goal seasons might be coming to an end this year.  The 39-year old is definitely on the decline.

PREDICTIONS

Semin will look for a better balance between defense and scoring this season, and aim for another 40 goals.

Hattrick Payne says:  Washington looks like, well, Washington yet again with plenty of scoring on the top line, and not much to follow them up behind them.  They have added a significant amount of blue collared players who will complement Boudreau’s desire to play defensive hockey, but when the top guns are on the ice, Coach will probably let them express themselves creatively.  This team will be very similar to the Caps teams of a few seasons ago which entertain and win big.  The difference is that they have finally found a goaltender who can clean up mistakes made by the turnover prone Green, who usually logs around 30 minutes a game.  This Caps team may not go deep in the playoffs, but there is every indication that the top players will have a solid fantasy season, and get a pile of wins.  They will need to get more scoring from their second and third lines in order to really do any damage in the East come playoff time, but there is hope in players like Ward and young Swede, Marcus Johansson.  As long as Boudreau can realize that he has players who will follow orders, and players who need freedom to express themselves on the ice in a non-obligatory creative way, the Caps will have success.

Mark Twain says:  Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.

Read Full Post »

Niemi started poorly last season, but he won't let that happen again in 2011.

KEY SUBTRACTIONS

Dany Heatley's tenure in San Jose is finally up. Not that anyone in San Jose cares.

Ben Eager, LW
Kent Huskins, D
Jamal Mayers, C
Kyle Wellwood, C
Ian White, D
Dany Heatley, RW/LW
Devin Setoguchi, RW

KEY ADDITIONS

Michael Handzus, C
Andrew Murray, C
James Sheppard, C
Ben Guite, RW
Martin Havlat, LW
Brent Burns, D
Matt Irwin, D
Matt Pelech, D
Nick Petrecki, D
Jim Vandermeer, D

QUICK PICKS

You have to like gold medalist, Joe Thornton's tenacity in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Joe Thornton, C:  It was a bit of a down year for Jumbo Joe in terms of points, but he finally erased any doubts about being able to win big games or coming through for the team when they needed him the most.  With a separated shoulder in game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a downcast Joe pulled through with 7 shots on goal in over 30 minutes of ice time.  He ended the night without points, but played with the heart of a champion and earned the respect of his teammates and the league.  Expect Thornton to bounce back to the 80+ zone this season with the re-tooled Sharks, who are expecting better days ahead in 2011-2012.

Dan Boyle, D:  He still has a lot of offensive game left in the tank at 35, so expect nothing less than 50 points from the gracefully aging D-Man from Ottawa.  His near point a game pace in the Stanley Cup playoffs was a key reason for the Sharks’ success.  With San Jose adding five new blueliners to their lineup, including the stalwart Brent Burns, Boyle can return to being more of a weapon on offense, and let the stay-at-homes cover up when he’s caught up ice.

Patrick Marleau, C/LW:  He still sees a lot of minutes on the first line with fellow 1997 draft pick Joe Thornton, but occasionally takes draws and plays behind Joe on the second line when coach Todd McLellan wants to mix things up.  He is still going strong at 31, and should have a solid 70 point campaign this coming season in San Jose with the addition of solid role players at depth positions.

The tenacious all-star Brent Burns will add some bite to the already potent Sharks offense.

Joe Pavelski, C:  Pavelski had career highs in  assists last season ending up at a career best 66 points.  At 27, Pavelski has finally figured out where he fits in.  His chemistry with Devin Setoguchi was one of the main reasons for his success, but expect Pavelski to maintain 60 points this coming season because of his role on the team.  His secondary scoring is crucial to San Jose’s success.

Ryan Clowe, LW/RW:  Clowe is exactly the kind of hockey player you need to win games.  He’s big, physical and can hold his own in the scoring department these days as well.  He doesn’t scrap as much as he used to, but 100 penalty minutes combined with 65 points is a nice combination to have on your team.  Expect the same again this season.

Brent Burns, D:  You have to like this trade for the Sharks who get big Brent Burns to patrol the blue line with Dan Boyle.  Expect 50 or so points from the defender who will play powerplays, kill penalties and see lots of even strength opportunities.  Owns a booming point shot and can shut down forwards with ease.

Antti Niemi, G:  The Canucks seemed to have his number in last season’s playoffs, but other than the slow start to 2010, Niemi was lights out for San Jose down the stretch.  Expect a stronger start in goal this season, and something in the neighbourhood of 43 wins for yet another incredible Finnish goaltender.

Couture could be an all-star in the making in San Jose.

SLEEPERS

Logan Couture, C/LW:  Expectations are huge for this Junior scoring phenom.  He is projected to be a second coming of Marleau, able to get goals and make plays as well as backcheck and shutdown opposing players.  His 30+ goals were no fluke.  Take him and you might be surprised this season.  He’s only 22.

 

BUYER BEWARE

Martin Havlat, RW:  He will see first-line duties, has truly gifted offensive abilities, and can burn most defenders in the league with blinding speed.  The problem is he’s about as durable trampoline made out of balsa wood, elastic bands and tissue paper.  I am extremely wary of taking Martin Havlat for this simple reason.  He never plays a full season.  If you think San Jose fans were excited to see Heatley go, Minnesota fans were so thrilled to see the injury plagued Havlat leave that they forgot they lost Brent Burns in the deal.

Jason Demers, D:  His projection as a number one offensive D-man just took a bit of a side track with the addition of Brent Burns.  I would expect him to be about the same as last year in point totals, so don’t draft Demers too high expecting a 40 point season.  Won’t happen, at least not this year.

 

PREDICTIONS

The Sharks are banking on Havlat feeling less pressure to carry the offense, and thus remaining healthy all season. Good luck.

Hattrick Payne says:  The Sharks look to have replaced the old, broken line of teeth from a season ago.  They’ve done good things to their lineup in adding some tough, stay at home defensemen to solidify the back end, and some gritty in-your-face forwards to assist with a lackluster penalty kill of a year ago.  San Jose’s already very deadly powerplay just got a lot meaner, so expect this team to challenge for most goals in the league this season.  Niemi will be better to start the year, and wins will come easily on most nights for this team.  I expect San Jose to challenge for President’s trophy honours, and the Stanley Cup seems more within reach than years past.  If they nurse the crystalline Havlat along the season, clean up their woeful penalty kill of a season ago, and get the goaltending/defense they need, the Sharks have an excellent opportunity to do something special this season.  They’ve deserved better fortune in the past.  This year they will make do on promises.

Claude Lebut Says: If I am a San Jose fan this season I am very excited to see the puck drop.  They have everything you need to win a cup in San Jose, including the stinging pain of a loss to their new rivals, the Vancouver Canucks.  The Canucks Achilles heel is big teams who get them off their game with hard-nosed (sometimes borderline cheap) hockey.  The Sharks have a Boston-like team this season in San Jose, with more offensive weapons.  They will be good for many years too.  As Thornton, Marleau Boyle and Havlat get older, Demers, Vlasic, Burns, Coutoure, Niemi and Clowe move into their primes.  I like San Jose to dethrone the Canucks at the top of the West this year and keep doing their thing for many years.


Mark Twain says:  It is better to deserve honors and not have them, than to have them and not to deserve them.

Read Full Post »

Claude Giroux will be the Flyers MVP this coming season, but can they make the playoffs with this team?

KEY SUBTRACTIONS

Can Jagr return to some semblance of form this season in the NHL?

Mike Richards, C
Jeff Carter,  C/RW
Sean O’Donnel, D
Brian Boucher, G
Ville, Leino, LW/C
Dan Carcillo, LW
Danny Syvret, D
Danny Briere, C

KEY ADDITIONS

Jakub Voracek, RW
Wayne Simmonds, RW
Brayden Schenn, C
Ilya Bryzgalov, G
Maxime Talbot, C
Jaromir Jagr, RW
Jason Bacashihua, G

QUICK PICKS

Briere will be counted on for his clutch play in big games.

Danny Briere, C:  He’s the veteran leader left standing in Philly after Flyers GM Paul Holmgren traded away the entire identity of the team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals two years ago.  His scoring isn’t what it used to be, but the shifty centre will be counted on for his clutch play in Philly, as usual.  Expect another 65 points.

Claude Giroux, RW:  It remains to be seen how effective the crafty Giroux will be without Carter and Richards to shield him from the opposing team’s best defenders, but gut instinct says he’ll be good for another 70 point season in Philadelphia at least.

Ilya Bryzgalov, G:  He’s a questionable number one due to his consistency issues, but at least Philadelphia finally has an undisputed number one you can safely pick for 65 to 70 GP’s, about 37 wins and several shutouts.

SLEEPERS

Jakub Voracek, RW:  Newcomer Voracek was acquired in the Carter deal with Columbus and has always been on the cusp of achieving great things in the NHL.  Has tons of offensive acumen and might really get a boost playing alongside fellow native Czech and legend Jaromir Jagr this season.  Take Voracek for 55-60 points.

Brayden Schenn, C:  He’s only played 8 NHL games, but the Flyers are counting on Schenn to develop into a young Mike Richards, which is what they saw in him when they traded Mike Richards for him.  He might not be an 80 point man yet, but 50 isn’t out of the question.

BUYER BEWARE

Jaromir Jagr, RW:  He’s a legend, a future hall-of-famer, an all-time great… use any superlatives you want… but does he still have it?  He’s been out of the league nearly 3 years, but he has been playing in the KHL.  Still… point-a-game paces at the KHL level don’t translate to the same results at the NHL level.  His last full season for the New York Rangers, back in ’08, Jagr was scoring at .87 points per game.  I would expect something around his ’10 Olympics pace at .6 points per game yielding you a legend on the decline  who will get about 50 points this year, but show flashes of brilliance on the odd night.  Hopefully his loss of speed won’t see him end up like the above video from the Olympics of 2010 on too many nights.

Chris Pronger, D:  He’s still not cleared for full practices and is battling a bad knee injury.  At his age, he’ll be happy to see 70 games, play solid minutes and chip in with around 30 points.  Not worth the gamble.

PREDICTIONS

Hattrick Payne says:  The Flyers, to me, are one of the teams that are a little iffy even if they have signed a few marquee free agents this off season.  They aren’t terribly deep down the middle anymore, as trading two franchise centres will have a tendency of doing to your team.  They’ve added some experience and grit on the wings, and Bryzgalov will help in goal, but their D looks shaky and the loss of Carter and Richards is a huge blow to this team’s chances for now.  They’ll be a force in a couple of seasons when players like Voracek and Schenn develop, but they still need a better puck moving defenseman than what is currently on the roster, and the backup goalie situation is horrid.  I see the Flyers slipping out of cup contention this season but still in the playoff picture.

Claude Lebut Says: Even if Claude Giroux is my favourite player, I have to worry about a team with a GM who cannot pedal a bicycle in a straight line, let alone trade two of the best players in the NHL for some old programmes.  I’m worried about this sense of confidence that “everything will be fine” in Philly.  I’m sure Holmgren didn’t think he’ d fall off a Jersey Shore seawall, but there you have it.  Flyers are going to take a step back this year.  No playoffs.

Mark Twain says: Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example. 

Read Full Post »

It will be up to Pavel Datsyuk to stay healthy and take control of more games next season in Detroit.

KEY SUBTRACTIONS

Longtime Red Wing, Kris Draper should see his number retired in Detroit after years of service.

Brian Rafalski, D (retirement)
Kris Draper, RW (retirement)
Derek Meech, D
Mike Modano, C (retirement, rumoured)

KEY ADDITIONS

Chris Connor, RW
Mike Commodore, D
Garnet Exelby, D
Ian White, D
Ty Conklin, G

QUICK PICKS

How long can Nick Lidstrom keep doing it in Detroit? As long as he wants to.

Nicklas Lidstrom, D:  The granddaddy of NHL elite defensemen will be 42 next year, but he’s playing some of the best hockey of his career now.  The Norris trophy winner will have another Lidstromesque season with plenty of points from the back end.  If the Wings can fix their leaky goaltending situation, he’ll be back on the plus side with many Wings who had off years in that department.

Henrik Zetterberg, C:  Mr. consistency tends to get points in any venue on the road, or at home, every month, early or late in the season.  Much like the Sedins in that sense, Zetterberg doesn’t do anything flashy and won’t have Ovechkin-like nights, but he’s automatic for a goal or a helper every time he’s in the lineup.

Pavel Datsyuk, C:  Datsyuk spent much of the season on the IR last season and was still in the running for the Selke award at the end of the year.  Expect Pavel to return to his old self in 2011-2012 and have the season everyone knows and loves.  He could break 100 points with something to prove in Detroit.

Johan Franzen, LW/RW:  Franzen owners were laughing on January 2nd, 2011 when the big Swede pulled a Joe Malone and scored 5 goals, becoming the first Wing to do so since Sergei Federov did it back in 1996 and the first in the NHL since Marion Gaborik back in 2007.  He’s a perennial 25 goal, 50 point man with occasional outbursts like against the Sens last year.

SLEEPERS

Ian White, D:  Not much of a sleeper here, since White has played for half of the NHL market it seems, but it’s worth mentioning that White slides in nicely where another diminutive defenseman, Brian Rafalski, once played.  The Rafalski comparison is apt with White.  They’re both about the same size, move the puck with precision and have solid point shots (although I’d give the edge to White here).  This should be a nice fit with the Red Wings where White will pick up around 40 points.

BUYER BEWARE

Jimmy Howard will have to tighten the gaps next season in order for the Red Wings to have a chance

Jiri Hudler, LW/RW:   If anyone needs further proof that the KHL is not as strong a league as the NHL, Hudler is a point-a-game player in the KHL and half as effective in the NHL.  Perhaps that’s a sign of being on a deeper team because surely Hudler is capable of more than the 40 points a season he currently gets with the Red Wings, but as it stands he’s a depth scoring winger on the team playing behind other skilled forwards.  He can be quite inconsistent as well.

Todd Bertuzzi, RW/LW:  The aging winger has carved himself a niche in Detroit late in his career, and still shows some signs of the old Bert of Vancouver lore, but his lazy play on D as well as some bad penalties make him a player to be used with caution.  For the 15 minutes a game that he plays, however, he is still remarkably productive.

Jimmy Howard, G:  Howard has had his fair share of good games in Motor City, but doubts remain as to his ability to carry a team the full season and into the playoffs.  As capable of stealing the show as he is capable of being ventilated for 9 goals, Howard still has to learn the game between the pipes and between the ears.

PREDICTIONS

Henrik Zetterberg is Mr. Consistency for the Wings.

Hattrick Payne says:  The Wings have essentially the same parts as previous seasons, so there is no reason to believe they won’t have the same type of success they’ve enjoyed over the years.  There are some holes in the lineup here though, for example, who is going to replace the checking of long-time Wing, Kris Draper.  Is Ian White truly the next Rafalski?  And, can Howard back the Wings to 40 wins in 2011-2012?  I think this is a playoff team, but I’m not sure the Wings haven’t stopped considering their roster.  They should be good to go in 2011, but expect some modifications closer to the trade deadline when they need that extra push to get them to elite status again.   That should be enough time to see if Nabokov still has gas in the tank on Long Island.

Claude Lebut Says: Since the Wings have something against French players, I’m not going to do them any favours in this review.  They are old.  They lost to the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs after San Jose even tried to lose the series.  They have a weak goalie, and the rest of the defense is too predictable.  They have lost good checkers in the off-season and the team was 23rd last year in goals against with a pretty average penalty kill.  They might score goals, but they will let them in next season too.  I see playoffs, but I see problems in Detroit.

Mark Twain says:  Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Read Full Post »

Can Boston repeat in '12 and win the Stanley Cup again? As long as they have Chara, anything is possible.

KEY SUBTRACTIONS

The Bruins believe Benoit Pouliot, shown above beating up David Krejci, can help add skill and grit as a depth centreman in Boston.

Michael Ryder, RW
Tomas Kaberle, D
Mark Recchi, RW
Marc Savard, C

KEY ADDITIONS

Benoit Pouliot, LW
Josh Hennessy, C
Joe Corvo, D
Anton Khudobin, G

QUICK PICKS

Lucic will look to have a similar season to last year. If it ain't broke...

Milan Lucic, LW:  He has developed into one of the best power-forwards in the league.  He’ll probably want to fight more by proxy than actually as his career progresses, but the big Vancouver winger is as tough as they come.  He won’t have a breakout season next year, but he’ll be relied upon for another 65 points and occasional fighting major, which is good anytime.  He seems to have really high trade value because of popularity, so you’ll also never be short buyers when it comes to Looch.

David Krejci, C:  He has limited offensive ability when it comes to actual scoring, but he has nice vision when it comes to finding teammates in open space.  He moves the puck brilliantly and should have another 65 point season with a similar team to last year’s.  If he ever shoots the puck a little more accurately, he’ll get around 75 points.  He’s been in a two-season slump for goals though.

Patrice Bergeron, C:  Worthy of candidacy in the “Buyer Beware” section, Patrice Bergeron has had his share of concussion problems along with several other Bruins.  Still, the masterful Stanley Cup Finals performance showed me what Bergeron was really made of, and convinced me that he’s ready to accept the loss of Marc Savard and be the offensive weapon he can be for the B’s.  If Bergeron forces the issue a little more this season, he could break into the 70 point zone again.

Thomas is on the verge of becoming one of the greatest American goalies of all-time.

Tim Thomas, G:  He was a nice surprise for fantasy owners last season when he bounced back from a woeful 2009-2010 season to win another Vezina and later the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe.  Make no mistake, a hot Tim Thomas was the main reason why the Bruins won the cup this year, second only to the refs putting the whistles in their underwear amid all the fecal matter.  He doesn’t play full seasons, since Tukka Rask is capable of playing 35 games himself, but expect him in all the big games and down the stretch.

Zdeno Chara, D:  He really is the model for consistency these days, so it’s reasonable to project another ho-hum Chara season.  45-50 points, +30, 80 PIM’s, and nearly impossible to injure.  As long as he avoids the nightclubs in Montreal, he’ll do it again.  Then again, even if he does hit the clubs… it’ll take a pretty impressive gangster to make a move on big Z.

SLEEPERS

Is this the year Tyler Seguin breaks out? We think so.

Nathan Horton, RW:  He’s just as big as Lucic and was beginning to find his offensive game in the playoffs before Aaron Rome stepped into him while he was admiring his pass in the neutral zone.  He says he’s ready to go, but a lot of owners remember that you’re as good as your last game.  Since Horton’s last game consisted of counting stars in the air, most owners will be a bit shy to take Horton.  I like him for a big bounce-back season in the neighbourhood of 70 points, replacing the scoring lost via the retirement of Recchi, the injury to Savard and the signing of Ryder in Dallas.

Tyler Seguin, C/RW:  What is it with Boston and ripping teams off in trades?  Not only did they heist Cam Neely from Vancouver in the 80’s (who later became Milan Lucic through a series of historically connected events) the Bruins stole Seguin in a trade with Toronto wherein all they had to yield was the malcontent Phil Kessel.  The prevailing attitude about Seguin is that he’s potentially the best young centre in the game.  His 6’1″ 186lb. frame is slight, but in a few years he will be talked about in the same sentence as Malkin, Crosby, Ovechkin and Staal.  He will eventually put up big-time numbers but this season will be a success if he plays all 82 games, which he will.  Seguin will be a nice story all season and finish with around 65 points if all goes well.

BUYER BEWARE

Marc Savard, C:  If you haven’t already heard, Matt Cooke may have ended Savard’s playing career.  Not only should you not take Savard, you should send him get well cards via the Bruins, and if you have any kids who play hockey, train them into respecting their opponents welfare on the ice.  It’s very tragic, but it is what it is.  We wish you well Marc.

Tukka Raask, G:  He almost plays enough to warrant a pick, but your drafting strategy with Boston might be to take both Thomas and Raask.  Spending two picks on a goalie for one team seems a bit ill-advised if you ask me, and you will become irritable if you take only one, and play the guy who has the other and is starting in your goalie’s place.  I would advise against Thomas for that reason alone, but he plays just enough to merit consideration as a starter.  Raask does not.  Unless he’s traded, he’s not going to supplant Timmy.

Dennis Seidenberg, D:  I know you like the player, and he’s a key to the defensive unit in Boston, but liking a player and picking him for a hockey pool are two different elements entirely.  Other than a healthy plus/minus and about 30 points, Seidenberg will be a solid contributor in other non-measurable areas.

Brad Marchand, LW:  He is far and away the dirtiest player I watched compete in last season’s  Stanley Cup Playoffs, and easily the player other teams will key in on to try and hurt in any way possible.  Even if he just focuses on playing hockey, he’s capable of no more than a 40 point season.  I give him credit for getting up after the above P.K. Subban smashing, but really…. if you like this player, you can only be from Boston.

PREDICTIONS

Boston's core is more or less in tact. They're still young.... do I smell a repeat?

Hattrick Payne says: There isn’t much panic in Beantown, where fans will calmly let the Bruins start their defense of the Stanley Cup as the Red Sox win another World Series, and the Patriots begin their assault on another NFL division championship.  It’s getting silly in Boston with all these high calibre teams, and it might be at the point where they are the most despised sports fans in all of professional sports.  It’s ok Bostonians… it’s really just jealousy.  The Bruins will obviously make the playoffs, but they’ll be tested more often than last season with the bullseye a Stanley Cup victory tends to paint on a team.  They will actually miss Ryder, Recchi and Savard more than people might think, but with the improvement of Seguin, and the return of a stronger Horton, Bergeron and Lucic, as long as Thomas doesn’t have another out-to-lunch season, the B’s will be fine.

Claude Lebut Says:  Any team that is able to get under the skin of Montreal is a team I can love.  They have probably the best two-way centre in the league (with all due respect to Datsyuk and Kesler, Bergeron is better), the best goalie, the best power forward and the best defenceman in the league.  How couldn’t we see this last year?  With all the talk and pressure related to the Canucks, the Bruins flew so sneakily under the radar and stole the cup away from the injured Canucks.  It was a major coup, but you have to give them credit.  It was nicely played.  Next year there is no secret, no mystery.  Everyone but everyone knows about the Bruins.  They will have a lot more trouble next season with the usual 20-game hangover and with all the other teams looking to measure up to the ultimate measuring stick.  They’ll be beat up entering the playoffs, a lot like the Canucks last year, and will get beaten by a healthier team.  Repeating depends on so many conditions to go your way.  C’est la vie.


Mark Twain says:  By law of periodical repetition, everything which has happened once must happen again and again — and not capriciously, but at regular periods, and each thing in its own period, not another’s and each obeying its own law.

Read Full Post »

Corey Perry would love a repeat of his 2010-2011 season in which he won the Hart trophy after scoring 50 goals.

KEY SUBTRACTIONS

After the Ducks signed backup Jeff Deslauriers, and with the expected return to health of Jonas Hiller there doesn't seem to be a place in Anaheim for Ray Emery.

Andreas Lilja, D
Josh Green, LW
Kyle Chipchura, C
Jason Jaffray, LW
Jarko Ruutu, LWk
Ray Emery, G

KEY ADDITIONS

Andrew Cogliano, C
Mark Bell, LW
Jean-Francois Jacques, LW
Patrick Maroon, LW
Andrew Gordon, RW
Brian McGratton, RW
Mathieu Carle, D
Kurtis Foster, D
Nate Guenin, D
Bryan Rodney, D
Matt Smaby, D
Jeff Deslauriers, G

QUICK PICKS

Not much doubt about the NHL's top line today. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry celebrate a goal with Bobby Ryan. Get used to it.

Ryan Getzlaf, C:  Part 1 of hockey’s best line.  He’s a first round option for any pool pick.  Played only 67 games last season and still managed 76 points.  He’s a proven passer and clutch performer in every facet of the game.  Plays point on powerplays sometimes.  Needs to avoid getting hurt, and he does play physically, so that’s a risk.  Will be counted on to do the same as always for Anaheim this season.

Corey Perry, RW:  Part 2 of the greatest line in hockey today, and the league’s 2011 Hart Trophy winner, Corey Perry is another top round selection in 2011.  He might not get another 50, but it’s conceivable that he gets 40 and approaches the 90 point plateau again.  Was the Ducks, and the league’s best player the last two months of the season or so.  Can he get red-hot again?

Bobby Ryan, LW:  Part 3 of the best line in the NHL today, and arguably the weakest link on the chain, but not by much.  Has outstanding offensive acumen and uses all of his 6’2″ 200 lb. frame to his advantage.  Perfect compliment to Getzlaf and Perry.  Will be in the 70’s easily once again.

Lubomir Visnovsky, D:  Potentially the quickest D-man in the league and possessor of outstanding vision and puck possession skills, You would think Lubomir will be challenged to collect another 68 points this coming season, but his totals could approach the same marker or more.  The team has more depth on the back end now, so his freedom to roam could even increase.  With additional health to Jonas Hiller, Lubomir might lead the league in scoring for defenders… again.

SLEEPERS

Koivu, pictured here trying to set up fellow geriatric Teemu Selanne, will play for a new contract in 2011-2012. Motivation enough.

Toni Lydman, D:  Looks after his back-end first and foremost.  His +32 last year was near the best in the league. Chipping in around 30 points doesn’t hurt in the least and he usually averages nearly double the PIM’s from his 40 last year.  Not spectacular, but won’t hurt your plus/minus rating at all.

Andrew Cogliano, C/LW/RW:  Versatile forward who has offensive upside in Anaheim, especially if he plays with Selanne, who is rumoured to return.  Gets 40 points automatically, so a boost in points to about 55 isn’t unreasonable to expect on a team with one of the best offenses in the NHL.

Saku Koivu, C:  He is playing for a new contract, so his numbers should at least stay the same, if not show a slight improvement.  55 points isn’t unreasonable for this player at his age.

BUYER BEWARE

His knees bark at him constantly now, but Selanne is still one of the best scorers in the league. Enjoy him while he lasts.

Teemu Selanne, RW:  He’s not signed yet, and is going to be 41.  He still has some of the best hands in the game, but last season was his best year in 4 years.  Either he’s the ageless wonder, or father time will catch him at some point.  I should think he’s worth a pick if he’s back, but I don’t know about getting 80 points again.  Look for about 70 points this season, which is still fantastic at any age.  That’s why he’s a first ballot hall-of-famer.  Assuming he signs, of course.

Jonas Hiller, G:  He’s an all-star calibre goalie with elite skills with enviable lateral movement.  There is, however, no cure for Vertigo and it is a condition that can recur.  A goalie with vertigo is about as useful as a phone with no batteries.  If he plays a full season, he’ll make Anaheim a better team and could end up with 40 wins.  I’m not saying don’t take him, just examine your other options closely before doing so.

PREDICTIONS

Hattrick Payne says:  When all is said and done, the Ducks have a team worthy of consideration for elite status in the NHL.  They appear to boast the best number one line in the NHL with the unstoppable combination of Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan, and have excellent offensive support throughout the lineup.  Their goaltending problem of a year ago centred around the health of Jonas Hiller, who is reportedly ready to go.  Their defensive depth has improved through free agent additions, and provided the team signs Selanne, which everyone expects they shall, Anaheim should have a difficult team to beat in 2011-2012.  Several players on the roster have won a Stanley Cup before, so perhaps all that is needed is the motivation of a new season and a first-round exit at the hands of the Nashville Predators last season.  They still have plenty of wiggle room in their salary cap, even after the presumable happens when they sign Selanne.  Look out NHL, the Ducks are armed for war.

Jonas Hiller will want to show everyone that his battles with vertigo are a thing of the past this coming season.

Claude Lebut Says: You are only as strong as your weakest link, and there don’t seem to be too many weak links on this team in 2011.  Even their backup goalie, Jeff Deslauriers saw significant minutes with Edmonton so he has enough experience to cover for a while in case Hiller is sick with Vertigo again.  I really wonder why Selanne always waits so long to decide on a new season…. maybe he just doesn’t want to think about it until it begins, but I’m pretty sure a guy who can still play in the world’s best league won’t shut it down early.  He will want to win the battle of old men vs. Jagr this season I’m sure.  Veterans Koivu, Blake and Beauchemin are all playing for new contracts, so they could have rejuvenated seasons.  Coach Randy Carlyle always has his team tough and ready to play.  It doesn’t matter where they’ve been the last few years, these players know how to get it done in any situation.  I like Anaheim to have a great year.


Mark Twain says: If you should rear a duck in the heart of the Sahara, no doubt it would swim if you brought it to the Nile.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: