Yahoo Fantasy Hockey: Previewing the East in the middle of the off-season (Puck Daddy)
- Updated: July 29, 2015
Dobber Hockey launched in 2005 and Dobber and his staff have hitched their wagons to Puck Daddy to preach fantasy hockey to the Yahoo masses since 2009. Now that the smoke has (mostly) cleared from an offseason that saw numerous big names switch jerseys, we are now ready to discuss the fantasy implications of these moves. Let’s take a tour around the NHL to find out how these changes could affect player fantasy values entering the 2015-16 season. We’ll start with our preview of the Eastern Conference teams. The Western Conference preview will be up Thursday. Atlantic Division Boston Bruins If Don Sweeney were a fantasy GM, he’d be the guy that you’d poke fun at for getting fleeced. Regardless, the cap situation left by his predecessor had backed the Bruins into a corner. But many Bruins simply don’t possess the fantasy value that they used to … Torey Krug seems likely to log the even-strength minutes that will be left by Dougie Hamilton, which could help improve his overall point total. Krug’s power-play ice time per game last season (2:37) was actually more than Hamilton’s (2:30) … Matt Beleskey should take on Milan Lucic’s role as the resident power forward who will score a little. Never mind his sizable contract – the quality of his linemates could prevent him from reaching 20 goals … With the Bruins now trending downward for next season, is Tuukka Rask still a top-5 goalie? A top-10 goalie? Buffalo Sabres Following this offseason, there are some exciting times ahead for the Sabres. Just don’t expect major gains in 2015-16 while this team continues on its rebuild course. Overall, this team contains a ton of x-factors fantasy-wise … Jack Eichel should be drafted in most fantasy formats as a sleeper, although you won’t want to draft him too early in single-season formats … Don’t overvalue Ryan O’Reilly either, as O’Reilly seems to offer a better real-life game than a fantasy game … Is it possible that the first Sabre drafted in your fantasy league is Evander Kane? Don’t forget that he will also be making his Sabres debut this season … Sabres’ goalies must have felt like they worked at a tire factory last season, as they faced more rubber than any other NHL team (35.6 shots per game). Keep that in mind when drafting Robin Lehner. Detroit Red Wings Best known as a veteran team, the Red Wings brought in – guess what – more veterans during the offseason. But we can’t argue Ken Holland’s brilliance, so we applaud his players’ subsequent contributions to fantasy teams through the years … Detroit seems like the perfect home for Mike Green, whose role in Washington had been diminishing. Green averaged under 16 minutes of even-strength ice time last season, which in essence made him a fifth defenseman. An ESTOI increase means that a return to 50 points is not completely out of the question … At this stage in his career, Brad Richards is probably a late-round pick at best in single-season Yahoo leagues. However, he could be a sneaky early-season pickup with Pavel Datsyuk likely on the shelf to start the year following ankle surgery. Florida Panthers Since the Panthers are a cap floor team attempting to rebuild with youth, there’s very little to see here fantasy-wise … The most significant offseason acquisition was that of Reilly Smith, who was acquired from Boston along with Marc Savard’s contract for Jimmy Hayes. Yet Smith will still need to battle for minutes with youngsters Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, and Jonathan Huberdeau and of course the venerable Jaromir Jagr … If you’re in one of those deep keeper leagues that rewards physical play, you may want to get your hands on first-round pick Lawson Crouse (6-3, 212 lbs.) Montreal Canadiens If you’ve played fantasy hockey for a number of years, you’ve probably been disappointed by Alexander Semin by now. But remember that the last time he signed a one-year contract, he was a point-per-game player. Don’t expect him to pull that off again this season, but he could very well be a top-6 forward for the offensively-challenged Habs … Although he is still only 24 years old, Zack Kassian will have a lot to prove. A power forward who has shown great hands at times, particularly with the Sedins in Vancouver, Kassian will need to improve his defensive game in order to stay out of Michel Therrien’s Chateau Bow Wow and thus earn top-6 minutes … Looking for an extremely deep sleeper? Try defenseman Mark Barberio, who was an afterthought for the Lightning during last year’s playoffs. Habs fans may remember Barberio from his QMJHL days, when he recorded point-per-game numbers for the Moncton Wildcats. Ottawa Senators The Senators don’t spend money like a Canadian politician with an expense account, so the offseason moves were also kept to a minimum here … The most significant offseason move was the trade of onetime goalie of the future Robin Lehner to the Sabres. This move opens the door for late-season sensation Andrew Hammond to not only sell more cheeseburgers in Ottawa, but also to earn a full-time NHL roster spot. The prospective Hammond/Craig Anderson goaltending battle will be one to watch. Hammond earned more wins (20) over 24 games than Anderson did (14) over 35 games. So does that mean the Hamburgler will be the starter come opening night? Not necessarily – he turned around and lost the starting job in playoffs. Either way, it will be worth keeping an eye on. Tampa Bay Lightning There is very little change on this roster, but this time it’s for all the right reasons. The trick for the Bolts will be attempting to keep all their young talent together once contracts begin to expire. In fact, there’s not much to add here when your top offseason acquisitions were Erik Condra, Tye McGinn, and Jeff Tambellini. There’s still oodles of fantasy goodness on this team, just nothing new to report. Toronto Maple Leafs If you want change, then you’ve come to the right paragraph, because there’s never a dull moment in Leafland. We all know that Phil Kessel is out and that Lou Lamoriello and Mike Babcock are in. And the list of new players seems endless … If the Leafs wanted to go about this rebuild properly, they weren’t going to make a splash with the big names. So their two most significant additions are P.A. Parenteau and Shawn Matthias, who could be top-6 forwards on the Leafs, unlike their previous teams. Keep in mind that they will probably be trade chips later in the season. Same with Mark Arcobello, who always seems to be a trade chip anyway. One other thing to consider – with no Phil Kessel you may be looking at no 60-point players. And probably only a small handful of 40-point players.