There is a very good chance that both netminders might have new addresses in 2010-11. Price seems to have worn out his welcome in Montreal and Leclaire continues to be dogged by injury issues.
In the meantime, Jaroslav Halak has outperformed Price to the point that he might be the restricted free agent the Canadiens choose to retain, while Brian Elliott appears to be a better fit for Senators coach Cory Clouston's system.
Neither Price nor Leclaire are going to finish very high in the eyes of Fantasy owners this season. On the contrary, that could end up making them Draft Day steals in 2010.
If I had my choice, I would rank Price higher heading into next season. His biggest hurdle is his confidence, which is something he can rectify. Leclaire has already had plenty of time to shed his fragile label, but he seems either destined for a backup role or a situation where he shares time in net to reduce his chances of getting injured. Price still has a lot of untapped potential.
It wasn't long ago the Canadiens considered the 22-year-old Price the future in net and perhaps the second coming of Patrick Roy. Sadly, you have heard this story before. Price had a great rookie season before an ankle injury in 2008-09 and a disastrous playoff series against the Bruins put him on the outs in Montreal.
He just seems to be in a situation where a fresh start could go a very long way. We have seen plenty of situations the last few seasons where goalies have turned the corner thanks to a new beginning. A few names that come to mind are Ilya Bryzgalov, Craig Anderson, Chris Mason, Miikka Kiprusoff and Roberto Luongo.
It might sound crazy, but Price has as much talent as any of those netminders. Put him in the right situation with the right coaches, and we might once again see the award-winning goalie from his junior hockey and minor league days.
This is like choosing between a BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Both are great cars, have great engineering and great value, and you can't really go wrong choosing either one. But like buying a car, you have to settle on one in the end.
Both Karlsson and Carlson possess what every Fantasy owner desires in a blueliner -- puck-moving skills. Karlsson, however, has already had the benefit of playing close to a full season in the NHL while Carlson is playing catch up. Also, both players were taken in the first round of the 2008 NHL draft -- Karlsson at 15 and Carlson at 27 -- so you know the potential is there.
So, who do you choose? I'm taking the Capitals' Carlson in a close call.
The Senators' Karlsson has been a bit of a late bloomer in 2009-10. He has really struggled on the defensive end, which was a huge knock against him as a prospect, and even had to be demoted to the minors at one point to work on his game. He has begun to flash his offensive skills late in the year, and Ottawa really hopes he develops like fellow Swede Nicklas Lidstrom, who will go down as one of the best blueliners in NHL history.
With that kind of a billing it's hard to pass over a talent like Karlsson, but I feel in the end that the Capitals got a great steal late in the first round and Fantasy owners will have a reliable blueliner for years to come in Carlson.
The biggest benefit for the U.S. native Carlson was passing up an opportunity to play at UMass and spend a year in the OHL with the London Knights. London has a rich history of developing talent and that one year with the Knights did wonders for Carlson.
It's true the other Karlsson got adequate training in the Swedish Elite League, much like Lidstrom before he made the jump to the NHL, but Carlson is a more well-rounded prospect.
Carlson is strong at both ends of the ice, which is evident in his plus-minus rating. Carlson was a plus-37 player in 48 games with Hershey (AHL) this season. He is plus-11 in his first 19 games with the Capitals and could end up making the postseason roster since he isn't a liability in the defensive end.
Carlson has great instincts, skating ability and his size is ideal for the NHL game (6-3, 210 pounds).
But let's face it; if you end up with Karlsson, it's not like you are walking away empty-handed.
Jochen Hecht is one of the Sabres more versatile forwards. He can bounce between the wings and center position with ease. He has been doing it for years with success, and it's a reason why the German forward is a favorite of coach Lindy Ruff.
Hecht had a bit of a down year in 2008-09 due to injury, but he finally has turned a corner again in 2009-10 and is back to being a 20-goal, 50-point threat.
The intensity really turned up for the Olympic forward when Hecht joined a line with Connolly at center and Jason Pominville at right wing in late December. It also helped that he had a little extra motivation after being left off the German Olympic roster when it was first announced.
Hecht has produced 14 goals, 25 points and a plus-13 rating in 35 games since the calendar hit 2010. He has 14 goals, 31 points and a plus-30 rating in the Sabres' first 41 wins.
Hecht is going to play center at even strength with Connolly out and take over at left wing on the power play with Vanek sidelined. He is going to have extra chances for goals and assists, as well as power-play points.
Hecht is a veteran presence that will help Buffalo get past its injury issues and could be a nice sleeper option for the final weeks of the Fantasy season.
What has gotten into Valtteri Filppula?
Apparently, all the Red Wings needed to do to maximize Filppula's potential was put him on a line with one of the best players in the NHL -- Henrik Zetterberg.
Filppula is a natural center and has played that position for most of his NHL career. Unfortunately, he toiled mostly on the third line since Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and overseas defector Jiri Hudler were ahead of the Finnish forward on the depth chart.
The complexion of the Red Wings' roster changed in 2009-10 thanks to free agency and injuries. Filppula dealt with an injury of his own and that has been one reason why he hasn't hit his stride until the second half. Another has been his hesitation to shoot.
Ever since Detroit drafted Filppula in 2002, the Red Wings have been excited about his future in the NHL. However, the Red Wings have constantly urged Filppula to shoot and he has always deferred to his play-making teammates. Now that Filppula is becoming one of the cornerstones of the forward rotation, he finally seems to be gaining confidence.
Filppula has a season-high five goals, 12 points and a plus-8 rating in 14 March games. He is also converting shots at a season-best 19.2 percent. Most of those gaudy numbers have come since coach Mike Babcock moved him to the wing on a line with Zetterberg.
Filppula has the skills and speed to stay with Zetterberg, and sitting next to him in the locker room so the Swedish forward can be a mentor hasn't hurt either.
Who is Hurricanes defenseman Jamie McBain?
McBain has made a lot of noise in Fantasy circles since making his NHL debut on March 16. He has been one Fantasy's best scoring defensemen in the last few weeks, ranking up there with Dan Boyle, Zdeno Chara and Tyler Myers.
But the question on everyone's mind is: Who is this guy?
McBain was taken in the second round of the 2006 NHL draft, right before his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin. After spending three successful years with the Badgers, which was capped by being a Hobey Baker candidate (best college player) in 2008-09, McBain finally turned pro.
The 2009-10 season has been his first full year on the professional circuit, and the 6-2, 200-pound blueliner has had little trouble adjusting. He posted seven goals, 40 points and a plus-11 rating in 68 games with Albany (AHL) before his recall.
A few deals at the trade deadline helped free up the necessary roster spot and minutes for Carolina to showcase one of its fastest rising prospects. He hasn't disappointed.
McBain has produced two goals and four assists in his first seven NHL games. He has been below even just twice. McBain logged 4:39 of power-play time in his NHL debut and has had heavy man-advantage minutes ever since.
The Edina, Minn., native is as much of an offensive blue-line prospect as the two players were chronicled earlier in the piece -- Karlsson and Carlson. While McBain might not have had as much acclaim as those two skaters, he has definitely worked himself into the conversation. He is worth a look not only in long-term keeper formats but as a potential option in seasonal formats for the final weeks of the '09-10 campaign.
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