The new NHL season is barely more than six weeks away. A mere forty-seven days away, factoring in a percent error of 5% or so. And to be properly prepared for the season, you will need to know what I know….because what I know, is mostly right.
I’m not a savant, or a psychic, or even a psychic detective for that matter. I’m not a former player, manager or “industry expert”. I’m not the prognosticator of prognosticators, not the Seer of Seers, not the Sage of Sages, basically I am in no way relatable to Punxsutawney Phil. What I am is a FAN. Not just a fan of my local team, but a fan of the game of hockey in general. I watch the game unfold, not just the goals when they are scored. I understand the systems, I recognize potential, I follow the trends, and most importantly….I know that a play is offside, not OFFSIDES!!
The question now really becomes, Will knowing about hockey help me draft a better fantasy hockey team? And the answer is: yes, of course, maybe, couldn’t hurt, and what kind of stupid question is that. Why would you even play fantasy hockey if you don’t know hockey? It can’t be because you like fantasy, but don’t really like hockey….because that is not possible. Hockey is the best sport in the world, period. Don’t even say soccer, hockey is like soccer…only better. Hockey is soccer with more scoring, on ice(instantly more interesting), with fighting, no hooligans in the stands stabbing people(Terry O’Reilly made sure that would never happen), the only players who dive are on the Canadiens, and hockey players don’t kick…they use their hands to hold sticks, like normal people. Whether you feel that learning the fundamentals of hockey for fantasy is a basic requirement or a competitive edge, I’m sure we all agree that knowing truly is half the battle.
We have now established that the season is starting soon. That even if you do not agree with what I say, you should read what I write…because it’s funny, you just may learn something, and because I would really appreciate it. And even though this is a Dynasty Fantasy Site, what I’m writing here is Hockey Articles with Fantasy Impact. We are gonna talk about hockey, we are gonna have some fun, and we are gonna win leagues!!*
*There is no guarantee everyone who reads this will win their league, that doesn’t make any sense, only one person can win per league, the rest of you will lose…..it’s just math.
This article is the first in an eight part series to preview the upcoming season team by team. Breaking up the four divisions into what I believe will be the top and bottom teams in each. Realignment has occurred, and if you don’t know…now you know. There will be an Anchorman Quote theme for this entire article, as the release of Anchorman 2 is the only thing even close to as exciting as the start of the hockey season.
Central Division – lower half
“Great Odin’s raven! Veronica, she put that in the teleprompter.”
For the Dallas Stars, who traded for an incredible young talent this off season. Tyler Seguin has top end speed, a quick and accurate wrist shot, and impressive offensive vision. He may one day realize his limitless potential and prove to the world why he was drafted second overall. Being allowed to play center in a more open offensive system may up his comfort level and allow for him to blossom. Or….he may just be another entitled and gifted athlete who doesn’t want to do much more than the bare minimum. Letting his natural ability get it as far as it can, but never strive to be the best. He may always seem strangely slow for such a fast skater, he may always seem so out of position defensively, he may always be a overpaid but better than average player. And he may never learn how to lock his phone so his friends can’t play on his twitter. That was the bitter Bruin fan in me, the realistic hockey fan knows that considering Seguin’s downside is an above average point producer…he is still a second round talent at worse.
Jamie Benn is what he is and what he is is a reliable twenty goal scorer. Other players may have more upside, but when the safe way is the way you want to go then the way to go is Benn. The Stars do have some youth moving up, but I don’t foresee the likes of Valeri Nichushkin or Alex Chiasson making much of a fantasy impact this season.
Rich Peverley, Shawn Horcoff, and Erik Cole are good late round gambles. Their defense, goaltending, and odd mix of very old and very young players have me listing them as one of the worst teams in the league…the good news being that some players may start playing for stats…if they aren’t too busy deleting tweets.
“Do you really love the lamp, or are you just saying it because you saw it?”
For the Nashville Predators, well more specifically, Pekka Rinne. I love Pekka, and I’m not just saying it. One of a very few group of goalies who still has the potential to carry a team single handedly to the playoffs. Number one ranked goalie in my soon to be ranked rankings. That being said, Rinne could start all 82 games and unless the magical happens…this team just does not yet have what it takes to make it to the playoffs. Best goalie in the league and a top ten defenseman isn’t a bad jumping off point, unfortunately the Predators happen to be jumping off a skyscraper.
The forward lines are full of 3rd line talent (Paul Gaustad, David Legwand, and Matt Cullen) a forward with one moderately good season under his jersey (Viktor Stalberg) a forward in Mike Fisher who is consistent at scoring twenty goals, when he plays a full season, and a slew of prospects who they hope will develop before the only good that comes from Shea Weber and Rinne is what they get via trade. It cannot go without being said, the defense is beastly, double down on Weber and the boys shutting down opposing offenses and Pekka cleaning up the rest. To summarize, this team offensively is very unimpressive, in the real world or the fantasy world. Webber and possibly Seth Jones are big beastly D. And Pekka Rinne is a lamp, and I LOVE LAMP!
“I miss your musk… When this all gets sorted out, I think you and me should get an apartment together!”
What I believe was a real conversation between Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy, but instead of an apartment, the will be running a NHL team together. It makes sense, I mean, how would they have split the deposit!?! It’s all the rage these days for game announcers to tell you the strange things that your starting goalie does before the game. Braden Holtby squirts his water bottle, Damian Rhodes used to die his hair blonde before home games, and some goalie used to kiss the pipes before the game….WHO was that?….Roy, that’s right, it was Roy. He is one of the greatest goalies of all time and has had success coaching, but was this enigmatic former goalie the right person to coach this team? Roy is used to success, he did not respond so well when he didn’t have it in Montreal. Success came in his first year as a coach. Does he quit after his first three game losing streak? Was announcing his 1st 2nd and 3rd line combinations three months before the season started a good idea? While the first overall pick in the draft shouldn’t be handed anything more, she he be told an hour after the draft that he is a third line center this year, like it or not.
If you’ve read my realignment article (and I know you have) then you know that with few exceptions, it is all about goalies and defense this year. Semyon Varlamov is not good. You can blame the porous defense in front of him if you will, but the fact remains, when giving more playing time his numbers decrease across the board. Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie have some potential as late round defensive gambles.
Expect this team to score, they are going to have to if they want to stay even remotely competitive. Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly, PA Parenteau , and Paul Stastny are all potential twenty goal scorers. Don’t reach for any of them, but don’t be afraid to take one when he falls to you. Duchene and Parenteau will most likely go first, Landeskog has the most upside however. And don’t forget that third line rookie, Nathan MacKinnon. If this team makes the playoffs, I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong, and kiss Patrick Roy’s Pipes.
I’m sure Roy would have figured it out, well in advance of the move in date.
Next week we will take a look at the top half of this Division. Until then:
I’m Donald Contois , You stay classy Interweb
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