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2014 Fantasy Teams to Target (and Teams to Avoid)

by chewy 28. August 2014 06:19

Ready to shake off the summer slumber and get to work on your draft prep yet?  First step: Figure out which teams to target and which teams to avoid.  Let's get to it then. 

 

Teams to Target in 2014:

 

1.       Colorado

The Avalanche surprised most last season, charging down the mountain from the first puck drop to be a dominant force in the West and a fantasy gold rush.  Nobody should be surprised to see that continue in year 2 of the Roy Regime.  From MacKinnon, Duchene, Landeskog and Iginla up front, to Barrie and Johnson on the back end, and throw in a rising O'Reilly, the goals will flow freely in Denver this year.  Get a piece of this action early and often in your draft.

 

2.       Pittsburgh

It seems redundant to list the Penguins as a team to target in fantasy circles.  It has been that way since about 1984.  The new front office may be reforming the image of this squad for better Spring results, but you still can't go wrong with Crosby, Malkin and a host of adequate complimentary wingers to finish those passes.  The addition of Ehrhoff more than offsets the loss of Niskanen on defense, and a full season from Letang could land him back in the Norris party.

 

3.       Philadelphia

The Flyers took their time getting started last season, but finished among the best in the NHL.  I'll avoid grabbing for the obligatory Giroux jokes and say that he remains a top 3 fantasy option, making Voracek and anyone else that finds their way to his line worth drafting.  The fantasy-worthy options stretch into the third line in Philadelphia.

 

4.       San Jose

Who cares about the playoffs, right?  Just keep picking Sharks for their regular season success and you'll be a happy drafter.

 

5.       Los Angeles

The evil-opposite of the Sharks don't care a lick about the regular season.  Nonetheless, with 3 lines of top end offensive talent, including a slew of first and second year speedsters, you should keep the Kings on your radar.  Look for potentially monster seasons from the likes of Kopitar, Carter and Gaborik.  Doughty is due for a big fantasy campaign as well.

 

6.       Chicago

Like LA - The Hawks like to spread it around and get the wins.  Some of their top names will be overrated and overdrafted as they approach the back end of their career.  Don't overreach for anyone on this squad, but if the value is there come draft time, there should be about 10 Chicago players going off the board in your draft.

 

7.       Dallas

My surprise pick for fantasy explosion this season is coming out of Texas.  The top line may be the best in hockey this season.  The Stars have quickly transformed to a to a resurgent powerhouse over the last several seasons.  Don't expect much from the defense crew.

 

8.       Tampa Bay

With two Calder runners-up last season, and strong Calder favorite in Drouin this season, the Bolts are building a fantasy power from youth.  And then there's potential MVP Stamkos.  Hedman continues his slow ascent to the elite on D.

 

9.       Edmonton

This has to be the year Edmonton finally breaks through, right?  They could have 3 forwards in the top 10 by the end of the year.  And 2 more in the top 50.

 

10.   Minnesota

In any other division, Minnesota would be a clear favorite to finish first.  It won't come easy, but they will give the big 3 a run for their money.  Along the way, look for some very solid fantasy options to emerge, including the obvious (Parise, Suter, Pominville, Vanek), and the not so obvious (Grandlund, Niederreiter, Coyle).  If they could ever get a full year's work out of a goalie, one of them may emerge as a top 5 option in net.  All around, this is a solid, rising Wild squad.

 

 

Teams to Avoid:

 

1.       Nashville

The only coach they've ever known has moved on, leaving the team seeking a new identity.  Perhaps that is reason to hope that this team could finally turn a history of sweet defensive prospects into fantasy meaning.  The roster up front gives little hope for 2014 relevancy.

 

2.       New Jersey

When your only viable fantasy option is 42, you have no viable fantasy options.  Even Schneider will struggle to find wins.

 

3.       Phoenix (I mean, Arizona)

Defense first.  If he has a C or W next to his name, look elsewhere.

 

4.       Buffalo

Nothing to see here.  Move along.

 

5.       Florida

The Panthers seem content to throw silly money at average players, just to meet the salary floor.  Many of these guys could do well if paired with elite talent; however, given their location, they will see their totals dive down.  A handful of promising youngsters give a slight glimmer of hope on the horizon.

 

 

 

 

 

Hold On Jack -- Fantasy Preseason is Almost Upon Us

by chewy 21. August 2014 08:07

We're just a couple weeks out from Labor Day, which marks the unofficial start to fantasy hockey pre-season.  We've been hard at work making our preperations for delivering all the fantasy info you need to dominate your draft.  Here's a rough idea of what you should expect over the coming weeks:

Offseason Recap

Quick hit through the fantasy hockey-relevant headlines you missed while vacuuming your pool this summer.

Power Rankings

To get yourself grounded, it helps to get your mind around which teams will do well this season, and which teams have entererd (or lingered in) the dreaded "rebuild mode".  This is particularly critical when it comes to choosing goalies.

Goalie Rankings

Speaking of goalies, our official goalie rankings will available in about a week.

Defense Rankings

We traditionally follow that up rather quickly with our Defense picks.

Offense Rankings

Do I need an explanation?

Fantasy Breakdown

Armed with our final draftlist, you'll be prepared to configure your own (for free) right here.  We'll follow that up with focused articles on: Breakout Players, Rebound candidates, Sleepers, Gambles, Busts and other clever ways of putting a label on someone who makes more money than you. 

 

To quote the immortal Phil Bourque -- "Buckle up, Baby!"

For the Record - 2014 Playoff Predictions

by chewy 16. April 2014 05:26

Just a few hours before the puck drops on the most compelling contest in all of sports.  This year, at long last, we have a fixed bracket, making things much easier on those of us obsessed with fantasy contests.  Be sure to get in on the action at NHL.com with your bracket selections.  Here are mine:

 

 

 

Cup Finals:  St. Louis Blues over Boston Bruins.

Despite entering the playoffs on a 6-game losing streak, my faith in St. Louis has not wavered from the start of the season when I projected them to hoist their first ever Cup.  If they can get healthy, no other team can roll 4 lines up front and 3 pair on defense like the Blues.  I was torn over the Boston/Pittsburgh selection, but goaltending has to favor the Bruins.

 

MVP: Alex Steen.  Steen finally emerged as an NHL star this season, leading his squad in goals and assists, despite missing several weeks of action.  He will be clutch.

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE

 

Pittsburgh / Columbus

Fleury will be fine in this one.  Which is all anyone needs to hear.  A Pittsburgh loss would rival the '93 Islander upset.

Penguins in 5.

 

Boston / Detroit

Just keeping the playoff streak alive should satisfy Wings fans.  They certainly won't like what they get in Round 1, as they will be completely outclassed by the Bruins.

Bruins in a clean sweep

 

Tampa Bay / Montreal

Coin flip on this one.  Let the goaltending decide it.  With Bishop uncertain and Price in top form…

Canadiens in 6.

 

NY Rangers / Philadelphia

Another coin toss.  The Rangers just seem pieced together wrong, while the Flyers have the 2nd best player in the league on their side.

Flyers in 7.

 

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE

 

Colorado / Minnesota

If you're looking for an upset in Round 1, it has to be here.  The Wild are better built for the playoffs than Roy's surprising Avs squad.  If only the Wild had healthy goaltending, they could have challenged St. Louis to come out of the West.

Wild in 6.

 

St. Louis / Chicago

Tough road for the Hawks to repeat in the West.  Toughest fight comes first, which they will lose.

Blues in 5.

 

Anaheim / Dallas

Biggest no-brainer on this side of the bracket.  Ducks should roll here.

Ducks in 5.

 

San Jose / LA

Wish I didn't have to stay past midnight for the next two weeks, but I can't miss what should be the best series of round 1.  When the teams are even, look to the net.  It doesn't get better than Jonathan Quick.

Kings in 6.

 

 

Waiver Wire - Week 18

by chewy 4. February 2014 05:41

Just a couple games left before we break for Sochi.  Here are a handful of potential free agents to consider before shutting down until March.

 

OFFENSE

 

Gustav Nyquist (DET)

While Detroit has struggled to find their way through key injuries, Nyquist has stepped it up.  He has 8 goals in his last 8 games, along with 4 assists during that stretch.  His ice time has steadily climbed, as he has become the go-to guy for the Wings.

 

Antoine Vermette (PHO)

It's tough to get too excited about Vermette.  In 9 NHL seasons, he has rarely emerged as a viable fantasy option.  However, it's tough to ignore what's going on this season in Phoenix.  Vermette has topped 20 goals already, and has contributed 8 tallies in the last 9 games.

 

Mikael Backlund (CGY)

The Flames have been rolling for the past couple of weeks, thanks in large part to the offensive contributions of Backlund.  He has now registered 2 points in each of the last 4 games for Calgary.

 

Tyler Johnson (TB)

With Stamkos threatening a return soon, we may see a diminished role for the Tampa rookie, but he has emerged as a serious talent over the past month.  Johnson has 17 points in his last 19 contests.

 

 

DEFENSE

 

Tyson Barrie (COL)

It has been tough trying to find value at the defensive position at this point in the season, but Barrie's 5 game point streak is worth notice..

 

Dougie Hamilton (BOS)

Hamilton has struggled with various injuries in his sophomore season, but is looking good right now.  He has goals in two straight games and is being counted on in key situations for the Bruins.

 

 

Waiver Wire - Week 16

by chewy 21. January 2014 06:42

We've got just a couple weeks of fantasy action to go before falling into the Olympic slumber.  Don't miss your opportunity to upgrade your roster and prepare your team for the final push before playoff season creeps up.

 

While the wire is typically highlighting lesser known talent, this week there are a number of fantasy veterans who had falled off in recent years or months.  Some of these veterans have turned up the heat in recent weeks:

 

OFFENSE

 

Ryan Clowe (NJ)

The PIMs have dried up a bit, but he's seemed to regain his old scoring touch.  9 points over his last 7 games for the Devils.

 

David Legwand and Mike Fisher (NAS)

The Predators have come back from the dead offensively in January, and the two centers have been leading the cause. Over the past 4 games, Legwand has piled up 7 points, along with a healthy plus-minus and PIM contribution.    Fisher has been even better, with 14 points in 13 games.

 

Brad Richards (NYR)

Another back from the dead?  8 points in 7 games has the up and down veteran back on the upswing.

 

Scott Hartnell (PHI)

Over the last month, Hartnell has been producing at over a point-per-game.  Teaming up with Schenn and Simmonds, the 2nd line in Philly has been on fire.

 

Nazem Kadri (TOR)

Kadri and the Leafs have awoken in the past week.  He has 5 points in his last 3 games. 

 

Brad Marchand (BOS)

Marchand was written off by many for a horrid start to this season.  His ice time and production have steadily crept back in recent weeks.  He has been scoring goals consistently, talling 9 in his last 13 games.  He is capable of being a top 20 fantasy option.

 

 

DEFENSE

 

Andrej Meszaros (PHI)

It's been a few years since Meszaros was a significant fantasy factor.  With 9 points in the last 7 games, he has my attention.

 

 

GOALIES

 

Darcy Kuemper (MIN)

Trying to predict the goalie situation in Minnesota is a bit painful right now.  Backstrom has fallen out of favor.  Harding's health is a mystery.  In steps Kuemper to win 4 of 5 starts, including a shutout.  Not a long-term solution, but you may be able to ride him to the Olympic break.

 

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