Wednesday, August 15, 2018

2019 Pool Projections: Anahem

In Anaheim, the Ducks had been pretty busy in the off-season, tinkering with their roster in the depth positions, trying to find some improvement that will match that pesky newcomer to the division, which plays in Vegas.  The biggest move of them all might have been bringing back the Mighty Ducks logo to their current jersey lineup, as they will have a retro look to their 25th NHL season.

The Ducks were a strong team in the 2018 season, relying heavily on the team game and a strong system, in front of a top quality goaltender.  Health played such a big part of that, since many of their top players spent some time on the shelf with injury, so the rest of the team really had to step up and work even harder to get the job done.  Anaheim finished 2nd in their division, because of all that hard work and it would have been interesting to see what would have happened, if everyone was healthy all year.

Moving on to 2019, the outlook is pretty good for healthy bodies, but there is some skepticism, as to whether or not they could actually stay healthy.  If there was some sort of guarantee that most of these guys would play 75+ games in a season, the numbers might be a little bit better, but I think I am more willing to hedge my bets and project the numbers that we'll actually see, more than the numbers that could happen with an unblemished season.  The numbers still aren't too bad, there are plenty of guys worth taking on this team, but it does come with a 'Buyer Beware' sticker slapped on.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
John Gibson G 75 N
Ryan Getzlaf F 70 N
Rickard Rakell F 65 N
Corey Perry F 55 N
Adam Henrique F 50 N
Jakob Silfverberg F 50 N
Cam Fowler D 45 N
Ryan Kesler F 40 N
Hampus Lindholm D 40 N
Andrew Cogliano F 35 N
Brandon Montour D 35 N
Troy Terry F 35 Y
Patrick Eaves F 30 N
Josh Manson D 30 N
Ryan Miller G 30 N
Brian Gibbons F 25 N
Sam Steel F 25 Y
Joseph Blandisi F 20 N
Carter Rowney F 10 N
Luke Schenn D 10 N
Andrej Sustr D 10 N
Korbinian Holzer D 5 N
Ben Street F 5 N

Table last updated on August 6th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

In the rookie watch department, I'm looking at Troy Terry to possibly step up and make an impact with the Ducks this season.  The well-decorated collegiate athlete has a national title under his belt, not to mention a World Juniors gold medal around his neck as well.

Before joining the Ducks last season, he finished his NCAA career with 14 goals and 48 points in 39 games and he played for USA at the PyeongChang Olympics.  This 20-year old seems to have a lot of the tools needed for play in the NHL, so it will definitely be interesting to see where he fits in.

First Round Picks

The initial round of projections did seat any Ducks in the 80+ point range for the designation of a possible opening round pick this year, but that isn't to say that the run of goaltending, which usually occurs early at the draft won't see a guy like John Gibson go that early.  I do have him right on the cusp of the role, but with a good backup behind him, there's no use in really over-extending the number one guy, if they don't have to.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

The current count of pool worthy forwards for the Ducks is eight, but there is still some tinkering to be done there, where we could probably see that go a little bit higher.  It's much of the usual suspects, led by Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry, asked to lead this group through another long grind of a season.  Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, Ryan Kesler, Andre Gogliano and the rookie Troy Terry round out my worthy forwards on the list, as this squad should be pretty deep, when it comes to scoring again this year.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

I think the Ducks' blueline is still somewhat underrated today, as it continues to develop and produce at the top level.  Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm have been mainstays for a few seasons now for the Ducks and we all know them quite well, but both Brandon Montour and Josh Manson are emerging as very reliable hockey pool options as well.  All four of these guys really could add some pop to your pool team this year.

Goaltending Situation

Ryan Miller is set to be the backup for a second straight season in Anaheim, as the 38-year old winds down his NHL career in California.  I think he'll definitely be a worthy keeper and if all goes according to plan, the split should be much of the same as last season, where he pulled 28 appearances, winning 12.  He'll be among the worthy backups this year.

Team to Pick From Late?

If you've missed out on the pool worthy players early on in the draft and you're just looking for a reputable team to pick from late on in the draft, looking for that last forward or last defenseman, you might want to look past the Ducks, as the depth beyond is very questionable.  There could be a sleeper rookie in Sam Steel, if he can make the club on a regular basis, but that's certainly up in the air today.  You might be better suited elsewhere.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

The Ducks are still short on pool worthy restricted free agent and another fringe player, in Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie, both unsigned at the time of writing this post.  Neither should be looking for too big of contract this summer, but they just need to get a deal done.  My current projected 23-man roster does come in with $5.5 million in cap space to spare, so both should fit in there, no problem, but it will be a matter of what kind of deal do either of them expect.

Injuries

There were some reports out there in May, that Ryan Kesler and his wonky hip could be close to being done in the NHL, but some recent tweets from the agitating centre seem to suggest that he should be ready to go at training camp.  I would lean towards the player in this case and I'll keep my projection where it is for him, until he says otherwise.  Patrick Eaves is another player on the health bubble, after undergoing shoulder surgery before the end of the regular season.  His status remains unclear in the middle of the summer, but there does appear to be a chance that he'll arrive to the Ducks' lineup after the season gets started.

2019 Pool Projections: Arizona

Third jerseys are back!  There's nothing more exciting than the Arizona Coyotes bringing back the Kachina logo from their first season down in the desert.

With something old rolling into town, it may not have been a better time to drive some hype, than now, with a bunch of new faces and a little bit more excitement surrounding this club, moving into the 2019 season.

The Coyotes have been busy again in this off-season, still cleaning up some other team's messes here and there, but overall, they've seemingly found players that give the impression that they could be a little bit quicker and a little bit grittier on the ice, not very far off the initial model of the Vegas Golden Knights.  The Coyotes have had a lot longer to prepare, they have a number of draft picks in their system that are jumping at the chance to finally make it, but will they?

We've been writing off the Coyotes for a long time, some of had a little bit more hope than others at the start of some years and I'm not going to say that I will be one of those people right here and right now, but I will offer up the thought that it could be a possibility.

Maybe the better perspective would be, I think that they have improved their team, but dare I say how much?

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Alex Galchenyuk F 55 N
Clayton Keller F 55 S
Derek Stepan F 55 N
Oliver Ekman-Larsson D 50 N
Antti Raanta G 50 N
Jakob Chychrun D 35 N
Christian Dvorak F 35 N
Alex Goligoski D 35 N
Dylan Strome F 35 N
Jason Demers D 30 N
Michael Grabner F 30 N
Vinnie Hinostroza F 30 N
Darcy Kuemper G 30 N
Richard Panik F 30 N
Brendan Perlini F 30 N
Nick Cousins F 25 N
Lawson Crouse F 25 N
Christian Fischer F 25 S
Barrett Hayton F 25 Y
Niklas Hjalmarsson D 20 N
Jordan Oesterle D 20 N
Brad Richardson F 20 N
Kevin Connauton D 15 N
Josh Archibald F 10 S
Mario Kempe F 10 N
Adin Hill G 5 Y
Dakota Mermis D 5 Y
Trevor Murphy D 5 Y

Table last updated on August 6th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

The fall of Alex Galchenyuk in Montreal has been well-documented and arguably, fair in some points. Like, for instance, living up to expectations.  The 3rd overall pick in the 2012 entry draft has been far from living up to those high expectations in Montreal, but the counterpoint is that Montreal is a tough market to play in.

There in lies the intrigue of the move down to the desert, a much softer market to play in, but a market desperately in need for some flash and dash, something that Galchenyuk could certainly offer.  I think he could do really well in Arizona and he could have the players to play with too.

First Round Picks

As exciting as the Coyotes may or may not be this season, they still just don't seem to be the team that will harness the scoring abilities of some of their top players to their peak potential.  So, I wouldn't be looking for these guys in the opening round of the draft quite yet.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

There is real potential in these Coyotes to break through some of these projections that I have on them at the moment, as they are reasonably conservative today.  Clayton Keller's sophomore season does slide his numbers a little bit, but if there was a guy that could avoid the slump, it could be him.  Derek Stepan, Christian Dvorak and Dylan Strome all have the potential to be reasonable forwards in the hockey pool, but the latter two might be better served as later picks.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

The Arizona blueline, however, that does have some good pickups on it and these are the guys that might drive the bus, when the season is all said and done.  Oliver Ekman-Larsson was rewarded with a big contract extension in the off-season and he'll lead the way, for a group that includes Jakob Chychrun, Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers.  This group could be fairly impressive this season and a good one to pick from, if you can sneak them on late.

Goaltending Situation

The goaltending tandem of Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper still leaves a lot to be desired for me.  The belief is that Raanta can emerge as a number one guy and if he does stumble, Kuemper can be an adequate number two to fill in the gaps.  Both reputations come across as two career number two guys and there hasn't been much in either game to suggest that they can lift themselves or their team up to a winning level.  They'll win some games, but how many will they steal?

Team to Pick From Late?

There are certainly some guys on this team, which could have been considered sleeper picks on more established teams, like a Michael Grabner, Richard Panik or Niklas Hjalmarsson, but the Coyotes are still trying to find their identity in the league and in an exceptionally difficult division.  These guys could be the players that you might be looking for to sneak out some extra points, but they might be better left to the Waiver Draft, if you're going to pick them.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

The strongest indicator about where the Coyotes are, in terms of a franchise, is that they are still taking on contracts to acquire future assets in the building process.  They just don't have the feel of a team that is ready to make that leap yet.  With a couple of injury deals on the books, I have them at a 25-man roster and they still are over $9.9 million away from the cap ceiling.  If they can start winning now, that would be quite the feat.

Injuries

One way to avoid the sophomore slump is to be injured through most of that season and that was how Jakob Chychrun got through his second year, undergoing major knee surgery before the end of the year.  Chychrun has some real upside to his game and his projected number is very positive, so we're keeping a close eye on his return to the ice, which should have already happened in the summer, as he makes his way to 100% health. 

2019 Pool Projections: Boston

The 2018 version of the Boston Bruins were somewhat of a guessing game at this point last season, but I thought there were some big positives to their inner-workings, their small signings and the prospects that were moving through the system.  Some of that really paid off for them, as they were a very difficult team to play against last season and they worked their way into a very solid playoff run.

The team is still turning over the guard a little bit, as there are still some names hanging around from days gone by, but that isn't to say that a guy like Zdeno Chara still isn't going to be a serviceable player at 41 years old.  Thankfully for the Bruins, they have done well to add some pieces on their blueline, to make sure that Chara isn't over-worked or over-exposed, and that keeps this team very viable, heading into the 2019 season.

The team's leadership is in pretty good shape, they are certainly not short on players that can lead in the dressing room and by example.  The downside, however, is that they do have a lot of young pieces on the projected roster below and if you have been following along with this blog or hockey pool for a number of years, you'll remember my consternation about sophomore players, especially for use on hockey pool teams.

For that very reason, I have added the "S" in the rookie column, to show sophomore players, noting them as possible risks.  The Bruins have a lot of these this year and as much as they could possibly band together, like Toronto's last season, there is an equal chance that the experiment may fall flat.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
David Pastrnak F 80 N
Brad Marchand F 75 N
Tuukka Rask G 70 N
Patrice Bergeron F 65 N
Torey Krug D 55 N
David Krejci F 55 N
Ryan Donato F 55 Y
Jake DeBrusk F 45 S
David Backes F 40 N
Danton Heinen F 35 S
Jaroslav Halak G 30 N
Charlie McAvoy D 30 S
Zdeno Chara D 20 N
John Moore D 20 N
Matt Grzelcyk D 20 S
Sean Kuraly F 20 S
Noel Acciari F 20 N
Kevan Miller D 15 N
Chris Wagner F 15 N
Brandon Carlo D 10 N
Adam McQuaid D 10 N
Anders Bjork F 10 S
Joakim Nordstrom F 10 N
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson F 10 Y
Jordan Szwarz F 5 N
Peter Cehlarik F 5 N
Colby Cave F 5 Y

Table last updated on August 6th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

Of course, my intriguing player will be a rookie, not a sophomore in this case, as Ryan Donato will be expected to make this team out of training camp and have a pretty big impact on things moving forward.

At the end of the 2018 regular season, Donato came out of college and put on a show, playing in 12 games, scoring 5 goals and 9 points.  I'm not sure we could expect that kind of production for an entire 82-game season, but it's going to be some good numbers.  He'll definitely be one to watch this season.

First Round Picks

I think the Bruins have a few candidates that could be opening round picks in the hockey pool draft, but right now, there's only one player that I would feel comfortable with taking that high and that is forward David Pastrnak.  There isn't any other element to his game, other than scoring, which leads me to believe that his focus can keep him as high as a point-per-game pace.  The others just have something about them, that suggests that maybe they could give up some points to being a pest or not getting as many starts as usual, which has them down a bit on my list.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

The Bruins are not short on forwards that could make an impact on your team, beyond the two that I've already mentioned here.  Brad Marchand has 1st round potential, but that's a horse you may not want to bet too much on too early, while Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are definitely good, but do have roles to play on the team.  The kids, that's where you could make some money.  Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen really came into their own last season and they might be able to sneak through a little bit, good ones to keep your eye on.  Oh yes, don't forget about David Backes, he only played 57 games last year and may slip down the list too.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

Due to the aging of captain Zdeno Chara and the stay at home nature of most of the other defenders for the Bruins, the only two I would be confident in choosing for my hockey pool team, Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy.  These two will likely have to carry the offensive load from the back end for the Bruins, probably hoping that they get a little bit more help from the others, but I would look for these two on the Boston power play.

Goaltending Situation

There's a new face in the Boston crease tandem, veteran keeper Jaroslav Halak, who will likely be the number two behind Tuukka Rask.  Halak was carrying the better part of the load for the Islanders last season and will be used to keep Rask fresh and healthy for the season.  It's an interesting tandem on paper and if it's used effectively, both should play a big role in the team's success.

Team to Pick From Late?

I have the Bruins scoring quite a few points, but it is spread out pretty thin down near the bottom, where quite a few players will be sharing the load, which makes them a pretty good team on the ice, but maybe not a great team to pick from late on in the draft, purely on their team game.  There could be a sleeper or two in this bunch, but they'd probably need a few things to happen in their lineup to get that to work out for them.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

The Bruins are working with a solid projected roster, with a number of bubble players that could go in and/or out and they have about $4 million in cap space left to work with.  They don't have any outstanding restricted free agents left on their list, so they are likely to be done for the summer, in terms of signings.

Injuries

The Bruins were a hurting squad through the playoffs in the spring, but it doesn't sound like there was anything too pressing.  Nothing that some time off through the summer couldn't sort out anyways.  Looks like everyone has the all-clear heading into camp right now.

2019 Pool Projections: Buffalo

If you're here looking for last year's Buffalo Sabres, you won't find them.  Although there are some familiar faces, there are a lot of new ones kicking around and it will probably have a lot of people excited about the coming season... and so it should!

Not only were the Sabres so poor last year, that they did get the 1st overall pick in the draft, they've also been fortunate to see other kids in their system move closer to an everyday spot, they signed some key free agents to help shore up some soft spots and they were making trades, like it was nobody's business.

The trades probably had the bigger impact on the club, key deals with the Penguins, Blues and Hurricanes saw some key names come to town and as you'll see below, this truly is a much different team on paper.

When the summer is all said and done, the big question will be whether or not the management team has taken this last place team from 2018 and transformed it into something much better and that can possibly make a run for the playoffs.  Playing in the Metropolitan Division is already pretty difficult, overhauling the roster to have so many new faces could need a period of adjustment and there are so many other unforeseeable events that can occur in the long regular season as well.  I would say that the odds are stacked against the Sabres this year, but they'll definitely be making some strides in the right direction.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Jack Eichel F 75 N
Casey Mittelstadt F 60 Y
Jeff Skinner F 55 N
Rasmus Ristolainen D 50 N
Kyle Okposo F 45 N
Evan Rodrigues F 45 N
Rasmus Dahlin D 40 Y
Carter Hutton G 35 N
Jason Pominville F 35 N
Vladimir Sobotka F 35 N
Patrik Berglund F 35 N
Conor Sheary F 30 N
Linus Ullmark G 30 Y
Marco Scandella D 25 N
Johan Larsson F 25 N
Zemgus Girgensons F 20 N
Matt Hunwick D 20 N
Tage Thompson F 20 S
Scott Wilson F 15 N
Jake McCabe D 15 N
Nathan Beaulieu D 15 N
Zach Bogosian D 15 N
Alexander Nylander F 10 Y
Nicholas Baptiste F 5 S
Danny O'Regan F 5 Y
Matt Tennyson D 5 N
Matt Moulson F 5 N

Table last updated on August 13th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

Everyone is going to be so enamored with Rasmus Dahlin, and rightfully so, that they will likely overlook a kid like Casey Mittlestadt, who is poised for big things in his NHL career.

The kid dazzled us all at the World Juniors, playing for the US, while not really putting up amazing numbers in college, which gives me the feeling that once he can establish himself firmly with some top end players, his talent will make everyone he plays with better and his numbers will be shooting up to the stars.

First Round Picks

The Sabres are close to having one, according to these projections, and if you felt so inclined, you could probably take the gamble on Jack Eichel nice and early, because he does have the talent to get there, his health has been a bit of a wild card in the early part of his career.  He was just under a point-per-game last year and with some more help around him, maybe he can get there.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

The some more excitement probably comes from the pool worthy new faces that the Sabres have acquired at the forward position, the likes of Jeff Skinner, Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund and Conor Sheary should all add a bit more flair to this side.  They join players already there, like Kyle Okposo, Evan Rodrigues and Jason Pominville, creating quite a formidable side and believe it or not, there's still more to come (see free agents below).

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

On defense, it's looking quite promising there as well.  They've already had Rasmus Ristolainen in place for some time and he's really hitting his stride now, but he'll be helped out with the wonder kid from the draft, Rasmus Dahlin and they should also get some good minutes from Marco Scandella as well.  Even the guys on the bubble have some upside, maybe if the Sabres start to play out of their skin, those guys will be worthy by the end of the year too.

Goaltending Situation

It's a brand new tandem in the Sabres crease this season and this could be the shakiest ground on the team.  Carter Hutton was added as a free agent and he has been close to being a number one and he'll get a good shot at it this year with the Sabres, but the team is also quite high on 25-year old keeper Linus Ullmark too.  I would say that Hutton will likely have the reins out of the gate, but keep an eye on Ullmark, he could surprise many with a late season push for the job.

Team to Pick From Late?

I probably won't recommend buying heavily into the Sabres at the draft this year, just because there are a lot of unknowns to this team.  It's pretty high risk with some uncertain rewards, which makes them better qualified to pluck players from at the Waiver Draft in the mid-season swaps.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

There is still a big name not on the list, restricted free agent forward Sam Reinhart, who has yet to see a new deal out of his entry-level contract, which expired in July.  Reinhart was a big part of the offense last season and the discussion is likely whether or not to bridge him, which could be the biggest reason why the deal isn't done yet.  I am showing the team with a $5.4 million cap buffer with their current 23-man roster, so there is money there, but the Sabres might need most of it.

Injuries

One of the fringe defenders on the team, Jake McCabe, saw his 2018 regular season end early to shoulder surgery in February and his timetable was upwards of six months.  Thankfully, that would be about now, giving him some time to prepare for training camp and the regular season.  He should be a roster player this year, so just keep an eye out for any setbacks.

2019 Pool Projections: Calgary

The Calgary Flames were not sitting idly by in this off-season, waiting for their team to gain experience and be a better unit that way, rather they've opted to make some moves to try and improve their side the old fashioned way.

First, the Flames were one of the first teams to change up their coaching staff after their season had concluded in April, as recent results likely dictated a change and a very qualified candidate in Bill Peters emerged.

The summer really kicked off with a huge deal that saw the Flames and Hurricanes engage in a blockbuster deal, which took some issues out of both dressing rooms and gave some players a new start in fresh surroundings.  Free agency was good to the Flames, adding a little bit more scoring depth, veteran leadership and a couple more roster-worthy grinders to the mix.

Now with all of those changes done and in the mix, the Flames will have to answer the bell on the ice, because their market and their fan base are in desperate need of some playoff hockey and more answers than questions.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Johnny Gaudreau F 80 N
Sean Monahan F 65 N
Mike Smith G 65 N
Matthew Tkachuk F 55 N
Elias Lindholm F 55 N
Mikael Backlund F 50 N
Mark Giordano D 50 N
James Neal F 45 N
TJ Brodie D 45 N
Derek Ryan F 35 N
Mark Jankowski F 35 S
Sam Bennett F 30 N
Michael Frolik F 30 N
Spencer Foo F 25 Y
Curtis Lazar F 20 N
Travis Hamonic D 15 N
Jon Gillies G 15 Y
Austin Czarnik F 15 N
Michael Stone D 10 N
Brett Kulak D 10 N
Alan Quine F 10 N
Dalton Prout D 10 N
Rasmus Andersson D 5 Y

Table last updated on August 14th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

We're definitely going to go with one of the new faces from the summer in Elias Lindholm for the Flames, under the most intriguing player, likely to break out with his new team.  Of all the additions, Lindholm, acquired in the trade with the Hurricanes, has the speed and skill, which they have not really had for their top line, to play with the likes of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

The 23-year old Swede's contract situation was making him ripe for the picking in a new deal from Carolina and I think the Flames had really come out well with this deal.  They get a guy that they've desperately needed, adding more speed and scoring punch to the mix.  I would be expecting some big things from him this year.

First Round Picks

Right now, I would say that Gaudreau is the only 1st round pick on this team, but if the top line indeed adds Lindholm to it, that could mean some big things for Monahan as well, but it's just too early to tell.  Gaudreau finished 23rd in pool scoring, just inside the top 25, and that's based on just his skill alone.  He's a point-per-game producer, no problem.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, Mark Jankowski and newcomers James Neal and Derek Ryan should all be considered to be worthy as well.  The addition of Neal and Ryan certainly fits the mould of where the Flames want to go with this roster and that's to the net, quickly.  There's going to be a fair bit of excitement surrounding the Flames at the draft and it all leads back to the new faces.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

The defense did see a bit of an overhaul, which isn't quite complete yet, but out went Dougie Hamilton in the Carolina deal, leaving much of the big minute duties to Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie right now.  There very well could have been a power struggle with so few minutes to work with on the blueline and too many guys that could give the Flames those minutes, so now that it has thinned out a bit, you could see some improvement there.

Goaltending Situation

It will be Mike Smith's second season as the number one with the Flames and he'll get a new backup partner, which is likely to be Jon Gillies, but the job remains on the bubble with a guy like David Rittich in the mix as well.  Currently, we're leaning towards Gillies.  Either way, the goaltending will need a little bit more help in front this season or else it could be much of the same.  Smith should do well enough to make a big push for points, but he'll eat so many minutes, that the backup might not see enough.

Team to Pick From Late?

There is a bit more depth on the forward side of the ledger, which could offer up a sleeper pick or two, but you might want to wait and see how much excitement the top part of the lineup generates, before you invest in the bottom. 

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

The other big acquisition in the Carolina trade is defenseman Noah Hanifin and he is in need of a new contract as well, one of the reasons why he was included in the trade.  Hanifin is a restricted free agent, just out of his entry-level deal, and has shown some good upside to his NHL game.  The Flames have a shade over $6 million in cap space with a full 23-man roster today, so they have some money to play with still.  The team remains positive that a deal will get done, it's just a matter of when.

Injuries

The Flames had some concussion issues at the end of last season with both T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic, but there hasn't been any reports on any lingering issues through the summer, which is definitely some good news.

2019 Pool Projections: Carolina

It's the dawn of a new age in Carolina, as the Hurricanes are still getting pounded by the rubber stamp of approval from their new owner and things have certainly changed in this off-season.  Management has been swapped out, there's a new coaching staff in place and there's a "you're either with us or against us" mentality within the organization, which saw a number of players exit through trades and free agency.

Of course, with some exits, that brings in some players, especially via the trade route, there is some encouraging signs from the youth of this organization and that all gets stacked up on a fairly decent existing blueline.

The downside for the Hurricanes is the division that they play in.  Having being situated in the Metropolitan Division, this team really does get overshadowed easily and maybe for good reason.  The superstars that rein atop of the scoring tables that they play against almost every night and goaltenders that are at the top of their class also tend creases in their division makes it hard for this team to gain much traction.

The Hurricanes are building an organization that starts from the blueline and it's already starting to look pretty good, but they will need both their forwards and goaltending to catch up and soon, if they are going to take advantage of this excellent blueline window.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Sebastian Aho F 60 N
Teuvo Teravainen F 60 N
Dougie Hamilton D 55 N
Justin Faulk D 45 N
Petr Mrazek G 45 N
Jordan Staal F 45 N
Andrei Svechnikov F 45 Y
Justin Williams F 45 N
Scott Darling G 40 N
Martin Necas F 40 Y
Victor Rask F 35 N
Micheal Ferland F 25 N
Brock McGinn F 25 N
Brett Pesce D 25 N
Jaccob Slavin D 25 N
Calvin de Haan D 20 N
Haydn Fleury D 20 S
Trevor Van Riemsdyk D 20 N
Julien Gauthier F 20 Y
Jordan Martinook F 10 N
Janne Kuokkanen F 10 Y
Phillip Di Giuseppe F 10 N
Warren Foegele F 5 Y
Greg McKegg F 5 N
Roland McKeown D 5 Y
Valentin Zykov F 5 Y

Table last updated on August 9th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

I think it could be very easy to get excited about the 2nd overall pick in this year's draft, Andrei Svechnikov, and probably you should be.  Myself, personally, like what Martin Necas brought to the table in last year's World Junior Championship, play-making ability and some good vision, which has me intrigued about how he'll fit into the Hurricanes system in the 2019 season.

I thought that this 19-year old would have made for a great reason to draft Filip Zadina in June, since their chemistry was so good, but the Hurricanes opted with a Russian instead.  Necas should have a few good options to play with, if he can make the team and if he can, I think he can put up some points.

First Round Picks

The Hurricanes are not showing a lot of top end talent on my list, but they are the youngest of all the projected rosters that you'll see in these projection posts, with the average age well under 25 years old.  They might still come around in the years to come, but they'll have to grow into it first.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

There is a good collection of forwards in Carolina, including a couple of rookies, that could make a positive impact on your pool team.  The Svechnikov/Necas freshman connection could be fun to watch, if they make it to the opening night roster, while Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen now have a year of experience together on the team, which should only help their connection grow.  Jordan Staal, Justin Williams and Victor Rask round out the pool worthy forwards on my list.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

Over the past few seasons, the Carolina blueline has been surprisingly good for the hockey pool and they have only improved it with the acquisition of Dougie Hamilton from the Flames and he'll now lead a very qualified group, including Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin, for those worthy of mention on my projection list.

Goaltending Situation

In net last season, Scott Darling was the new face, who was supposed to bring his potential to a number one role, but that didn't quite pan out as well, as many may have hoped.  This year, Petr Mrazek will be the new guy and he will provide quite the battle for the number one job and I think these two could split the time, so they could be goalies worth taking a little later, more likely to be your second choice keeper.

Team to Pick From Late?

If you're looking for those sleepers late on in the draft, you might not find many in Carolina, unless one of the team's other rookies were in to make a big impact out of the gates.  Julien Gauthier or Janne Kuokkanen up front would be in consideration at that point.  Otherwise, I might look to one of the more prolifically scoring teams for a late round sleeper pick.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

Even with new ownership in place, the Hurricanes remain a budget team.  My current 23-man projected roster is coming in only $4.8 million above the cap floor, leaving well over $15 million in cap space.  The team has no restricted free agents left to deal with, so they could be in to take on more assets for bad contracts.

Injuries

It doesn't sound like there is anything too pressing for the Hurricanes in the injury department.  Not making the playoffs gives the guys some extra time to heal.

2019 Pool Projections: Chicago

Has the magic disappeared in Chicago?  What remains of this dominant club other than some high-priced, aging core players?

This top-heavy Blackhawks team has certainly not had the run of luck to counter-balance how much money they have spent amongst their core players, which has led to the downfall of this team, right out of the playoff picture.  That lack of depth has also given us poolies a lack of options to choose from at our drafts or our daily fantasy sites, but that really is the nature of the sports team beast.  It's very cyclical, unless you're exceptionally fortunate.

Still, the Blackhawks have to lie in the bed that they've made, since their top seven players on the roster account for more than half of the team's cap space, so digging deep for those discount veterans, college free agents and European pickups is a must for this team to try and compete.

The 2019 season will bring a crop of new names to their roster, trying to revive a club that finished in last place in the Central Division and missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season.  There could be a quick fix or two in there somewhere, but the season is long and anything can happen and nothing is quite guaranteed, no matter who returns to the lineup or who gets added.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Patrick Kane F 80 N
Jonathan Toews F 65 N
Nick Schmaltz F 60 N
Corey Crawford G 50 N
Alex DeBrincat F 45 S
Victor Ejdsell F 40 Y
Brandon Saad F 40 N
Artem Anisimov F 35 N
Duncan Keith D 35 N
Brent Seabrook D 30 N
Erik Gustafsson D 25 N
Chris Kunitz F 25 N
Brandon Manning D 25 N
Cam Ward G 25 N
John Hayden F 20 S
Henri Jokiharju D 20 Y
Marcus Kruger F 20 N
Jan Rutta D 20 S
Gustav Forsling D 15 N
Connor Murphy D 15 N
Alexandre Fortin F 10 Y
Blake Hillman F 10 Y
David Kampf F 10 S
Andreas Martinsen F 10 N
Jordan Schroeder F 10 N
Carl Dahlstrom D 5 Y
Dylan Sikura F 5 N

Table last updated on August 9th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

This spot seemed to work wonders for Jonathan Quick last season, as he came back from a major injury and was my intriguing player for the Kings at this time last year, so why not do the same for Corey Crawford?

It is true though.  He did seem to be the lynch pin for this team in the 2018 season and when he went out of the lineup with his head issues, the Blackhawks just couldn't quite hang on to their dominance.  When he left the lineup, he had 36 points in 28 appearances and the team still finished in last in the division.

Chicago did employ some better backup in Cam Ward in this off-season, but I get the feeling that he'll be a parachute that needs to be drawn before too long, especially since Crawford has been dealing with head issues.

First Round Picks

Patrick Kane was just outside of the top 25 overall in hockey pool scoring last season, ranking 28th, but there's no reason to think he can't climb back into the conversation and that should make him a prime candidate to consider him for the opening round.  After last year, however, he could fall out to the usual goaltender rush early on in the draft.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

The Blackhawks should still have ample scoring this season from Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz, Brandon Saad and Artem Anisimov, the trustworthy veterans.  Sophomore Alex DeBrincat outshone his projection from last year and will be leaned on for some more offense this year, while an entry for the rookie race, Viktor Ejdsell, could make an appearance and an impact too.  If the kids can push their way into the lineup and excel, the Blackhawks could be back in the playoff race again.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

The Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook connection still rules the roost on the blueline, although both of their numbers have dipped in recent years and their projections have been trying to keep up with the fall.  They're both still pool worthy, but you might not want to be in a big rush for them this year.  It will be a good battle for ice-time beyond the top two and if I'm offering my guesses, which I am, I am looking towards Brandon Manning and Erik Gustafsson to make the jump into enough minutes to gain points.

Goaltending Situation

If Crawford isn't up to full health, the Blackhawks invested well in a 1-year contract for Cam Ward, as he was bounced out of Carolina this summer.  Ward had an okay year with the Hurricanes last year and if he gets time in the crease, which you should be expecting he does, then he should put up some good points on a better team.  The Hawks need their goaltending to be top notch or else the playoffs will be a pipe dream.

Team to Pick From Late?

There is some potential hidden in this Blackhawks roster, depending on how it all shapes up through training camp.  Veteran forward Chris Kunitz could be one of those guys that finds some renewed offense, joining the club this summer, while some kids like Alexandre Fortin and/or Blake Hillman could find themselves a spot on the bottom six and creep upwards through the year.  On the blueline, I'd keep my eye on 2017 1st round pick Henri Jokiharju, who might make a push for a spot this year.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

Chicago has no outstanding RFAs left on their list to re-sign and they were able to off-load Marian Hossa's contract to Arizona this summer, so they are currently $5.1 million clear of the salary cap ceiling with a 24-man roster today, which includes an injury listed below.

Injuries

The Corey Crawford watch is definitely on, but in the summer, the team's management did suggest that they expect him to be ready for training camp.  By no means is that a certainty and that decision will certainly have an impact on how we approach this team come draft time.  Keep a close eye, since we're only a few weeks away from it all getting started.  Another injury that dropped a couple of weeks ago was the wrist surgery that defenseman Gustav Forsling underwent and he's not expected back until mid-November, so you'll want to stay away from him at the draft, unless you're going exceptionally deep.

2019 Pool Projections: Colorado

Looking back on some of the numbers from some previous projection posts, the Colorado Avalanche 2018 regular season was something I had happening, except to somewhat of a lesser extent, for the 2016 season.  Better late than never, right?

The Avalanche did finally break out of their shell in the 2018 season and it sure looked good on them.  The Avalanche making the playoffs again was sure a refreshing sight to see, certainly giving a lot of hope to their fan base, who have been waiting patiently for all of this to finally come around.

Their superstar, Nathan MacKinnon, finally revived his career and had an MVP-like season, almost making the 100-point mark last year.  The combination of him and Mikko Rantanen had gone a long ways last year and there should be little to no reason why they couldn't do it all over again.

There is still a fair bit of new faces and youth on this team, which can be concerning, especially since their last wave of youth that saw them reach the playoffs last, back in 2014, really fizzled and it took them four seasons to get their act back in gear.

Some of those players from 2014 are still around, a little older and much wiser, helping to guide these fresh faces around, so I think there are a lot of lessons to be passed down and I would feel a touch more confident in their ability in 2019.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Nathan MacKinnon F 95 N
Mikko Rantanen F 80 N
Semyon Varlamov G 65 N
Gabriel Landeskog F 60 N
Tyson Barrie D 55 N
Alexander Kerfoot F 35 S
Carl Soderberg F 35 N
Philipp Grubauer G 35 N
Tyson Jost F 35 S
J.T. Compher F 30 S
Colin Wilson F 30 N
Matt Nieto F 25 N
Erik Johnson D 25 N
Matt Calvert F 25 N
Nikita Zadorov D 25 N
Samuel Girard D 20 S
Sven Andrighetto F 20 N
Ian Cole D 20 N
Dominic Toninato F 20 S
Vladislav Kamenev F 20 Y
Patrik Nemeth D 15 N
Mark Barberio D 10 N
Gabriel Bourque F 10 N
David Warsofsky D 5 N
Anton Lindholm D 5 S
A.J. Greer F 5 Y
Mark Alt D 5 N

Table last updated on August 9th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

Although my projection may not suggest that exactly, I think the player most suited to possibly breakout for the Avalanche would be defenseman Nikita Zadorov.  The 23-year old has been slowly seeing his production increase, along with his playing time and now the Avalanche are getting to the point, where they could really use someone else to step up and be a big part of their blueline.

The 2013 1st round pick certainly has the tools to be a very good defenseman in the NHL and already, he has gained quite a bit of experience.  He's definitely one that I will be keeping a close eye on when training camp and preseason games start happening, since the blueline is where you can make a lot of ground, especially late on, in your hockey pool drafts.

First Round Picks

It feels we were all waiting for so long for Nathan MacKinnon to finally make the leap into being worthy of an opening round pick and last year, he broke out in a big way.  I think he's here to stay now and he brought a friend with him, as his connection with Mikko Rantanen has emerged as one of the more impressive pairings in the west.  MacKinnon will likely go high in most drafts, but Rantanen could be a bargain in the 2nd or 3rd round, depending on how deep your draft goes.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

From the top two, it is a bit of a drop off up front, as Gabriel Landeskog should still be strong in the captain's role, but youth is still trying to bust through in Colorado and for me, that only leaves a few names left to really consider right now, Alexander Kerfoot, Carl Soderberg and Tyson Jost.  There are some players who are close and could find their way up, I'm just not sure I am ready to bet on them quite yet.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

Tyson Barrie has some real upside after 57 points in 68 games last season and he has the potential to break out a little bit more this season, but my trust in Colorado as a whole is a bit shaky.  Erik Johnson and Nikita Zadorov are currently the only other two defenders worthy of taking note of, but if this team fires on all cylinders, you might see one or two more make the jump too.

Goaltending Situation

The pairing in the Avalanche net this coming season will be Semyon Varlamov and Philpp Grubauer, which is an interesting combination.  Varlamov is a health risk, year after year, so the addition of Grubauer was to be the insurance policy, if and when their number one goes down with injury.  With that being said, both should be worthy of a selection, but don't go too high on them, just in case.

Team to Pick From Late?

There's a lot of youth on this projected roster and that can be quite the risk/reward situation.  J.T. Compher or Vladislav Kamenev up front, Samuel Girard on the blueline... these three have the potential to get the points, but are you going to be banking your pool entry fee on these guys?  I see the Avalanche to be a middle-of-the-road scoring team this coming season, which could give us a late round gem, but they do look rather top heavy this year.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

Unrestricted free agency cleaned out some names from last year's roster, but the team doesn't have any restricted free agents left to sign.  This team appears to be preparing for some bigger contracts down the line, keeping their cap space free this year, leaving $12.2 million on the table today.

Injuries

More knee problems really hindered the finish to Semyon Varlamov's 2018 campaign, but the reports were that he avoided surgery in the off-season and he should be ready to go for training camp.  He is such a risky pick, at best, that it's hard to really get excited about him and his wonky body.  High risk, high reward... most definitely!

2019 Pool Projections: Columbus

I don't think there is any denying that the Columbus Blue Jackets are a good up-and-coming team, but they are not without some question marks, heading into the 2019 regular season.

The long-term status of Artemi Panarin remains a looming black cloud over top of the roster, as there have been discussions out in the public forum, that if he doesn't accept a long-term contract extension with the club, then the team might try to deal him away and the return could be just about anything these days.

Otherwise, this team is really coming along, a lot of which is coming from within, from drafting some really good young talent.  This team remains as one with one of the more competitive bluelines in the game, they already have one of the league's best goalies and the forward group has a pretty good blend of speed, grit and finish.

The Jackets didn't make a great deal of moves in the off-season, adding some depth, something they obviously felt they lacked against the Capitals in the opening round of the playoffs last year.  We'll see how that all pans out for them here soon.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Sergei Bobrovsky G 80 N
Artemi Panarin F 80 N
Cam Atkinson F 60 N
Seth Jones D 60 N
Alexander Wennberg F 55 N
Oliver Bjorkstrand F 50 N
Zach Werenski D 45 N
Pierre-Luc Dubois F 40 S
Boone Jenner F 40 N
Josh Anderson F 35 N
Nick Foligno F 35 N
Riley Nash F 30 N
Anthony Duclair F 25 N
Ryan Murray D 25 N
Markus Nutivaara D 25 N
Joonas Korpisalo G 20 N
Sonny Milano F 20 S
David Savard D 20 N
Gabriel Carlsson D 15 Y
Brandon Dubinsky F 15 N
Lukas Sedlak F 10 N
Adam Clendening D 5 N
Markus Hannikainen F 5 S
Scott Harrington D 5 N
Dean Kukan D 5 Y

Table last updated on August 9th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

Looking at the numbers for the first two seasons for Zach Werenski, it looks like the sophomore slump applied, dropping his numbers down from 47 points to 37 points, between 2017 and 2018.  Now, that means that the bounce back will come and he'll start making a great case to start making some real money out of his entry-level deal next summer.  I am thinking that Werenski is due for a breakout and that should really solidify this Jackets team.

First Round Picks

Assuming that Panarin is still in town, by the time the draft rolls around, the Blue Jackets have a couple of decent options for your opening round consideration, including number one goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.  Panarin emerged as a player that didn't need his Chicago counterparts, dazzling those in Columbus as well, while Bobrovsky is a sure fire pick in the 1st round, as the goalies often get snapped up, especially the big-minute number ones.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

I like how the Jackets have been building this team and their roster of worthy forwards is a great indication of how far they've come in recent years.  Cam Atkinson, Alexander Wennberg, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Boone Jenner, Josh Anderson and Nick Foligno should all be on your radar for the coming year.  And if for some reason, one or more of these guys fail to play in enough games to be worthy, the team's depth is impressive enough to take a spot or two, just in case.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

Maybe more impressive than their forwards is their defense, led by Seth Jones, as they could have four or more worthy players for the pool this season.  Werenski already got his nod, while Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara should both get some consideration as well.  This is a pretty impressive core group and they're all under the age of 25 as well, meaning they'll be around for a long while yet.

Goaltending Situation

Backing up Bob again this year will be Joonas Korpisalo, who appeared in 18 games last season for the Jackets and I have him projected for 20 points, just inside the conversation of being pool worthy.  One should hope that they don't need to get a 20-point goalie at the draft and if they do, they're hoping for something drastic to happen for more starts and more points.

Team to Pick From Late?

Yes, I think this Jackets team is going to put up the points, even from some of their depth pieces on the roster.  Rookie defenseman Gabriel Carlsson could be one of those guys that could get a lift up into the big roster and he has the potential to do well.  Riley Nash joined the team in the off-season from Boston and could be a great option as well.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

This team is not only impressive on paper, skill-wise, they are also quite cost-efficient, having their 23-man roster coming in with $6.3 million to spare under the salary cap ceiling.  The team has no other free agents that need any attention, so it's all systems go to start the year.

Injuries

Okay, so there could be a slight issue with my breakout player in the post, Zach Werenski, as he did undergo shoulder surgery in the off-season and he is projected to miss most, if not all, of training camp, but be close to start at the opening of the regular season.  This will be something to keep an eye out for, but I don't think that should hamper his numbers too greatly.  A week or two to shake off the rust and he should be right as rain.

2019 Pool Projections: Dallas

The Dallas Stars remain a wild card team, which is capable of some incredible offense, but the question marks still remain about their defense and their overall team game.  This team took some positive strides in the 2018 season and it appears that they have made some more moves in the right direction in this off-season, which should help them close the gap, which was only 3 points, to a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Defensively, the team added a little bit more of a home body in Roman Polak and there is a chance that they could add their 2017 1st round draft pick in Miro Heiskanen to the mix, both could really help their back end and help make the team a little more difficult to score on, as their offense continues to work magic.

The Stars also tinkered a little up front, adding Blake Comeau through unrestricted free agency and they finally welcomed back Valeri Nichushkin to the fold, which should be a couple of big additions to the team in some depth scoring roles.

If management has played their cards right and everything does happen to come together like it very well could, the Central Division automatically gets even more difficult to play in, already hosting some of the league's best teams through last season.  Nevertheless, the Stars could be a pretty good team to pull some points from for your hockey pool team, as you can see below.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Ben Bishop G 85 N
Jamie Benn F 80 N
Tyler Seguin F 80 N
Alexander Radulov F 70 N
John Klingberg D 60 N
Blake Comeau F 40 N
MattIas Janmark F 40 N
Valeri Nichushkin F 40 N
Radek Faksa F 35 N
Miro Heiskanen D 30 Y
Devin Shore F 30 N
Jason Spezza F 30 N
Anton Khudobin G 25 N
Esa Lindell D 25 N
Remi Elie F 20 S
Stephen Johns D 20 N
Tyler Pitlick F 20 N
Brett Ritchie F 20 N
Julius Honka D 15 S
Roman Polak D 15 N
Martin Hanzal F 15 N
Marc Methot D 10 N
Gemel Smith F 10 S
Erik Condra F 5 N

Table last updated on August 10th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

The last season that Valeri Nichushkin played with the Stars was the 2016 season and back then, he finished with 29 points in 79 games, barely making a name for himself with the club, despite some pretty high expectations.  The last couple of years, he has been over in Russia, playing in the KHL, where his numbers haven't been all that stellar, in all honesty.

Last year, he played in 50 games for CSKA Moscow, scoring 16 goals and 27 points, which was 87th in league scoring among skaters.  Okay, he would be more than pool worthy in a KHL hockey pool, but that might not translate all that well in the NHL, but it does make for an interesting story and he'll be intriguing to watch.

First Round Picks

The Dallas Stars definitely have options this year, like they have had in the last few years, but it will be a matter of when everyone will want to take these guys.  Right now, I have three possible candidates from Dallas that could potentially make the 1st round of the draft, goaltender Ben Bishop could be a lock for a pick, while the two offensive dynamos, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, are in the mix, but could again, fall to the 2nd round, outside of the goalie rush.  If you're expecting big things from the Stars, then these are your guys.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

Alexander Radulov wasn't too far off the top players' pace last season and that leads me to believe he will be close again this season, while newcomer Blake Comeau should find some quality minutes with some talented players.  Young players Mattias Janmark and Radek Faksa have already started to make their marks as well and they could be in line for somewhat of a breakout season, but I will be looking at them to be the better bargain players, picking them at a reasonable level and thinking they can push for a lot more.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

John Klingberg has done very well in the previous three seasons and is now among the blueline scoring elite and if this team is to pick up points, he'll be front and centre.  He'll certainly be a great option in the early rounds.  The rest of the blueline, however, is still way up in the air on how the roster will shake out.  Last year's 1st round pick in the entry draft, Miro Heiskanen, has a shot at making the roster and if he does, I like him to be pool worthy, while Esa Lindell emerged as a collector of points on this team and he was worthy to boot.

Goaltending Situation

There's a new face in the number two slot and he doesn't carry a huge salary cap hit, like some of the previous backups in Dallas over the last couple of years, but he has been brought on as insurance.  Anton Khudobin played a fair amount in Boston last season, while Tuukka Rask saw some struggles, and he did quite well.  The Stars will need that sort of reliability again... you know, just in case.

Team to Pick From Late?

I do have Dallas in the top half of the scoring ranks among teams and their skaters and there's definitely potential for more scoring out of this bunch, possibly making some good sleeper picks.  Devin Shore was so close to being worthy last season, he has been fairly consistent in the 30-point range and could go higher.  The decline of Jason Spezza is well-documented, but if he got his game back together, you could see some people sleep on him.  At the back, a guy like Stephen Johns, with a new contract, could find some more ice-time and more points as well.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

Currently, I have the Stars in with a 24-man roster, thanks to the injury below, and they are nicely situated with a $3 million buffer below the salary cap ceiling and no other restricted free agents to sign.  A buffer like that could be a huge factor at the trade deadline, if they are calling and looking to add on for a playoff run.

Injuries

Forward Martin Hanzal underwent back surgery back in March and his original timetable for a return was between six and seven months, which would have had him back in time for training camp, but it doesn't look like that will be the case.  It sounds more like a November/December return for the veteran forward, so you may want to side step his name at the draft, if you haven't already scratched his name off.

2019 Pool Projections: Detroit

It's now been a couple of sour seasons for the Detroit Red Wings, missing out on the playoffs, after one of the longest playoff streaks in modern professional sports history and the misery may have to continue, just for a little bit longer, at least.

The youth movement has got some legs in Detroit and that's the good news, as their young players that they have been able to draft and cultivate are now starting to bear some fruit.  Some incredible luck at this year's draft, netted them a top three prospect down in the 6th overall pick and they could potentially have themselves a scorer back in the fold right away.

Still, it could be some of the veteran players that could really tip the scales for the Red Wings, since Henrik Zetterberg's health has been an issue in the news this summer.  For now, we're assuming that Zetterberg will continue to play through some back problems that he has and do so, like the warrior he has shown to be in season's past.

The Red Wings could show some upside in the 2019 season, assuming that everyone comes to play.  They have some real potential to show off, even if they are still a little strapped for cash.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Dylan Larkin F 65 N
Anthony Mantha F 55 N
Henrik Zetterberg F 50 N
Thomas Vanek F 45 N
Gustav Nyquist F 45 N
Jimmy Howard G 40 N
Andreas Athanasiou F 40 N
Filip Zadina F 40 Y
Mike Green D 35 N
Evgeny Svechnikov F 35 Y
Justin Abdelkader F 30 N
Frans Nielsen F 30 N
Jonathan Bernier G 25 N
Darren Helm F 25 N
Niklas Kronwall D 25 N
Martin Frk F 25 S
Tyler Bertuzzi F 25 S
Luke Glendening F 25 N
Michael Rasmussen F 25 Y
Trevor Daley D 15 N
Nick Jensen D 15 N
Jonathan Ericsson D 15 N
Danny DeKeyser D 15 N
Luke Witkowski F 5 N
Brian Lashoff D 5 N

Table last updated on August 13th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

With his younger brother becoming the 2nd overall pick in last June's entry draft, one has to wonder what kind of fire that may have lit in Evgeny Svechnikov, who hasn't quite yet broken into the Red Wings lineup in a regular season role, after being the 19th overall pick in 2015.

The older of the two brothers has seen 16 NHL regular season games, so far, but only has 2 goals and 4 points to show for his efforts.  He still has rookie status, heading into the 2019 season and it is somewhat intriguing to possibly see a couple of brothers duke it out for rookie of the year honours.  I have a modest projection for the older of the two brothers currently, but it is certainly flexible, come training camp.

First Round Picks

The rebuilding Red Wings are still a ways out before they have a 1st round pick for the hockey pool draft again.  It will be all about patience this year in Detroit and maybe a year or two after that yet still.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

There's a pretty good group of forwards in Detroit, but only one is leaping up among them all and that is the newly re-signed Dylan Larkin.  He broke out in a big way last season and his career trend is still moving upwards.  He's followed closely by Anthony Mantha, Henrik Zetterberg, Thomas Vanek, Gustav Nyquist, Andreas Athanasiou and rookie Filip Zadina.  There is some cagey veteran leadership in there, but more importantly, there's a good youthful representation there as well.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

The defense still leaves a little to be desired, having only Mike Green and Niklas Kronwall as your dependable hockey pool scoring blueliners.  Green has been up and down so much in the last few years, while Kronwall's health is a factor year after year, so it's hard to get too excited about these two and the young defenders haven't really made their mark yet and a few of them might be running out of time.

Goaltending Situation

Jonathan Bernier had a really good run of play with the Colorado Avalanche last season, so when he hit the free agent market in July, the Red Wings didn't take long to snap him up and dangle the carrot in front of him.  He could be a capable guy to take the number one job away from Jimmy Howard or at the very least, give him a good run for his money.  I still have Howard as the majority leader, but this is well before training camp hits.

Team to Pick From Late?

Rebuilding teams are hard to get excited about in their depth.  The Red Wings could get a good run out of some young players and they could be good ones to keep your eye out for.  Martin Frk or Tyler Bertuzzi, they were very close to being there last year and a good run might put them over the top.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

With Larkin re-signing recently, that finished off the laundry list of things to do.  The Wings, who have been in cap crunches for most seasons since they instituted the salary cap, are still there, having a 23-man roster, including Johan Franzen, who moves to LTIR for the $3.955 million in cap relief and the Wings are still only $592,000 from the ceiling.  They will be pinching their pennies again this season, for sure!

Injuries

We're still waiting on an official word from the Red Wings, as to the status of Henrik Zetterberg, of course, but as you can see by the numbers, until we're told otherwise, we figure he'll be ready for training camp and ready to play on opening night.  Back issues are nothing to be scoffed at, but they could be problematic, if they're not taken care of.

2019 Pool Projections: Edmonton

The 2018 season was a giant disappointment for the Edmonton Oilers, undoubtedly.  Having arguably the best player in the league and a supporting cast that has a fair amount of talent and potential should have led to a much better record and a playoff spot, but it just wasn't the case and now they have a lot to answer for in this 2019 season.

It's really going to have to start with the supporting cast in this coming season, as we all know what Connor McDavid is capable of, filling up the scoresheet at will.  His unbelievable finish to the hockey season, finishing atop the scoring ranks all by himself, but he still couldn't carry the team into the playoffs.

A lot of what the Oilers will be looking for will stem from a healthy blueline, which they didn't have a lot of in the 2018 season, as Andrej Sekera and Oscar Klefbom suffered injuries in the year, but it looks like both will be ready to get off to healthy starts this season.

If Vegas showed us anything last season, it was just how important team speed actually is and the Oilers have added more in Tobias Rieder and potentially, their 1st round pick in 2017, Kailer Yamamoto.

Potential is a word that would probably best suited to describe the Oilers heading into the season, but living up to it is getting harder and harder these days.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Connor McDavid F 105 N
Leon Draisaitl F 75 N
Cam Talbot G 60 N
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins F 55 N
Ryan Strome F 40 N
Milan Lucic F 40 N
Oscar Klefbom D 40 N
Matt Benning D 35 N
Tobias Rieder F 30 N
Jesse Puljujarvi F 30 N
Andrej Sekera D 30 N
Kailer Yamamoto F 30 Y
Kyle Brodziak F 25 N
Kris Russell D 25 N
Drake Caggiula F 25 N
Jujhar Khaira F 20 N
Zack Kassian F 20 N
Adam Larsson D 20 N
Pontus Aberg F 15 S
Ethan Bear D 15 Y
Ty Rattie F 10 N
Mikko Koskinen G 10 N
Al Montoya G 5 N
Kevin Gravel D 5 N
Brad Malone F 5 N

Table last updated on August 13th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

The blueline seems to be a pretty good spot to focus on for the Oilers in this post, as they could be receiving a breakout season out of Matt Benning in the 2019 year, as he joined the hockey pool worthy ranks last season with 21 points in 73 games and he flourished with added minutes, thanks to their injury situation.

Benning came through the college ranks, before signing as a free agent with the Oilers and now after a couple of eye-opening seasons with the club, it could very well be his time to shine.  The Oilers could sure use a boost from the back end, especially in their own end.  Benning was a plus player last year, which says a lot, looking at the team he was playing on.

First Round Picks

Do we really have to go through the whole thing about telling you about Connor McDavid?  I don't think I should really have to, we all know who he is and what he is capable of.  How does he not go 1st overall... unless it's a Flames fan that gets the pick, right?

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

I'm not sure if this is really going to be Edmonton's year, since I don't really have a lot of support for McDavid on my list.  Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Strome and Milan Lucic are the only other forwards I deemed worthy of being selected this year.  There are some players on the bubble, but even still, I don't really see it being enough if they make the leap into the conversation.  Anything is certainly possible with these guys, but it can't be just McDavid all the time, it's just not enough.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

The back end does seem to be improving and that's very important to how successful the Oilers are, not only now, but down the road.  Oscar Klefbom, Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell could all be very good veteran picks on the blueline, as long as they tighten up at their own end as well.  There's one big omission from the list, yet to sign, and we'll touch on that in a second.

Goaltending Situation

It was too bad for the Oilers that Cam Talbot couldn't carry the load again last year, but he was worked pretty hard in the last couple of seasons and that may have caught up with him.  A fresh start could be better for him, but I'll go back to that lack of depth up front... if it can't score, Talbot won't be able to stop them all.

Team to Pick From Late?

There are certainly going to be some out there that will have their own differing opinions about the Oilers and they'll probably hope that Jesse Puljujarvi breaks out of his shell or Kailer Yamamoto makes the leap and impresses... both could happen, but this team's track record with play-making talents hasn't been very good and I'm not going to start betting on them to change their ways just yet.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

The biggest name missing from this list is defenseman Darnell Nurse, who remains unsigned out of his entry-level deal.  The team seems to believe that they will have a deal done before training camp, but the argument between bridge and long-term is going to be a dicey one.  The Oilers only have about $3.2 million in cap space with a 23-man roster currently and moving forward, it's not going to get any easier for this team.

Injuries

As it was mentioned earlier, the injuries to Sekera and Klefbom were pretty big draw backs on the Oilers' season and neither finished the 2018 season healthy.  It does appear that both of them will be ready to go at the start of training camp, leading to more optimism for the team's following.