A fresh start can be a good thing. But sometimes that reliable comfort zone that we were in turns out to be better after all. Hockey players are no different.
Jaromir Jagr, Dallas Stars
A solid return last season, but time to call a spade a spade - he played with one of the best players in the NHL and he had trouble staying healthy. Jamie Benn is a great player and still getting better - but he's no Claude Giroux.
Bottom line: Even if Benn turns into Giroux, that wonky groin of Jagr's ain't going away anytime soon. Pass.
P.A. Parenteau, Colorado Avalanche
He tallied 120 points over the last two seasons when, let's face it, 29 other NHL teams would have never given him an opportunity. So there is a heavy sense of doubt in fantasy circles. Now the Avalanche hope that he clicks with Matt Duchene the way he clicked with John Tavares.
Bottom line: Fantasy owners seem to be exaggerating in their minds the terrible blow his production will suffer from losing Tavares as a linemate. He could probably be taken in the middle rounds and will be a steal at that point thanks to his assists and penalty minutes.
Parise is going to see better numbers. A lot better. But will it match the hype? He had 94 points before (2008-09) and the improved Minnesota Wild sure look like they have the roster around him to get him back up there. A point per game is more likely, making him a high second-round draft pick.
Bottom line: In all likelihood he'll be drafted in the first round. The hype thing, remember? So you probably don' t have to worry about it.
Brad Boyes, New York Islanders
Give Boyes credit for finding one of the better teams for potentially turning his career back around. His numbers have been sliding into fantasy irrelevance and nothing turns that around better than an open spot on the line of a star player.
Bottom line: High risk and low reward. At best he gets 55 points.
Bobby Butler, New Jersey Devils
Butler is just unproven enough to be intriguing. If he sticks in the NHL it will be because he's scoring goals. But his two-way contract means no guarantees.
Bottom line: High risk and low reward, but at least with Butler you can drop him at the start of the season if he doesn't make the team. Whereas with other players (like Boyes) you have to wait a couple of weeks, costing you other opportunities.
Matt Carle, Tampa Bay Lightning
The emerging Viktor Hedman needs someone to share the power-play load and Marc-Andre Bergeron either seems to be injured, or inconsistent. Enter Matt Carle, who comes to Florida having played 244 of the last 246 games, with offense in the steady 35- to 40-point range in each of those three seasons.
Bottom line: Getting back into that range is the absolute minimum. He's only now entering his prime.
Jason Garrison, Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks got themselves a top, albeit underrated, defensive specialist. But they suckered for paid a premium because he scored 16 times last season. He'll get all the power-play time that he wants in 2012-13, but it matter much on the scoreboard.
Bottom line: Worth letting others trip over themselves to draft.
Jiri Hudler, Calgary Flames
Glass half full - Hudler owners have been dying for him to get onto a new team and get all the ice time and PP time he could ever want.
Glass half empty - Hudler is no longer playing with Henrik Zetterberg.
Bottom line: I don't think there is a lot of wiggle room up or down with Hudler's production. Don't overrate.
Olli Jokinen, Winnipeg Jets
The fantastic emerging line of Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd is not breaking up anytime soon. But that still leaves Evander Kane as a potential linemate for Jokinen. So although he won't get first-unit power-play time, his even strength linemates are a match to what he had in Calgary (often Jarome Iginla and Curtis Glencross).
Bottom line: I call this one a wash (new situation versus old), unless Kane busts out like we know he can. Definite upside.
Guillaume Latendresse, Ottawa Senators
Still only 25, if Latendresse can put his concussion issues behind him then he has the prime of his career still ahead. With 33 goals in his last 82 games, you can see what Latendresse has to offer. The issue is, it took him three years to get in those 82 games.
Bottom line: It's a good situation for him in Ottawa, but the risk is the same as it would be in any city. Too risky to draft any higher than the final few rounds.
Peter Mueller, Florida Panthers
Mueller was a potential star, after dominating the WHL and then posting 54 points as an NHL rookie. He showed even more promise upon being traded to the Avalanche, posting 20 points in 15 games. But concussion and neck injuries have stalled any further progress and when he did play last season he seemed tentative. The Panthers are taking a chance on him, but it's low risk and he will be tried in the top six.
Bottom line: The upside is much higher than that of Latendresse, so depending on your needs he could be selected in the late middle rounds.
Benoit Pouliot, Tampa Bay Lightning
If Pouliot progressed in his career any slower, he should be a 65-point player by 2047. But this is the first time that he is entering a season with a real shot at a second-line spot.
Bottom line: I think he makes a great late-round draft pick and a safe 40-point bet with upside for 50.
Mikael Samuelsson, Detroit Red Wings
The aging and oft-injured Swede was a 40-point player in Detroit in his first go-round, and he became a 50-point player in Vancouver. He rejoins the team where he enjoyed the most career success, culminating in a Stanley Cup. But if Gustav Nyquist is the real deal, then Samuelsson will find himself out of the top six.
Bottom line: Risk. You should assume that he slips back to being a 40-point player - and that's assuming he stays healthy.
Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes
Joining a re-vamped Carolina lineup was a good move for Semin, and the team's style of play will be a much better fit for his game than Washington's stifling defense from last year. He'll also probably line up with Jeff Skinner.
Bottom line: The hype-machine is in overdrive for this guy, but his production may actually match. I think he makes a great second-round pick in most formats, and he should actually slip that far too.
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild
Another much-hyped signing, the former seventh overall pick (2003) is coming off a career-high 46 points. Most poolies will draft him as if he's now a 55-point player, which probably won't be the case. He's a top all-around defenseman, not an offensive specialist.
Bottom line: Worth drafting as your No. 3 defenseman, or perhaps your No.2. But most poolies will take him as their first. Let them.
Sheldon Souray, Anaheim Ducks
This contract shocked me. He couldn't get a two-year deal a year ago, nor could he get a contract worth even $2 million. Then he has a six-goal season and gets a raise of more than double? And for three years, when he's 36 years old? I smell buyout in 2013.
Bottom line: At least he dates hot chicks.
Steve Sullivan, Phoenix Coyotes
The Coyotes are hoping that lightning strikes twice with their signings of aging vets. Ray Whitney sure panned out. But Sullivan is a different animal altogether. He's struggled with injuries over the last few years, and was used sparingly last season.
Bottom line: If the coach manages him properly, he could have another healthy season, which would mean 40 points. But there are better options out there, even in the reserve/bench rounds.
Tomas Vokoun, Pittsburgh Penguins
I wouldn't even consider Vokoun for my third tier. While he'll definitely see more starts than your typical Pittsburgh backup, the fact of the matter is that Marc-Andre Fleury will see at least three-quarters of them.
Bottom line: Draft in the final round only if you believe that Fleury letting in beach balls against the Flyers in April was the start of a downward spiral.
Ray Whitney, Dallas Stars
One of the biggest surprises of last season couldn't possibly repeat that, Which is why you'll probably get him for at a reasonable spot in the middle rounds. I drafted him late last year in my roto league - it's like fantasy owners have been waiting for Whitney to falter, but it doesn't seem to happen.
Bottom line: He'll slow down, but not so much as to justify how far he'll sink in your draft. He'll probably be a late/middle round steal.
Wojtek Wolski, Washington Capitals
After a promising 65-point season as a 24-year-old, things unravelled quickly for Wolski as Colorado, Phoenix and New York each grew tired of his lack of physical play. In New York he was quickly knocked down to the third line, which is like putting on your shiny new Nike Airs and then laying brick. Once in Florida, he started off fine on the top line, but when Kris Versteeg returned, Wolski was back to bricklaying.
Bottom line: If there are no expectations on him beyond producing points, Wolski could flourish playing with Mike Ribeiro or Nicklas Backstrom. But don't bank on it. His high risk/high reward status pushes him to the bottom rounds.
Key players still unsigned
Arnott will be 38 in the fall and his body is wearing down from all the injuries over the years. He's coming off a 34-point season buried deep in a lineup that preached stifling defense. So there is some hope for a rebound over the 40-point mark.
Bottom line: Not worth drafting.
The steady veteran will be 36 in the fall, and he will don either the Phoenix, Pittsburgh, New York or Vancouver jersey in all likelihood. He's coming off of a 50-point season playing what is considered a less-than-ideal system for players who want big offensive numbers.
Bottom line: If he's drafted in his usual spot, he could be a steal if he joins another team.
It's easy to forget Huselius because he's played so little over the past two campaigns. But the last time he was healthy, which was three seasons ago, he posted a solid 63 points. He's still only 33, so if his injury woes are behind him he could certainly get back up there.
Bottom line: He'll fall to the late rounds, making him a great steal for you by that point.
Early prediction - Kostitsyn will get 40 points. In the KHL. The inconsistent Kostitsyn is a second-liner at times, or an AHLer at other times. Teams probably don't want to commit to the contract that he wants.
Bottom line: Do not draft unless an NHL contract is signed, sealed and delivered. And even then, he's a bench pick.
In his return to the NHL, on what began as a training camp invite, Sykora posted an impressive 44 points. Wherever he ends up, probably New Jersey again, look for more of the same.
Bottom line: If those kinds of numbers are worth having on your team, draft accordingly.
Completely lockout-proof, take a look my seventh annual fantasy hockey guide. Tips, projections, sleepers, advanced stats breakdowns and more - updated until the puck drops.
Dobber is the resident fantasy hockey know-it-all for Puck Daddy, and founder of Dobber Sports - which includes DobberHockey, DobberProspects, DobberFootball and DobberBaseball. You can follow him on Twitter @DobberHockey
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