Malkin, and the Impact On Hockey Pools
Off for the weekend so putting this up a day early!
I am already starting to hear of some keeper leagues who are having their annual draft this month (although most are still held in September/October), and a lot of questions have been asked based on recent news in the hockey world regarding Evgeni Malkin.
First and foremost is about Malkin himself. Some keeper leagues have rules in which one can only protect ‘X’ amount of players each season, or they have limitations on how many seasons a team can own a player. For those of you that would be forced to release him at the end of this season – still keep him. His trade value during the season will still be incredibly high. If you are in a keeper league and you only get to keep Malkin for two more years – again, still hang onto him. When he does make his NHL debut he should be lock for a point per game, minimum.
Newly acquired Nils Ekman is still my top choice to play the left wing on Sidney Crosby’s line. With Andy Hilbert not being qualified, that left wing spot is wide open and Ekman is the favorite. With Malkin gone, there goes Ekman’s insurance policy. Had he failed to click with Crosby, he would have had a shot with Malkin. Talk about win-win! However, his insurance policy has gone up in flames. I still have him cracking the 60-point barrier, it’s just a little more risky.
Colby Armstrong will be Crosby’s right winger. Of that there is no doubt. The two had tremendous chemistry and Armstrong was nearly a point-per-game in the final 48. He will be there, and my confidence in his offense this season remains the same, Malkin or no Malkin.
Jordan Staal was probably a longshot to make this team, and if he did make it he would play on the left wing in all likelihood. With no Malkin, his odds of making the team are increased, and it will be in a second- or third-line center role. Staal’s value increases, as he is likely to have earlier results.
Mark Recchi’s shot at a 14th 60-point season is in dire jeopardy. The right-winger will see little even-strength time on Crosby’s line, and there’s a big difference between having Malkin as your pivot versus having Staal, Ryan Malone, or Eric Christensen there.
Another loser in Malkin’s likelihood of remaining in Russia is Michel Ouellet. A right winger who tore it up in the American League earlier in the year for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and followed that up with a 10-game stint in which he garnered 10 goals and 16 points, Ouellet also had a shot at that right-wing spot (thereby pushing Recchi to the left side). However, he most certainly will be toiling on the third line now, with Dominic Moore as his centerman. Quite the talent drop there.
Lou Lamoriello ‘happens’ to have his salary cap situation eased just a tiny bit, with an overpaid Richard Matvichuk and Jason Weimer both missing most (or all) of the upcoming season with injuries. Lamoriello still needs to cut the Devils’ salary back by about two million dollars though. Maybe Brian Gionta and Paul Martin, who still need to be signed, will sign for ‘negative a million dollars’ each. That will solve everything. However, the reality is that Gionta is asking for $3.5 million, and I stated right here in this column a couple of weeks ago that he will wind up signing for three. Lamoriello will have to trade Scott Gomez, that’s the only way to cut the remaining five-million dollars (plus whatever Martin signs for). Expect very good prospects and picks coming the other way. Wouldn’t it be something, though, if Lamoriello solved this problem by trading franchise superstar Martin Brodeur and in a separate deal somehow picked up Martin Biron from Buffalo? Highly, highly, HIGHLY unlikely, but it’s a nice conversation piece for sure – New Jersey’s salary situation is desperate…
The Sabres were wise in walking away from J.P. Dumont’s arbitration award. Not because it was way too much – it was too much, but not WAY too much – no, simply because they have so many skilled forwards that they could lose Dumont (and his salary) without hurting themselves one iota. The move ensures that Ales Kotalik has a spot on a top line, as he well should. With Dumont there, how do choose between Dumont, Daniel Briere, Tim Connolly, Maxim Afinogenov, Jochen Hecht, Derek Roy, Kotalik, and Chris Drury? Now the choice is easier…
Signing Petr Sykora is the final piece of the forwards puzzle for the Oilers. He will fit in nicely on the second line with Joffrey Lupul and Jarret Stoll, thus pushing Fernando Pisani to the third line, where he is a better fit. I have Sykora for 60 points this year now.
For more hockey pool tips, check out www.dobberhockey.com. Also be sure to pick up Dobber’s Hockey Pool Guide Supplemental – 21 pages of notes, predictions, and prospect outlooks. Available now! Info on the website.