Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dumont to the Predators

Well, according to some reports online that the Predators have signed free-agent winger J.P. Dumont to a 2-year deal. Dumont, who became a free-agent when Buffalo didn't accept the arbitrators ruling for a 1-year $2.9 million deal.

Dumont will add another 20-goal scorer to a growing list of talent in the Music City and may make the Predators more of a threat to the Red Wings in the Central Division. If one was to make-up some possible lines for Nashville, it may look a little like this:

Paul Kariya - Jason Arnott - Steve Sullivan
Scott Hartnell - David Legwand - J.P. Dumont
Martin Erat - Scottie Upshall - Jordin Tootoo
Scott Nichol - Josef Vasicek - Darcy Hordichuk (or Jerred Smithson)

There's a lot of mixing and matching you could do with this line-up and every line should give you 100% every night. Players like Kariya and Legwand could produce some good assist numbers if they're matched up with this kind of scoring talent and it could be a breakout year for Upshall as well. He's been a favourite of mine since the World Juniors.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Draft Day - Updated!

On Wednesday, September 27, we'll hold the Hockey Pool Draft at the Yardhouse in Kensington. For those who don't know where it is, here is a map. We'll meet after work, I should be able to arrive there shortly after 5pm... so any time around then. When everyone who's expected can show up, we'll begin.

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X marks the spot. The Yardhouse has their wing nights on Wednesday, 100 wing platters for $14.95 and they'll have a section separated for us when we arrive there. Please let me know if you can make it as soon as possible, click here to e-mail me.

We will be picking 14 players... 8 forwards, 4 defensemen and 2 goalies, so be sure to bring a list of roughly 420 players, as we'll max out at 30 teams. I can provide you with a list if you ask for it in advance, my lists are up-to-date and can be sorted any which way you prefer, as long as you have requested it in good time.

This may take a few hours to do, so be prepared.

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Already a Week Has Gone By...

With injuries behind him, Owen Nolan will make his glorious return to the league with the Phoenix Coyotes. Generally considered a top 100 forward, Nolan will joined the re-vamped Coyotes on a 1-year deal paying him $1.25 million this season. There will be a lot of interest as to whether or not he can be the dominant player he once was or an injury-plagued veteran just trying to stay in the twilight of his career. Nolan will more than likely feature as a second line winger for the 'Yotes with other hard-luck injury-seekers, Jeremy Roenick and Mike Ricci. I think it would be fair to pin him down at around 65 points this season and anything more is going to be a bonus.

Number five overall pick, Phil Kessel will forego his years in University to join the Bruins for the coming season. Touted as the number one pick before the World Junior Championships last Christmas, Kessel's scoring ability has never really been in question. Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal, Johnathon Toews and Niklas Backstrom were all considered to be better franchise players, so they were taken before Kessel. With the pressure of making an impact this season, the Bruins will more than likely push the young American as hard as possible for results, especially since scoring rookies did so well last season.

Although Kessel with listed as a center, to envoke a little bit more scoring, he may be moved to the wing to accomodate a few of the other centers and fill out the line-up. That's my guess anyways. Here's my projection for the Bruins forwards come opening night. Not a fact, just a guess.

Glen Murray - Patrice Bergeron - Brad Boyes
Marco Sturm - Marc Savard - Phil Kessel
Petr Tenkrat - Alexei Zhamnov - P.J. Axelsson
Yan Statsny - Wayne Primeau - Shean Donovan

One trade occurred in the league this week seeing arbitration winner, Vitali Vishnevski get shipped from Anaheim to Atlanta for up & coming forward, Karl Stewart.

In Vishnevski, the Thrashers gain a top 4 defenseman for their line-up at a reasonable price. With the Ducks acquiring Chris Pronger and his giant salary, Vishnevski was expendable to the Ducks and the Thrashers were a team in need. A stay-at-home defenseman that won't get a great deal of points, but may help to keep the puck out of the net will attract a few more eyes to goaltending phenom, Kari Lehtonen (if and when he signs from being a Restricted Free Agent).

In Stewart, the Ducks get another younger prospect to bring up the ranks of the minors and into the fold. Really, this deal was something for nothing... a salary dump, if you will. Stewart, on a two-way contract, will primarily be used for injury call-ups, as he was in Atlanta. He would have to get by the likes of Stanislav Chistov and 2005 pick, Bobby Ryan, to make an impact with the big club this year.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Over the Last 7 Days

If the Northwest Division was going to get any harder, Edmonton was going to have to get a scorer... and they did. Petr Sykora joined the Oilers on Friday (the 11th) as an unrestricted free agent and will be a top 6 forward for Edmonton joining some good young talent down the middle. Sykora, scored 23 goals last season and had himself a moderate-to-good year with the Rangers, playing with the likes of Jaromir Jagr.

When the line-up comes together, there would be a good likelihood that you may see lines look like:
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Ales Hemsky
Joffrey Lupul - Jarret Stoll - Petr Sykora
Raffi Torres - Marty Reasoner - Fernando Pisani
Ethan Moreau - Marc-Andre Pouliot - Brad Winchester

The first two lines looking very dangerous with a good mix of experience and youth. For a lot of hockey poolies, especially in Alberta, there will be a close eye on those Oilers and probably for good reason.

Greg Johnson, a role-playing centreman has signed on with the Wings for 1 year. The 35 year-old pivot has played 12 NHL seasons and is generally regarded as more of a defensive-minded player who also gives a little offensive support. Johnson scored 11 goals last season for the Predators in Nashville and will more than likely provide support as the third line centre behind Pavel Datsyuk and Robert Lang.

If your pool has a plus/minus component, Johnson may be considered a late round pick, since he will compliment the likes of Kris Draper or Kirk Maltby on a top-line shutdown line.

Today, it was reported that defenseman Sean Hill has joined the Islanders in New York. Hill, 36, has joined a beefed up blueline with the likes of Brendan Witt, Alexei Zhitnik, Tom Poti and Radek Martinek. Now, it's true that pairings and match-ups are sort of unclear, but Hill's 20 points with Carolina may take a hit as the forecast for Long Island is still sort of stormy. Hill does generally find his way on to a hockey pool team or two, since point production from d-men does tend to drop off in deep pools.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

News & Notes

Well, the top ranking Unrestricted Free Agent has signed a deal. Manny Legace signed with Central Division rival, St. Louis and should take on their number one role from the get-go. Legace and the Blues will face his former team eight times in the coming season, so it should make the rivalry a little spicier.

The Blues have done a lot of work in this off-season to make themselves a force to be reckoned with again after a pretty poor campaign last season. The fantasy numbers may come a decent combination of old veterans with a touch of new, young talent. Legace was 20th in pool points in Detroit, playing in the easy Central Division, so it will be unlikely that he'll return to his 37 wins in St. Louis, unless the Blues really get it together.

With Legace's signing, the Blues will just crawl across the line of minimum salary in the league. Legace's salary for the year is still yet to be announced, but with Weight only making $3.5 million, Guerin making $2.0 million, Tkachuk making $3.7 million (but more counting against the cap), McKee making an even $4 million... the other talents are not quite as expensive. Larry Pleau looks like he's got the picture now in the new NHL.

Perennial pool pick defenseman, Eric Desjardins, will call it a career with a formal announcement on Thursday. A usual mid to late round pick in most pools will call it a day after somewhat of an injury-plagued season, only playing 45 games. Desjardins, the 17-year veteran, will leave as the Flyers' second-highest scoring defenseman of all-time and leave with one Stanley Cup ring (Montreal in '93).

Winger J.P. Dumont is now on the Unrestricted Free Agent list after he was let go by the Sabres this week. Dumont was awarded $2.9 million for 1 year by an arbitrator last week and Sabres will walk away citing he isn't one of the more important parts of the team. Dumont joins a small list of 20+-goal scorers still available on the market, including Yanic Perreault, Anson Carter, Petr Sykora and Peter Bondra. Teams, other than Buffalo, can sign him for any amount, as they are not restricted to the arbitration ruling.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

No Malkin in Pittsburgh's Crosby?

It looks as though Evgeni Malkin will remain in Russia for one more season, according to TSN.ca and Metallurg Magnitogorsk websites. Malkin, considered the 'next big thing' to hit the NHL has been in the middle of Russia not signing the NHL & IIHF transfer agreement that sees prospects move to the NHL from the elite leagues in Europe. As the report states though, Malkin switched up his contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, from a two-year deal to a one-year deal, which would then make him free to move to Pittsburgh next summer.

Be sure to not take Malkin in your pool this season... and make sure you laugh at those who do.

A deal on Friday saw Kyle Calder dealt from Chicago to Philadelphia for Michal Handzus. The deal, not really heralded as a cost-saver for Chicago (saving $800,000 in salary), rather adding depth for both teams. In Calder, Philadelphia adds a winger that can play in every situation for the team, which was very attractive to the Flyers. Since Philly is so deep at centre, Handzus was very expendible for the deal. The Blackhawks didn't lose out at all though. Handzus is a big centerman who will probably line-up on the first or second line for the Hawks, more than likely making a European top line with Havlat and Ruutu.

The deal as a whole should increase both players production in the coming season. Calder will be playing with flashier and more talented centres and Handzus will get much more ice-time. A very attractive deal, indeed.

Nathan Dempsey signed a one-year deal with the Boston Bruins on Friday. Dempsey, now a journeyman NHLer, joins Boston rather quietly. The Bruins will be Dempsey's fourth NHL team and should give them some quality minutes. He should figure into the Bruin's top six, but his consistency has always been somewhat of a weight holding him back. In 52 games last season, he amassed 13 points. He may be a very late pick in your pool, if at all.

Martin Rucinsky returned to St. Louis last week. Rucinsky played in St. Louis during the 2002/'03 season. Last season, he battled through a knee problem all year and a broken index finger to finish the season, but still managed 55 points in 52 games, mostly on the coattails of Jaromir Jagr. Rucinsky joins the Blues as they re-tool their team with quite a few veterans. He will more than likely figure on the Blues' second line, but injury doubts make him a very unstable pick.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Dominating in Detroit??

I don't know what it is about old goalies, but Detroit has signed Dominik Hasek to a 1-year, $750,000 contract... much like Ed Belfour's contract in Florida. It's going to be hard to imagine Detroit making much of a splash in the standings again this year, since there is little to no faith in their goaltending situation, especially in the front office. With Chris Osgood back under contract and Manny Legace gone out to pasture as an Unrestricted Free Agent, Detroit doesn't seem to look like they no if they're coming or going.

I will offer this bit of prognosticating for this season... watch out for prospect Stefan Liv. This 25 year old Swedish goaltending gem really brought his A-game to HV 71 in Sweden and should make a good push for a job in Motown this season. With Detroit's record of bringing in talent from Europe, seemingly out of nowhere (ie. Datsyuk & Zetterberg), Liv, a fourth-rounder in 2000 is my bet for having the starter's job by the end of the season.

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