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Today our blogging expert is Adam. Adam writes all things Sabres related for his own site, Sabres Everywhere, as well as a contributor for Sabres Hockey Central. He's the most talented thing out of Buffalo since the Goo-Goo-Dolls. We asked Adam eight fantasy relevant questions about the Sabres and the NHL in general. Follow the jump to read his answers...
Q1) Sabres Breakout of the Year?
It really is a toss up for me, but I’ll go with the expert consensus. Tyler Ennis is something special. The kid scored 9 points in his first 10 NHL games. Ennis then followed it up by leading the Sabres in scoring (4 points) during their brief playoff appearance. This kid can fly and make things happen with the puck. He has great vision and will rack up a ton of assists. Play on Buffalo’s top 2 lines will also help him score some goals as well. Think about Ennis as one of the Sabres top 4 scorers by seasons end.
I will also briefly mention the player that I truly believe will have a breakout year: Andrej Sekera. He played great in the Olympics last year. Now that the Sabres have either Mike Weber or Shaone Morrisonn to pair him with he will be able to explore the latent offensive talent that hasn’t shown up the past few years. He has a cannon shot and can skate like the wind. If you want to take a chance on an offensive defenseman, grab Sekera.
Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Sabres?
Nathan Gerbe will probably start the year on the 3rd or 4th line. This will probably not last, as he is just too talented. He loves to shoot and is a natural goal scorer. He is also feisty and will pick up some PIM. The line he excelled on in the playoffs last season was with Cody McCormick and Patrick Kaleta. Not an offensive juggernaut, but a very effective energy line. Look for him to start there with modest totals, but move up during the course of the season. Expect between 30-40 points from Gerbe.
If you need an enforcer, look no further than Angola native Patrick Kaleta. He loves to hit. He blocks shots. He can score. He takes penalties. He’s got it all; just don’t expect big minutes from the kid unless Mike Grier get injured.
Q3) Breakdown on the Sabres?
Tim Connolly is an enigma. A very talented player when he’s on his game. He’s also the type of player who seems to be playing a new type of "game" every night. It’s frustrating as a fan to see him dominate one game then go to sleep for two. He is also a walking injury at this point. Much like Gaborik, he’s a huge risk. Don’t expect Connolly to play more than 45 games and produce more than 40 points.
If you were looking at Steve Montador for any reason…stop it. Unless your league counts tripping over himself as a category, Montador won’t help you. He does block shots and rack up penalty minutes, but not nearly enough to make him worth any sort of thought..
Q4) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
I’m going to go with Luca Caputi. This makes me sad, because he plays for the Leafs. I thoroughly dislike the Leafs and I don’t want them to be good. Caputi put up huge numbers in juniors. He then put up very good numbers In Wilkes-Barre of the AHL. He has also produced a little in his short NHL career, split between Pittsburgh and Toronto. He’s due for a breakout. He is also not afraid of the physical side of the game. Trust him to rack up some PIM and hits for your team as well.
Some other players to make note of: Travis Zajac will increase his point totals because other teams will need to focus on the more talented offensive players New Jersey brought in. Jamie McBain will be the best young offensive defenseman in the NHL next year (sorry P.K. Subban) and a couple of young players will get a chance on Chicago’s top 2 lines: Troy Brouwer and Caputi’s former teammate Victor Stalberg.
Q5) Your First Five Fantasy Picks?
Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Henrik Sedin, Marian Gaborik
Q6) Value for Money Fantasy Goalie?
Cam Ward. You thought I would say Ryan Miller, didn’t you? Miller is great, but unless your league favors goalies too much, Miller may go well before he should.
Ward will be a steal in many leagues, since he is slinking back from an injury filled season. Not much fanfare is being made about his return, yet he is a clear starter with tons of talent. The only question mark is the poor team in front of him, but I think Carolina will be much improved this year. I have to mention Niklas Backstrom here too. Minnesota looks better this season and he is a very solid workhorse keeper.
Q7) Taylor or Tyler?
Taylor. This really isn’t too tough of a question. I terms of fantasy numbers Taylor will have a much bigger impact on his team. Tyler might not even make it. Taylor will make the Oilers and play a very prominent roll in that offense. Personally I wouldn’t draft either..
Q8) Who is Going to win the Stanley Cup?
Who is going to win the Stanley Cup? Here it is, and I feel absolutely insane for making this prediction…the Vancouver Canucks. Wow, I feel like I just converted to Scientology…then told people about it.
BONUS) Can the 5-foot-6 Nathan Gerbe Literally Fit in My Pocket?
Yes. Nathan Gerbe is an Ewok. When George Lucas created the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi I doubt that he thought the most closely related human appearance would be that of a professional athlete. He probably would have died laughing if you told him it would be a hockey player. The thing is, just like the Ewoks, Gerbe (and is there a better Ewok name than Gerbe!?) has a never quit attitude. He wants to make the NHL and has succeeded at every other level. He even dropped the mitts in camp yesterday. The moral of the story: Nathan Gerbe is an Ewok, but he will win..