Monday, August 17, 2009

Time to sharpen your skates AND your pencils!

Welcome back fantasy hockey players! If any of you are anything like me, you're well aware that NHL training camps are less than a month away and we are just about a month away from dropping the puck for pre-season hockey. With that in mind, it's time to consider the impact of the UFA signings and trades that happened this summer and how it could apply to your draft strategy. So, for the next few weeks we're going to take an indepth look at the major things that happened this off season.

The Heatley Debacle

As most hockey fans know Dany Heatley requested a trade from the Ottawa Senators this summer, only to deny a viable trade when it was presented to him. From a personal standpoint, I am sick of atheletes who sign big contracts and don't want to honor them when something doesn't go their way. To me, he should be traded to Nashville, Florida, Phoenix, or any other hockey despot where players don't ever want to go. But how does this impact the wonderful world of fantasy? Well, it could have a couple of different impacts depending on how this thing all plays out.

First scenario... Heatley gets his wish and he gets traded.

If Heatley gets traded, unless its to one of the above mentioned destinations, there is going to be serious money going the other way in order to make the deal happen. That means, most likely some superstar talent has to come to the Sens in the trade; and most likely that superstar will get to play with a fellow named Jason Spezza, who is the same Spezza that usually has around 100 points by the time the calendar turns April. Depending upon who gets moved, that player could be in for a big season playing with a guy like Spezza. Futhermore, depending on where Heatley goes, the return for him could cost a team the players that could make him better. Remember the one thing about Heatley is that he is a winger, and not the kind of winger that makes things happen on his own. Heatley has always had an elite center to get him the puck, in Atlanta it was Marc Savard, and in Ottawa it's Spezza's job to feed him the puck. Without an elite center, I highly doubt that Heatley will be anywhere near his 50 goal usual totals and will suffer without having that elite playmaker feeding him the biscuit. So the impact here is two fold. First on the players that get sent to the Sens, for they get to go play with an elite player in Spezza(not to mention Alfredsson). As for Heatley depending upon the team he could put up his usual numbers or he could suffer a severe downturn in numbers if he doesn't have the right players around him.

Second Scenario; Heatley doesn't get traded

At this stage in the off-season this appears to be the most likely scenario, and most likely the worst scenario for anyone who is a Sens fan and especially for anyone who is in a keeper league and has any of the Senators big stars. At this point the whole world knows Heatley doesn't want to be in Ottawa anymore, and that certainly includes his teammates, who lately have gone as far as questioning Heatley's motivations in the press. So what does this mean for fantasy owners? Well, ask anyone who drafted Brendan Morrow(before the injury), or any of the other big stars that play for Dallas last year. The Avery era for Dallas was short lived, but was marked by one thing; the whole team played aweful because he was not welcome there, and was widely considered to be locker room cancer. With Heatley still in Ottawa, and not wanting to be there, this is going to be terrible for chemistry, and will probably create a great amount of tension between him and his teammates. To put it lightly this is NOT GOOD! The likelyhood of Heatley turning into a lockerroom cancer is off the charts. There is no doubt that Heatley is one of the premier snipers in the game today when happy and with the right center. But when nobody is happy, and with the proverbial axe hanging over Heatley until something finally does happen, this does not bode well for anyone looking to draft Heatley. Without a happy Heatley, Spezza's production should fall off a bit too because without his top sniper performing at his best, he couldn't possibly hit his normal numbers.

Unless this situation gets rectified before training camp starts, look for this travelling circus to have a very real negative impact on two players that last year were most likely taken in the first 2 rounds of your draft. Watch for Spezza and Heatley to have sub-par seasons so don't be fooled into taking either of them too early.... however 6th round and below and it could be a worthy gamble. Good luck and check back next week for another impact issue from the off-season.


  1. Are you going to have a top 10 picks?

  2. yeah my top 20 picks will be posted in September with a list of the top 10 rookies to watch this season posted the week after for players who are in deeper drafts. Thanks for reading!