X the Boxes, Fantasy League Hints, Jerseys, Sitting Ducks

Hello hockey fans. It has been a while, but the mikster is back in it as the season is just a few blocks down and am I psyched! Read all about the title in my article and check out what you can do to help HTR do its season previews.So, mark the X’s in the day boxes of your calendars as it is just 18 days to go for Game 1 of the regular season to begin. Has this been a lengthy summer or what? It felt like it to me, but to be honest it was not actually that bad. News around the hockey world was fairly consistent and we had a good off-season. Now it’s training camp and pre-season games. Media reports will have a lot of good coverage on players and teams. Fantasy leagues are open. It’s just great, is it not? It’s almost as if we were in hibernation for a moment and we came out of our caves and smelled the fresh air of hockey…..that is unless you live in New Jersey.

Let’s begin with Fantasy League tips here.

CDM:

If there is one key way of winning CDM it’s find the healthy players. The last thing you want is to have injury prone players. Yes, I learned it the hard way. No matter how good the player may be, if he is injury prone you risk wasting a spot and a trade to make.

Look for 2nd tier defensemen, and sleepers. I noticed that defensemen are quite expensive and take quite a cap hit on your payroll. Think about it, there are only a few defensemen that really score big time points and chances are that thousands of other competitors have those defensemen. Very important: You MUST find players that few competitors have. In other words, if you have say….. Nicklas Lidstrom and he scores four points in one game. Guess what? Thousands of other competitors have Lidstrom so how much did you possibly gain with him scoring? Not much. So what you do is you find lower profile defensemen that cost much less and allow you to buy a better forward, or goalie, that thousands of other competitors don’t have because the payroll is too high.

When you look at the CDM player value list, for any position, always start from the bottom. You always want to find the names that make you go “yeah, I thought this guy was good last season, let me mark his name down and look him up later”. You also find bluechip prospects. As far as prospects (I don’t necessarily mean young NHL prospects, but more like any player who is a fantasy league prospect), I recommend you take a risk on a player who is a crapshoot but so low in price as well. That is if, of course, the player is a sure shot to make the team. Anyway, back to my point of starting from bottom to top. I am looking at the list now that starts with Cam Barker as 1500 (it’s easier to say 1500 instead of a 1,500,000). Let’s work our way up.

Cory Murphy, FLA, 1500: Just mark his name down as a possibility. If the guy is as good as they say he is, he will be the main player on the PP. The Panthers PP works as a unit, unlike some other teams who depend mostly on their forwards when on the PP. That means that the Panthers will work as a unit and all five players will look to make the play. Follow the news on Florida closely starting tonight when they play against the Calgary Flames. If Murphy did well, keep following his name. The problem with Murphy is that he has Bouwmeester, Van Ryn, Welch, Salei, and occasionally Jokinen, also playing the blueline on the PP.

Shane O’Brien, TB, 1150: Another defenseman to keep an eye on. Why? Tampa’s defense is very slim as Paul Ranger is like the next guy after Dan Boyle. How sad is that? But O’Brien showed some good potential and he may get a shot on the PP, where he can gain some points. Still, I doubt there’s much to this guy and fantasy points, but keep an eye on him just in case.

Zbynek Michalek, PHO, 1220: He will definitely be the go to guy on Phoenix’s blueline. I know, Jovo is there but the guy never plays a full season anyway and could still be dealt. Michalek is pretty much a 30 point d-man, has reached 9 goals the year prior to last season, and he has good offensive upside. What kills him though? The plus-minus rating. If you are a risk taker and you feel that Michalek may be a great sleeper pick, I’d go for it.

Anton Stralman, TO, 1350: So much hype on this guy, but it’s typical of Toronto to do such with their prospects. Still, this guy is worth keeping an eye on if he is THAT good offensively. If he gets 38, 42 points in his rookie campaign at just 1350, that’s a bargain. So keep a close eye on this guy as the media will too.

Karel Rachunek, NJD, 1510: The Devils offense from the blueline weakened when Rafalski left, but Rachunek is in and he has a great shot from the point. So, playing on a good defensive team, Rachunek’s +/- should not be such an issue. He will be used for the offense, he shoots, and I can see Rachunek going for a career high this season.

Brian Pothier, WSH, 1570: Here is a 30 point defenseman who finds himself playing on a much better Capitals team this year. With Nylander and Kozlov now on the team, the Capitals should be stronger on the offense and on the PP. Yes, Pothier will also see Poti get some of his ice time, but he is going to rack up assists and I think he will hit 38, 41 points this season with a good +/- rating. Not that bad at 1570.

Matt Carle, SJ, 1650: An absolute must have player.

Duncan Keith, CHI, 1720: Take a good look at Keith because he contributes a lot offensively and racks up on assists as well. If Chicago has a better season, Keith will as well.

Christian Ehrhoff, SJ, 1720: Improves his offense each season. I don’t recommend to have Carle AND Ehrhoff, and obviously I’d take Carle over Ehrhoff.

Shea Weber, NSH, 1870: Definitely a must have at that price when the guy scored 17 goals.

Pavel Kubina, TO, 1960: He had a bad season last year, but he is up for a rebound which means he should regain his form with very good +/-, 35, 45 points and PPP too. Give him a shot if you can, but if you have the slightest doubt, then don’t take him.

Kevin Bieksa, VAN, 1960: Must I really explain this one?

Francois Beauchemin, ANA, 1990: Always a good choice, especially if Neidermeyer retires.

Mike Van Ryn, FLA, 2010: Don’t let last season’s numbers fool you, he had a major case of wrist problems and could have barely closed his hand on the stick. His wrist is pretty much 100%, he has a great shot and he’d be worth a chance.

Tom Poti, WSH, 2070: He may have a bad reputation, but he is the #1 offensive defenseman on the Capitals right now and may have a superb season in points total.

Tom Preissing, LA, 2080: I usually stay away from players like Preissing who had a good season as a 2nd tier guy and end up signing a new contract with a troubled team.

That is as far as I go for lower priced defensemen. Check these guys out, keep an eye on them and hopefully this helps you if you are playing CDM Fantasy Hockey.

Goalies are tougher to look at, as far as sleepers, and here are the only ones I’d look for in low price.

Carey Price, MTL, 1200: Soi much hype on this guy, keep an eye on him because the goaltending competition in Montreal is not as tough as you think. Even if he gets 35 games in a season and wins 20 with above average numbers, he is a huge bargain.

Niklas Backstrom, MIN, 2710: Not that cheap, and I still consider him a risk since he only had one season. Nonetheless, his numbers should be very good and is definitely worth considering.

Martin Biron, PHI, 2850: Risky, I know, very risky, but the Flyers look good and could have an excellent second half. Still, it’s risky to have a slumping first half goalie on your team. It’s a coin toss, make your choice.

Wingers:

Marcel Hossa, NYR, 1090: He is currently playing with Gomez and Jagr. It is not 100% certain that’s the line, but Hossa works very well with Jagr because he digs up pucks in the corners, has size, passes well, and creates some space. He basically does the dirty work. Keep an eye on him to see if he stays with Jagr, and if so I can give him a 38, 40 point season with 15 goals or so. At 1090, you’re saving a crap load of cap space, that is unless you have a specific benchmark for your forwards of 200 fantasy league points. Hossa will most likely not reach that figure, but be close to it.

Drew Stafford, BUF, 1230: He scored 27 points in 41 games last season. He will get more ice time and a definite increase in points. Bargain.

Ryane Clowe, SJ, 1660: A real coin toss as he is not a skilled player, but managed to score 34 points in 58 games. You can give him a shot hoping he’ll keep it up…..yet I have a doubt.

Chris Higgins, MTL, 1950: This New Yorker knows how to net 20 goals a season….enough said.

Alex Radulov, NSH, 2100: A lot of skills with potential to be a 1st liner as the season progresses. Eighteen goals in 67 games, you know where this guy is going.

Centers:

Nicklas Backstrom, WSH, 1800: A big question mark but pretty much everyone assumes he will make the team and have a fine rookie campaign, will he? Possible, so keep an eye on him.

Kyle Wellwood, TO, 1820: Was having a great year last season until injuries hit him. I would not consider him injury prone just yet so I think it is safe to say this guy is a MUST HAVE on your team, especially if other competitors in your division do not have him.

That’s it for centers. I know, just two, but the other ones are pretty much on the same level and are above 2,000,000 in fantasy salary. I hope this helps you a little bit in expanding more possibilities.

As for the Yahoo FHL players, you can pretty much follow the names mentioned above. Make sure you don’t draft any of these guys too high though, if you will go through a Live Draft. They also may not help as much in a roto-league, but more useful in a Head-to-Head league, which I prefer. I think there is more strategy and better preparation in a head-to-head league than in a roto-league. Sometimes you can pick-up that player in the FA list, or who was put on waivers, and he gets hot all the sudden for a week. More fun for sure.

So that’s that. What’s next? Jerseys….the new uniforms.

How do they look overall? I’d say OKAY. Not great, not bad. Some look really good, others so-so, and some other just yuck. The link with all the jerseys is here: http://board.spawn.com/forums/showthread.php?t=400450

What the hell? Hockey fans can be fashionistas with their sport!

Ducks: Pretty much the same, which is fine.

Thrashers: I like the road (white) jersey, but the home jersey with that blue and just one should/arm stripe? I did not like it originally and now it looks worse. And that is one ugly blue.

Bruins: Well done, kept it classic.

Sabres: Somewhat similar to last season, just some touch ups. I like the new jerseys for the Sabres.

Flames: Pretty much the same and it’s fine with me.

Hurricanes: Very similar to the older ones except I do not like the shoulder lines.

Blackhawks: Finally no more black jerseys. I like it, classic and traditional.

Avalanche: I like the road jersey, but the home jersey has too much of that blue. They should have kept it on the shoulders only instead of running it down the arm.

Bluejackets: Totally new look, with a better looking logo as well. I like the jerseys a lot, nice looking blue….definitely one of the better ones.

Stars: Yikes….talk about a lack of creativity. Horrible.

Red Wings: They look fine to me, kept it classic and traditional.

Oilers: Too much white on the away jersey and too much blue on the home jersey. The orange shoulders were a classic touch and I am not happy that they took those off.

Panthers: The road jersey (white) is okay, a bit too Flyeresque for my tastes, but the home jersey in blue is one of the best ones in the whole league. Everything flows right.

Kings: I like it, besides the colors. But overall, they kept it classic with the shoulders colored and the forearm band striped. Good job.

Wild: The away jersey is quite the same and I like the green on the arms. The home jersey is just gorgeous for my tastes. It looks like an old hockey sweater from the early decades of the 1900′s. Very classical, and the only thing that ruins it is a modern logo. Not that I do not like the logo, I do, but I don’t think it fits.

Canadiens: The absolute best in the whole league. Excellent work.

Predators: They should have dropped the silver sleeves on the away jersey and put the blue there, with the linings in silver. Would have looked a lot better. The home jersey is nicer except for the blue being cut off on the forearms.

Devils: Errrr…..what’s different?

Islanders: Too busy on both jerseys. I think the number on the front is dumb and it looks like pieces put in together. I do prefer the home jersey though, it looks nicer with the blue going up on the shoulders.

Rangers: Pretty much the same, and looks fine.

Senators: Too plane and simple. Too much white for the road, too much red for home.

Flyers: I never liked their jerseys so I can’t comment on that, but as far as changes I guess they look fine to me.

Coyotes: I like both of them, quite a classic look and the road white jersey is nice with the shoulders colored in.

Penguins: No too much difference, but they look fine with the mino changes, except wit too much golk on the sides of the jerseys.

Sharks: Cool logo, but what the hell is that? A new color line in that dark yellowish color. For a moment, I thought the home jersey looked like an older St. Louis Blues jersey. I don’t like either one of them. One of the worse ever.

Blues: Not too different, and I like them.

Lightning: The new logo looks like it came from a minor league team. I like the road jersey in white, but the home jersey with black and a little bit of blue….blech.

Maple Leafs: Jersey kept classic and traditional, the new logo….shameful.

Canucks: I like everything about both jerseys except the logo. I like the orca logo, but they brought back a traditional classic look, and I love “VANCOUVER” spelled across the top of the jersey, but kind of like the Wild, a traditional look with a modernized logo? Does not fit. Nonetheless, looks really nice.

Capitals: I like everything new about this team’s jersey look, including the logo.

Sitting Ducks

I always like Scotty Niedermeyer and always respected him in his Devils years. But seriously, what the hell are you doing dude? I know it must be a hard decision but he is taking way too much time on this. I remember some Rangers fans got restless when Messier took the summer to decide whether to return or not, but he decided before the season started. It seems like Scotty here won’t decide until God knows when. If I were him, I’d retire now. He has nothing else to prove. He has shown passion for the game, the ability to lead as captain, success on two teams, Stanley Cups, definite Hall of Famer, International success…… what else is there but to risk of getting injured or having a bad finish? Retire now Scotty because you will remembered the way we know you right now. If you play one more season and it does not go too well for you, then it’s just not going to be as special. Retire already, will ya? You are a sitting Duck along with Selanne.

HockeyTradeRumors.com will be doing the season previews once again. I thought I was going to have a sweet ride with this but it turned out that I have been too busy to do too much work. I already have the Northeast being worked on, the Rangers, Lightning, Panthers. Most of the Eastern Conference is set, but I could use help with the Western Conference teams. So if anyone is willing to volunteer to write for a team, then contact me through messaging on here or e-mail me at m__peroni@go.com. Yes, two __ underscores in that e-mail address. It’s a handful of work and I am very picky about the content, and grammar. If you want to see what last year’s season previews looked like, I can send you an attachment file, pdf (Adobe) file.

So, let me know and thanks for your help.

Thanks for reading as always and can’t you just smell that ice rink when going to the games? I can. I can’t wait!

Micki Peroni

Vice-Administrator