Need a bigger fantasy fix? You would think we would be taking it easy during the holidays but nothing could be further from the truth here at FHS. We're working hard to bring you all the goodies as we approach the start of the season. This week we'll post the Blogger's Breakout for the Northwest. We'll also have a look at spots 11 to 20 in our Fantasy Coach Rankings. And finally, don't forget that coming in August and September we'll be releasing our Breakout Bible and Fantasy Scouting Report.
A Mike Smith sighting yesterday. The injured goalie hit the ice for the first time since Jan. 30th and according to reports everything went according to plan. He's got a lot of work to make up for and very little time to do it so Smith is going to be a risky pick come draft day. The Lightning are saying he's fully healthy but we're a little leary here. We wouldn't be comfortable depending on Smith this coming year...but if we could get him cheap, that's a different story.
Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini said on Friday that he's no longer pursuing Dany Heatley and the Oilers will start looking in another direction... sounds about right as things were starting to get awkward with the team sending Dany a video montage trying to convince him how great the team and the city are (we're guessing most the clips were from the mid '80s & none involved Chris Pronger's wife). So now Heatley waits for a trade to San Jose to materialize but there's a possibility that he has to make a decision about reporting to Ottawa for training camp if a deal is not worked out before then. As for Edmonton, not sure there's many other 50 goal scorers available right now but that's what they desperately need, someone who can actually finish some of Ales Hemsky's many passes.
Ville Peltonen is heading to the KHL, cause that is where dudes that average 29 points a year (over the past 3 NHL seasons) go to get paid... bon voyage.
UFA dman Brendan Bell signed with St.Louis... smart move for Double B as this is a roster that he could stick with as he'll be in the mix with kids like Alex Pietrangelo and Steve Wagner for the final few spots on the Blues' backline. He had 21 points in 53 games with the Senators last year (a 32 point 82 game pace) so he could be a decent sleeper pick in deeper leagues if he ends up seeing some PP time.
Pittsburgh re-signed RFA goalie John Curry to a two-year deal. He's posted two nice seasons in the AHL and even won two games in the NHL last year but the Pens decided that he'd be better off in the minors this year and brought in Brent Johnson to ride the pine behind MA Fleury. Curry should be in the NHL in 2010/11 but its going to take a trade for him to end up as a #1... but it might be worth gambling on that as the kid has shown that he has the potential.
Well that didn't take long... yesterday we suggested that if the NHL was going to investigate Marian Hossa's contract that they should take a look at Chris Pronger's while they're at it... and so it shall be as reports suggest that the league is doing just that.
Follow the jump for lots more fantasy news (Hudler, Harding, Prospal, etc) and our Distractions (featuring hockey + rap, drunken prospects and some really, really bad jerseys)...
The KHL now says that they have registered Jiri Hudler's contract with Dynamo Moscow, despite saying earlier that they wouldn't. They must have read our advice on how to run a rebel league, oh and apparently they did it out of spite cause they're pissedov about the Evgeni Dadonov issue and the Sergei Shirokov dispute. So we'd bet that Hudler will be playing in the KHL next year, Dadonov in the AHL/NHL and Shirokov looks to be a toss-up... more from Mirtle on the whole mess. Hudler will likely owe Detroit two years (depending on the arbitrator's decision) if and when he ever returns. Bad news for Hudler owners...great news for owners of Ville Leino and Valtteri Filppula.
Kyle Wellwood and the Canucks came to an agreement on a contract shortly after the arbitration hearing so apparently it wasn't too nasty. Avoid Wellwood in your fantasy draft as he's never proven to be that durable or consistent, the Canucks top 6 forwards are all returning and they added Mikael Samuelsson, so don't expect a big jump from KW.
Calgary re-signed RFA forward Dustin Boyd to a one-year deal. Dusty is one Flame that would have welcomed Mike Keenan's departure as he was nothing more than a 4th liner under the coach but he should be in-line for more offensive responsibilities this year. We expect an increase in his production this year but we don't expect him to be fantasy worthy yet.
One of this scouts all-time favs, Sergei Zubov, is heading home... signing a deal to play in the KHL next year. The silky-smooth dman never again approached the team leading 89 points he put up for the Cup winning 1994 New York Rangers but he finishes his NHL career with 15 straight seasons of over .55 ppg (a 45 point 82 game pace) which was only broken during this past year where he had only four points in 10 games due to injury. We've always said that Zubie was one guy that we would actually pay to watch play cause he never panicked out there and made passes that most players wouldn't even dream of trying.
So apparently the NHL is investigating Marian Hossa's contract with the Blackhawks since its one of those long-term, front-loaded jobbies to get around the cap... we can understand that the league doesn't like these deals but why the hell did they pick Hossa's to start looking into the issue?... what, they didn't see a problem with Zetterberg's, Franzen's, Lecavalier's or the worst of the bunch, Chris Pronger's? Pronger's deal is for seven years and kicks in after this season where he'll be 35. If anyone thinks that Chris' wife has any intention of letting him play for $525,000 at the age of 42, then you must be the type of person that believes everything Gary Bettman says (see: dim-witted). Part of me wonders if the Blackhawks might be pushing for the league to rule the contract void so they can get out from under the whole thing, especially since its come out that they didn't give him a physical and now he's on the shelf for the next four months... hmmm?
Jason Williams is still looking for work but the UFA says he is considering an offer from the Red Wings. Not a done deal yet but if you want to get ahead of the curve and you're in a league with an off-season waiver wire then you might want to pick up Williams as he couldn't end up in a better spot. J-Will had 58 points with the Wings back in 2005-06 and despite bouncing around the past few years he's had some good stretches where he's been fantasy worthy.
Ryan Getzlaf underwent sports hernia surgery on Wednesday... he's expected to make a full recovery and be ready for training camp in September. Dude is only 24-years old and has only missed six games over the past 3 seasons so we don't think you have anything to worry about here... he'll be fine.
M'sota re-signed RFA goalie Josh Harding to a one-year deal. Harding will be Backstrom's backup this year unless he gets traded. Everyone was expecting him to be moved this summer but the goalie market has been pretty soft. He's a great pickup either way as he'll be a #1 goalie somewhere, somehow before too long.
Phoenix continues to operate like a real franchise, signing Scottie Upshall and Josh Tordjman to one-year deals. Upshall is only a real option in deep fantasy hockey leagues as he's played parts of six NHL seasons and has never topped 35 points. He did show flashes with Phoenix after a deadline-day deal last year (8+5=13 in 19 games) and he does offer a nice package of PIMs & shots. Tordjman will continue sharing the goaltending duties in San Antonio with Al Montoya.
Jack Hillen re-signed with the NYI, its a two-year, one-way deal so he impressed GM Garth Snow enough to earn himself a spot with the big club after splitting last season between Long Island and Bridgeport. Hillen's got some offensive talent and will probably be asked to help out Mark Streit on the PP but don't go overboard as depth dmen on the Islanders should not be your first option come draft day.
Edmonton signed Liam Reddox and Ryan Potulny to new one-year deals... both of them are two-way so you'll probably see these guys in both the AHL and NHL this year. Reddox doesn't really have much fantasy value but Potulny is one to watch as he had 38 goals in the AHL last year and will be out to impress a new coaching staff.
Tampa will part ways with Vinny Prospal, buying out the final three years of the winger's contract. Its a somewhat confusing move as GM Brian Lawton then immediately said that the team was looking for a top six forward?... I guess the thinking is that if Vinny P is only going to put up 45 points, they can find someone to do that for a lot less money. Apparently Lawton wasn't a fan of the "Prospal Principle" which states that Prospal will prosper every other season as his point totals the last seven seasons read like a heart rate monitor (55, 79, 54, 80, 55, 71, 45). Now, we're not in the business of challenging the laws of the universe but we're going to wait to see where Vinny ends up before we declare that he's prime for a rebound.
Carolina has also bought out Frantisek Kaberle and we'd think that the 35-year old is probably headed to Europe or retirement (or both). So you'll have to do without the 30 games and eight points that he provided you last season... shame. As for the Canes, not that Frankie figured into their plans next season but this move along with the departures of Dennis Seidenberg and Anton Babchuk means there is an opening for a young dman like Jamie McBain or Bryan Rodney (or Borer, Carson) to win a spot on the NHL roster.
Detroit signed veteran dman Andy Delmore to a two-way deal, he'll play with their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids and we don't see him getting any NHL action unless there are major injury issues in Detroit as the Wings have a long line of options on the blueline. So basically, Delmore would be a great add to your AHL fantasy squad but not so much for the NHL version.
Brian Burke continued his Maple Leafs yardsale makeover Monday as he insists on giving away dmen for pennies on the dollar. This time it was Anton Stralman's turn as he shipped the 22-year old dman to the Flames for nobody (aka Wayne Primeau's contract) & a 2nd round pick like 32 years from now. Stralman gets a boost from this move as he wasn't in the Leafs plans and he has a chance to make the Flames opening days roster this season. It would be unrealistic to really expect much out of him this year but his longer term keeper value definitely gets an uptick.
Sticking with the Leafs, Burke has also said that he's trying to find a good home for Justin Pogge... the former "goalie of the future" has worn out his welcome and with the signing of Jonas Gustavsson, Burke apparently feels that Pogge's future is never. Pogge's long term outlook doesn't look good after this past season but we're not in the business of giving up on top goalie prospects who only turned 23 recently. If you own Pogge then you're probably not getting much in return for him in a trade anyway so we'd advise that you hold on to him, see where he ends up and if he can bounceback this year.
PJ Axelsson's NHL career appears to be done... not that anyone should be disappointed (although this scout knew a guy in Boston who really had a thing for PJ, so maybe he'll be disappointed)... as PJ signed a four-year deal with Frolunda in Sweden. Never much of a scorer but PJ was remarkably consistent with seasons of 27, 28, 29 & 30 points in his last four years. His departure means we'll likely never get to see if a PJ & Pascal Leclaire lovechild would actually look like this picture... honestly, that's probably for the best.
All wouldn't be right with the world if Kari Lehtonen was healthy, so its re-assuring to know that he recently underwent back surgery and is out for the next four weeks. He's expected to be ready for training camp but we're sure some complications will sprout up. No seriously, Lehtonen on the Thrashers is not a good situation for fantasy GMs but if they ever throw in the towel and move him to a decent team then he might be pretty valuable (for the half season that he's healthy).
The Bruins were busy the last few days. First they shipped off Aaron Ward to Carolina for Patrick Eaves (who was waived right away) to save a few cap dollars. Yesterday the filled out their missing blueline spot by signing Derek Morris. Morris' fantasy value goes waaaay up. After foundering in Phoenix for five years he turned it on a bit with the Rangers after the trade deadline (8 assists in 18 games). Now with Boston he's expected to play at even strength with Zdeno Chara and get some minutes on Boston's killer PP. He's been in the league 11 years but is only 30 year old...so there could be some gas left in the tank. Great pick as your last blueliner in deep leagues as 30 points is a possibility.
With the move to bring Aaron Ward on board, the Hurricanes have one d-man too many. It's looking like the guy with the short straw in his hand is going to be Anton Babchuk. This is a big shame as Babchuk took a big step forward last year...especially to end the season (23 points in 26 games). He was looking for a pay day with the Canes but he's not getting it now. "We’ve moved on from him," said GM Jim Rutherford. After last year's performance, we would assume another NHL team will trade for his rights...otherwise Babchuk will be KHL bound.
The Hawks announced that they did not give Marian Hossa a physical when the signed him to that monster deal in July. D'oh. It's been reported that Hossa will be out for four months (which would mean a comeback in late November) but we're hearing rumblings Hoss could be out for closer to six months! Hossa is definitely a guy to avoid in the first few rounds this year.
There are ugly jerseys, and then there are UGLY jerseys:
Appartently those bad boys were wore by the Quad City Mallards during the 2004-05 seaon on, yup you guessed it, Western Night. For the best of the worst minor jerseys...give this link a click.
Normally we may be entertained by an item we stumble across on the interweb...but we are very rarely taught something. Today we learned that there are at least 13 rap songs with hockey references. To make this list even more awesome the creator (who obviously has too much time on his hands) photoshopped the rapper's heads onto hockey player's bodies (eg. right). We could not make this stuff up. Our favourite lyric? Well that would have to be:
"Put a ************ on ice like the Maple Leafs / That's a hockey team but I ain't on no hockey team / But I'm a champion, where's the ******* Rocky theme?"
Is Lil' Wayne a genius? The answer is no.
Joe Finley is a prospect in the Capitals system. Joe Finley is also a drunken maniac. According to the Grand Forks Herald, Joe and former teammate Matt Frattin decided it would be a good idea to throw cups, plates, a kitchen table and a lawnmower from atop of their garage. Don't worry though, it was all their own property...but that might even make it more bizarre..
Let's take a look at the money quote by the police from the article:
"They said they just kind of routinely destroy each other’s stuff."
Whoever said that hockey players aren't the brightest bunch?
Just so you know, Finley was a first round pick by the Caps in 2005 and projects to be a big, (he's 6-foot-7) punishing defenseman..
Hat tip to Deadspin for the link.