If you're a regular on the hockey blog circuit our guest today needs no introduction. Dirk Hoag from On The Forecheck has one of the biggest and best blogs out there. Dirk knows statistics and he knows the Preds so his picks are definitely ones you want to pay attention to. We asked Dirk eight fantasy related questions. Check out his answers after the jump...
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Q1) Predators Breakout of the Year?
Colin Wilson. Nagging injuries slowed him down during his rookie campaign, but he shows great promise as a power forward. The only question is whether he’ll play on the wing or at center. Nashville does have options they could plug into the middle (Marcel Goc & Cal O’Reilly, for example) on a secondary scoring line, so they don’t have to rush Wilson if they don’t want to.
Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Predators ?
Cody Franson put up impressive numbers (6 goals and 15 assists) in 61 games as a rookie last season, and has an opportunity to earn major amounts of power play ice time on a Predators team which is still looking for solutions there. Young guns like Jonathon Blum and Ryan Ellis are still another year away from threatening Franson's position on the depth chart.
Q3) Breakdown on the Predators?
J.P. Dumont, after leading the Preds in scoring for two seasons, finished last year playing on the 4th line, usually getting less than 13 minutes of ice time per game. Barry Trotz has often criticized him for skating back on his heels and following the play rather than driving it, so the writing has been on the wall for a long time. Unless he forces his way back up to a leadership role, he could slip below the 40-point mark.
Q4) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
I do like the prospects for Sam Gagner up in Edmonton to post decent numbers if Ales Hemsky can return to healthy productivity, and Taylor Hall adds some offensive punch. The Oilers will miss the playoffs again, but they should at least be more entertaining this season.
Q5) Your First Five Fantasy Picks?
Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeni Malkin, and Daniel Sedin
Q6) Value for Money Fantasy Goalie?
In terms of fantasy performance relative to salary, you’d have to go with Jimmy Howard in Detroit, who will make just $800,000. He’ll have the benefit of a Cup contending team in front of him that boasts a relatively stingy defense.
Q7) Taylor or Tyler?
If I was a GM considering two elite prospects with similar upside potential, I’d go with the center over the winger, so give me Tyler Seguin.
Yikes… even a heavy favorite has what, a 10% shot to win it all? I’ll go with Washington, they’ll certainly be in the mix and face weaker competition compared to some of the Western favorites.
BONUS) Is it possible for a Predator goalie to actually hold down a starters job for a whole season?
That’s the single most important question facing the Nashville Predators this season. Pekka Rinne has played very well for some extended stretches, but so did Dan Ellis and Chris Mason before him. What Rinne needs to demonstrate is consistency over the long haul, and the ability to put a bad game behind him. There are no excuses to be made at this point, Pekka simply has to deliver. I’ll say that it is indeed possible for him to hold onto the starter's job all year, but it is unproven.