Need a bigger fantasy fix? Our final edition of Blogger's Breakout is out as the five teams in the Pacific Division finish things off with a bang. Also, make sure you check out the complete list of our Fantasy Coach Rankings. And finally, don't forget that coming later in August and September we'll be releasing our Breakout Bible and Fantasy Scouting Report: Preview & Projections.
Start spreading the news... according to Larry Brooks, Vinny Prospal has landed in Manhattan, signing a one-year deal with the Rangers. It's fitting, since GM Glen Sather has a real fetish for maddeningly inconsistent players. We're not sure where Vinny P fits in with the Rangers yet but he'll be in the top 6 somewhere and could get a shot, as Larry suggests, to center the top line with Gaborik. Bad news for players like Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov who had their eyes on the #1C role or at least liked their chances of seeing more top 6 ice-time this year. [more]
RFA winger Matt D'Agostini re-signed with the Habs on a one-year deal. Not sure what he gained from holding out this long as he signed for pretty much the league minimum and didn't get a one-way deal. He had 12 goals and 9 assists in 53 games as a rookie last year. He's one of the guys in the running for a spot on the 2nd line and if can pull it off he'll be usable in some deep leagues... but the two-way deal will make it easy for them to send him down, so beware.
At the Ivan Hlinka tournament on Saturday, Canada took the tournament title with a 9-2 victory over Russia. Once again our boys John McFarland (2 goals) and Tyler Seguin (1+3=4) led the way for Canada. Kirill Kabonov had 1+1=2 and finished the tournament with a decent showing (5+2=7 in four games) but he was no match for McFarland (7+6=13 in six games [including pre-tournament]) and Seguin (3+12=15 in six games) who both look like stud prospects for the 2010 NHL draft.
Follow the jump for lots more fantasy news (Varlamov, Tanguay, Shirokov, etc) and our Distractions (The funniest hockey commercials & how to DIY an air hockey table)...
The Capitals have named Arturs Irbe as their goalie coach... cool... there's a blast from the past, I wonder if the Caps negotiated to acquire his lucky equipment (the "dirty pillows") as well? Hiring a Latvian (formerly Soviet) goalie coach would seem to bode well for a guy who doesn't speak much English yet (Semyon Varlamov) and not so much for the Caps "#1" (Jose Theodore) who inspired so much confidence in the team that they gave him the hook after one playoff game last spring. Coach Bruce Boudreau took the opportunity Thursday to tell everyone that Jose is still the team's #1 goalie. That's a little surprising but I guess what else is he going to say? It will be Jose's job to lose and it may take a week, a month, a half season but eventually he'll lose it cause it's pretty clear he ain't gonna be their #1 when the playoffs roll around. So temper your expectations for Varlamov a little bit as it sounds like there will be some job sharing going on at the beginning of the season until this situation sorts itself out... the way we all know it will.
Minor deal on Thursday as Tampa Bay traded the beastly Evgeny Artyukhin to the Ducks for Drew Miller and a draft pick. Not much fantasy impact here as neither of these guys are big contributors. Arty goes to a much better team who encourages the fisticuffs, so his PIMs get a boost (he had 151 last year). Miller was going nowhere in Anaheim and we don't see that really changing in Tampa, although he has a better chance to win a full-time spot on a weaker Bolts roster.
Things went as expected at the Ivan Hlinka tournament on Thursday as Canada and Russia both finished a perfect 3-0 in the round robin and will meet in Saturday's final. The line of John McFarland (5+6=11 in 5 games [including pre-tournament]) / Tyler Toffoli (5+7=12 in 5 games) / Tyler Seguin (2+9=11 in 5 games) has been dynamite for Canada and although Kirill Kabanov (4+1=5 in 3 games) has been good for Russia, the player that's really caught our eye has been 15-year old Nail Yakupov (3+2=5 in 3 games)... but he's not even eligible for the NHL draft until 2012.
San Jose signed RFA goalie Thomas Greiss to a two-year deal. The plan is for the Kraut to be Nabokov's backup this year, but curiously he only got a two-way deal which leaves the option open that they could send him to the AHL at some point... hmmm. San Jose also signed Swedish goalie Henrik Karlsson to a one-year deal, he's a 25-year old who had a nice year with Malmo in the Swedish Allsvenskan (2nd division). Not sure how this works but he was signed and then immediately loaned back to Farjestad in the Swedish Elite League, so he won't be playing in North American this year? Whatev. The Sharks goaltending situation is an interesting one as they have a number of intriguing young prospects (Sexsmith, Stalock, Sateri) and Nabokov will be a UFA & 35 next summer, so this could go any number of ways.
Edmonton signed RFA dman Ladislav Smid to a new deal... yawn... not even worth discussing. They also signed RFA forward Gilbert Brule to a one-year two-way deal... this is a little more interesting. Brule was the former 6th overall pick of Columbus back in 2005 who the Oilers traded for last summer. As expected, they sent him to the AHL to try to regain his confidence but that didn't really work as he finished with 24 points in 39 games for Springfield. Not sure what the plan is now as we don't see where he fits in with Edmonton, I guess at age 22 it doesn't hurt to keep him around (in the AHL) and see if he can capture some of what made him such a highly touted teenager.
At the Ivan Hlinka tournament yesterday, Canada beat Switzerland 6-3 led by two goals from captain John McFarland. That's four points in two games for McFarland and he's lighting it up as expected. He's projected to be a top 10 pick in the 2010 draft and he'll be a kid who you'll be hearing a whole lot more about in the coming year.
Reports indicate that UFA winger Alex Tanguay is close to signing with either Tampa Bay or Minnesota. He could probably slide nicely right onto the top line in T-Bay with Vinny, so that would work out swell. In M'sota we'd want him on a line with Mikko Koivu but he might end up on the 2nd line. Tangs has had two sub-par years after scoring at least a ppg for three straight years. He's only 29 so we think he could have a bounceback year if he lands in the sweet spot but he's never been a big contributor in standard leagues as his goals, PIMs and shots are usually lacking.
So apparently Nik Zherdev has not signed to play in the KHL yet (I don't believe we said he had) but his agent says, "he has not signed at this point"... those last three words translate to "he's about to sign but he's still open to an NHL GMs brain fart and offer of $4M". We've said our goodbyes to Nikki already so we're considering him gone.
We're following the Ivan Hlinka tournament for ya, since a lot of the top prospects for the 2010 draft are strutting their stuff for the scouts... we're looking for big things from Canadian prospects like John McFarland, Brandon Gormley and Brett Connolly and they pulled out a 3-2 victory over Sweden in their opening game. Taylor Hall is not playing btw, so the big star of the tournament is expected to be Kirill Kabanov and the Russian winger did not disappoint as he potted a hat-trick vs the USA. There is some talk that Kabanov may make the jump to play in the Q for Moncton this year but that may just be posturing.
Mike Grier is back with the Sabres... there hasn't been a return of this magnitude in Buffalo since my blazin' boneless wings made an encore appearance at the BWW on Elmwood... but that's gross and has nothing to do with anything. Grier signed a one-year deal and he has no fantasy value but his signing is creating a crowd of bubble forwards in Buffalo that could make it more difficult for a prospect like Nate Gerbe to make the team. We still think Gerbe will find a way to break training camp on the NHL roster but we're going to give the AHL rookie of the year a season to get comfortable at the NHL level before we consider drafting him in one-year leagues.
Nashville re-signed RFA forward Ryan Jones to a two-year deal. Jones was up-and-down between the NHL and AHL last year but should find a permanent home in Nashville this year. The power forward impressed with 13 goals in 25 AHL games last year and was a points & PIMs threat in college... so we're bullish on his long term prospects.
Reports say that Nik Zherdev is about to sign with Ufa of the KHL. Not sure who's really that disappointed (probably mostly his North American agent), not this scout... but I guess there'd be some keeper league GMs that will be losing a talent that they've been really patient with, just waiting for him to put it all together. Oh well, he'll join a talented team in Ufa, linking up with other pillars of motivation like Alexander Radulov, Viktor Kozlov, Oleg Tverdovksy, etc, but remember what we always say about Ufa... no goaltending.
Pat Kane was arrested for robbing and beating a cab driver in Buffalo in a dispute over 20 cents??? (see mug shot at left if you wish to rush to judgment on his case). Now there may be more to this story that will come out later but if you're getting picked up on Chippewa Street at 4am then I think we can assume that Kaner had enjoyed a few adult beverages and that may have played a role in this incident. This is most definitely not the last you hear of this as the new favourite joke amongst fans will be to throw two dimes at Kane and run away before you get beat up but what, if any, are the repercussions? Typically boozed-infused activities don't really draw NHL suspensions (see: Ain't-no-party-like-a-Staal-Brothers-Party) but robbery and assualt may earn Kaner a suspension. We've read on a few blogs that he could be in for a "lengthy" suspension but Mark Bell was in jail for six months after being convicted of a DUI and hit & run and he was only suspended for 15 games... so we have a hard time seeing Kane getting anything more than five games for this.
Reports say that the Leafs are close to trading Justin Pogge to the Ducks for a draft pick. A while ago Brian Burke said he was going to try to trade the kid and he kept his word. We advised fantasy owners to hold on, if you can, for another year to see if he can bounceback as we're not in the business of giving up on 23 year old goalie prospects. He'll slide in as the #3 goalie for the Ducks and could see some NHL action if the Ducks can trade Giggy at some point. Reports also indicate that the Leafs will sign Joey MacDonald, formerly of the Islanders, to take over Pogge's spot with the Marlies.
We've been following the drama out of Russia involving Sergei Shirokov and Denis Parshin. Well, it seems that Parshin has re-signed with CSKA, so he won't be playing in Denver this year whereas Shirokov has refused to re-sign and will make his way to Vancouver to honour the contract he signed with the Canucks earlier in the summer. We're pretty high on Shirokov's chances as he's put up good numbers in Russia but we're a little turned off by this quote where Sergei indicates that he'll go to the NHL if he has to.... if he's available in your league then he might be worth a claim but we wouldn't pay more than, say, 20 cents for him.
Our friend, who now goes by the handle The Digitante, gave us the heads up about how to DIY an air hockey table for under a $100... that's hot. We have not attempted this yet, so we can't speak to the feasibility of the concept so if anything goes wrong and you find that it runs you over a $100 (including labour), feel free to hold The Digitante liable and send him an invoice.
On a side note, if you have any technology needs like trouble resetting the clock on your Betamax or you find that your Clapper won't "clap-on" anymore then who you gonna call?... no, not Ghostbusters, try The Digit-Ante. Tell him FHS sent ya, might be worth a buck off.
It's not very often we'll pass along a link to the infamous Hockey Buzz but they are running a fan poll on the funniest hockey commercial of all time. It's a great way to kill (quite) a few minutes at work.
Our favourite on the list? Well that would have to be #5 "Never Date Within the Division". Last time we looked at their list they were missing a few classics like "Best Baby in the World", "Hockey Makes You Tougher", "Sundin's Nike Commercial" and especially this one....
..anytime somebody gets slapped in the face with a fish we're on board.