Ok, now we are cooking with gas - well at least as far as getting the stats out is concerned. I will see what I can do to get the Omnivore up and running soon but that always takes a little longer. Again, thanks to Bob for posting all the line-ups on the Blog.
Congrats to the Ramapithicines on getting off to another big week!
L: Kovalchuk-NJ FP, Filppula-Det, Morrow-Dal RFA, B.Schenn-Pha RFA, Nyquist-Det P3
Kovalchuk is still a premier sniper blessed with the full arsenal of shots, elite speed, size and hockey sense. He's a top-end gunner even in an offense as ultra-conservative as New Jersey's. Filppula is a utility knife center/forward who can be spotted up and down the lineup in a variety of roles. I think he's miscast as a FUNHL #2 line player, if only because he isn't even the #2 in Detroit (Datsyuk/Zetterberg are ahead of him). Morrow is a gritty, bang and crash winger with goal scoring ability - and the need for a good insurance plan. Brayden is the Schenn brother known for possessing an actual NHL caliber skill set. He's due for a breakout year, but Philly seems to be a bit of a mess what with injuries having plagued the team badly early on. Nyquist is one of Detroit's 'slow-prospects', skilled guys they leave to mature for ages in the AHL until arriving more or less fully formed into the NHL. He's got the reputation of being a guy who will one day carry the Red Wing offense. One day.
C: Toews-Chi FP, Ribeiro-Wsh, Stastny-Col, J.Jokinen-Car RFA, Couturier-Pha P3, Zibenejad-Ott P2, Galchenyuk-Mtl P1
Toews is without argument one of the best all-round players in the game, capable of scoring, playmaking, and checking at an elite level. It's the last element that inhibits his value at the FUNHL - he's so responsible defensively he sacrifices his chances at being an elite point producer. A hockey player's hockey player. Ribeiro is the opposite of Toews, skinny and slow where Toews is big and fast, allergic to checking, and a factor in only one of the three zones, his upside lies in the fact that the one thing he is genuinely good at is providing offense at an average 2nd line level. Stastny has had some bad injury filled years for Colorado, but he has the skill set capable of outperforming a 3rd line role for the FUNHL. Jusi Jokinen is a plug-n-play offensive forward winger who can capably fill a spot at the replacement level in the event of injury. Couturier is a burgeoning power pivot who is already the best defensive forward on the Flyers. As his responsibility grows (and as Briere is transitioned out), he'll see a steady rise in his offense. Zibenejad is similar in that he brings a steady two-way game to go with his offensive abilities, and it won't be long before he assumes the #2 role behind Jason Spezza on the Senator's depth chart. Galchenyuk is the home-run pick, a fast, very talented sniper, he could be ready sooner rather than later.
R: Kane-Chi, Kulemin-Tor RFA, Vrbata-Phx RFA, Kadri-Tor RFA, Silfverberg-Ott P1
Kane is an elite offensive producer who will match up well against other FUNHL 1st liners, but the rest of the wing is a bit of a horror show. Kulemin is WAY overmatched at the #2 spot, Vrbata is also overmatched at the #3, though not as badly as Kulemin is. Kadri is blooming into a useful NHL player and could well take the spot of anyone but Kane ahead of him - or he could return to the AHL for more seasoning. Silfverberg gives the team a possible elite winger of the future, and he might even be dressable as soon as this season given his advanced age and seasoning in Europe.
D: Pietrangelo-StL, Keith-Chi, Bieksa-Vcr, Pitkanen-Car, J.Schultz-Edm P1, Zidlicky-NJ RFA, MA Bergeron-TBay RFA, Daley-Dal RFA, Morrow-Pit P2, Jones-USNTDP P1
When you factor in that Schultz can likely play right now (after dominating the AHL during the lockout), the Wolves blue-line is (IMO) the best in the league. Pietrangelo is as high end a guy can be without being an FP. Keith is at worst a solid #2, and in a good year, could be the teams best guy. Bieksa is elite for a #3 D-man if his PIM are factored in. Pitkanen is a very solid top 4 guy in his own right, with upside to be even higher. Zidlicky will get oodles of PP time in NJ, and while he gets burned by speedy forwards, the Wolves don't care about his defense. Bergeron is a PP specialist and if the man-advantage starts clicking in Tampa he could feast on 2nd assists. Daley is a solid #8 guy who can fill in higher if there is an injury. Morrow is a high-end offensive prospect developing in the Pittsburgh system. The only downside for him is that there are a lot of competitng prospects on the Pens blue. Jones is a potential 1st overall candidate for next years NHL ED, and his tool-kit is the best for a blue-liner since Pronger hit the draft board. The team has everything, high-end offense, toughness, and a trio of guys (Schultz, Morrow, and Jones) to build on for the future.
G: Niemi-SJ RFA, Lehtonen-Dal RFA
Both guys have huge question marks. How good is the D in front of Niemi? Is he really a #1 goaltender at the FUNHL level? Can Lehtonen stay healthy? Can the defense in front of him reduce the quality of shots he faces? Other than the year that included a winning playoff run by Niemi in Chicago, and a quarter season by Lehtonen in Dallas, neither guy has ever been a top 5 netminder.
Whilst viewing some NHL this evening I was treated to a really, really surprising goal. The Jets were visiting the Capitals in what I figured should be a pretty entertaining tilt. Well, that it was. In the present era of instant replay and multiple camera angles, I was horrified by the sight that had befallen me and all the television viewers. Hendricks of the Capitals had made his way to the side of the Jets net, anticipating some net front action. Ok. When the puck does come his way, he clearly, and deliberately turns and moves his skate blade in the direction of the net, directing the puck into the net. Now, the last time I reviewed the rules, that was considered kicking the puck into the net, which is, or was illegal until this season. Needless to say, the play went to the control room for review. The outcome, to me disbelief and horror, stood as a goal. WTF?! Did something change in the off season, or the work stoppage? I wish I had a link to it, but I am positive it will be all over the highlights tonight and tomorrow. Thoughts? Comments? My head hurts. Check it out here. http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/game/1289070/video/#id=2328101150
L: Parise-Min FP, Hartnell-Pha, Kunitz-Pit RFA, Glencross-Cgy RFA, Zucarrello-Aasen-NYR P3, Adam-Buf P2, Baertschi-Cgy P2
Parise has a shiney new mega-contract to play for, and is now in his home town. Should be plenty motivated to return to the ppg+ pace of yore. Hartnell is one of the league's elite TG's and qualifies as a legit 1st line option in his own right. Kunitz spoils the trio a bit, since he has utterly failed to capitalize on the presence of two elite centermen on his roster, but will still kick in average value for a 3rd line FUNHL winger. Glencross is a 'Mr. Everything' type for the Flames, chipping in goals, checking the other team's elite, and babysitting your kids in his spare-time. If Kunitz struggles Glen-X should easily be able to take his role over. Zuccarello-Aasen has returned to Europe to wander the hills barefoot in search of the secret entrance to Mordor. Adam has flashed some powerforward potential, but now looks to be more suited for a checking line role, especially with the presence of more offensively gifted prospects like Grigerenko coming up the pipe. Baertschi is Calgary's offensive future, a swift footed sniper with excellent offensive instincts. He'll make the Flames this year (permanently) and establish a dressable presence in the next year or so.
C: Getzlaf-Ana, Desharnais-Mtl, Weiss-Fla RFA, Nielsen-NYI RFA, Hodgson-Buf P2, Johansson-Wsh P2
Getzlaf is a legit top line option even with the outrageous bed-crapping he went through last year. Desharnais had some nice stats for a 3rd liner, but is totally miscast as a 2nd line FUNHL center, and should be dominated in just about any FUNHL matchup. Worse, he now has Alex Galchenyuk flashing elite speed and hands (as well as more prototypical NHL size) and is an overt threat to simply take his ice-time outright. Weiss has a ceiling of 60pts in a full year, but is more typically a replacement level 3rd liner. Nielsen has a greater chance of winning the Selke than he does of posting a .5 ppg pace over a full season. Hodgson could well supplant just about anyone short of Getzlaf in the pecking order, though his weakness is still a lack of an elite gear. Buffalo, now flush with young centers, is looking at switching him into a winger. Johansson is looking like an afterthought offensively in Washington, as more talented guys appear to be threatening his spot (Forsberg, Kuznetsov, etc.). Maybe reborn as a 3rd line NHL checking center.
RW: Perry-Ana FP, Cole-Mtl RFA, Versteeg-Fla RFA, Wheeler-Wpg P2
Perry dropped off the pace from his ridiculous MVP season, but still has the goal scoring ability and negative attitude to be THE elite TG. Cole has acceptable powerforward ability, but slots best as a 3rd line guy in the FUNHL. Versteeg can fill the 3rd line role admirably, but has some threats on the Panther's internally for his top-line scoring spot (in particular Huberdeau could blow right by him). Wheeler is a massively framed scoring winger in the mold of Rick Nash, but he often operates in a bubble preferring solo-rushes down the wing to being a complimentary piece. When the spirit moves him though, he can be a beauty.
D: Suter-Min, Phaneuf-Tor, Leddy-Chi, Seabrook-Chi, Shattenkirk-StL P3, Niskanen-Pit RFA, Girardi-NYR RFA, Brodie-Cgy RFA, Gormley-Phx P2
Arguably the best collection of D-men in the league. Suter is a legit #1 (though on the low side), Phaneuf given even a slight improvement in his offense could also be a #1, and projects well as a TG option, Leddy has terrific offensive instincts and is an excellent top 4 guy. Seabrook routinely fills the role of a top 4 guy at the FUNHL level. Shattenkirk has bloomed into a legit offensive defenseman, and could bump anyone but Suter down the depth chart. Niskanen and Girardi are way overqualified for bottom pair FUNHL roles. Brodie is capable of producing at the NHL level, and if he starts to hit his stride he represents terrific value, and Gormley is arguably the best D-man prospect not in the NHL. All told, an excellent collection of blue-liners from which the Knights can make trades.
G: Backstrom-Min, Howard-Det RFA
Backstrom is virtually the definition of 'average starting FUNHL goaltender'. Howard was a better bet to be elite prior to the departure of Nik Lidstrom from the blue in front of him, now he's going to have to prove he's a top five guy - and the jury is definitely still out.
L: Nash-NYR FP, Elias-NJ, Dubinsky-Clb RFA, E.Kane-Wpg RFA, Schwartz-StL P2
Nash is a sublimely talented goalscorer blessed with speed, size and a ridiculous set of 'fear my wingspan' moves. Always something of a solo act in Columbus (by nature and because of a lack of complimentary talent), he now has the chance to show he can play a team game lining up with a playmaker in Richards, and shotgun goalscorer in Gaborik. Interesting to see how he adapts. Elias is aging marvellously, but the players around him are lower-grade (excepting Kovalchuk), and his wheels aren't what they once were. Dubinsky is a nice complimentary grinder, but unless he is played as TG he'll probably hit the bench. Evander Kane is a full-blooded powerforward with size, speed and a fantastic shot, and projects to easily supplant Dubinsky and probably Elias in the pecking order. Schwartz is on the small side, but has excellent skills and speed, unfortunately, the roster of Blues forwards is steep and deep, and there isn't a roster spot open for him to advance.
C: Zetterberg-Det FP, Richards-NYR, Richards-Pha RFA, Plekanec-Mtl RFA, Turris-Ott P3
Zetterberg's move to pivot from LW has hurt his comparables as he tracks out as arguably one of the worst Franchise pivots. The Richards/Richards show was a combination tried out by the Severed Heads last year, to little success. That said, Richards 1 now has Rick Nash to pass to on the powerplay, so his stats could increase. Richards II is now locked in as the Kings #2 pivot, and will have a full season of Darryl Sutter screaming obscenities at him for motivation. Plekanec has been the PV's ultimate utility prospect the last few years, capable of filling in as high as the 2nd line, but never worse than the 3rd, he gave the team terrific draft flexability. Turris looks to have found his game somewhat in Ottawa, but no longer tracks as an elite offensive producer, rather, he appears to be settling into the 2nd line role behind Spezza.
RW: Oshie-StL, Horton-Bos, Erat-Nsh, Ruutu-Car RFA, Granlund-Min P3, Okposo-NYI P3, Kassian-Vcr P2
Oshie is looking like he might break out offensively with the Blues this year, but enough to be a top tier RW in the FUNHL? Not sold. Horton has apparently recovered from his devastating concussion (that cost him a full calendar year), but it remains to be seen if he can return to form as a lethal power sniper. Erat is virtually the definition of an average 3rd line FUNHL winger. Ruutu is a nice blend of offense and PIM, but he's seen a decline in both stats over the last few years, and Carolina is transitioning him into a checking role now that Staal2 is on board. Granlund is a high-end talent who should significantly boost the offense in Minny, and make a run at the Calder for rookie of the year (who am I kidding, Tarasenko has that locked up). Okposo still has flashes of being a dominant powerforward, but never more than just flashes, and time is running out (that said, big guys take longer to reach their ceiling). Kassian is a huge specimen of a man with more than a modicum of skill. He's getting a long look at a top 6 role in Vcr, and if he can seize the opportunity he might be the best powerforward they have had since Bertuzzi.
D: Letang-Pit, Enstrom-Wpg, Burns-SJ, Voynov-LA RFA, Bouwmeester-Cgy RFA, Franson-Tor RFA, Martin-Pit RFA, Colaiacovo-Det RFA, Fowler-Ana P3, Gudbransson-Fla P3
Letang is now among the elite offensive defensemen in the league, and will fill the gaping hole of Lidstrom's absence admirably. Enstrom is (like countryman Timmonen) an undersized offense first rearguard who occasionally suffers from an extreme injury. He's absolutely key to the Jets powerplay though, so as long as he is healthy, he should be productive. Burns simply cannot stay healthy enough to be productive, he just finished recovering from sports hernia surgery, and he has already come down with some new ailment that has moved him to the bench as 'day-to-day' for the forseeable future. When healthy he is a big mobile rearguard with a cannon of a shot. Voynov is LA's secret weapon on the blue-line, capable of running a powerplay, and threading long bomb passes through the forecheck, he's establishing himself as one of the up and coming offensive defenders in the league. Bouwmeester lost his offense in Florida and has never found it since - expect point totals in the low 30's, and that is if he doesn't lose all his pp time to Dennis Wideman. Franson is already odd-man-out in Toronto and could lose his roster position to rookie Morgan Rielly. Martin has all but fully transitioned into being a shutdown defenseman (albeit one who lacks any kind of thumping ability). Colaiacovo has signed in Detroit, but the defense there is completely in flux with the departure of Lidstrom, and until he seizes a regular powerplay spot he is suspect to get much ice-time. Fowler is a tremendous talent, and should easily move into the PV's top 3, especially with Burns hitting the emergency room already. Gudbransson is a huge physical rock of a D-man, but he looks more Adam Foote than Rob Blake. Until he grabs routine powerplay time his biggest contribution is likely as a 2nd goon.
G: Kirprusoff-Cgy RFA, Bryzgalov-Pha RFA
Following his template of taking goaltenders late in the draft, the PV tabbed Kipper to be their starter. The Flames have to sort some issues out on D before you can move Kipper back into consideration as being one of the elite FUNHL guys. Bryzgalov is a guy who lives the cliche of 'crazy goaltender', alternately tweeting surrealist expressions about our place in the universe and a profound fear of bears, he is also tasked with stopping pucks in hockey's greatest goaltending graveyard. Absent Pronger and a host of other regular D-men, his stats are likely to be an ongoing comedy adventure.
(note: the picture used above is from the original 'Get Carter' with Michael Caine - one of the greatest stories of a personal vendetta in film - ignore the anemic Stallone remake).
L: Lucic-Bos FP, Ladd-Wpg RFA, Malone-TBay RFA, Boedker-Phx RFA, Conacher-TBay P1, Omark-Edm P1
Lucic is one of the five top TG's in the league, and doesn't require goon minutes to be dressable. That said, with them included, he's among the elite. Ladd is a grinding winger with some skill, but he's best suited to a third line FUNHL role. Malone is very similar to Ladd, but he has 2nd TG potential. Boedker is a speed merchant with some high-end skill, but Phoenix is doing their level best to prevent him from ever showing it. Conacher is stamped in the mold of Martin StLouis, a highly skilled waterbug with oodles of scoring ability - but so lacking in size you fear for his existence on every shift. Omark is a slender skill winger who lacks the frame to play in the NHL, even the last place roster of the Oilers couldn't find a role for him outside of the shoot-out, and he's now back in Europe.
C: Krecji-Bos, O'Reilly-Col, Lecavalier-TBay RFA, Little-Wpg RFA, Grimaldi-Fla P1, Jacobs-Buf P1, Jankowski-Cgy P1
Krecji is a nifty and gritty playmaking pivot, but he's overwhelmed as a FUNHL top line option. O'Reilly is a centerman straight out of the Craig Conroy mold - he has enough offense to play with the big boys, but his bread and butter is always going to be how he shuts down the opposing teams best center. Unfortunately, he's toiling in Russia while sorting out his contract with the notoriously stingey Av's. Lecavalier is something of a boom-bust proposition to be consistent for the top two lines, but given the team has him as their third stringer, he could move up to take O'Reilly's spot without much being lost. Little has enough raw skill to score 30goals in a normal year, but his playmaking has never been top tier, and unless he can find a complimentary winger he might never see that total again. Grimaldi is a thickly built sparkplug of a center - standing just 5'6". He has elite level hands for a player of any size though, and proved it by scoring the gold winning goal for the US team at the WJC. I'm always worried when someone goes way off my draft board at the prospect draft - in part because I like to think I have the deepest draft board of anyone, and in part becaues when GMs have gone way off my radar it has landed them guys Milan Hejduk and Mike Green. So when Collin Jacobs was selected by the Barbarians, I had to do some digging. Jacobs played in the Dub at 16, but until this year hasn't been a ppg guy. Currently with Prince George, he leads the team in scoring, but according to everything I can find, he doesn't project as a top six forward in the NHL. Something triggered the Barbarian's interest in him though, so maybe the scouts are wrong. Jankowski was Calgary's most recent 1st rnder, but has the word 'project' stamped all over him. Playing in an obscure Canadian High School league, Jankowski had a late growth spurt that pushed him well over 6'2" from what was previously an undersized 5'9". He dominated in his league, but given it's quality, that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Afer being drafted he jumped to the NCAA where he now plays for Providence. In a few years (and after packing on more than a few pounds) Jankowski may well be the big-body skill center the Flames have lacked since Joe Nieuwendyk.
R: Gaborik-NYR, Hossa-Chi, Dupuis-Pit, Hornqvist-Nsh RFA, Shaw-Chi P1
Gaborik is still a top tier gunner, albeit one with an injury record longer than Jack the Ripper's rap sheet. Hossa appears to have recovered from his concussion with elan, and he could post FP level numbers terrorizing goaltenders with his speed and shot. I'm not a fan of Dupuis as he (like Tyler Kennedy) could be bumped from a scoring to a checking line by the slightest coaching whim, but so long as he draws either 'The Croz' or Malkin as his pivot his offense should be replacement level. Hornqvist is a very good 4th liner capable of taking over the third when/if Dupuis loses his stop six role in Pit. Shaw is currrently a depth player for Chicago, but he has enough skill he might one day find a scoring line role on the 2nd line (the first line is essentially locked in for Chicago).
D: Karlsson-Ott FP, Wideman-Cgy, Hamhuis-Vcr, Coburn-Pha RFA, Garrison-Vcr RFA, Salo-TBay RFA, Kubina-X RFA, Gragnani-Car RFA
The D is significantly elevated by the presence of Karlsson, a guy who is the 2nd coming of Phil Housley offensively (and Housley never won a Norris). His passing, shot, and agility are 2nd to none for defensemen and if he even comes close to last years offensive totals he is like having the production of two good top 4 guys rolled into one player. Wideman is an offense first guy who will bring his powerplay acumen to the Flames, a team that was desperate for a new PP QB. Hamhuis is a solid, if unspectacular two-way defender who fits solidly into the #3-4 slot. After these guys though, it's a bit of a dog's breakfast. Garrison has exactly half of one year producing at a top level for a defenseman, but he parlayed last year's first half of the season breakout into a fat contract with Vancouver. If he can recapture that magic he'll be an excellent #4 guy, but if he can't...Coburn has never had decent stats offensively, but if Philadelphia can tighten their ship up, he might have outside chances at being a TG or +/- guy. Salo takes his rocket slap shot and fragile body to Tampa, where he hopes to play a full season and provide a point shot bomb for the Bolts. Kubina remains unsigned by an NHL team and looks to be finishing out his career in Europe. Gragnani has the pedigree of being a very good powerplay guy at the AHL level, but still needs to establish himself as a full-time NHL rearguard.
G: Smith-Phx, Theodore-Fla RFA, Holtby-Wsh P1, Thomas-Bos P1
Smith had fantastic stats last year as the starter in Phoenix, but it was the first time he'd ever justified his existence in the FUNHL. Theodore could challenge Smith for the starters role, but his prime is past and he is playing Florida, a place snipers love to visit. Holtby might be the home-run of the Barbarians prospect draft, he wowed fans of Washington in the playoffs, and appears tobe the new heir apparent to Olaf Kolzig's crease. Thomas is a strange prospect pick anyway you look at it. He's guaranteed to miss a full season, and he'll be 39-40 when he comes back - hardly an ideal age for a prospect. That said, if he does manage to find a team willing to take him own, he could be a #1 goaltender for at least one or two more years - but it seems like a risky bet allround.