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Fantasy Hockey Scouts: Weekly Wrap-up - July 13th to 19th, 2009

Need a bigger fantasy fix?  We'll be releasing the second episode of our popular Blogger's Breakouts this week.  This time we're getting our blogging friends from the Central Division teams to dive into making some bold predictions for us.  Also, keep an eye out for our famous Fantasy Coach Rankings as they'll be coming out shortly as well.

Daily Diarrhea 

J_Johnson LA has re-signed RFA Jack Johnson on a two-year deal and its for a reasonable cap hit of a reported $1.4M (no word if Steve Ludzik still believes he's been traded to Anaheim for Pronger).  We had high hopes for JJ last year as he was our pick as the biggest breakout dman in last year's Breakout Bible but he suffered a bad shoulder injury in the 2nd game of the season, missed the next 41 and then had a hard time finding his groove upon his return.  Obviously we can't say for certain that a breakout will happen this year but he's someone you want to own in keeper leagues as a breakout will come at some point and he's a guy who will be a six-category stud for a lot of years to come.

M'sota has signed Wade Dubielewicz as their 3rd goalie... the signing isn't really of note but if its a prelude to a Josh Harding trade, then that's of note for fantasy GMs.  Wild GM Chuck Fletcher didn't deny that this was a consideration in signing Dubie.  Where Harding ends up in anyone's guess but he's a good asset to own in fantasy leagues as he's definitely in line and capable of holding down a #1 job in the near future.

New Jersey has signed UFA Cory Murphy to a two-way deal.  He'll most likely shuttle between the AHL & NHL during the year, so we wouldn't recommend drafting him, but he'll probably be worth an add at some point during the year as the Devils aren't really loaded with offensive dmen so when Murph comes up he'll probably see some decent PP ice-time.

There are reports that Radek Bonk's North American Tour of Triumph may be over as he may be signing with a KHL team... oh the jokes never stop with this guy, 3rd overall pick, complete bust in Ottawa, we've never seen anyone pull a bigger disappearing act in the playoffs (one point in his first 24 playoffs games!), his comeback season in Montreal resulted in a whopping six goals and then he moved on to Nashville and was a league worst minus 31 in his first season with the Preds... we'll miss Rads but he should fit in perfectly in the KHL. 

Follow the jump for lots more fantasy news (Nigel's, Tavares, Callahan, Forsberg, etc) and our Distractions

Nigel-Lythgoe Its been over a year that we've been bringing you the fantasy hockey heat on a daily basis and today we have a first... its never happened before and I can't see it ever happening again, to be completely honest... ITS FRICKIN 'ALL THINGS NIGEL DAY' HERE AT FHS!... 

First, on Thursday we heard the news that Nigel Dawes was claimed on waivers by Calgary, smart move by the Flames as Nigel just flat out knows how to put the puck in the net.  Sure things didn't work out in New York (not enough ice-time) or Phoenix (frequent healthy scratch) but don't forget that those were two of the worst offensive teams in the league last year (both bottom 5 in goals scored)... he goes to a much more talented team in Calgary that is in need of secondary scoring so he could land on one of the top two lines, hell he could end up on a line with Iggy & Olli.

Second, later in the day we heard that one prospect that we're rather fond of, Nigel Williams, was traded from Colorado to the NYR.  We grew to admire this Nigel when he was playing for Belleville in the O as he skates and moves the puck very well for a large man.  He was the Avs 2nd round pick in 2006 but it seems that he didn't fit into their plans despite having a thin blueline.  Unfortunately, he moves to a Rangers team that has quite a few dman prospects ahead of him (Gilroy, Sanguinetti, Del Zotto, McDonagh) so this move won't really help his chances of making it to the show... damn.

That's it, that's all we got... so we did a search and there are only two Nigel's remotely close to the NHL and they both got moved on the same day... what are the chances of that?!?  So this officially ends the celebration as we couldn't really come up with anyone else named Nigel to discuss, but we'll throw up a picture of Nigel Lythgoe who is, apparently, a judge on "So You Think You Can Dance".  And when I say apparently, I mean, I may have seen a few episodes... dude knows his dance.

Hudler So don't say goodnight to Jiri Hudler just yet, the KHL is saying that they haven't registered his contract yet and they will abide by whatever the arbitrator decides.  Methinks the KHL is not understanding the NHL's arbitration process, the arbitrator is not there to decide if he should be a UFA or not, he's basically deciding on a number for Hudler to put on a contract so the Red Wings can sign it.  The chances of the Wings walking away from the arbitrator's ruling are nil, even if the price ends up being too steep, they'll simply trade his rights to someone else.  Man, what kind of rebel league are they running over there if they can't even poach players without us spelling it out for them?

Two RFA signings to mention from Thursday... Colby Armstrong re-signed with Atlanta, he set a career high with 22 goals last year and is an option in deep leagues as he'll add some PIMs and shots and does see a lot of ice-time in the top 6 for Atlanta, just don't expect huge production.  Phoenix re-signed Keith Yandle, KY just barely reached our definition of a breakout dmen last year as he put up 30 points in his first full season but we think he has the potential for a lot more, especially in the peripheral stats like PIMs, PPP and shots.  He's behind Jovo in the pecking order but he's established himself as a PP QB for the Coyotes, so we'd expect him to continue his progress this season.

A few 2009 draft picks signed ELCs on Thursday... Matt Duchene signed with Colorado, the Avs will let him audition for the #2C role and we put his chances of sticking in the NHL this year at "better than 50/50" in our NHL Draft Rankings but it will depend on his summer training as he showed at the draft combine that he needed to add strength.  In a bit of a surprise move, Edmonton signed their 4th round pick, Toni Rajala, to a ELC.  Now Rajala may have slipped to the fourth round but don't be discouraged as the kid has some serious talent (was leading scorer and named Top Forward at this year's U-18s) and we had him ranked at #11 in our 2009 Fantasy Draft Rankings... he's a few years away (may return to Finland or may suit up for Brandon (WHL) this year) but he's definitely worth a flier in your prospect draft.

Tavares So apparently John Tavares wasn't hearing all that talk about how Burkie was trying to convince him to hold out and force a trade to the Leafs... the Islanders signed Tavares to the standard ELC, so he'll be in their line-up from day #1.  We'll have lots more on Tavares and our outlook for his rookie season in our upcoming Breakout Bible but lets just say that were optimistic but not overly optimistic that he can have a significant fantasy impact in year one.

Rumours going around that the Chicago BowmanHawks are shopping Patrick Sharp around... makes sense from a cap standpoint.  Now we're not sure if its going to happen but its something for fantasy GMs to keep in mind as Sharpie has a pretty good gig playing with guys like Toews, Kane, Hossa and for a boss like Coach Q, so things could, and would almost definitely, be a lot worse if a trade happened.

According to Adrian Dater in the Denver Post, you can ignore all that stuff we said about Denis Parshin yesterday as he says that the Avs don't intend on bringing him over this season... yo Adrian, booooo.

A slew of RFA signings yesterday, most don't really excite us... Kari Lehtonen plays behind one of the leakiest teams in the league (although a trade could boost his value), Guillaume Latendresse is too slow, Eric Fehr is about as brittle as a taco shell, Lauri Korpikoski is playing in Phoenix and Benoit Pouliot is a bust (but M'sota has yet to figure that out).

Kostopolous Tom Kostopoulos, more known for being a purse-stealing-gutless-puke than for his fantasy hockey ability, has signed with Carolina.  Not sure why we even mention this, actually check that, we mention it cause the dude is a turd and we want to make sure everyone knows who he's playing with so you can boo his ass... so there.

Rumours that the Avalanche are trying to sign Denis Parshin, their 3rd round pick from 2004, but his KHL team does not want to let him go.  There appears to be some sort of hearing taking place in Russia where Parshin and teammate Sergei Shirokov are trying to get their release so they can sign NHL deals.  We talked about Shirokov before as it was reported last month that he signed a deal with the Canucks.  Lets hope they make it across the pond as we could always go for a few more new faces (and less of dirty scoundrel's like Tom Kostopoulos, for instance) next year.  Of the two, Shirokov's numbers would indicate that he's got more upside but Parshin, obviously with Colorado, would probably be given more opportunity right away.  We'll keep our eyes on this one for ya.

Also a rumour that the Flyers have signed euro-vet Mika Pyorala from Timra in the SEL.  Pyorala is a 28-year old Finn who's had a few productive years in Sweden recently but: (1) He doesn't look that talented; (2) Euro-vets rarely work out; and (3) The Flyers are pretty loaded up front... so we don't expect any fantasy impact here.

Bowman So Dale Tallon is out as the GM in Chicago and Scotty Stan Bowman is in.  Shame that either Tallon is taking the fall for the RFA blunder from earlier this summer or for the team's salary cap situation as the rumours are that neither was really entirely his fault.  He's done a nice job there as he's brought the team back to respectability and while he spent money on UFAs like a sailor on shore-leave the team was basically rebuilt through the draft and has lots of building blocks in place.  Let's not kid ourselves this move means Scotty Bowman is now in charge in Chi-town, you think Stan is going to overrule any "advice" that his Dad & his 11 Cup rings offers?  Should be interesting as they will have to get creative and have some tough decisions to make in the next year to fix their impending cap catastrophe.

Scotty Bowman is back in the saddle and so why the hell shouldn't Jackie Lemaire be back behind the Devils bench?  Lou made it so yesterday and Lemaire will return for another tour of duty in the swamp (actually Newark isn't a swamp but equally messy).  Unfortunate move for the offensive players on the Devils as Lemaire is no friend of wide open hockey, in fact in his last 12 seasons behind the bench he's only had two players crack 70 points in a season (Gaborik and Rolston, once each).

RFA James Wisniewski re-signed with Anaheim, he was a late season acquisition from Chicago and showed well on the left coast with 11 points in 17 games.  He's behind Niedermayer and Whitney in the pecking order for PP time but he was also behind Pronger and Beauchemin until this summer so The Wiz could be an underrated pick in your upcoming draft. 

Callahan Another RFA signing from Monday as the Rangers re-upped Ryan Callahan.  Now if you're a regular reader then you know that we have a lotta love for Callahan as we were gushing over him late in the year when he went 9+8=17 in the final 19 games of the regular season after John Tortarella took over.  Add in his 237 shots on the year and we're on the verge of a wedding proposal.  We don't want to spoil anything but Callahan might be a prominent figure in our upcoming Breakout Bible.

Hell isn't Bill Daly and the NHL pretty much running the Coyotes right now???  Well Bill must have decided that his beloved Rangers needed a little more speed so he decided to ship them Enver Lisin taking back Lauri Korpikoski in return.  Actually it looks to be a nothing trade as despite both players still being young and highly touted, both are marginal NHLers (and may even decide to play in the KHL this year).  Lisin definitely has more fantasy upside as he has blazing speed and did manage 13 goals in 48 games for the Coyotes last year but he doesn't strike us as a Tortarella type of player.

A few other minor deals from Monday to clear up:

  • Montreal signed Swedish free agent Andreas Engqvist to an entry level deal.  He doesn't appear to have high-end offensive ability so we don't expect any fantasy impact there.

  • Former Florida 1st rounder Anthony Stewart and former Pittsburgh 2nd rounder Noah Welch both signed on with Atlanta.  Stewart is officially a bust, so forget about him but Welch is a player that has always intrigued this scout as he's a monster with some skills and ill-temper.  He's had a real problem staying healthy during his career but he might get a chance to play a bit in Atlanta... we'll keep an eye on him for ya.

Forsberg_Modo Peter Forsberg's agent said recently that he hasn't retired and hasn't given up on a return yet... so sounds like we're in for another season of "What Will Foppa Do Next?"  And although we should never doubt him, we're doubting he's got any comebacks left in him.

Don't you love it when a GM calls out a player during negotiations... beautiful... Phoenix GM Don Maloney is doing just that during, what he describes as "arguing" vs negotiating, with RFA Scotty Upshall.  Here's the money-quote... "He thinks he’s a 30-goal scorer, and we’re saying, ‘Score 30, and then we’ll pay you- we’re not going to pay your prior to that.' "  Have to agree with Maloney on this one as Upshall has played a good chunk of four NHL seasons and has never sniffed 20 goals, let alone 30.

A few recent under-the-radar signings of note that may or may not have any fantasy hockey impact:

  • Jason Krog, Atlanta - Remember that Krog had 112 points in 2007/08 playing for Atlanta coach John Anderson in Chicago (AHL).  Anderson turned AHL journeymen Rich Peverley into almost a point-per-game player after he was acquired on waivers from Nashville last year, is it that outlandish to think that Krog won't be given a similar opportunity?

  • Darren Haydar, Colorado - Another guy who is a FHS favourite as we think he deserves an NHL shot after continually lighting up the AHL.  DH made a smart move this summer by leaving the Wings and signing with probably the thinnest organization in the league in Colorado.  The Avs were the lowest scoring team in the NHL last year so what do they have to lose by giving Haydar a legit chance to show what he can do?

  • Toivonen Hannu Toivonen, St.Louis - Back after a one year exile in Finland and since he's been gone Mason is the new #1 in StLoo, Conklin is the new backup and Ben Bishop is being groomed in the minors... so not sure where Hannu fits into their plans but the Blues obviously see something that they like.

  • Matt Moulson, NYI - Its a long shot but we were surprised Moulson didn't crack the Kings roster out of camp and only saw action in seven NHL games last year.  Now he's signed on with a much weaker Isles squad so he should get a long look in camp.

  • Chris Minard, Edmonton - Way long shot but Minard is a winger who's proven he can put the puck in the net (at the AHL level) and that's the kind of player that the Oil needs.  Good enough to get into 20 games of action with the Penguins last year, at the very least he'll strengthen your AHL fantasy league roster.

Daily Distraction

What's distracting us this week?  Are you an Alex Ovechkin hater?  Have you been searching for a way to express yourself in t-shirt form but to no avail?  Well you're in luck my friend, because now you can purchase the "Ovechkin: Russian for Douche Bag" t-shirt:

Ovechkin russian for douche bag 

We knew that Crosby had his haters out there rocking their t-shirts but this is the first we've seen of a Ovie hater shirt.  You think somebody who came up with this idea would be a little more appreciative of creativity

If you actually want to buy it you can go here...although we'd make fun of you if you did.