New Jersey Devils
Must-haves: Martin Brodeur, Zach Parise, Patrick Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner, Travis Zajac
Contributors: Paul Martin, Brian Rolston, Niclas Havelid, Dainius Zubrus, Colin White, Brendan Shanahan, Andy Greene, Mike Mottau
Sleepers: Yann Danis, Johnny Oduya, Rod Pelley, Nicklas Bergfors, Cory Murphy
Specialists: David Clarkson, Bryce Salvador, Rob Davison, Jay Leach
Offseason analysis: The Devils said goodbye to goaltender Scott Clemmensen, right winger Brian Gionta and center John Madden this summer, but didn't really bring any Fantasy-relevant folks in to replace them, except for goalie Yann Danis, who will hopefully not be called upon too many times in 2009-10 as Brodeur's backup. The team did re-sign veteran Shanahan for one more year however, and brought back Oduya on a three-year deal. Pelley and Bergfors could replace the vacated forwards, but won't be more than low-end sleepers in deeper leagues until they really prove themselves as full-time NHLers. You have to think this is Shanny's last hurrah, so don't worry about the 40-year-old outside of super-deep formats. On the defensive side of things, Oduya and Martin are the only viable Fantasy options in most leagues. Oduya set career highs in all three offensive categories last season, but might get a little complacent now he's got his paycheck. Martin is capable of scoring in the 30s no problem and has finished the last two years with a plus-minus over 20. Brodeur is being picked as the No. 1 goalie in drafts so far, which shows just how much faith people still have in him and Jacques Lemaire's system.
New York Islanders
Must-haves: Mark Streit
Contributors: Martin Biron, Doug Weight, Sean Bergenheim, Blake Comeau, Jeff Tambellini
Sleepers: Kyle Okposo, John Tavares, Rick DiPietro, Trent Hunter, Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen
Specialists: Dwayne Roloson, Joel Rechlicz, Andy Sutton, Tim Jackman, Brendan Witt, Bruno Gervais, Jack Hillen, John Sim, Radek Martinek, Freddy Meyer, Nate Thompson, Andrew McDonald
Offseason analysis: The Islanders were clearly the worst Fantasy squad out there in 2008-09, as only Streit put up enough stats to be a viable option in all leagues. After him, you had Okposo, who showed some signs of his talent in his first full NHL season with 18 goals and 21 assists, and then a precipitous drop to the likes of Weight and Hunter. Okposo could develop more this season, but there will be some concern over his health heading into the season after he suffered a preseason concussion thanks to a big hit from Calgary's Dion Phaneuf. The fact Okposo didn't even remember the hit is not a good sign. Alongside Okposo in the forward corps will be Tavares, the No. 1 overall pick in this June's draft. Tavares is one of the best talents to come along in a while, but you should temper your expectations for him as he'll only be 19 on the first day of the season and will be playing for what should be one of the league's worst teams. The goalie situation on the island is a mess right now, with oft-injured Rick DiPietro not expected to be healthy to start the season. At least the team brought in veterans Martin Biron and Dwayne Roloson, who will likely share duties to start. The fact they are the second- and third-most owned Islanders players in Fantasy right now should tell you a lot about the perceived lack of talent on this squad. Both goalies will be at best No. 3 options until one secures more time between the pipes than the other.
New York Rangers
Must-haves: Marian Gaborik, Henrik Lundqvist
Contributors: Chris Drury, Sean Avery, Michal Rozsival, Ales Kotalik, Chris Higgins, Ryan Callahan
Sleepers: Vaclav Prospal, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Matt Gilroy, Evgeny Grachev, Bobby Sanguinetti, Michael Del Zotto
Specialists: Wade Redden, Daniel Girardi, Marc Staal, Donald Brashear, Aaron Voros, Brian Boyle, Enver Lisin, Tyler Arnason, Steve Valiquette
Offseason analysis: The Rangers head into 2009-10 without four of their top five scorers from last season -- Nik Antropov, Scott Gomez, Nikolai Zherdev and Markus Naslund. However, with the way the team struggled offensively in '08-'09, that's probably a good thing. The biggest offseason addition expected to help out with putting the puck in the net was Gaborik, but his problem has always been staying on the ice. He will likely be centered on the top line with Drury and either Higgins or Avery -- all of whom could see a nice spike in their offensive numbers if Gaborik can remain healthy and play up to his super potential. Dubinsky's sleeper chances also depend on how much time he sees playing with the Czech sniper. Higgins and Prospal were the other major forward additions, with Prospal certainly worth owning in the majority of leagues, as he does have 71-point and 80-point campaigns in his last four seasons. Also, keep an eye on young Russian sleepers Anisimov and Grachev in deeper formats. On the blue line, the Rangers didn't make any big moves, which leaves Rozsival as really the only defenseman worth worrying about in Fantasy play. He is fully capable of another 40-point season. In the crease, Lundqvist remains a solid No. 1 Fantasy goalie.
|Mike Richards and the Flyers should put up plenty of points this season. (US Presswire)|
Contributors: Scott Hartnell, Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle
Sleepers: Claude Giroux, Ray Emery, Brian Boucher, James van Riemsdyk, Andreas Nodl, Jon Kalinski, Patrick Maroon, Lukas Kaspar, Danny Syvret
Specialists: Daniel Carcillo, Ian Laperriere, Riley Cote, Arron Asham, Randy Jones, Darroll Powe, Ryan Parent, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Blair Betts, Jared Ross
Offseason analysis: The Flyers made big moves at two positions this offseason, although only one of them really looks to have strengthened their roster. On draft day, the team made a big trade with the Ducks for future Hall-of-Famer Pronger in exchange for forward Joffrey Lupul, defenseman Luca Sbisa and three future picks. Pronger is a proven leader and winner who has averaged 52 points over his last five NHL season. He will partner with Timonen, another stud offensive blue-liner, to form one of the best scoring top pairings in the league. Both are must-start Fantasy defensemen in all formats. The other shuffling in the City of Brotherly love was at the goaltender position, where Emery and Boucher were brought in to replace Martin Biron (Islanders) and Antero Niittymaki (Lightning). Emery had his moments in Ottawa before losing the plot a little and ending up in Russia, where he only lasted one season. If he can stay away from off-ice trouble and remain healthy, Emery probably has the better shot of edging out Boucher for the No. 1 job. After all, Boucher is with his sixth NHL team and was cast off once by the Flyers already in his career. Both are worth drafting in Fantasy play however, because Philadelphia should provide them with plenty of offense and chances for victories in 2009-10 and neither is likely to have a tight grip on the No. 1 job for the entire season. Overall, the Flyers are stacked up front with four must-own options, and Giroux is one of the better young sleeper prospects in the league.
Must-haves: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar, Marc-Andre Fleury
Contributors: Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Bill Guerin, Ruslan Fedotenko, Matt Cooke
Sleepers: Jordan Staal, Alex Goligoski, Tyler Kennedy, Eric Tangradi
Specialists: Brent Johnson, Eric Godard, Pascal Dupuis, Maxime Talbot, Brooks Orpik, Craig Adams, Mike Rupp, Mark Eaton, Jay McKee, Chris Conner, Ben Lovejoy
Offseason analysis: The Stanley Cup champions didn't do a whole lot of anything this offseason except manage to keep almost their entire winning squad intact. Some players, like Guerin and Fedotenko, even took pay cuts to stick around, which tells you just how hungry these guys are to bring home back-to-back titles. Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi departed the blue line, but McKee comes in from St. Louis to try and replace some of the veteran toughness provided by those two. Just like Gill and Scuderi though, McKee will only have value in deeper leagues that reward PIM. The only other Fantasy-worthy move involved backup goalie Mathieu Garon departing for Columbus, while Johnson comes over after spending the past four seasons with the Capitals. Fleury can get nicked up now and again, so Johnson is certainly worth owning in deeper formats as a handcuff for Fleury's owners. So, Crosby and Malkin remain two of the best three Fantasy skaters in the league, Gonchar is still a No. 1 Fantasy defenseman, and hopefully one of the youngsters like Staal, Kennedy or Tangradi will step up and prove themselves to be Fantasy-viable in 2009-10.
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