12 Aug Offseason Fantasy Quick Hits: Metropolitan Division – Pittsburgh Penguins
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- New Jersey Devils
- New York Islanders
- New York Rangers
- Philadelphia Flyers
Got: No one.
Lost: Beau Bennett, Ben Lovejoy, Jeff Zatkoff
The Stanley Cup champs have not done much this off season. I guess if it ain’t broke don’t fix it right?
Beau Bennett had a marginal fantasy impact on the Pens, but it’s not really a major loss as he isn’t really worth owning in fantasy anymore.
The Pens have always been a sexy fantasy team. Meaning, everyone wants their players. I find GM’s tend to reach on Pittsburgh players. Now I’m not saying don’t draft em, I’m just saying don’t fall into the trap of drafting Chris Kunitz just because he gets time on Sid’s wing. In fact, if your smart, don’t draft Chris Kunitz at all.
Sidney Crosby has already played 11 years in the National Hockey League. Since his rookie season, I’ve had the same guy #1 on my draft list. Entering this year is no different – Sid should be #1 on both mine and your list. If you get him anywhere else other than #1 you have done pretty well for yourself. After an abysmal start to last season, Crosby turned on the jets in the second half, and was scoring at such a ridiculous pace that he still ended up in the top 5 in scoring. That hot streak continued into the playoffs which culminated in a championship. I don’t think any other player can GUARANTEE you 85 points like Sid can, and for that hes the #1 fantasy player to draft. I’m a little wary of a Stanley Cup hangover, and with the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, he will have played more than anyone. It’s a minor concern, but if anyone will overcome fatigue, it’s Sid. The concern isn’t enough to bump him from #1 on my list.
The HBK line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino, and Phil Kessel was magical down the stretch last year
Like I said above, don’t fall into the Pittsburgh trap. Don’t draft Kunitz. Treat Patric Hornqvist like the 50 point player he is. He certainly could put up 60-65 points, but don’t expect it. Other than the obvious Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and Letang, no one else on the team is really worth picking. Yes, we saw the magic of the HBK line in the playoffs, but don’t expect that magic to continue over 82 games. If you do draft Nick Bonino or Carl Hagelin, they are last round pick type of guys, but for me they have low ceilings and I probably won’t draft either.
Malkin and Letang are a bit of injury concerns, but there is no denying their talent. Malkin is an above PPG player and Letang is a near-PPG game player as a defenseman. For me, Malkin is still a mid-late 1st round pick. Letang is probably gone by the end of the 3rd round.
I’d expect Phil Kessel to mildly improve on last season’s numbers. It took a while for him to adapt to his new team, and for Pittsburgh as a whole to find their footing. I don’t think 65-70 points is an unreasonable estimate. He is also a slam dunk for at least 25 goals and 275 SOG.
Also, if Marc-Andre Fleury is still on the roster come season opener, don’t pencil in Matt Murray as a 30 win guy. Monitor the situation, but I’ll say if both are on the roster, there is likely to be somewhat of a timeshare until the hotter goalie can establish themselves. I like to go after goalies on teams with de facto starters rather teams with time shares but that’s just me. Marc-Andre has historically been a great season goalie so it would be foolish to assume the reigns are Matt Murray’s to run with just because he had a great playoffs. Remember, Fleury gets paid almost 10 times what Murray makes, which is a lot of dead weight to be sitting on the bench for a long time. Keep in mind Fleury might be dealt at some point during the year with next year’s upcoming expansion draft.
I don’t mind Justin Schultz as a late round pick. The guy has always had offensive potential and was stuck on some bad Edmonton teams. He’s not very good defensively, however I think being on a much better team like the Penguins gives him the freedom and confidence to take chances and make mistakes. I still think he can put up 40 points if he can get enough powerplay time on the Penguins, and wouldn’t hate him as a late round pick. I like him better than Olli Maatta, who I think has a lower offensive ceiling. Maatta is the better all-around defenseman in real life though.
Derrick Pouliot once was the top offensive defenseman prospect and not very long ago. For many reasons (including immaturity issues) his NHL career hasn’t gotten off to the start that most had hoped. I probably wouldn’t draft him in one year leagues right now, as there is no guarantee he even cracks the team, but his situation is certainly worth monitoring. He has good fantasy potential if he can ever break through and get the ice time needed to produce.
Conor Sheary is a deep deep sleeper who should be picked in the last round of one-year leagues if you decide hes the risk you want to take late. If he can click with either Sid or Malkin, watch out, you may have just gotten a 50 or even 55 point guy late. For me, he’s a bit too risky.
Also watch Daniel Sprong, although I am not sure he cracks the team this year. He’s certainly a guy worth owning long-term though.
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Thanks for reading!!!