So the season starts today! Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip… Okay sorry I can handle it. We get 3 quality games tonight with Canadians-Leafs, Flyers-Bruins and Canucks-Penguins. I see 4 cup contenders there (try and guess which 2 teams don’t make the cut?). All over the internet pundits are rolling out their “Power Rankings” and who they think will make (and win) the Stanley Cup. I’m not in the business of doing that and besides, the best team right now probably won’t be the best team in 6 months and the best team in 6 months doesn’t always win the Cup. Plus the last time I checked this website is all about the wonderful game of fake hockey. This column is my Top 10 overall teams based on fantasy value. And I’m talking offensive value here, Goalies are not included (which is why you won’t see Boston in the Top 10). Now let’s get after it and please if you feel that I’ve slighted your team in any way let me know in the comments, I love conflict!
10) New Jersey Devils – It was tough for me to get over the awfulness that is the New Jersey blueline and put them in the Top 10. But the combination of a rejuvenated Kovalchuk and a healthy Parise along with serviceable guys like Elias and Zajac (when he returns) gave them the edge over the likes of New York, New York, Boston, St. Louis and Montreal…
9) Detroit Red Wings – I really struggled with the #9 and 10 spots on this list. A lot of teams were considered, sparks flew, emotions ran high. But in the end the 1-2 punch of Datsyuk and Zetterberg (two Top 25 players on basically any list you look at) put them over the top.
8. Los Angeles Kings - The Kings are on this list for one reason only: Depth. Basically every Top 6 forward (Kopitar, Richards, Brown, Williams, Penner, Gagne) are rosterable in a standard 10 team league. Throw in WWF All Star Jarret Stoll, top 10 D-Man Drew Doughty and the highly underrated Jack Johnson and you’ve got a team loaded with valuable fantasy assets.
7) Chicago Blackhawks - If they still had Byfuglien they’d be Top 3, but they don’t and that’s life in today’s capped NHL. The Hawks still have a solid fantasy core though in Kane, Toews, Sharp, Hossa and Keith. Even Seabrook and Brunette (new addition) will have value this year.
6) Tampa Bay Lightning - Much like New Jersey, the Lightning really have no fantasy-worthy defenseman to speak of. But their forwards are awesome. Two top 8 players (Stamkos, St. Louis) is enough to get them in the Top 10 then throw in a former stud/high upside guy like Lecavalier and it inches them up to #6 on my list.
5) Pittsburgh Penguins - Malkin should rebound and be a stud and I still have faith in Letang as a Top 5 D-Man even if Crosby’s out… Alright so what if Crosby doesn’t play? Well then alot of us are gonna be S.O.L. and the Penguins don’t deserve to be ranked here.
4) Vancouver Canucks - When I initially started picking teams for this post I very quickly identified my Top 4. That was the easy part. The hard part was ranking them. And even though Terminal City boasts the Sedin’s and my boy Ryan Kesler, they only get #4 due to their lack of a top scoring Defenseman.
3) San Jose Sharks - The only reason the Sharks didn’t make the Top 2 is because I’m a little worried about Thornton and Marleau. They looked old and slow last year but even if they are declining, you still got Couture, Pavelski, Clowe, Boyle and Burns.
2) Anaheim Ducks - Maybe some bias here, but hey I do what I want. The Ducks have the 3 headed monster of Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan but what puts them over the top is reigning D scoring champ Lubomir Visnovsky, Power Play stud & ageless wonder Teemu Selanne, and up and comer Cam Fowler.
1) Washington Capitals - Yes Bruce Boudreau neutered an offensive juggernaut last year and yes he is still the Coach, but I think the Cap’s players will start to revert back to their old ways. Which means taking chances on offense and conserving energy on D… Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin and Green won’t produce like they did 2 years ago, but they’ll be much better than last season and that’s all they need to be the top fantasy team in the NHL.
Now enjoy the games tonight… Seacrest OUT!