Monday, October 02, 2006

Leafs Fantasy Projections

Well, given the dearth of scoring talent up front on the Leafs, there really aren't too many players to even consider drafting. I know I won't be playing the 'hometown homer' in my pools when we do our drafts over the next few days. Let's look at the possibilities, position by position:

With only one bonafide star player, this is going to be a short list.

  • Mats Sundin, maybe the most consistent player in the NHL over the past 15 years, should be a lock once again for around 75-85 points. It looks like he will be getting more ice-time, and as usual will be the kingpin of the Leafs potent power-play. Take him in the second or third-round for almost any style of league.
  • Darcy Tucker is definitely a late-round possibility. He blossomed on the power-play last season, and will be on the first squad again this season with Mats. 30 goals and 50-60 points is not out of the question, and making him a late-round pick could be a nice pick-up. In leagues that also reward penalty minutes, consider moving him up a round.
  • Kyle Wellwood, the second-year player with the great hands, has been promoted to both the top-line with Sundin as well as the first PP unit. Look for a 'break-out' year for Kyle, scoring ~20 goals and topping out in the low 60 point range. Again, a decent late round pick, but in leagues that reward goals over assists, consider dropping him a round.
One area that the Leafs should excel, at least from a poolies point of view, will be offense from the defense. Last season, the Leafs enjoyed the second highest scoring tandem in the league, and have only boosted these fortunes through the addition of Kubina.

  • Bryan McCabe will look to build on his coming-of-age season. Benefiting from the 'New NHL' rules more than most, McCabe spent a large part of last season menacing opposing goalies with his accurate and heavy slapshot from the point. Late in the season, teams seemed to be able to get McCabe out of his comfort zone, and will continue to try to do more of the same. Expect similar numbers to last season, with the potential for a bit of a drop-off in the first half as the Leafs try to figure out a way to get him the puck with some room (something Wellwood should help do in spades). Take him as a late top-10 to top 15 d-man, slightly higher in leagues that reward PP points.
  • Tomas Kaberle is, in my opinion, the most purely gifted defenseman on the roster. He will look to continue scoring at a pace that is now becoming the norm for him, with a ton of assists coming both on the PP and on his often spectacular break-out passes that stretch the ice to the opposing blueline. Again, take him as a late top 10 player, in the same ballpark as a Kimmo Timonen, slightly higher in leagues that reward PP points.
  • Pavel Kubina is an interesting case. He is certainly a worthy top 25 d-man, but his fortunes this season all seem to weigh on his partner. Should Maurice choose to pair Kubina with his gifted fellow Czech Kaberle, he could easily put up 40+ points this season, even as the #3 d-man. He should be anchoring the #2 PP squad, which will see significantly less ice-time than the #1 squad, but if an injury arises to either of McCabe or Kaberle, he will be expected to carry the burden (he is certainly being paid well enough to do it). A later d-man pick with some upside makes him a late top 20 pick on D.

  • The ordained #1 man to start the season is young Mr. Raycroft. I am a huge Raycroft fan and a huge Leafs fan, but I would only be taking Raycroft as my third goalie at this point. Nothing against him or his abilities, but he is likely to see a ton of rubber, at least in the opening weeks of the season. As a result, his GAA is unlikely to be in the top 10 in the league and looking at my predictions for the Leafs record in the first-half of the season, he is not likely to have too many wins either. There are better choices out there for your #1 or even #2 guy, but if he is still available in the later rounds, take a chance on him.
From a fantasy perspective, this is a pretty weak team. Maurice has to have them all pulling on the rope in the same direction, especially in the transition game, else they are really going to struggle to score goals at regular strength this season.


ninja said...

Aubin would be my sleeper pick.

The Mad Hockey Blogger said...

Yeah, I have a sneaking suspicion that at sometime during the season he is going to take over for Raycroft. I really hope it doesn't happen, but I'll agree with that bitter little husk of a man Berger here and say that Aubin has looked the best in goal, easily.

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