We asked Rob nine fantasy related questions about the Rangers and the NHL in general. Follow the jump to read his answers...
To see the rest of our Blogger's Breakouts click here for the main page.
Q1) Rangers Breakout of the Year?
Derek Stepan, hands down. He may not have a Tavares (54 pts) or Stamkos (46 pts) rookie season, but if he plays the whole year with NYR he's a lock for 25 to 30 points minimum. Because of his solid play this pre-season many Ranger fans want him centering the top line with Gaborik and Frolov, and I think eventually he will get a shot with them over the course of the season. If he sticks it with that line mid-season he could blow my points floor out of the water, though. The kid can play.
Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Rangers?
I had to think about this one a bit, but came up with nothing concrete. Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky are good for 40 points, and Callahan's career year should come this season or next in which he'll put up a number around 50. Artem Anisimov had 28 points over 82 games as a rookie last season, but it seems that Tort's doesn't want to give him a good shot a second or third line yet. So, the answer for this question isn't a breakout player but a bounce-back player in our new top-line left-winger Alexander Frolov. He played decent in pre-season and should play the whole year with Gaborik on the top line and the first power-play unit. I've got him pegged for around 63 points, but if Torts sticks to his guns and Gaborik puts up 90 points again that number could rise a bit.
Q3) Breakdown Player on the Rangers?
Call me a crazy Ranger fan, but we don't really have anyone on paper at the moment that we're expecting a huge drop from. The only player I predicted to drop in overall points from last season was Vinny Prospal, who now may miss the entire season if he goes under the knife for his knee. All of us Ranger fans hope this is not the case as he played very well last season, but at this point it's not looking good.
Q4) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
Now the real fun begins. As much as the easy pick here is Tavares, I like to go real dark-horse and throw out some names that may require a re-read. I picked up Peter Mueller in my dynasty league this summer and if he gets the concussion issues panned out I think he finally found a permanent home for his talents in Colorado. Colin Wilson of the Nashville Predators looked really sharp at the end of the season last year in the Central. Jordan Eberle out in Edmonton has looked filthy and Tyler Ennis in Buffalo will bring the points to Western NY. Clarke MacArthur will get a top-six shot on a fun Toronto team to watch and my last must-know name is coming from Dallas; Jamie Benn. Last year he put up 41 points over 82 games and no one said a word about the kid. I've known him since his days in the WHL (2 season over 1.00 points-per-game) and I think he'll put up another 40 points again easily.
Q5) Who are your First Five Picks in a Fantasy Draft?
First five: Ovechkin, Crosby, Stamkos, H.Sedin, Backstrom.
Q6) Best Value for Money Fantasy Goalie?
Bias rules once again, but my first answer to this is Henrik Lundqvist. Only Miikka Kiprusoff has played more games than him the past three seasons, and the Rangers should see a little boost in scoring (meaning more wins for Hank) this season. A dark-horse here though has to be Marty Turco, who will play in front of the defending Stanley Cup champs and should see a rebound from his recent Dallas days.
Q7) Taylor or Tyler?
Both? These two have the potential to write another Crosby/Ovechkin rivalry type story with their ridiculous talents. I'd say short term that Tyler has the advantage with a deeper Boston lineup and a team that will be pushing for a solid playoff run. Long term I don't think there is much difference, and with that said they could end up with the same point totals this season. If you can get both on your team for a keeper league - you'll be all set.
Q8) Your Stanley Cup Pick?
I hate conforming to an easy pick, so I'll go out on a limb. I absolutely love watching the Los Angeles Kings, especially their series against the Canucks last season. I think Jonathan Bernier could pull a Niemi this season and take Jonathan Quick's job - and goaltending was arguably the Kings biggest issue last season. The Kings define the "new NHL" game, so if you can catch their games as much as possible.
BONUS) We're not the biggest fans of Torts from a fantasy perspective, do you think he's getting all the offense he can out of this team?
Good question. Tort's is always trying to keep EVERYONE on their toes - including us fans. In my opinion he shuffles lines too much - which from a fantasy perspective is annoying and usually ends up hurting production. He's trying to build a complete unit out of the Rangers that's not too dependent on one facet of the game, but in all honesty scoring is our biggest issue. The Rangers will never be the Washington Capitals (meaning goals whenever they want) because that would require a decent GM. Basically, unless you're in a deep league with 20 teams - stay away from the Rangers offense with the exception of Gaborik.