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The Goods on Fantasy Hockey

Free Agent Fantasy Frenzy: The Main Course Goes To Minny

It wasn’t quite LeBron James and “The Decision”, but one team is far and away the winner of NHL free agency in 2012.

The Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signings will make the Minnesota Wild perhaps the most discussed NHL team throughout the summer and into the season. The presence of these two players alone turns the Wild from an NHL afterthought to a possible Stanley Cup contender. Suddenly snowy Minnesota (and Edmonton, for that matter) turns into a destination hotspot for young talent, while established star power teams such as Pittsburgh and Detroit are suddenly left scrambling for Plan B options.

But as much as hockey fans are congratulating the Wild for their recent coup, I’m not so sure that I’m down with big-ticket free agents collaborating to play for the same club. Hockey fans of other teams might be screaming bloody murder if this happened in Detroit or Pittsburgh, but Minnesota? I guess that depends on how you feel about teams attempting to “buy” a Stanley Cup. The Wild did save the cap room for the move and can only spend so much, so it’s not as if they’re turning into the New York Yankees. Plus, the Miami Heat signings had a much greater impact on their team than these signings will on the Wild, given the difference in roster sizes in basketball and hockey. However, I can’t blame you one bit if you think the Wild are no longer a vanilla team and are now more polarizing… kind of like my Vancouver Canucks (who a few of you told me on Twitter today are still more hated that Satan, taxes, and root canals combined). But as much as this has been a great day for Wild fans, this has not been a day to remember for Devils fans or Predators fans.

Enough of my rant. This is supposed to be a fantasy hockey article, so let’s get to task…

Zach Parise to Minnesota
Parise should likely man the left side on a Wild first line that should include Mikko Koivu at center and Dany Heatley on the right side.  It is worth mentioning that all three players, who are all in the age that is considered to be a player’s prime, have experienced production declines over the past two seasons. That’s not to say that I’m expecting this trend to continue. In fact, this line could easily become one of the NHL’s better first lines. I can guarantee that Koivu will be undervalued on draft day, considering that he could easily reach 70 points this season (mind you, an assist-heavy 70 points). Heatley hardly dazzled in his first season in Minny (53 points), but he should be able to rebound a little to around 60 points. As for Parise, don’t expect 90+ points as he scored in 2008-09, but 35 goals and 75 points are very attainable.

Ryan Suter to Minnesota
Suter’s true value to the Wild should go well beyond what fantasy hockey owners will see. He will be expected to be not only Mr. Hockey in Minnesota, but Mr. Everything. That means logging at least 25 minutes per night as the team’s top shutdown option while manning the point on the power play (and maybe even driving the Zamboni!) Suter has produced in the 35 – 45 point range the past few seasons, so this season should be no different in Minny. Projections could be in the high end of that range, considering that Nashville doesn’t have a top line that rivals Minny’s new one. Offensively, Tom Gilbert could also benefit, particularly if he is paired with Suter on the power play. Defensively, the expected timeshare tandem of Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding should also see some slightly improved numbers with a stud defenseman like Suter patrolling the blueline.

Jaromir Jagr to Dallas
The consolation prize for making an offseason splash has to be the Dallas Stars, who have now added Ray Whitney, Derek Roy, and Jagr to the top 6. I mean, did anyone predict Jagr signing with the Stars? Playoff dates are important for teams that have struggled financially like the Stars, so this signing makes some sense. We know that Jagr is no longer the Art Ross Trophy holder from years past, but he can provide the Stars with a solid second-line option and an abundance of power-play experience. A pure guess that he plays alongside Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow would place Jagr in the 55-point area once again, similar to his total last season in Philly.

Matt Carle to Tampa Bay
The Lightning have made some much-needed upgrades to their blueline, first signing Sami Salo on Canada Day and then signing Matt Carle on U.S. Independence Day. Fantasy hockey owners know that Carle possesses a ton of offensive skill for a blueliner, and the Lightning are an offensive-minded team playing in an offensive-minded division. Carle’s career totals suggest that he should hit the 40-point mark once again, although there is certainly the potential for a lot more. It’s difficult to say where Tampa Bay will finish this season, particularly considering that new starting goalie Anders Lindback is a fairly unknown commodity right now. Carle has never been a liability in the plus/minus department, but it’s worth mentioning that the Bolts had a few big-time minus players last season, which could rub off on Carle if the defensive woes continue.

More to follow, for sure…

Filed in: fantasy hockey, Ian Gooding, | The Goods on Fantasy Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: fantasy+hockey, jaromir+jagr, matt+carle, ryan+suter, zach+parise

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About The Goods on Fantasy Hockey

My name is Ian Gooding, and this is The Goods on Fantasy Hockey. Given my ability to understand numbers, write sentences, and follow hockey, it’s not a surprise to those who know me that I became a fantasy hockey writer. I started writing about fantasy hockey in 2006 for fantasyhockey.com and became the site’s content editor in 2007. Looking to expand my audience, I joined Kukla’s Korner in the summer of 2011 to create the site’s first fantasy hockey blog.

A few times each week, I’ll provide an article called “Pick Six” where I will write about six players that should either be in your fantasy team’s starting lineup or bench for the upcoming game. As well, I’ll provide the fantasy takes on important hockey developments. You can also email me your questions or comments to gooding74@shaw.ca, or follow me on Twitter.