Need a bigger fantasy fix? We've just released the first edition of our popular Blogger's Breakout. Check out FHS' Free Agent Fallout where we break down all of the big FA signings this off-season...from a fantasy perspective.
The continuing saga of Boston trying to get Swedish prospect Carl Soderberg to cross the pond is on again. Soderberg has teased the Bruins since they acquired him two years ago from St.Louis about possibly coming over to North America only to ultimately decide against it. Well B's GM Peter Chiarelli is leaving the door open again saying that there's an opening for him to start the year with the big club if he were to come over this year as its likely that both Krejci and Kessel will still be recovering from injuries when the season begins... interesting but we wouldn't get your hopes up as Soderberg doesn't want to risk coming over and ending up in Providence. Too bad as the kid has put up some impressive numbers in the Swedish 2nd division finishing 4th in league scoring last year. [more]
On a similar note, Florida says they have signed 2007 3rd round pick Evgeni Dadonov to an entry level deal but Dadonov is said to have already signed an extension with his team in the KHL so there will be a lot of upset dudes named Boris if Dadonov does actually make the jump to North America. Dadonov is one of the better prospects playing in KHL currently so this situation will be one to watch.
eeeewww... here's a juicy one, Brendan Morrison has signed with Washington. He'll fill the spot that Sergei Fedorov vacated when he left for the KHL, as a second or third line Cmen who can jump onto the #1 PP unit if needed. This scout has always liked BMo as he's usually a consistent 82 game player who can be counted on for 50-70 points. That's not been the case the past two seasons as he had injury issues two years ago and then had a hard time coming back and finding his place in Anaheim to start last year. We can see a reversion back to his usual ways on a talented Caps team... of all the moves over the past week this might be the one that gives a player the biggest fantasy boost.
Follow the jump for lots more fantasy news and our famous Distractions (including Obama talking about Ovechkin!)...
Tampa Bay signed Antero Niittymaki as their brand new backup goalie. We were expecting the Bolts to bring in somebody...umm...well...better than Niitty. We figured with Mike Smith's post concussion issues they would want somebody a bit more reliable to fall back on. Well, either Smith's health is better than we thought or GM Brian Lawton doesn't know what's he's going. It really could be either one. Antero's fantasy value takes a big hit as he's the definite number 2 in Tampa... of course, a Mike Smith injury changes all that.
Montreal made a few more moves as part of their summer makeover as they signed Paul Mara and Travis Moen to free agent deals. Moen doesn't have any fantasy value unless your in the deepest of leagues but Mara has been a very useful fantasy dman as recently as 2005/06 when we had 47 points for Phoenix. The past three seasons he's only averaged 20 points and it would seem that based on Montreal's depth chart (behind Markov & Spacek for PP time) that he won't be counted on for much offense... but one to keep an eye on cause he has some talent and offers some PIMs as well.
Yann Danis has signed with New Jersey and at this point looks like he'll be Marty Brodeur's caddy for the season. Danis got into 31 games last year with the Islanders and handled himself pretty well. Its a definite upgrade playing behind the Devils defense but unless Marty gets hurt again, Danis won't see enough action to be fantasy worthy in most leagues.
Ales Kotalik signed a three-year deal with the Rangers yesterday, so he'll be bringing his underachieving ways to Broadway... sounds like a perfect fit. It's possible he could end up on a line with Gaborik, which would be good, but that's assuming Gabo is healthy, which is unlikely. So unless you enjoy throwing things at your TV, we'd suggest you pass on Kotalik and let somebody else take on that headache.
Interesting piece talking about Colin Wilson from Nashville and the possibility that he'll start the year in the AHL. The Predators have been known to be very patient with their prospects so we could see Wilson begin the year in Milwaukee and working his way up to the big club part way through the season.
Nick Boynton signed a one-year deal with Anaheim... Nicky B hasn't had a decent fantasy season in five years so we wouldn't expect big things although he does provide a steady stream of PIMs (over 90 for the last seven seasons straight)... so if you're desperate for a PIM injection then Boynton is a nice option, especially playing for Randy Carlyle.
Tampa Bay got one thing right yesterday as they signed Victor Hedman to an entry level deal. Hedman will step into the lineup right away this coming season and we're still mulling over how much of a fantasy impact we think he'll have in his rookie season... our official analysis will be in the upcoming Breakout Bible... but lets just say that he's probably the most accomplished & NHL-ready 18 year-old dmen to enter the league in the last 20 years.
Speaking of T-Bay, they could have another mess on their hands as the ghost of Radim Vrbata has re-appeared, or at least is threatening to re-appear next season. The Bolts tried to make him go away last season but he's still got two years and $6M left on his deal so he's come back to collect. GM Brian Lawton is saying that they'll send him to the minors if he tries to return but there's no way they want to pay him big money to play in the AHL, so this one could get interesting.
Reports have the Leafs signing Rickard Wallin from Farjestad to a one-year deal. Wallin's a 29-year old who was in North American with Houston of the AHL as recently as 2005. He put up some good numbers in Sweden last year with 18+27=45 in 55 games but recall that he put up 12+31=43 in 50 games for Farjestad in 2001-02 before coming over and only seeing 19 NHL games with Minnesota over the span of the next two seasons. So we see his chances of making a fantasy impact this year as slim.
The Jiri Hudler rumours turned out to be true, (e5) I guess you could say. So he's got a two year, big ruble deal to play for Dynamo Moscow of the KHL. Its unfortunate for Wings fans and fantasy hockey GMs as Hudler had an under-the-radar breakout season this past year with 23+34=57 while only seeing limited minutes. Somehow I think the Wings will survive and they may be relieved as it was going to be tough to get Hudler signed under the cap. Don't give up on Hudler entirely as he has a clause in his contract that says he can return to the NHL so he could change his mind tomorrow... but we wouldn't count on it. This move provides another boost for Ville Leino's value and chances of a breakout this season (see below).
Reports have Antero Niittymaki signing on to play in the KHL as well, essentially taking over Ray Emery's job for Atlant. Too bad as he would have been a nice backup option for a number of teams with the potential to push the #1 guy but he'll go to Russia, have a big year and then probably sign a big deal with an NHL team next year.
Saku Koivu leaves the Habs for the Ducks after he signed a one year $3.25 million deal with the Ducks. Koivu gets overrated in a lot of fantasy circles. He doesn't score or shoot much and has only 56 and 50 points the last two years. Koivu will fit in very nicely on the Duck's second line with fellow Finn Teemu Selanne on his wing. He's not the number one center anymore but he should still hit the 50-60 point range.
Chris Pronger should be a Flyer for the rest of his playing days after he agreed to a $34.9 million seven year extension. The big fella will make $6.25 million next season (the last year of his deal) then $7.6 million in each of the next two years, $7.2 million in 2012-13, $7 million in 2013-14 and $5.5 million over the last three years of the deal. We don't like these long term deals for older guys (Pronger is 34 years old) but he should be good for 45-50 points, 90+ PIM's and 30 PPP this coming season. Just remember the days of Pronger being a 60+ point d-man are gone...so don't overpay.
The Bolts picked up another NHL-calibre d-man...looks like they learned a lesson from last year. This time it was Kurtis Foster who signed a one year $600,000 deal with Tampa Bay. Foster has tons of upside...both for Tampa and your fantasy squad. He almost missed all of last year with a broken leg, so he'll be off a few radars. He's shown flashes of ability in his career...28 points in 58 games in 2005-06 which is a 40 point pace over 82 games. He also has a cannon of a shot. If he's fully healthy and gets hot early he could land some big PP minutes on a talented Tampa power play. Foster is a great flyer in very deep leagues...40 isn't out of the question. Especially when he only has an aging Mattias Ohlund ahead of him on the PP depth charts.
Dallas traded a 6th round pick for Alex Auld. Which works out perfectly since Marty Turco has said that he'd like his workload to be reduced next season from the 74 games he played last season to a more manageable 50 to 55. This is probably good news for Turco owners as staying fresh should help his numbers (except for wins) and opens up the door for Auld to pick up some some scavenger wins.
News hot off the press that Joe Sakic will be retiring from the NHL after 20 great years. From a hockey standpoint. it will be sad for all to see Burnaby Joe go as he was one of the most likable players in the league...a real class act as they say. From a fantasy standpoint. Colorado is looking like a wasteland now. Paul Stastny and Milan Hedjuk are really going to struggle to score on this team.
Chicago GM Dale Tallon is working feverishly to fix this qualifying offer debacle that he created. So far he's signed all the guys (including Barker below) who didn't receive their QOs properly with the exception of Kris Versteeg. Versteeg should follow suit soon (we're hearing rumours he's close to agreeing to a $9 million, 3 year deal) and then this whole mess will be forgotten.
Cam Barker (a RFA) signed a three year $9.25 million deal to stay with the Blackhawks. A bit of talk that GM Dale Tallon's administration error might have meant Barker would get UFA status but in the end he's back with the Hawks. Even though his breakout was last year (40 points in 68 games) we expect big things from the 23 year old Barker. Definitely one to own this year.
Brian Burke's hard sell on Jonas Gustavsson has worked (either that or the Monster figured signing might get Burke to shut up) as the Leafs were able to get the 24-year old FA goalie's Johan Hancocksson on a contract... its a one year deal and then he'll be a RFA after that. See our Distraction for some of the key numbers and video but the bottom line is the kid had one pretty unbelievable season in the Swedish Elite League but that's it. He'll also be backing up Vesa Toskala on one of the worst defensive teams in the league (albeit they should be improved next year)... so what we're trying to say is don't be expecting a Henrik Lundqvist like arrival... give him some time and he might become a decent fantasy option.
The big news Monday was the signings of Alex Kovalev and Francois Beauchemin signings. Good adds for both teams. Kovalev lining up to Jason Spezza just sounds like it will work. As for F-Beau, he's got lots of upside and hasn't had a chance to really prove himself. Take a look at our Free Agent Fallout for more details.
Chris Higgins was the 'prize' the Rangers picked up in their Scott Gomez deal. They inked Higgy to a one year, $2.25 million dollar deal. He had only 23 points in 57 games last year but did put together a tidy 52 points in 82 games in the season previous. If he ends up on Gaborik's line, and if they show some chemistry and if Gabby and Higgy both stay healthy all year...Higgins might be a nice little fantasy player. But then again...that's a lot of if's.
The Leafs were busy Monday...they also signed their 1st round draft pick Nazem Kadri to a three year entry deal. This increases the odds that the speedy Kadri will play with the Leafs this year but we wouldn't count on it. Even if he does make it to the NHL his impact should be minimal.
Ville Leino was signed by Detroit for two years. We're loving Leino's upside but it might be a year too early for the young Finn. With Mikael Samuelsson gone the Wings are going to need help from somewhere...it could be Leino that steps up. He scored nine points in just 13 games last year playing mostly on the fourth line.
Shane O'Brien was also signed by the Canucks today. He picked up $1.6 million for his troubles on a one year deal. O'Brien has no value at all in fantasy circles...unless you have a enforcer category as he picked up massive 196 PIM's last year.
What's distracting us this week? Have you seen the video of Barack Obama thanking Russia for Alexander Ovechkin? Maybe he's a hockey fan after all...
So Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson has signed with the Leafs...who is this guy?
Fabian Brunnstrom had dinner with Gustavsson last week in Sweden. Gustavsson called Brian Burke 'a nice guy' (which leads us to believe he didn't see Burke screw over Brian Murray at the draft). I guess nice guy's finish first in the NHL.
All we can do it offer you three things to help you to get to know The Monster:
- Take a look at the numbers....a 1.96 gaa and a .932 sv% followed by an even better playoff for Farjestad in the Swedish Elite League....wow! (even if he was pretty ordinary in five World Championship games)
- Take a look at the photo...dude's got crazy eyes
Take a look at the video...that first save in particularly is unbelievable
...and if you're a Leaf/Stars fan, just don't get too excited. Remind yourself what the 'can't miss Swedish free agent' did in his first year in the NHL.