Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at email@example.com .
Dobber Hockey launched in 2005 and Dobber and his staff have hitched their wagons to Puck Daddy to preach fantasy hockey to the Yahoo masses since 2009. Now that the smoke has (mostly) cleared from an offseason that saw numerous big names switch jerseys, we are now ready to discuss the fantasy implications of these moves. Let’s take a tour around the NHL to find out how these changes could affect player fantasy values entering the 2015-16 season. We’ll start with our preview of the Eastern Conference teams. The Western Conference preview will be up Thursday. Atlantic Division Boston Bruins If Don Sweeney were a fantasy GM, he’d be the guy that you’d poke fun at for getting fleeced. Regardless, the cap situation left by his predecessor had backed the Bruins into a corner. But many Bruins simply don’t possess the fantasy value that they used to … Torey Krug seems likely to log the even-strength minutes that will be left by Dougie Hamilton, which could help improve his overall point total. Krug’s power-play ice time per game last season (2:37) was actually more than Hamilton’s (2:30) … Matt Beleskey should take on Milan Lucic’s role as the resident power forward who will score a little. Never mind his sizable contract – the quality of his linemates could prevent him from reaching 20 goals … With the Bruins now trending downward for next season, is Tuukka Rask still a top-5 goalie? A top-10 goalie? Buffalo Sabres Following this offseason, there are some exciting times ahead for the Sabres. Just don’t expect major gains in 2015-16 while this team continues on its rebuild course. Overall, this team contains a ton of x-factors fantasy-wise … Jack Eichel should be drafted in most fantasy formats as a sleeper, although you won’t want to draft him too early in single-season formats … Don’t overvalue Ryan O’Reilly either, as O’Reilly seems to offer a better real-life game than a fantasy game … Is it possible that the first Sabre drafted in your fantasy league is Evander Kane? Don’t forget that he will also be making his Sabres debut this season … Sabres’ goalies must have felt like they worked at a tire factory last season, as they faced more rubber than any other NHL team (35.6 shots per game). Keep that in mind when drafting Robin Lehner. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] Detroit Red Wings Best known as a veteran team, the Red Wings brought in - guess what - more veterans during the offseason. But we can’t argue Ken Holland’s brilliance, so we applaud his players’ subsequent contributions to fantasy teams through the years … Detroit seems like the perfect home for Mike Green, whose role in Washington had been diminishing. Green averaged under 16 minutes of even-strength ice time last season, which in essence made him a fifth defenseman. An ESTOI increase means that a return to 50 points is not completely out of the question … At this stage in his career, Brad Richards is probably a late-round pick at best in single-season Yahoo leagues. However, he could be a sneaky early-season pickup with Pavel Datsyuk likely on the shelf to start the year following ankle surgery. Florida Panthers Since the Panthers are a cap floor team attempting to rebuild with youth, there’s very little to see here fantasy-wise … The most significant offseason acquisition was that of Reilly Smith, who was acquired from Boston along with Marc Savard’s contract for Jimmy Hayes. Yet Smith will still need to battle for minutes with youngsters Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, and Jonathan Huberdeau and of course the venerable Jaromir Jagr … If you’re in one of those deep keeper leagues that rewards physical play, you may want to get your hands on first-round pick Lawson Crouse (6-3, 212 lbs.) Montreal Canadiens If you’ve played fantasy hockey for a number of years, you’ve probably been disappointed by Alexander Semin by now. But remember that the last time he signed a one-year contract, he was a point-per-game player. Don’t expect him to pull that off again this season, but he could very well be a top-6 forward for the offensively-challenged Habs … Although he is still only 24 years old, Zack Kassian will have a lot to prove. A power forward who has shown great hands at times, particularly with the Sedins in Vancouver, Kassian will need to improve his defensive game in order to stay out of Michel Therrien’s Chateau Bow Wow and thus earn top-6 minutes … Looking for an extremely deep sleeper? Try defenseman Mark Barberio, who was an afterthought for the Lightning during last year’s playoffs. Habs fans may remember Barberio from his QMJHL days, when he recorded point-per-game numbers for the Moncton Wildcats. Ottawa Senators The Senators don’t spend money like a Canadian politician with an expense account, so the offseason moves were also kept to a minimum here … The most significant offseason move was the trade of onetime goalie of the future Robin Lehner to the Sabres. This move opens the door for late-season sensation Andrew Hammond to not only sell more cheeseburgers in Ottawa, but also to earn a full-time NHL roster spot. The prospective Hammond/Craig Anderson goaltending battle will be one to watch. Hammond earned more wins (20) over 24 games than Anderson did (14) over 35 games. So does that mean the Hamburgler will be the starter come opening night? Not necessarily - he turned around and lost the starting job in playoffs. Either way, it will be worth keeping an eye on. Tampa Bay Lightning There is very little change on this roster, but this time it’s for all the right reasons. The trick for the Bolts will be attempting to keep all their young talent together once contracts begin to expire. In fact, there’s not much to add here when your top offseason acquisitions were Erik Condra, Tye McGinn, and Jeff Tambellini. There’s still oodles of fantasy goodness on this team, just nothing new to report. Toronto Maple Leafs If you want change, then you’ve come to the right paragraph, because there’s never a dull moment in Leafland. We all know that Phil Kessel is out and that Lou Lamoriello and Mike Babcock are in. And the list of new players seems endless … If the Leafs wanted to go about this rebuild properly, they weren’t going to make a splash with the big names. So their two most significant additions are P.A. Parenteau and Shawn Matthias, who could be top-6 forwards on the Leafs, unlike their previous teams. Keep in mind that they will probably be trade chips later in the season. Same with Mark Arcobello, who always seems to be a trade chip anyway. One other thing to consider - with no Phil Kessel you may be looking at no 60-point players. And probably only a small handful of 40-point players.
[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.] 6. The TV schedule People love to complain about the U.S. national TV schedule every year , and the reason is that it is usually bad. Like, look, you want to put the teams on TV that are going to draw the biggest audiences, and teams with the biggest fanbases tend to be in population centers in the Northeastern U.S. There are exceptions to the rule — Chicago and Detroit, for example — but that's why every NBCSN game feels like it's contractually obligated to feature one of the Rangers, Flyers, Penguins, or Bruins. That perception isn't far off from reality. These two networks will show 99 games in the regular season, meaning there are 198 opportunities to appear on national TV. The top four teams in terms of individual appearances — Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Detroit — collectively occupy more than one-third of all those opportunities. The next eight teams — the Wild, Rangers, Blues, Bruins, Avalanche, Sharks, Kings, and Capitals — make up another 45 percent or so. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] The other 18 teams in the league divide just 42 appearances between them, or 21 percent. And again, it's easy to understand why, but also: No one should have to see 17 Flyers games next season. No one deserves that. 5. The current arbitration system Let's say you're Braden Holtby. You go into arbitration with a dollar figure in mind, and when it goes public, everyone is like , “WHAT? BRADEN HOLTBY WANTS TO HAVE THE SECOND-HIGHEST GOALIE AAV?” Meanwhile, no one had much to say. No one — including Holtby — thinks he's worth that much money ( you can tell by the contract he signed , which actually provides the Caps a bit of a discount). Nor did the Caps think Holtby was actually worth as little as they asked for. The problem isn't what either sought in arbitration, but rather the system that allows and/or forces them to ask for it. The arbitrator in these situations is given two parameters between which he or she must work: The team's number (usually pretty low), and the player's number (usually pretty high). Often, the arbitrator's decision falls about 40-60 percent between those two numbers. So it behooves the teams to shoot mega-low and players to go super-high in these cases. If they don't (and Mike Hoffman didn't, for reasons which are not immediately clear) they're likely to end up screwing themselves in the long run. And what that usually leads to, because of the arbitrators' tendency to go more or less right down the middle with these things, is guys getting roughly fair deals, or working out longer-term contracts along the same parameters. Usually, if anyone comes out ahead, it's the team rather than the player. So what it amounts to is: This system sucks and no one's really at fault when they ask for a silly ruling, low or high. 4. Keeping the shootout Here's that thing the Commish said on that thing that basically no one likes but the league is intent to keep anyway because it creates a false sort of parity : “I think to the extent some people wanted to see fewer shootouts, this will get us there, and that’s fine. The shootout isn’t going anywhere. You go to a building during a shootout, everybody’s on their feet, nobody is leaving, which is what it was designed to do. It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s entertaining, and so if we’re going to try and reduce the number of shootouts, this may do it.” The “this” here is obviously 3-on-3 overtime which, as we've explored before , probably doesn't do as much as everyone thinks it will to make shootout results less prevalent in league standings. Bettman also makes the unimpeachable argument that before there was a shootout the league had ties, and no one liked those either. I wonder if that's actually true, or if it's true any more. The sports world has changed a lot since 2004, with soccer in particular being immensely more popular now than it was then. And soccer has lots of ties. And no one cares. Is the average hockey fan today opposed to ties as a general concept? Maybe. Are they as opposed to it as they were more than a decade ago? I would personally doubt it. Are they more opposed to it than they are the shootout? I'd like to see some polling on that. 3. Fantasy casting Last week, Jake Gyllenhaal went on Howard Stern to talk about the new boxing movie where I bet the boxer overcomes odds, and revealed that he was up for a role in the original Mighty Ducks movie, but his parents told him he had to go to junior high instead. This got me thinking: Who would Gyllenhaal have played? It's easy to see him in several roles. Charlie Conway, obviously. He could have been a decent Averman. Fulton Reed, maybe. Adam Banks, no two ways about that. I can't see him as a Guy Germaine. Maybe a kid from the Hawks? For me, though? Should have played 10-year-old Gordon Bombay who misses the shot. He would have killed that part, and still had time to go to all the junior high he wanted. 2. Avoiding Canada I love the uniquely Canadian idea that the NHL hates Canada and wants it to fail in hockey forever. That's why the league is actively avoiding putting expansion teams in places like Moncton and Brandon and Saskatoon and Whistler. That's why it accepted only one Canadian application for expansion last week! Definitely not because it only received one Canadian application. It's all well and good for Cam to say, "Well hey there Gord there really oughta be a second team in Toronto hey?" And Gord goes, "Ya, Cam? Pretty good market we got there. Better than Phoenix that's fer sher." [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] Gord and Cam are right. Toronto might even be able to support three NHL teams, but the thing with markets being able to support teams is someone in that place has to have the ability to build a rink and run one. No one in Toronto or anywhere else in Canada besides Quebec City has that. So there's not a team there. I acknowledge that reasonable observation of this whole expansion situation has declined north of the 49th at much the same rate as the Loonie since the Glendale situation went even south-er, but good lord. Put on yer thinkin' touques here. 1. The Toronto Maple Lous Everyone in hockey got caught with their pants not only down but all the way off and somewhere across the room when the Leafs hired Lou Lamoriello to be their GM. Maybe because there was no way to see it coming in any logical universe, and also because it is a bad move by an organization that has clearly been making a lot of rather good ones lately. Let's be clear: They needed someone to be the GM, and while a few candidates were certainly kicking around, none had the experience Lamoriello brings to the table. And no one is happier to tell you about Lamoriello's experience than anyone who still, somehow, thinks he's good at his job. “Three Stanley Cups!* (*none since they instituted a salary cap)” is not, perhaps, the best argument in his favor, but boy you hear it a lot. Hey, Randy Carlyle won a Cup more recently, and that somehow doesn't make him a good coach. In recent years, Lamoriello has gotten bad at drafting, developing, signing, and trading for players, all of which are crucial to being a good general manager. Now, with all that having been said, the Leafs have hired so many executives in the last two years or so that there is some level of safety measure built into all this. Effectively, there are so many layers to the decision-making process that Lamoriello probably can't screw up any one move too badly. But at the same time, he has “ full autonomy ” to make whatever decisions he likes, and that leads to night terrors related to, say, the thinking which led to the Ryane Clowe contract. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say Lamoriello is in this job in much the same way Jim Rutherford is in his job in Pittsburgh: To train the front office's younger executives (in this case Kyle Dubas) in the ways of working the phones and doing all the GM-y things you learn on the job. How many years could Lamoriello possibly have left as a high-level NHL executive to begin with? There has to be a succession plan in place. He'll be 73 in late October. But in the meantime, there's certainly plenty of reason to wonder whether all the smart moves Toronto has made in the last year-plus could be undone. The good news is that Lamoriello's adversarial relationship with the relatively small number of Devils media is going to make for some hilarious temper tantrums from the Toronto press corps. (Not ranked this week: The White Man. Oh no, all the fans who don't think North Dakota's old nickname is racist don't like any of the new nicknames proposed. Probably because they aren't racist enough, I guess.) Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here . MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS: