Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pool Outlook for Los Angeles

The tough thing about rebuilding a franchise is that in the bulk of cases, it takes years, rather than an over-the-summer change, especially when you talk about a smaller budget team in a lake full of big fish. The Kings were a little more competitive in the Western Conference and they were able to produce a couple more names worthy of pool consideration through the year. Acquisitions through waivers and trades have started to firm up the base of competitive players down in Los Angeles and we may see a few more players picked than the six Kings picked through the Draft and one Waiver Draft. More players like that can translate into a better season in the NHL standings as well.

It should come as no surprise that the top player in the pools from Los Angeles was Anze Kopitar, who finished with 66 points in 82 GP. Kopitar's numbers fell slightly in 2009, but he managed to keep himself in the top 100, which he has done for the first three seasons of his career. With that sort of production, he had more than earned himself his 7-year contract extension that he had signed in October.

Also having a good year up front were Alex Frolov and Dustin Brown, who both finished in the top 125 in pool scoring, although they both dropped in their rankings from 2008 as well. The two, plus Kopitar, provide a great nucleus of players on the front lines, even if they don't play on the same line all the time. Getting a boost up front was Michal Handzus, who managed to play all 82 games this past year, which is a first in a while. The additions of Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams through 2009 could make for some good compliments in 2010, barring any injuries, of course.

On defense, the team looked brand new on the blueline, as injuries and inconsistencies were quite troublesome through the year. The Kings looked like geniuses when they claimed Kyle Quincey from the Red Wings in the Fall, as he could crack their line-up, but finished the season with 38 points in 72 GP, mostly with the Kings. the team again looked like geniuses when they inserted their number two overall pick in 2008, Drew Doughty, into their blueline corps and he picked up 27 points in 81 GP, not to mention all of the minutes he played. Doughty could be considered a Calder Trophy snub after the season that he had, but it's exceptionally hard to win the trophy from the blueline.

The Kings finished the year with a pair of regular goalies in Jonathan Quick and Erik Ersberg, with Quick taking over the number one spot down the stretch. Quick finished with 21 wins, 4 shutouts and an assist for 51 pool points, which was very respectable among the other goalies in the league/pool. That ranked him 24th among all goalies in pool points. Don't take these numbers too seriously going forward, as the outlook in goal remains cloudy and it's anyone's job to take in 2010.

2010 Season Outlook
It's exciting to see promise with this Kings team, but it may be a little far-fetched to look at the current batch of players (see below) and to say that they'll definitely be in the mix for the last playoff spot (or two) in the West in 2010. The prospect of growth is hopefully enough for Kings fans, as they should be happy with the direction that the team is heading in.
Anze KopitarKyle QuinceyJonathan Quick
Alex FrolovDrew DoughtyErik Ersberg
Dustin BrownMatt Greene
Michal HandzusPeter Harrold
Jarret StollSean O'Donnell
Wayne SimmondsTom Preissing
Oscar Moller
Justin Williams
Raitis Ivanans

The current batch of 17 players on the list comes at a very reasonable cap hit of approximately $39.1 million and they have plenty of room to move when it comes to adding in some of their blue-chip prospects like Jonathan Bernier and Thomas Hickey, if they so make the team out of camp this Fall. With that much play, they will have some reasonable arguments to maybe pass over their future UFA's for some better rated ones.

The Kings have a couple of key RFA's to take care of first, which I would imagine they have every intention of taking care of early, so they don't have to deal with them in the middle of UFA season. Both Jack Johnson and Teddy Purcell are up for new deals out of their entry-level agreements and despite seeing little time last season, they should be rewarded in advance for some good years ahead. Neither players is in a position to break the bank, so the Kings should keep themselves in great shape for the Free Agent Frenzy.

Kyle Calder, Derek Armstrong and Denis Gauthier will all likely hit the free agent pool, with Armstrong the most likely to see a return to the Staples Center. None of these three have very much fantasy value heading into the summer and a change in scenary doesn't even improve their potential for points, as they all haven't improved greatly in previous seasons.

One of my favourites, who I am excited to see if he improves is Wayne Simmonds, who improved greatly over the last couple weeks of the season and he was a lot of fun to watch, not to mention being somewhat productive. If Thomas Hickey and Jonathan Bernier can make the jump to the big team, they will both be worthy of some extra looks, thanks to an improving team that they are fitting into. Trevor Lewis, Colton Teubert and Justin Azevedo are all other names that can be thrown into the mix as well, but they may have a little less chance to make the jump, but they carry enough promise with them to do so, eventually.

When I prepare my list for my next hockey pool draft, I will have a long look at some more Kings, but it won't likely be until the Waiver Draft before I see where the real progress in the Kings' game, but the promise of progress is very apparent right now. The Kings currently hold the fifth overall pick in the Draft, where they could pick up an NHL-ready forward to help with their struggling offense, but also look for the Kings to deal some of their youthful talent for more NHL-ready talent right now. Hold off on making any big moves right away, if you have any summer transactions, rather waiting for July to roll over before making anything to bold happen.

Second Round Playoff Match-Ups

The second round of the playoffs start tonight in Vancouver, as the Canucks host the Blackhawks, in the only game of the night. Since it is the only game of the night, it has an earlier start time in Vancouver, as it's a 7pm MT start on CBC.

In terms of the pool, the match-up is relatively close, as they were both favoured to make it through to the second round in their first round matches. The Canucks hold a slight edge, holding 75.4% of their potential selections, while the Blackhawks have 64.5% of theirs. The most popular player chosen on the Canucks for the post-season, Alex Burrows with 25 selections. The most popular Blackhawks player on the sheet, Duncan Keith with 22 selections.

The goaltending match-up sees Roberto Luongo (taken 18 times) take on Nikolai Khabibulin (taken 3 times) go head-to-head, both have played well in this post-season already.

Starting up on Friday night on TSN2 at 5pm MT, the Ducks invade Joe Louis Arena to start a series with the Red Wings. This will start an all-TSN channel evening on Friday, with a pair of early games.

The Ducks beating the Sharks in the first round turned out to be a huge upset on the sheet, so it should come as no surprise that the Red Wings are heavily favoured in this series as well. The Red Wings hold 91.3% of their possible selections in the pool, meaning that everyone and their dog should have one Wing on their team. The Ducks did walk out of the first round with 15.3% of their selections, which was a good move by those people, as they have a leg up on other teams, especially if it goes seven games. The most popular Red Wings, Marian Hossa and Johan Franzen, each have 29 selections. The most popular Ducks player, Ryan Whitney, with 9 selections.

The goaltending battle is a little more interesting, as Chris Osgood, in Detroit, is the only pool goalie expected to start in this series. Jonas Hiller walked out of the regular season with the number one job, swiping it away from J-S Giguere, who is on the sheet. Osgood was taken 8 times on the sheet, while Hiller couldn't be taken and no one wanted Giguere in the first place.

The Eastern Conference bracket starts a little bit later on Friday night, a 5:30pm MT start on TSN, which sees the Carolina Hurricanes, fresh off their upset of the Devils, take on the East-winning Bruins in Boston.

There is lots of love in the pool for the Bruins, as they were the most popular team on the sheet, taking a whopping 94% of their possible selections, which overshadows the Hurricanes like a monolith, who only have 39.3% of their selections. An upset in this series could very well shatter the hopes and dreams of many, taking a good point total to the Conference Finals. The most popular Bruins player is Tim Thomas, with 28 selections. From Carolina, the most popular player is Erik Cole, with 13 selections. Shocking fact: the most popular player for the Hurricanes has 0 points through the first round.

Well, in goal, you already know who is tending for the Bruins and how popular he is, but for the Hurricanes, it's Cam Ward, who only has 4 selections to his name. Although the goaltending match-up is a little one-sided in the pool, it shouldn't be one-sided on the ice, as both goalies are carrying high save percentages into the second round.

Finally, we'll have to wait until Saturday afternoon before we get to see Game 1 of the Penguins/Capitals series, which gets started in Washington at 11am MT on CBC. It will get the marquee treatment through the second round by NBC in the States as well, hence the Saturday early start.

This series is much more evenly matched going into the second round on the sheet. Everyone had a feeling that they'd both make it through, but confidence wasn't exactly at it's highest. The Penguins come into the series as the favourite, taking 76.5% of their possible selections, while the Capitals don't trail too far behind with 74.8%. Neither team would be a dramatic loss in numbers, unless you have some top players for one team rather than the other. The most popular Penguins player is Sidney Crosby, with 38 selections. The most popular Capitals player is Mike Green, with 30 selections.

Much like the DET/ANA series above, there is only one pool goalie starting in Game 1 of this series, but unlike the DET/ANA series, some people took the opposing goalie, who isn't starting. For the Penguins, Marc-Andre Fleury gets the nod in net and he has 10 selections to his name for this series, while Simeon Varlamov will get the nod, as the non-pool goalie. Jose Theodore, the initial starter for the Capitals, did receive 5 selections, but he was yanked in favour of Varlamov after Game 1, which Theodore blew pretty badly. Don't expect to see Theodore for the remainder of the playoffs.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Perfect Team in Round One 2009

The sheet has been broken down 61 times, but there isn't any team that is as good as the perfect team. Down below, you'll see how the perfect team could be broken down after the first round.

Box 01 - ANA - Ryan Getzlaf 8
Box 02 - SAN - Patrick Marleau 5
Box 03 - CHI - Jonathan Toews 7
Box 04 - DET - Johan Franzen 7
Box 05 - CHI - Patrick Sharp 7
Box 06 - VAN - Alex Burrows 6
Box 07 - CAL - Curtis Glencross 3
Box 08 - ANA - Scott Niedermayer 6
Box 09 - DET - Brian Rafalski 4
Box 10 - CHI - Cam Barker 6
Box 11 - DET - Brad Stuart 3
Box 12 - VAN - Roberto Luongo 10

Box 13 - PIT - Evgeni Malkin 9
Box 14 - PIT - Sidney Crosby 8
Box 15 - WAS - Alex Semin 9
Box 16 - NJD - Tomas Zajac 5
Box 17 - BOS - Michael Ryder 8
Box 18 - NYR - Brandon Dubinsky 5
Box 19 - WAS - Sergei Fedorov 5
Box 20 - PIT - Sergei Gonchar 6
Box 21 - WAS - Tom Poti 6
Box 22 - PHI - Matt Carle 3
Box 23 - CAR - Dennis Seidenberg 3
Box 24 - CAR - Cam Ward 10

Total points for the perfect team: 149
Total points for the first place team: 115

Off-Season Surgeries

The Minnesota Wild have already seen a couple of their players go under the knife in the off-season. Niklas Backstrom has had hip surgery, Brent Burns has undergone shoulder surgery and now Marc-Andre Bergeron has had successful back surgery this week. It does make you wonder how much of an effect that had on their success in the regular season. Another concern to us fantasy types is what their condition will be come next season. All three players should be good to go for camp and since they have the whole summer to recover, their injuries won't likely play a factor next season.

On Tuesday, the Flyers announced that their captain, Mike Richards, will be undergoing surgery for his shoulder, to repair his right labrum. He will then get another MRI for his other shoulder to determine whether or not he needs surgery there as well. These surgeries are expected to cost him 10-12 weeks of recovery, which may keep him out of any action until after training camp. This should be taken into some consideration when preparing your pool lists in September.

Pool Outlook for Florida

The Panthers were so close... so close... to making the playoffs in 2009. The only thing between them and the playoffs was their season series with the Montreal Canadiens. Of course, that really shouldn't make the season of 2009 a complete disaster, as they came away with plenty of hope and potential realized. Sure, it's been a long time coming, but the Panthers of the late-90's doesn't seem like it's far-fetched anymore.

Tomas Vokoun had his work cut out for him and that was just within the confines of his own team. Vokoun was challenged by his goaltending partner, Craig Anderson, all year, but Vokoun still made it into the line-up enough to win 26 games, 6 by shutout and a single assist. Anderson still managed to get in the crease for 15 wins, 3 shutouts and an assist. That's a pretty solid goaltending tandem, but it was just one shutout loss away from a playoff berth.

Up front, the Panthers saw some ups and downs, not to mention some new faces arriving on the scene. Stephen Weiss and David Booth came into their own in 2009, both jumping into the top 100 of the pool rankings, while Cory Stillman and Nathan Horton fell out due to injuries. Weiss and Booth now have a good recommendation for your pool team next season, although, I would be weary of taking them too high, as the balance of the team may not be the same, come the beginning of the 2010 season. A new face to look forward to next season will be Michael Frolik, who had 45 points in 79 GP in his rookie season. Frolik quietly went about his business in Miami and could surprise a few people next season.

On defense, it was a decent year offensively for Jay Bouwmeester and Bryan McCabe, who finished with 42 and 39 points, respectively. Bouwmeester played his heart out this season, despite the looming cloud of being traded at the deadline and his new contract negotiations. McCabe took the change of pace in Florida well, but ran into some injury trouble again, limiting his season to 69 games. If McCabe can stay healthy, he can remain a decent pick on your pool team. Other new additions in 2009, Keith Ballard, Steve Eminger and Nick Boynton have all given the team some valuable minutes and may be good mid-season additions to your team in 2010, if injuries arise.

2010 Season Outlook
So far, the Panthers have a good looking core of players to build from, but some of their youth is still unsigned heading into the summer, but they look like they can sign those and try and add some new skill to help amplify their talent already in the dressing room. The Panthers can also look to their minor league system to help them out filling out some gaps.

Stephen WeissBryan McCabeTomas Vokoun
Nathan HortonKeith Ballard
Cory StillmanBryan Allen
Michael Frolik
Gregory Campbell
Kamil Kreps
Brett McLean
Rostislav Olesz
Nick Tarnasky
Shawn Matthias
Wade Belak

The 15 players listed above come at a cap hit of about $38.1 million, which would be underneath the cap floor this year, but would be close to the floor in the coming season. The team will need to sign eight more players to get to the 23-man roster, but they have plenty of room to move to get there.

First things first, when it comes to filling gaps, is to get their restricted free agents signed. Their key RFA's this summer include, David Booth, Steve Eminger and Anthony Stewart. Booth will likely command a fair value with his new deal, which could be in the $3 - $3.5 million range.

The UFA's on the team look a little more interesting this summer, as Jay Bouwmeester, Craig Anderson, Radek Dvorak, Richard Zednik, Ville Peltonen, Nick Boynton, Karlis Skrastins and Jassen Cullimore are all free to negotiate with other teams on July 1st. Bouwmeester will undoubtedly will be the top prize of that pool of talent, especially if the Panthers can't get a signature from him on a new contract. Anderson will also field some solid offers, as some teams will likely chase some goaltending this summer.

It will hopefully be time for Shawn Matthias to show his stuff on a full-time basis for the Panthers, as I thought he would have been ready for a run in 2009. Matthas drew into 16 games for Florida in 2009, but only managed a pair of assists, likely in limited time. Keaton Ellerby, the big defender, may figure into the Panthers' plans in 2010, as they will have plenty of holes to fill on the blueline. He has yet to make an appearance for Florida in his career.

I like the promise that the Panthers showed in 2009 and the management team seems to finally have a positive direction for this team. If they can convey that idea to Jay Bouwmeester in the next couple months, they might be able to re-sign him and keep that little bit of credibility with their team for another season or more. Nathan Horton will need to finally take the reins of the team and be the leader that a young club requires and then lead by example on the scoresheet. I am curious to see how free agency treats the Panthers, but they should be okay, thanks to plenty of cap space.

2009 Hart Trophy Candidates

The Hart Trophy has got to be one of the more controversial trophies that is awarded, as there is a rift between having it as the league's most valuable player, rather it's literal explanation of the player being most valuable to his team. The nominees always seem to be the league MVP, which always causes a stir, but you never find out why the writers vote the way that they do. You would have to think that a lot of them vote one way rather than the other. Boggles my mind.

For the list of nominees, it'll go by the favourite sorting method of pool points. This doesn't mean this is the way I prioritize the nominees at all.

The pool MVP this season, Evgeni Malkin, finished the year with 113 points, leading all scorers and pool players. He got another nod for the Hart Trophy this year for his efforts, but the real mark of the Hart Trophy would be how valuable he was to the Penguins. So, to figure out how much more valuable points-wise he was to his next teammate, we'll do some simple math with pool points. Second on the Penguins in pool points was Sidney Crosby, who finished with 103 points... which leaves a difference of 10 points. Let's see how this compares with the other two nominees.

Second on the list of pool points on the nominee list is Alex Ovechkin, who finished with 110 points. Ovechkin is the current Hart Trophy holder, where he beat Malkin in votes last year as well. His next-in-line teammate in Washington in 2009 was Nicklas Backstrom, who finished with 88 points. That leaves a difference of 22 points, which is 12 points greater than the Pittsburgh duo, thus possibly making Ovechkin more valuable? There is still one more to look at.

The third nominee comes from Detroit, Pavel Datsyuk. He finished fifth in pool scoring with 97 points and he also earned a Selke Trophy nod for being the best defensive forward in the league as well. A very impressive resume, but let's also see what his difference was this season. Second in Detroit in pool points was Henrik Zetterberg, who finished with 73 points. A difference of 24 points in 2009, which is the biggest of the three nominees and he has defensive honours as well. This almost looks too academic.

First Round of the Playoffs Complete

rangersThe Rangers had a pretty tough job on their hands. Go into the Verizon Center in Washington and finally stomp out the surging Capitals, which they failed to do in two match-ups previous. Well, they had it going for them for quite a while, taking an early 1-0 lead and keeping it for 10 minutes. It was still a back-and-forth game through the second period and a fair bit of the third, until the Capitals took it right over.

With just under five minutes to go, Sergei Fedorov did the deed for the Capitals, putting the Rangers one goal down, not to be recovered. The Capitals put the clamp down and ended the Rangers' early run. Final score, Capitals 2, Rangers 1. A very good Game 7.

With the loss, the Rangers, who were not favoured in the pool or in many brackets, only lost 24 selections through the pool. The two most popular Rangers to leave the pool were Wade Redden and Derek Morris, who were each picked five times. That being said, any picks that were Rangers were not going to be relied upon to go very much further than the second round. There were two selections for Henrik Lundqvist, but that is likely a just-in-case kind of pick.

Lundqvist was the top point-getter for the Rangers, topping out at 8 points, thanks to 3 wins, 1 by shutout. Bonus points were earned by Chris Drury and Brandon Dubinsky as well.

devilsIt was a little bit of a different scenario in New Jersey for their Game 7 finish between the Devils and Hurricanes. It was already a back-and-forth series, teams winning at home and on the road to send the series to the deciding Game 7. It really had the feel of being anyone's game. The Devils were sure that they could have this game for themselves, not only at the beginning, but at several points through Game 7.

The Hurricanes kept on coming though. It really was an excellent Game 7, which came right down to the wire as well. With the Devils up by one late in the game, the 'Canes made the charge that changed the complexion, scoring with only a 1:20 left in the third and then they carried their momentum right until the bitter end, as Eric Staal won it with 32 seconds remaining in the game. In a matter of 48 seconds, the Devils were up a goal and ready to go through to down a goal and fighting for their playoff lives, only to fall short in the final seconds.

With the Devils going down, this eliminated only our second favourite from the pool, San Jose being the first, as the Devils lost 104 selections through the pool, which was 56.8% of their possible amount of selections. Those who picked the Hurricanes to go through are in far better shape as of this morning. The most popular Devils player on the sheet was Brian Gionta, a Box 17 forward, who was likely picked more for depth than to make it very far in the pool. He was picked 19 times. Martin Brodeur was picked 10 times, meaning that 10 teams in the pool are now without their East goalie.

Like the Rangers team above, Brodeur was also their top point-getter on the team with 8 points, 3 wins and a shutout. The Devils players also collected two of a possible three winners... Zach Parise and Tomas Zajac scored those for the pool.

Having the top night among pool players on the night of Game 7s was Eric Staal of the Hurricanes. He scored the winning goal and added an assist for a 3-point night, bettering a few of players by just a single point.

Brendan Shanahan had one last gasp in these playoffs with 2 assists in Game 7 and Sergei Fedorov scored the winner for a pair of points in the other game in Washington. Cam Ward registered the only pool win, as Simeon Varlamov continues to surprise us all with his great play in this post-season.

Game-Winning Goals
PhotobucketOf course, I have reiterated already who scored the winning goals once in this post, but let's do it one more time and elaborate what that meant to the pool. Yes, it was Sergei Fedorov who scored for the Capitals. He was taken 14 times in the pool, which made him a fairly popular pick. 14 teams taking the extra point on and keeping him for at least one more round as well. Eric Staal scored the winner for the Hurricanes and he was taken only 3 times in the pool. There was very little faith in the Hurricanes to do a lot, let alone make it past the first round, so Staal, depending on how far he goes, can be a pretty huge pick.

Through the first round of the playoffs, it was Patrick Marleau of the Sharks that scored his team's only GWGs and that is enough to have him lead the pool on an individual player basis in the category. In the pool team category, Mike Emery leads all teams with 10 GWGs, thanks in part to Marleau and 8 other players that scored the bonus point for him. Mike sits now in 16th place in the pool with 99 points and 17 players remaining.

PhotobucketSo, that pretty much sums up the first round of the playoffs for now. No team survived the first round with a full compliment of 24 players. Almost everyone put their faith in the San Jose Sharks to make it through, which cost almost every team at least a couple players, if not the full three. Those who didn't take the Sharks and went with the Ducks, seemed to have lost players from another series, if not two.

There are three teams in the pool with the most players left, as Clayton, Blair and Paul each finished the first round with 21 players. Clayton lost three Sharks, Blair lost a Shark and two Devils and Paul also lost three Sharks.

Four teams finished the first round with 19 players, 15 teams finished with 18 players, 4 teams finished with 17 players and 11 teams finished with 16 players. Depending on the combination of teams, quality of players and how the rounds play out, this pool shouldn't necessarily be considered finished just yet. There is still plenty of hockey yet to be played!

Look for a second round match-up either later on today or tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pool Outlook for Edmonton

Being out in the West, there is always a number of hopeful Oilers fans in the Draft that may take an extra gamble or two on the Oilers, which rarely works out, but happens nonetheless. It was another tough year for the Oilers, who had a lot of expectations placed upon them, since their youth was really starting to get their legs underneath them by the end of the 2008 season. Unfortunately for them, none of that came to pass and the team found themselves on the outside looking into the playoffs this Spring. The times are changing in Edmonton, however, since there is a coaching change still to be named, but a good core of players to work from.

In 2009, the Oilers finished with two players in the top 100 of pool scoring, which could be the largest factor as to why the team failed to reach the post-season. Ales Hemsky led the way for the Oilers, despite missing 10 games due to injury. Those 10 games seem to cost Hemsky 10 spots in the pool rankings from last season, this year finishing 60th with 66 points in 72 GP. There is little doubt that Hemsky has a lot of talent and one year, he could very well be the breakout player that everyone thinks he is. The question is, what kind of linemate does he need to be that guy?

In terms of other forwards, Shawn Horcoff improved upon his rankings from the season previous with 53 points in 80 games, while there was a lot of drops in the rankings from new arrivals Ales Kotalik & Patrick O'Sullivan, Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Penner. The latter trio had the entire season with the Oilers, while the first two only arrived at the trade deadline. There is plenty of upside here and maybe some real optimism for success for 2010, but there will have to be a solid commitment from the new coaching staff to ensure that the young kids are in line.

With Lubomir Visnovsky missing 32 games, the defense of the Oilers was hit pretty hard, especially since Visnovsky can really move the puck. Sheldon Souray and Tom Gilbert quietly went about their business offensively and did fairly well, when it was all said and done. Souray finished with 53 points in 81 GP, including 23 goals, while Gilbert did well with 45 points in all 82 GP. Both blueliners are solid prospects for your pool team and should be picked within reason. Souray proved that his injury was nothing but a fluke by playing in 81 of 82 games this year.

In goal, it was a pretty solid finish to the year for Dwayne Roloson, but it was too little, too late for him and the Oilers. Roloson went on a long stretch of starts, really trying to will himself and the team into the playoffs, but it just wasn't to be. The future UFA finished the year with 28 wins, 1 shuout and 1 assist for 59 points this season, seating him 91st in the pool rankings. The real question in Edmonton's crease will be, is there enough faith in Jeff Deslauriers to let him have the top job? Deslauriers finished with 4 wins and an assist in 539 minutes of work.

2010 Season Outlook
The Oilers road map to 23 active players has been filled in a great deal already, with some longer-term signings already looked after, before and during this season. When you look at the core of the 2010 team, it does look like there is some potential for a bounce back year, possibly bouncing themselves into the eighth spot in the West.

Ales HemskySheldon SourayJeff Deslauriers
Shawn HorcoffTom Gilbert
Patrick O'SullivanLubomir Visnovsky
Sam GagnerSteve Staios
Andrew CoglianoSteve MacIntyre
Dustin Penner
Robert Nilsson
Ethan Moreau
Marc Pouliot
Fernando Pisani
Zach Stortini

The 11 forwards, 5 defensemen and 1 goalie have a approximate cap hit of $46.1 million, which gives them about $10 million for the remaining 6 players they need to sign to fulfill their 23-man roster. There will be some questions as to what to sure up first, but the way the team looks, it might just be goaltending right now.

This summer's agenda for RFA's include Denis Grebeshkov, Kyle Brodziak and Ladislav Smid, as top level free agents. There are a number of RFAs also on the list that the Oilers have on their list, but those three put in a lot of time for the Oilers this past season and will likely be looked upon to do the same for 2010.

On the UFA side of the ledger, Dwayne Roloson and Ales Kotalik head the list, while Dany Sabourin is also on the Oilers' list of players that they have rights to before July 1st. Two of these three could put a sizable dent into the remaining cap space under the Oilers' belt, especially with the RFA's above, so there could be some dancing around the subject, especially if the cap shrinks a little.

I would imagine that the Oilers were pleased with what they saw out of Taylor Chorney's brief appearance with the team near the end of the season and he does come with the potential to crack the team, especially if it comes down to cap issues. Jordan Eberle has signed his new deal and will likely get a long look in camp, hopefully to add some speed and skill up front, to an already fast team. If cap issues do become apparent with some of their RFA's, then the Oilers might go straight for Devan Dubnyk in the AHL to help their goaltending situation. The Oilers are blessed with young kids in their system, so the cap could be a passing thought.

Season three for Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano will be very telling. Both these players were 10th round picks in my Draft this year and should likely remain about that low for the time being. This could make them big bargains, if their maturity level in scoring has improved over the summer. They will have to play a big role as second-line scorers with any new coach that comes into the fold. Hopefully, a new coaching system will help the secondary scoring of the Oilers and they can continue to move forward into the playoffs. It should be only a matter of time. Do remain high on Hemsky, Souray and Gilbert, as they are sure things in their points bracket.

Last Day of the First Round 2009

flamesLet's start at the beginning of the night, where the West was decided. In Calgary, Game 6, the Flames needed to win this one to send it back to Chicago for Game 7. Unfortunately, the wind came out of the sails rather quickly and the Flames could not burn bright enough to shine through to Game 7.

The loss for the Flames did a number to quite a few pool teams that had Flames, eliminating 64 total selections from the list. Chicago was the favourite of the two teams before the series had started, but this series did have some potential for the upset. The most popular Flames to go were Jarome Iginla (11 selections), Mike Cammalleri (11) and Miikka Kiprusoff (10), which tells you that a lot of people put all their eggs into the Flames' basket, if they were going to pick them.

The leading point-getter for the Flames was Olli Jokinen, who finished off the series with 5 points. The Flames won two games in the series, but neither GWG was actually registered by a pool player on the team, so no bonus points were awarded from the Flames.

flamesIn the second elimination game of the night, there was pretty much no escaping for the Sharks. The Ducks were ready to play and they were going to take full advantage of having that elimination game at home on Monday night.

With the 4-1 win for the Ducks, the elimination party was huge in the Playoff Pool. Almost everyone was affected and those who were not, have been in other ways or likely will be. After the eliminations were made, only one team in the pool had 23 of 24 selections and another had 22. That's it. Two teams had more than 21 selections left on their sheet. The final count of eliminations were 162, 88.5% of the total possible number of selections in the sheet. A massive blow to the point totals. The most popular Sharks on the sheet were Evgeni Nabokov (22), Dan Boyle (20) and Joe Thornton (18). That was a lot of top-end picks downed with the loss.

The top scoring players from San Jose in the pool were Joe Thornton (5 points) and Patrick Marleau (5), but Marleau had the only two GWG for the Sharks, which padded his points a little bit. In the overall scheme of things, Thornton did outscore everyone on the team, but you have to love those bonus points if you had Marleau.

The top player of the night honours go to Dustin Byfuglien of the Blackhawks, as he registered a goal and two assists in the 4-1 win over Calgary on Monday night. Byfuglien's line was instrumental in both shutting down the Flames' offense and using a transition game to create some offense of their own, usually in the same shift. Byfuglien was taken 16 times on the sheet, making him a fairly popular Blackhawks player. There were quite a few players who registered a pair of points between the two games, but we'll just stick with the only one to have 3 points.

Game-Winning Goals
PhotobucketThe eventual game-winner scored by the Blackhawks to eliminate the Flames was scored by Adam Burish, a non-pool player. Burish had himself a pretty good series against the Flames, getting under the skin of their better players, but it was his only goal of the series that counted the most at the end of the six games. In Anaheim, it was Teemu Selanne's second period power play marker that ended up being the winner to eliminate the Sharks. Selanne, taken zero times in the pool, made sure his only goal of the series counted for something as well. With the Ducks being such a less popular option than the Sharks, it should come as no surprise when no one had picked him.

Tonight's Games

5pm MT on TSN, you can tune in to see the first Game 7 of the night get started in Washington, as the Capitals play host to the Rangers. The Capitals are working their way back from a 3-1 series deficit and if they win tonight, they will be the first team ever to do that to the Rangers. The Capitals were clear favourites to win, according to the selections on the sheet, so it would be a huge upset if the Rangers were to make it through.

5:30pm MT on TSN2, will see the start of the second Game 7 of the night, were the Hurricanes and Devils will meet up to decide who is the better of these two evenly matched teams. Hell, the best team may not even win the series, it could just be who gets the luckier goal behind the stellar keepers. In the pool, the match-up was not overly swayed to the favourite, who was the Devils, but a Carolina win could put a pretty big dent in the number of selections remaining, going into round 2.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Phaneuf Out for Game 6

The Flames have announced that they will be without Dion Phaneuf for Game 6 of their series against the Blackhawks tonight. Phaneuf reportedly suffered the upper body injury when he collided with Blackhawks forward, Troy Brouwer. There is no certain answer as to what the injury actually is or how long it would keep him out of the line-up, if the Flames were to continue through the playoffs.

The Box 8 defenseman was not a popular pick on the Playoff Pool sheet, being picked only 3 times through 61 teams. In the series versus Chicago, Phaneuf only has 2 points.