Chelios, we hardly knew ya... Palmieri, Bjugstad & Bennett look good for US... Eakin takes spotlight at Canada's camp... the Gretzky Barbie Doll
NEW! Chris Chelios is taking an office job with the Red Wings, which we guess means that he's retiring... wow, we thought he had a few good years left in him??? Honestly, this guy is retiring about 10 years too late and maybe people forget how dominant he was back in his day. As we do here at FHS when a star retires, we like to shine a light on their best fantasy season. For Chelios, it's not hard to find one (he had many good ones), its picking out the best that's tricky but this one kicks ass... 1992/93, 84 games, 15+58=73, plus-14, 282 PIMs & 290 shots... wow. The points, the PIMs and the shots by themselves are unreal but you combine them all together and it's a miracle.
NEW! The US wrapped up their Junior Evaluation Camp by stomping all over the Finns & Swedes. Some of the players who impressed were Kyle Palmieri who led all scorers with 5+5=10 in six games (including intra-squad), Nick Bjugstad with 7+1=8 in seven games and Beau Bennett with 1+6=7 in seven games.
NEW! Team Canada was holding a little camp of their own but only stomping all over themselves, they held two intra-squad games and the players that we noticed (from box scores & highlights) were Cody Eakin who had 2+1=3 in the final game and his linemate Louis Leblanc who had 2+2=4 over the two games. Eakin is a kid we like, drafted by the Caps in the 3rd round in 2009, they signed him right away and he went on to put up 47 goals last year in the WHL. He's got another year of Jr. ahead of him but is a good looking prospect (ranked #121 & rising in our Fantasy Prospect Rankings) which is only enhanced by the potential of joining a powerhouse Capitals squad in a few years.
Teemu Selanne told some people in Finland that he's decided that he's going to return to the Ducks for "at least one more year", so expect a deal to get done soon. The Finnish Flash can still bring it, .89 ppg last year and he hasn't been below .83 in any of the five seasons since the lockout. He'll give you some nice contributions in PPP & shots as well. Injuries have cropped up the past two seasons and he is 40, so durability has to be a concern.
Teemu also said that he's trying to convince his old buddy Paul Kariya to join him on the Ducks this year... we all know how this worked out last time they were a package deal with Colorado (see: not well). Kariya's coming off the worst year of his career and missed all but 11 games of the season before that with a hip injury but we think he still has some points left in the tank as he has .86 ppg since the lockout. We'll see if this reunion actually comes to be. If Selanne & Kariya return it's really going to hurt the fantasy outlook for guys like Jason Blake, Matt Beleskey and Dan Sexton who are angling for spots on the 2nd line.
John Madden signed a one-year deal with the Wild and while he won't have any fantasy value, he may take a roster spot and/or playing time away from Casey Wellman (and maybe James Sheppard) to start the year.
The Oilers have signed goalie Marty Gerber to a two-way deal... the speculation is that he'll be sent to the AHL and that will probably be the case if Khabibulin is healthy and not in jail but if Khaby's not able to play then we can see the Oilers bringing Gerber up instead of going with two young goalies... so a word of caution if you own Deslauriers or Dubnyk.
A report out of Russia says that Maxim Afinogenov has signed with St. Petersburg of the KHL on a five year deal... well that's disappointing for fantasy GMs (including this scout) who own him in a keeper league. He redeemed himself last year with 61 points for Atlanta and while repeating that would have been hard we thought Atlanta would find a way to resign him or that he'd catch on with another NHL team. Wow, this really opens things up for some forwards in the ATL as since the end of last season they've moved out Kovalchuk, Afinogenov, MacArthur, Armstrong, Kozlov & White. Of course, Ladd & Byfuglien were brought in to play in the top 6 but they're going to need guys like Evander Kane & Niclas Bergfors to really step it up... both were already going to figure prominently in the Breakout Bible (which is due out at the end of next week btw) and this just helps their cause.
The Sabres re-signed RFA dman MA Gragnani to a one-year, two-way deal... he's been a productive player at the AHL level with three seasons at around .66 points-per-game but there doesn't seem to be an opening on the Sabres blueline for him so he'll need an injury or two to someone ahead of him before he gets a chance. He's ranked at #210 in our Fantasy Prospect Rankings.
The Predators traded Mike Santorelli to the Panthers for a pick, he's still an unsigned RFA right now but a deal should get done soon. He's had at least a point-per-game in his last two AHL seasons so he's shown some good potential but the Preds weren't going to give him much of a chance. He'll probably have to start in the AHL for Florida but should get into some NHL games this year.
RFA forward Darren Helm has agreed to a two-year deal with the Red Wings... it's one-way, so he's guaranteed that he'll be on the roster full-time this season but with the Modano signing, Helm might be playing more 4th line than 3rd line... not that you should be counting on him for a lot of points anyway. This move also gives the Wings 13 forwards on one-way deals and unsigned RFA Justin Abdelkader on the outside looking in. Assuming Abdelkader gets signed, he should be the 14th forward who may have to wait for an injury before seeing a regular spot in the lineup.
The US is holding a World Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid and playing some friendlies against the Swedes & Finns. A few of the younger Americans have stepped up and looked good so far, Minnesota HSers Nick Bjugstad and Brock Nelson are both holding their own against older competition. Bjugstad had two goals against the Finns on Wednesday and has six goals in five games (including three intra-squad games) and Nelson has 2+1=3 in games against the Swedes & Finns.
Just a note on Canada's roster for the Ivan Hlinka tourney that starts next week... hot shot dman Ryan Murphy, who's considered a potential top 10 pick in the 2011 draft was cut from the team in a bit of a shock decision even after he notched a hat-trick in the final scrimmage... Bizarre move by Hockey Canada there. The Canadian team will be led by players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins & Matt Puempel who are both gunning for the #1 overall spot in the draft next year.
The Bruins signed 2nd overall pick Tyler Seguin to his first contract... we're still not sure that he'll stick with the team all season, the Bruins have some serious cap issues and need to make a move of some sort and sending Seguin back to Jr. after a nine game showcase might make the most sense. He'd get another year of development in Jr., a chance to play in the WJC and the Bruins get to defer his contract a year... just saying.
Mike Modano has confirmed that he's going to sign a one-year deal with the Red Wings... a good move for him but his points-per-game has declined in each of the past five seasons to the point where he's at around a 40 points per 82 game level and we don't see the 40-year old putting up anything beyond that this season.
Igor Makarov has signed with the Hawks, he was a 2nd round pick back in 2006 and now has four years of experience in the RSL/KHL. He took a bit of a step backwards last season in the KHL but looks to have some decent skills. The Hawks will give him a look in training camp but chances are that he needs some transition time down in the AHL.
The Ducks have signed 2009 1st round pick Kyle Palmieri to an entry level deal, so he leaves Notre Dame after one tumultuous season and will probably head to the OHL we'd guess.
UFA dman Mike Weaver signed with the Panthers, which isn't really news but the rub comes when you realize its a one-way deal so he's going to occupy another spot on the blueline that prospects like Keaton Ellerby and Erik Gudbranson had their eyes on.
The Blackhawks have decided to walk away from the contract awarded to Antti Niemi in arbitration, thus making him a UFA, and they immediately signed Marty Turco to a one-year deal to be his replacement. Great move for Turco, sucks to be Niemi right now. We're a little surprised as we thought they'd find a way to fit $2.75M for Niemi under the cap but not really stunned as that salary for a goalie with half a year of experience who was only really a starter once the playoffs began is an overpayment & every dollar counts for the Hawks. This is a tough blow for Niemi owners as all that promise of being the #1 on Chicago next year is down the drains and it looks like he'll have a hard time even finding himself a platoon situation right now... he may need to wait until the season starts to find himself a gig. Turco's value obviously skyrockets with this signing as he couldn't have landed in a better spot, the Hawks really keep the shots down and make it easy for their goalie and so Turco may not put up a great sv% (he hasn't had a sv% above .913 in his last six seasons) but his gaa & wins should be top shelf.
The Sabres have waived Tim Kennedy and are planning on buying him out... bit of a shocker here as Kennedy looked like a good young player for them but the Sabres are playing hardball and decided that a $1M price tag (given to him in arbitration) for a guy who had 26 points last year was too steep and will look for a cheaper alternative. Kennedy should be able to find himself a home but he's a few years away from fantasy worthy production.
The Thrashers dealt Todd White to the Rangers for two of Glen Sather's stupider contracts (not Boogaard's), which they will buy out or bury in the minors... can't imagine the Rangers have much use for White as they already have a severely overpaid Cman in Chris Drury, so why take on another one?... White's likely either headed for a buyout or Hartford. As for the Thrashers, this opens up a center-ice spot for someone like Patrice Cormier to win in training camp.
RFA dman Erik Johnson signed a two-year deal with the Blues... we love this kid, he's played two seasons and his per-82 game pace was right around 40 points each year. We think he has a chance to increase those numbers and could be a real six-category stud starting soon.
What's distracting us this week?
- NEW! Down Goes Brown bringing the funny, just like always... check out his Off-season Winners and Losers. Gold. Our favourite: "New York Rangers - Their annual 'free agent signing which everyone agrees was the most outrageously over-priced mistake of the summer' ended up being a lot cheaper than usual this year."
- Today: Ovie vs. Crosby. 1950's: Howe vs. Richard. Greatest Hockey Legend's breaks down the old timers debate in their usual entertaining style.
- We always assume that any photo we see on the internet has been photoshopped... but even if the photo below has been doctored, it's always fun to piss off a few Flyer fans. Can you spot the typo on The Prince of Wales trophy? (stick tap to @ChiBDM via Rock the Red)
- Thanks to our friends over at the eagle-eyed Sacramento Gold Miners Fan Club for posting & sharing this hidden gem of the story of the Gretzky Barbie Doll from sometime back in the crazy '80s...