Fantasy Pool Look: Phoenix, Pittsburgh off-season report

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

As the number of keeper league hockey pools increase each year, fantasy junkies are becoming more active in the off-season as they prepare for the coming year. Rebuild? Retool? Tweak? Whatever your intentions, it helps to get all the information you can about your players. Fantasy Pool Look will examine at a pair of teams each week and give you the fantasy lowdown. This week, we’ll look through our fantasy hockey goggles at the outlooks for Ottawa and Philadelphia.

Also – don’t forget to send your off-season questions to the THN Fantasy Mailbag, which is posted the last Wednesday of each month during the summer.

Phoenix Coyotes

Gone – Radim Vrbata, Niko Kapanen, Keith Ballard, Mike York, Bill Thomas Nick Boynton, Craig Weller, Mathias Tjarnqvist and Marcel Hossa.

Incoming – Olli Jokinen, Brian McGrattan, David Hale, Kurt Sauer and Todd Fedoruk.

Ready for full time – Kyle Turris has a second-line spot to lose. The Yotes will move Peter Mueller to the wing to play with Shane Doan and Jokinen, while Turris showed excellent chemistry with Mikkel Boedker in the rookie training camp. Boedker should also make the squad this season.

Kevin Porter is coming off a Hobey Baker season and should take a third-line spot. At the end of the last campaign Enver Lisin seemed to have made the team for good, so expect that to carry over. Viktor Tikhonov is the final candidate, but whether he makes the team or not will depend on the upcoming IIHF decision on his eligibility. All five of the potential newcomers mentioned above should post in the 35 to 55-point range, with Turris and Boedker having the greatest chances of exceeding that this season.

On the back end, Keith Yandle is ready for full-time duty and will quarterback one of the two power play units. I doubt he’ll tally 40 points, but he’ll make it close.

Fantasy Outlook –
With Ilya Bryzgalov in net and a pipeline brimming with skilled kids, Phoenix will get another step closer to the post-season. They are moving in the right direction and if you were to stash some of their players on your keeper league roster now, you won’t regret it. I put Phoenix on the same level as Chicago and Los Angeles – an offensive team with a bright future.

Fantasy Grade: B (last year was C+)

Pittsburgh Penguins

Gone – Marian Hossa, Ryan Malone, Jarkko Ruutu, Gary Roberts, Georges Laraque, Adam Hall and Ty Conklin.

Incoming – Miroslav Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko, Janne Pesonen, Eric Godard, Matt Cooke and Bill Thomas.

Ready for full time –
Thomas has been on the cusp for a couple of years, but has not shown consistent enough offense to stick at the NHL level. If he can’t show it in Pittsburgh, he can’t show it anywhere. That said, he is in tough to be one of the top-four wingers and is a long-shot at best.

Pesonen did not cross the pond to play in the American League. He’ll get a long look and should see some time on the second or third line this season. He makes an excellent dark horse to hit 55 points.

The injury (and subsequent foot surgery) to Ryan Whitney opens the door for Alex Goligoski to make the team. Kris Letang will slide into Whitney’s spot on the top power play unit and Goligoski should quarterback the second unit. If he’s given this chance, he will impress.

Fantasy Outlook – As long as the Pens have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, it will be difficult to give them a grade less than an A. Those two will pad the numbers of six or seven players on the roster, which makes most Penguins really nice commodities. They are a Stanley Cup contender once again.

Fantasy Grade: A+ (last year was A+)

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy 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 Thursday through the off-season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.

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