Fantasy Pool Look: Chicago, Colorado and Columbus

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Summer is here – time to run down next season's fantasy outlook, team-by-team.

Chicago Blackhawks

Coming – Tony Salmelainen, Cam Barker, Patrick Lalime, Jonas Nordqvist are the newcomers. A slew of injured players also will be back, including Adrian Aucoin and Tuomo Ruutu.

Going – Curtis Brown, Craig Anderson, and Matthew Barnaby.

Team Outlook – The one-word description remains: “ouch”. Lalime is capable of carrying the load if Nikolai Khabibulin gets hurt, but Chicago needs to fix a lot more than just its backup goaltending. Their roster is filled with a lot of highly-skilled ‘ifs': If Pavel Vorobiev can shake his doldrums and score 25 goals; if Ruutu can come back healthy; if Salmelainen, the diminutive winger picked up in the Jaroslav Spacek trade, can step in and inject 60-plus points into their offense; if Radim Vrbata can pick up where he left off last season, the Blackhawks might be okay. Did you see a lot of ‘ifs' there? Me too.

Chicago does have a lot of potential down the road, however. If you do decide to invest some of your keeper-league roster in some Blackhawks, go long-term. Jonathan Toews, Jack Skille, and David Bolland all look to be fine players.

Team Fantasy Grade: D-

Colorado Avalanche

Coming – Wojtek Wolski, Tyler Arnason, Jordan Leopold.

Going – Rob Blake, Bob Boughner, Jim Dowd, Dan Hinote, Alex Tanguay.

Team Outlook – The Avs decided Wolski could replace some of the offense Tanguay gave them, and in return it would free up enough cap room to keep Joe Sakic and, perhaps, Blake. Colorado also felt if Blake couldn't be retained, Leopold could replace some of his offense. They lost Blake and added Arnason, who will be an upgrade from Pierre Turgeon as the second-line centerman. All in all, the bottom line is no matter how team management spins it, there will be holes on offense. A healthy Marek Svatos will replace some of their lost offense, but will Sakic (who turns 37 on Friday) lose a step? Even a 75-point campaign from him - which is still a great season – will be 12 points less than he produced in 2005-06.

For this season, Colorado has a fine playoff team put together. Jose Theodore looks like he could come back to form. Leopold and John-Michael Liles look to be a nice one-two punch on the back end. The two scoring lines look adequate, and are sprinkled with the right mix of youngsters. However, depth on the farm is pretty thin. Beyond Svatos, Wolski, and Brad Richardson, where is the future of this team?

Team Fantasy Grade: C+

Columbus Blue Jackets

Coming – Gilbert Brule, Alexander Svitov, Anders Eriksson, Fredrik Modin, Fredrik Norrena.

Going – Marc Denis, Jan Hrdina, Trevor Letowski, Radoslav Suchy.

Team Outlook – Slowly but surely. Modin is not going to carry this team into the playoffs, as they still need a couple more major pieces. That said, there is plenty of promise in the pipeline, and some of the pieces are still falling into place. Brule will add some much-needed firepower on the second line, and his presence should ensure a repeat of Modin's stats (54 points) from his time in Tampa Bay.

Svitov has lost much of the offensive luster that made him a coveted prospect at one time, and he will toil on one of the checking lines. Jaroslav Balastik carries a sniper's rifle, but at the NHL level it has been more of a water pistol thus far. Those players will need to show some of the promise they displayed not so long ago if Columbus plans on playing hockey at the end of next April. Goaltending is still unproven, although Pascal Leclaire showed enough last season to allow the Blue Jackets to deal Denis. On defense, a healthy Bryan Berard will inject even more offense. Down the road, Brule will be able to take over the No.1 center role from Sergei Fedorov, and 2006 first-round pick (sixth overall) Derick Brassard will be able to assume Brule's role, so offense for the future is covered.

Team Fantasy Grade: C+

Darryl Dobbs' Fantasy Hockey Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Wednesday afternoon. Also, get the top 250 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN's Fantasy section.

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