This is the 10th off-season for Fantasy Pool Look and for the 10th summer in a row I’ll be taking a look at each team’s outlook. I’ll have my fantasy hockey goggles on, of course. In keeping with tradition, I run through the teams alphabetically, but switch starting points each year. This year I began with Winnipeg and will eventually work my way to Anaheim. Contract information courtesy of CapGeek.com. Time to take a look at the Sharks and Penguins.
San Jose Sharks
Pending UFAs – Torrey Mitchell, Dominic Moore, Daniel Winnik, Brad Winchester, Brad Stuart, Colin White, Jim Vandermeer, Antero Niittymaki, Ben Guite
Pending RFAs – Tommy Wingels, T.J. Galiardi, Benn Ferriero, Andrew Desjardins, Justin Braun, James Sheppard, Alex Stalock, Frazer McLaren, Tim Kennedy.
Looking to add – One or two depth scorers. Galiardi’s play after arriving in San Jose (one point in 17 games) left something to be desired. While a healthy Martin Havlat helps tremendously, the team could use a couple of 35- or 40-point players for their third line, with the upside to move to the second unit.
More toughness. Although the role of enforcer is slowly fading, there is still a market for hard-nosed, agitating, tough characters for the checking line. Galiardi’s 110 hits led all forwards on the team, but he got most of those while playing for the Avalanche. A player who can dish out 200 hits in a season would be ideal. An opportunity is here for the next Zac Rinaldo (i.e. a rookie) or Tanner Glass (a journeyman who found a home with Winnipeg).
Ready for full time – Wingels is a versatile forward who could potentially be that 35-point guy. But his upside is minimal and warrants little attention in fantasy circles.
College star Travis Oleksuk is worth keeping an eye on. Although he will likely spend the season in the American League, how well he adapts to the pro game will determine how quickly he gets called up. The Sharks signed him as a free agent for a reason and that reason is not hit checking ability.
Goaltender Alex Stalock missed much of last season with a leg injury, but his skills are underrated, much like with No. 2 goalie Thomas Greiss. An injury or a breakdown of some sort from starter Antti Niemi would be needed before we see Stalock.
Fantasy Outlook – As good as this team is - and has been for years - it is another year older. It has done a great job of gradually bringing in great players, adding one from within the system every season. But until the Sharks add someone with the impact of Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau, the future is unstable. Perhaps Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski will be those guys, but I get the feeling they’re a step below. Still a good-looking team, but is it a house of cards? Fantasy Grade: B (last year was B+)
Pending UFAs – Steve Sullivan, Arron Asham, Steve MacIntyre, Richard Park, Brent Johnson, Jason Williams, Colin McDonald, Ryan Craig, Brad Thiessen.
Pending RFAs – Cal O’Reilly, Eric Tangradi, Alexandre Picard, Robert Bortuzzo, Matt Niskanen, Brian Strait.
Looking to add – A backup goalten…oh. So eager was Ray Shero to address this need, he wouldn’t even let me finish my sentence. Marc-Andre Fleury was lit up like a Christmas tree in the first round and because there was no one else to turn to the Pens were dismissed early. The signing of Tomas Vokoun addresses that issue. How much of a difference would it have made if the team could have thrown Vokoun out there? Not only would it have helped stop the bleeding, but it would have also given Fleury a chance to calm down and bounce back the following contest.
The signing of Vokoun also shifted Pittsburgh’s strategy. Traditionally, they spend little on backup goalies. To add an extra $1 million or so to this position means taking money from another area. Throw in the pending Sidney Crosby negotiations (he’s a free agent in 2013) and you may see a ripple effect ranging anywhere from not re-signing Sullivan to possibly trading Jordan Staal.
Ready for full time – Although he could use one more season in the minors, Eric Tangradi may be included in this ripple effect by being promoted. A power forward with some upside, Tangradi was finally starting to dominate the AHL. Getting to that point in the NHL will take several years, but he would definitely get a look on one of the big lines.
Simon Despres was forced onto the roster a few times last season thanks to injuries, but he showed he’s ready for the NHL full time. He’ll be 21 in the fall and there will be growing pains, but by mid-season he should start producing modest numbers with power play time.
Fantasy Outlook – When discussing a team on which Pascal Dupuis can become a 59-point player, nothing more needs to be said. You just draft a decent player and hope he becomes the next Dupuis and those odds increase if Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are both healthy. When looking at the farm system, in terms of forwards, the pickings are slim compared to most teams. 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. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.