After sitting on the computer and reading the 16,000th 'why haven't they signed Dubinsky' comment and the retread rumours of the signings of Chris Chelios and/or Francis Boullion and the 1,800th permutation of the Rozy for Richards deal, I finally found some relief down in Penn Station.
No, not the same kind of relief that many of the homeless find in those dimly-lit, disgusting concourses but the kind of relief from the summer doldrums that comes with the first hockey preview guide of the summer. One of the magazine stores had The Hockey News' Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide 2009-10.
Now, while it felt wonderful to make the official start to the build up to the start of the preseason, even I have to admit that this is a bit early. The guide, which has a newsstand kill date of October 27th, is already out of date on August 15th. The Hockey News clearly finished it up a month ago as it still has the Korpedo as a Ranger (traded on July 13th) and projects Nik Zherdev to score 63 points for the Blueshirts (officially ditched on August 4th). They do, however, have a big ad right up front for Dobber Hockey, which is a certainly a site you want to head to if you are serious about fantasy. If you are, do your research there and elsewhere online, rather than blowing eight bucks on old news. If you play in a easy-going league and just want to see who is out there and have something by your side during the draft, this book lists a good number of the NHL players and prospects and includes a blank page where you can set up your own draft list.
Getting past the fact that the issue is behind the times, a few other observations I have:
*In their projections THN has Matt Gilroy not only making the Rangers, but being the power play quarterback and collecting 45 points, two more than Chris Higgins, 13 more than Rozy and 15 more than Redden. Marc Staal comes in with 17, one less than Aaron Voros. Yeah. As for our snipers - Gaborik is rightly red flagged as an injury risk but even with seven missed games, their prognosticator sees him putting up 94 points. Now that would be awesome. On the other hand Ales Kotalik, who is still listed as a UFA, will only play 70 games and collect 40 points. Their advice? "Only consistency is that he's a consistent disappointment. Don't bother." If only this came out last month and Sather read it!
*THN doesn't differentiate between '09-10 salary and cap hit. Sean Avery at two million bucks = steal. Sean Avery at four mil? Just ask the Stars what they think.
*It helps pick out some stars for this season by pointing out who will be UFAs after the year. Seeing as many players step up their game when it's contract time, this is clutch.
*They blow the whistle on a couple of sleepers I have my eye on, so hopefully if we are in a league together, you will have listened and not bought the book so I can still grab them in late rounds. No, I won't tell you who they are.
*There are a ton of good stats in the back of the book, which reinforce my desire to find a league that counts hits and fighting majors instead of penalty minutes and adds blocked shots. If you know of any, let me know.
Speaking of which, I always fall into the trap of getting draft happy and start 12, 15 teams each fall. A word of advice to everyone, keep an eye on what the categories are in the leagues you sign up for. Players who might be huge in some leagues, may not be as important as in others and if you overextend yourself like I do, you end up picking up the same guys across the board.
And finally, I mentioned a while back that I was guiding the Rangers in the Cycle With The Sedins re-draft of the league. The goal is to build a team that both does well in a simulated season on NHL10 and one that is approved by a panel of 'experts.' We've gotten through eight rounds and I've only disappointed myself with one pick so far (which, for me, is pretty good):
1-20 (20) - New York Rangers - Miikka Kiprusoff
2-11 (41) - New York Rangers - Dan Boyle
3-20 (80) - New York Rangers - Derek Roy
4-11 (101) - New York Rangers - Chris Kunitz
5-20 (140) - New York Rangers - Jason Arnott
6-11 (161) - New York Rangers - Marc Staal
7-20 (200) - New York Rangers - Nick Schultz
8-11 (221) - New York Rangers - Jason Pominville
The full draft board is here. That lone disappointment? Picking Nick Schultz instead of Fedor Tyutin, who was snapped up by New Jersey right after me (yet another reason to hate the Devils). Don't get me wrong, Schultz is a helluva defensive defenseman, but Toots and Staalsie? Reunited? Could have felt so good ...