Need a bigger fantasy fix? We'll be releasing the third episode of our popular Blogger's Breakouts this week. This time we're getting our blogging friends from the Atlantic Division teams to dive into making some bold predictions for us. Also, check out the bottom 10 of our Fantasy Coach Rankings.
So the rumours were true... to replace a dude with bum shoulders (Marty Havlat), Chicago signed a dude with a bum shoulder (Marian Hossa) to a 12-year contract. Hossa will have surgery on said shoulder and the recovery time is expected to be around four months but shoulder injuries proved pretty tricky for guys like Lecavalier and Gonchar to return from last year so who knows how long he'll be out. If he can return after four months then that would mean he misses the first two months of the season and would be out 25 games, not an insignificant number of games... so Hossa owners, time to implement Plan B.
Leafs GM Brian Burke hadn't heard himself speak for a while so he went to the airwaves to tell everyone his latest news... that he's not going to make a trade.... as he doesn't think he'll be able to trade Tomas Kaberle before the season starts. Whatev, he's just trying to drum up the market. Kaberle's value would get a boost with a trade to a better team but he's not really a top-shelf dman in anything other than a points-only league.
Justin Pogge re-signed with the Leafs on Thursday, a one-year two-way deal so he'll be back as their #3 goalie for another year and should see NHL action if Toskala or Gustavsson get hurt. Pogge's stock took a bigger hit than Bre-X last year but we wouldn't say that he's totally dead yet... lets see if he can bounceback this year.
Carolina re-signed RFA forward Tuomo Ruutu to a three-year $11.4M deal Thursday. Ruutu had a breakout year last season (26+28=54) and is a decent fantasy option cause he adds PIMs (79 last year) but not a guy who we'd be counting on as he's fragile and too reliant on playing with a great Cman like Eric Staal to be productive... we'd pass on him if it was up to us. On the plus side this gives us the perfect opportunity to post this picture of Ruutu that we've been saving for a while... showing him, ahem, "Ruutuing" someone from the Habs? (we think)
Detroit signed 22-year old Jakub Kindl to a three year extension yesterday, the good news is that Kindl got a one-way deal, meaning he'll be with the big club but the bad news is that this extension doesn't start for another season and he's still on a two-way for this season. Given the Red Wings depth on the blueline, we wouldn't expect him to see much, if any, NHL action this year but he should be a regular in 2010/11 and is a great pickup in any keeper league as he's one of the best dman prospects out there.
M'sota re-signed RFA forward Kyle Brodziak, who they acquired in a trade with Edmonton at the draft this year. We've always like KB as he's got size and talent but he's probably destined for a similar 3rd or 4th line roll with the Wild as he had with the Oilers so he's only a viable fantasy option in really deep leagues.
Follow the jump for lots more fantasy news (Biron, Vrbata, Purcell, etc) and our Distractions (featuring ShaqFu, basketball on ice & find out how tough Matt Walker is)
The Islanders signed UFA goalie Marty Biron to a one-year $1.4M deal... we like to give GM Garth Snow a hard time around these parts cause we firmly believe that he's utterly clueless and the worst GM in the NHL (other than that he's wonderful) but we actually think he may have made a decent move here, even though it doesn't look that way on the surface. Now, if DiPietro is healthy (which he isn't) and he gave Biron a No-Trade Clause (he can't be that stupid?) then this must be another one of Charles Wang's hair-brained schemes. But by adding Biron he gets himself close to the cap floor, they add insurance when Ricky can't go and they have a very tradeable asset when about 10+ teams start looking for goalie help. It happens every year, if the Isles had this situation last year then I'd say they could have easily moved Biron to one of Buffalo, Colorado, Dallas, Montreal, Ottawa, TB or Vancouver as all were in need of short-term help in net. So, good on ya Garth. Now as for fantasy implications... I'd be worried if I was a Ricky DP owner (you already should have been) and not that thrilled if you own Roloson. And for Biron owners, although this definitely is not the ideal situation you have to bet that he'll get moved this year and hopefully he ends up in a cushy situation with a much better team.
New Jersey re-signed RFA Travis Zajac. TZ had a breakout year last season going from 34 to 62 points and he's already established himself as the #1C for the Devils but his numbers leave a lot to be desired in terms of goals, PIMs, PPP and shots... so don't be overrating him yet just because he plays with Parise, especially given Lemaire's arrival.
We closed our Jonas Gustavsson poll... 43% of readers thought he'd be a solid backup in 2009/10 but 29% of you thought he'd steal the #1 job away from Vesa Toskala. Can't say we have a strong feeling either way but with the number of backups that end up stealing their team's #1 job each year (around 10 to 15 each season), its certainly not a bad gamble to take.
Our new poll wants to know how many of the top 5 picks in the draft will stick in the NHL all season (you can vote for as many as you like)... John Tavares & Victor Hedman seem like locks and this scout is starting to be convinced that Atlanta may keep Evander Kane around all year but we see Matt Duchene and Brayden Schenn heading back to Junior.... but get in there and rock the vote earthlings!
The Kings signed Juraj Mikus, a 22-year old out of the Slovakian league, he put up some decent numbers finishing 2nd in the league with 90 points in 56 games last year (second only to teammate Ziggy Palffy) but don't be blown away by the numbers... hell Shaq could put up 90 points in the Slovakian league and dude can't even skate (see below). We'd expect Mikus to be in tough to make the Kings this year and that probably means that he'll head back to Europe as opposed to bus-it-out in the AHL.
Lots of minor nonsense from yesterday, except for this... Marian Hossa has a shoulder injury (most likely lingering from the playoffs) that may require surgery and could keep him out until December. This is such a bad karma moment for Hawks fans as they brought Hossa in to replace a guy with bum shoulders in Marty Havlat. More on Hossa's injury when we hear but if you're a Hossa owner then you might want to start devising short-term Plan Bs.
Pittsburgh signed goalie Brent Johnson to a one-year deal to be MA Fleury's backup. Johnson's been decent in Washington the past two seasons and we'd expect the same out of him in limited action for the Pittsburghers but the implications for Johnson are not the real story here... this move means Simeon Varlamov should be in Washington full-time this season (as the starter or Theodore's backup, we're not sure) and it bumps Penguins prospect John Curry back down to #3 on the depth chart, which has to be a lot disappointing for the kid as he looks to be pushing for an NHL job after two strong seasons in the A.
In other goalie news, Marty Gerber is off to the KHL... we reviewed his NHL numbers to see if we could point out something that he did well & had no luck... so, good riddance.
Edmonton re-signed RFA Denis Grebeshkov to a one-year deal... we like Grebs but only in points-only leagues as his peripheral numbers are all extremely weak.
Montreal re-signed RFA Tomas Plekanec and gave him a raise from the $1.8M he made last year to $2.75M... this after his point production dropped by 30 points from 69 to 39 last year... makes total sense to us. Trying to predict if TP will have a bounce-back season this year would require trying to get inside his head, and that's not a place we want to go.
The NYR signed RFA Enver Lisin after recently picking him up from the Coyotes in a trade... not sure where he fits in for the Rangers but we have a hard time seeing him becoming one of Torts' favourites.
Columbus signed their 2009 1st round pick (21st overall), John Moore, to a ELC. Despite committing to Colorado College he's now decided to play junior and will join the Kitchener Rangers in the fall.
The Lightning got rid of Radim Vrbata and the $6 million he's owed over the next two years. The Bolts shipped their disappointing winger back to the team they signed him away from...the owner-less Coyotes. Coming back to Tampa are two guys with no fantasy value at all Todd Fedoruk and David Hale. Vrbata played only 18 games (with 3+3=6) last year as he spent most of the year in the Czech Republic. His wife was going through a difficult pregnancy which might have negatively effected his performance. We think there's a good chance he'll bounce back and putting up numbers close to the 27+29=56 he picked up with the 'Yotes in 2007-08 isn't out of the question.
LA re-signed RFA forward Teddy Purcell to a new one-year deal. More importantly, is that its a one-way deal, so he should be with the Kings full-time this year. We expected big things from Teddy P in last year's Breakout Bible but rather shockingly he didn't break camp with the Kings and had to start the year in the AHL. So we'll take another shot at it in this year's Bible as Purcell has put up points at every level and he has the size and skills to continue that in the show... its only a matter of time.
The Sabres also signed two of their RFAs as Andrej Sekera and Clarke MacArthur put pen to paper on new deals. Sekera is a FHS favourite despite disappointing us in his first full NHL season. With Spacek's departure to Montreal, Sekera should be in line to QB the #1 PP unit so we expect a boost in his value this year... but not too much as Sekera doesn't shoot enough and seems allergic to PIMs. As for MacArthur, we're not so high on him despite his progress and solid AHL numbers, we just don't see that top-end talent and he looks like he's in tough to land a scoring line role with Buffalo.
Continuing the theme, Boston re-signed RFA dman Matt Hunwick to a two-year deal. Hunny's got some offensive ability but don't overrate his numbers from last year (6+21=27 in 53 games) as he racked up a lot of it (14 points in 13 games) right after being called up and then saw a lot of time as a forward. He should see some significant minutes on the B's #2 PP unit but we don't expect him to score at the 42 point pace he was on last year.
Calgary avoided arbitration with Nigel Dawes and signed him to a two-year deal. We mentioned it last week that we really like this move for Calgary and for Nigel as the kid can score goals, given the opportunity. He could get that opportunity with the Flames and we wouldn't be surprised to see him land on a line with Iggy & Olli.
Atlanta signed 4th overall pick, Evander Kane, to a ELC. We would have said no way that he sticks in the NHL this year as he needs to fill out his frame but then Thrashers GM Don Waddell said that if he gets stronger he has a very good chance to make the team this year... so we've been put in our place. Don't forget that Atlanta kept last year's 1st round pick Zach Bogosian in the NHL all year despite our suggesting that he go back to Junior.
Montreal signed Curtis Sanford as their #3 goalie, he'll only see time if Price or Halak gets hurt or if Halak gets moved, which is possible but this doesn't suggest that a move is any more likely or that Sanford should be on anyone's radar.
What's distracting us this week? Just read about Shaquille O'Neal's new TV show "Shaq Vs.," where Shaq will be going head-to-head with other top athletes in their area of expertise...
Shaq will try his football skills against Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, box retired world champion Oscar De La Hoya, bat against St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols, trade tennis volleys with Wimbledon champ Serena Williams and play volleyball against Olympic gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor.
It would seem that Shaq and/or ABC has no love for hockey but we know that's BS, Shaq is a big (in stature and devotion) Devils fan... peep this clip.
Hell, we'd pay to see Shaq on skates trying to defend Alex Ovechkin or ShaqFu in a hockey fight with Jordin Tootoo... they could even meet him halfway for a little basketball on ice, apparently its been done before in Lithuania (sorry, no audio)...
We saw the photos, we read the stories...but we didn't hear Matt Walker's reaction to dislocating his finger during the playoffs until we saw this video:
(stick tap to Bolts By The Bay for the video)