Today we welcome Dirk Hoag from On the Forecheck to FHS. Not only is Dirk is the resident Predators expert here at SBNation he's also a keen fantasy hockey player... so he knows his stuff. This is the third year Dirk has picked some breakouts for us and last year he did pretty well picking Cody Franson as his darkhorse and seeing a breakdown coming from J.P. Dumont.
We asked Dirk seven fantasy related questions about the Preds. Check out his answers below and make sure you pay Dirk a vist over at On the Forecheck to see more of his work.
If you're interested in FHS' breakout picks and fantasy take on the Predators check out our draft kit which includes The Breakout Bible, the Fantasy Scouting Report (with SuperStats included) and our Fantasy Prospect Database.
BY DIRK HOAG FROM ON THE FORECHECK
Q1) Predators' Breakout of the Year?
Colin Wilson took a significant step forward in 2011-2012, and showed promise with 34 points in 82 games, even though his ice time and responsibilities diminished after the All-Star break. With all the veteran departures this summer, there are ample opportunities on scoring lines and the power play to be taken advantage of, but the question is whether Wilson follows through. He's headed towards restricted free agency in the summer of 2012, however, so he should be motivated to put up big numbers this season.
Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Predators?
Patric Hornqvist was slightly snakebit last season, but piles up shots on goal as much as just about any forward in the league. If Barry Trotz commits to him as the primary goal-scoring option (lots of power play time and shifts starting in the offensive zone) he could reach the 300 shot plateau, and post somewhere between 30 and 40 goals.
Q3) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
Sam Gagner has ranged from 41-49 points in his first four seasons, but I have to think that the addition of Ryan Smyth, and the development of guys like Taylor Hall and Magnus Paajarvi give him perhaps his best supporting cast up front so far. The Oilers are still far from a balanced, competitive team, but offensively they could show improvement.
Q4) Player likely to Breakdown on the Predators?
Martin Erat has had issues with his back on multiple occasions over the last few seasons, and you just worry that as he passes the far side of 30, whether that's going to become worse over time.
Q5) Best Fantasy Prospect on the Predators?
Ryan Ellis has the highest upside of any of the prospects, his junior hockey career is pretty much the stuff of legend. Whether he can put up anything close to those eye-popping numbers in the pros remains to be seen, but he's the one guy you look at with elite offensive talent.
Q6) How do you see the Predators' Goalie Situation playing out this year?
It'll be Pekka Rinne's show from start to finish. The Preds were happy to see how well Anders Lindback performed during two stretches when Pekka was out with knee injuries, but there isn't even a hint of goaltending controversy here in Nashville.
Q7) How many of Jonathon Blum, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi & Mattias Ekholm will play significant roles on the blueline this year?
You can pretty much slot Blum into the 2nd pair at even strength and on the penalty kill right away, and Josi looks to be the favorite for another roster spot, after he performed well in his first North American pro season with Milwaukee. Ellis needs time in the AHL to prove he can handle playing against grown men rather than other teenagers, and Ekholm has to make the adjustment from European hockey, just as Josi did last year. Physically, though, Ekholm is a specimen. At the team's development camp earlier this summer, he looked like a man among boys out there.
Thanks to Dirk. If you have any Predators question throw them in the comments and Dirk (or us) will do our best to answer them.