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Fantasy Hockey Scouts: Weekly Wrap-up - Aug 23rd to 29th, 2010

Dosage Express
Low expectations for MacArthur... Khabibulin: Guilty... Lashoff is AHL bound... Kariya on hold... Langkow on the road back... Lalime doll: so life-like  

Daily Diarrhea   

HEADS UP... our 3rd annual Breakout Bible hit the shelves last week... we're not going to say it's our best (that's tbd based on how well you do in your pool) but it's definitely the most robust  

HEADS WAY UP... the 2010/11 Fantasy Scouting Report is just going through final review and should hit the shelves on Tuesday, August 31st

NEW!  The Leafs were at it again on Saturday as they signed another re-tread, adding UFA forward Clarke MacArthur on a one-way deal.  He's never really impressed us as he just doesn't do enough, he had some productive seasons in the WHL & AHL but hasn't been able to muster much at the NHL level with only a .42 ppg average through his first 208 games.  In addition, he doesn't shoot the puck enough (only 129 in 81 games last year) and was a minus-16 last season which wasn't easy to do as he spent most the year with Buffalo and they outscored their opponents by 30 goals.  He could see some 2nd or 3rd line action in Toronto but we don't think he'll be one of their main scoring threats and the Leafs will likely be a team that struggles to score so we'd take a pass on him.

Khabibulin Nikolai Khabibulin had his day in court Friday and it didn't go so well as he was found guilty of "Extreme DUI".  He's yet to be sentenced but is apparently looking at between a month and six months behind bars... that's not going to help the Oilers unless they can somehow void his contract.  Let's wait to see how long he's going to locked up before we get into what all the options are for the Oilers, but none of them are really that appealing.

Here's the latest & greatest in the Summer of Kovalchuk... the Devils & Kovy agreed to a deal and have submitted it to the NHL and everyone's tweeting that they're pretty sure that the NHL will accept this one... we'll wait to see what the NHL has to say as we're sure they're "investigating" it as we speak.

The Leafs made a minor trade and picked up Matt Lashoff from Tampa Bay for two scrubs... Lashoff is a former 1st round pick of the Bruins (2005) and has shown some point & PIM potential in the OHL & AHL but he's a liability in his own end and so he's been passed around the past few years.  He'll make his NHL salary in the AHL as he's on a one-way deal for this season but that's where the Leafs will send him and he'll likely get a call up if there are a few injuries with the big club... but we wouldn't get too excited about this move if you own him.

Paul Kariya has announced that he won't play during this coming season due to post-concussion issues but he hasn't officially retired yet so a comeback could happen at some point.  But you'll want to go ahead and drop him if you own him in a keeper league... too bad as I'm sure a lot had hoped that he'd land with the Penguins & team up with Sid.

Daymond Langkow has been cleared to begin skating but is still dealing with some issues due to the neck injury he suffered back in March... so he's hopeful that he'll be ready for the start of the season but given how long it's taken him to get back on the ice, we'd say he's a very risky pick right now until we get some more information.

Byfuglien Some BIG fantasy hockey news yesterday as Thrashers GM Rick Dudley said in an interview that he'd like to see coach Craig Ramsay move Dustin Byfuglien back to defense and that it will depend on how some of the kids do at training camp.  He said Buff would prefer to play defense... wow, I guess we were just assuming that ATL had signed him to help their forward unit.  Now let's think about this, Byfuglien's likely to have forward eligibility in your league based on last year but if he gets moved to defense then he'll gain D eligibility but he'll be playing defense so it really doesn't help you unless he splits his time or jumps up front on the PP... it'll actually hurt fantasy owners who were expecting him to play up front this year only to find him back on the blueline and not likely to put up a lot of points.  If he slides back to the point on the PP then that could also hurt Zach Bogosian's chances of breaking out this year but it does open up a spot up front and Dudley has been talking up Alex Burmistrov's chances of making the team, so he could benefit. [more]

Jordan Staal has had a few setbacks in his recovery from offseason foot surgery and the team isn't sure if he's going to be fully healthy when training camp begins in a few weeks.  We'd expect Staal to have himself ready for the start of the season but keep this in mind as his offseason training has been affected and that could cause him to get off to a slow start... not what you want from a player that many are picking for a breakout this year.

Meanwhile the Penguins have told Billy Guerin that they won't be bringing him back... no big surprise there as he'll turn 40 in a few months but this makes it official that Crosby's in need of a new winger.  Eric Tangradi could get a shot at that job in camp although he's never really impressed us or GM Ray Shero said that they still could be in the market for a free agent addition.

There are reports that Ilya Kovalchuk is seriously considering bolting for the KHL.  Lets wait to see if that actually happens before we lose our shiit over this... and even if he does start playing over there, it could just be temporary until a deal with the Devils gets worked out so don't do anything rash.

Downie The Lightning re-signed RFA forward Steve Downie to a two-year deal... he was fantastic in the 2nd half of last year with 15+15=30 & 116 PIMs in his last 41 games and as long as he sticks on a line with Stamkos & gets some PP time then we think he can build on that.  He's our #17 ranked breakout candidate in the Breakout Bible.

Tampa also signed UFA dman Randy Jones to a one-way deal... he was pretty good in LA last year with 5+16=21 in only 48 games and while he won't be one of the top guys in Tampa to start the year he could see enough minutes to be useful in a lot of fantasy leagues.

LA replaced Randy Jones with Willie Mitchell on Wednesday as they signed him to a two-year deal... Mitchell has very little fantasy value with plus/minus being his only real contribution but this signing will make it harder for a whole gaggle of prospects who were hoping to win spots in the Kings opening day lineup like Hickey, Voinov, Teubert, Martinez & Fransson.  With Matt Greene missing a few months at the beginning of the season, at least one of those guys will make the team out of camp and hopefully impress enough to stick around for the season... we don't know who though (our pick is Martinez), guess we'll have to wait & see how camp goes.

The Predators signed 2009 3rd rounder Taylor Beck to an ELC... he had a great season in the OHL last year with 42+57=99 in 66 games (regular & playoffs).  He's likely headed back for his final year of junior after training camp but he's showing a lot of potential and we have him ranked #88 in our fantasy prospect rankings.

The Flyers signed goalie prospect Nicola Riopel to an AHL contract. He was the MVP of the Q in 2008/09 and the Flyers drafted him in the 5th round in after that season.  He played 10 games in the AHL last year before returning to the Q to finish the year. Not sure why he's only getting an AHL contract and not an ELC but we're guessing it's because the Flyers are pretty deep in goalie prospects right now and they're not sure where all of them are going to play.  We're really high on Riopel's upside and have him ranked at #52 in our fantasy prospect rankings.

Lupul Ducks forward Joffrey Lupul has a blood infection in his back and is not allowed to do any physical activity for another month, so he's going to miss the beginning of the season and likely won't play until November.  Hopefully this will clear up the back issues that limited him to only 23 games last year but back injuries give us the straight-up heebee-jeebees and we'll be avoiding him until he comes back and proves that he can be productive again.

Niklas Kronwall is still not fully recovered from a knee injury he suffered last season and he thinks that he may need surgery.  He missed 34 games due to the injury last season and was never an ironman to begin with so this is a little concerning for Kronwall owners.  He played through it at the end of last season so give him another month and maybe he'll feel better but not a good sign that he's coming into the season already banged up.

Raffi Torres has signed a one-year deal with the Canucks, good find for him as he joins a team that was 2nd in league in goals last year but we still don't have much use for him as he's likely a 3rd liner, is injury prone and has proven that his level of production is somewhere around 30-40 points.

The Hawks signed prospect Brandon Pirri to an ELC... he'll leave RPI after a solid freshman season where he finished 2nd in scoring amongst first year players in the country (11+32=43 in 39 games). He's ranked #159 in our fantasy prospect rankings and despite only being 19, the Hawks will likely send him to the AHL for a few seasons to see how he handles the pro game.

RFA forward Patric Hornqvist has re-signed with the Predators... so good news there as he had a nice breakout season last year with 30+21=51, plus-18 & 275 shots... all solid numbers.  A repeat of that season won't be easy but when you're firing the puck that much, it's bound to go in so we think he can do it.

Kovalchuk The Devils, Ilya Kovalchuk & the NHL are working on a new deal that the league will actually approve this time, so as suspected, this should get done soon and he's not going to the Kings or Rangers or the KHL.

Again, as everyone suspected, Cristobal Huet is said to be close to working out a loan deal to play in the Swiss league next year... so expect that to be finalized soon and anyone who had hope that he'd somehow find a NHL job for this year, you can lay that to rest.

RFA forward Bryan Little agreed to a deal with the Thrashers, he'll be looking to have a bounce-back year after dropping from 31 to 13 goals last year.  He should improve on last year's total but we're not as in love with this Thrashers squad as other people seem to be and we think they're going to struggle to score.

The Red Wings signed RFA forward Justin Abdelkader to a one-way deal... he'll make the big club out of camp but will have to battle it out for a spot on the 4th line and his fantasy outlook for this season is pretty bleak.

As a bit of a follow-up to the Taylor Hall talk, give us your vote in the poll to the left about how many points you think he's good for in his rookie season.

Well they say that "No news is good news"... well we'd like to respectfully disagree with whoever came up with that load of crap as it doesn't give us much fantasy hockey news to discuss... 

Hall While we've got some free time lets talk about a comment that we had about the Bible the other day and what's sure to be one of the most interesting storylines in fantasy hockey this year.  A fan of the Oilers pointed out that he thought we were selling Taylor Hall short since we said that we didn't think he was in the same class as recent 1st overall picks from the OHL like Kane, Stamkos & Tavares.  Sure his points-per-game in his draft year (1.86) were similar to all except Kane (2.50) but taken in context with how high-scoring his team in Windsor was, his numbers don't really stack up...

Player Season Pts/g Team gpg % of Team
Patrick Kane 2006-07 2.50 4.57 55%
Steve Stamkos 2007-08 1.72 3.69 47%
John Tavares 2008-09 1.86 3.68 51%
Taylor Hall 2009-10 1.86 4.87 38%

Note that Tavares played with two different teams so his team gpg is a blend but any way you slice it Hall's team in Windsor was scoring a full goal more per game than those of Stamkos & Tavares and while Kane's London team was loaded, he was scoring at a ridiculous pace.  The comparison looks pretty similar if you look at prior seasons as well.  This is the biggest factor in why we're not too bullish on Hall's fantasy hockey upside... maybe he'll prove us to be wrong but we think his numbers would have taken a hit if he wasn't on such a great team.  FYI, Tyler Seguin's numbers from last year were more in range with the group above (1.68 ppg, 3.60 team gpg for a 47% ratio) which was the main reason that we had Seguin as the top fantasy prospect in the 2010 draft in our fantasy prospect rankings.  As always, let us know if you think we're idiots.

Daily Distraction 

What's distracting us this week? 

- We love our breakouts.... Red Light District talks fantasy breakouts.  Not a bad list.  It has a few of the guys we're talking up in our Breakout Bible.

- Kyle Wellwood: "I will work for food,"  But according to sources with the Leafs and Canucks "I’ve seen the man go through $4,000 of poutine in a day. That’s no bargain".  Nice work, Intent to Blow.

- We saw the following picture at the always awesome Hockey or Die... it's old, but still rings true.

Lalimechoke2 

- THN gives you some names to know for next year's entry draft

- SYP talks some OHL veterans who might breakout

- For anybody who ever said that Twitter was useless... @CamJanssen55 just proved you wrong.

- We saw this over on Puck Update and while we wouldn't call it 'entertaining' we also couldn't take our eyes away.  The Alex Ovechkin of photoshop (Merrillk.com) combines the features of Sidney Crosby, Wayne Gretzky, Teemu Selanne and Henrik Zetterberg to make a creepy looking Russian player.