2008/09: 45-27-19 – 100 pts (1st in Northwest, 3rd in West)
Arrived: Mikael Samuelsson (DET), Christian Ehrhoff (SJ), Brad Lukowich (SJ), Mathieu Schneider (MTL), Andrew Raycroft (COL)
Departed: Mattias Ohlund (TB), Mats Sundin (UFA), Taylor Pyatt (PHX)
While the Canucks did not match the craziness of last off-season, which included the Mats Sundin sweepstakes and the anointment of Roberto Luongo as captain, there was still a degree of excitement in the air. After flirting with Marion Gaborik, GM Mike Gillis re-signed the Sedin twins to identical 5 year, $30.5 million deals, and returns essentially the same line-up as last year to GM Place. The two big losses are long-time leader Mattias Ohlund and gun-for-hire Mats Sundin. Ohlund’s steady presence in his own zone will be irreplaceable, while the Canucks are deep enough up the middle that Sundin’s 28 points will not be missed. However, they added two capable defenders in a trade with San Jose, brining Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich into the fold, while also signing free agent defenceman Mathieu Schneider. They also bolstered their forward depth by signing Mikael Samuelsson away from Detroit. The Canucks should once again battle Calgary for supremacy in the Northwest, and another 100 point season is not out of the question.
Oh ya, they also gave their 30 year old goaltender a 12 year contract…
FANTASY WORTHY FORWARDS
Daniel Sedin (LW) – Daniel is undervalued as a fantasy player, with many managers not recognizing the lack of depth on the left wing. Only thirteen left wingers scored more than 65 points last year, and Sedin was tied for fourth with 82 points. He was also fourth at the position with a +24 rating. Sedin is a low risk pick thanks to his consistency; he has average nearly a point per game over the last three seasons and played in at least 79 games per year over the last seven campaigns.
Henrik Sedin (C) – Henrik, on the other hand, is often overvalued as a fantasy player. There is much more depth at center, and his 82 points only ranked him 9th at the position. While his point totals are similar to his brothers, he scores fewer goals, further decreasing his value as goals are more difficult to find. Henrik is certainly worth a roster spot, but do not mistake him for a number one fantasy center.
Ryan Kesler (C) – With Sundin out of the picture and Pavol Demitra another year older, Kesler will continue to play an even more important role in the Canucks attack. He has increased his point totals by more than twenty each season thus far in his career, and I would not be surprised to see a 70 point breakout season for the former first round pick. He is also a solid contributor to the plus minus and penalty minute categories, making Kesler a good bet for a strong fantasy campaign.
Alex Burrows (LW) – Burrows had a tremendous season last year, scoring 28 goals and 51 points despite not recording a single point on the powerplay. He is a tremendous contributor to the other two categories with a +23 rating and 150 penalty minutes. With a new four year extension to his name, Burrows could see some time on the second powerplay unit, which would add value to his only weak fantasy category.
Pavol Demitra (C, LW) – Demitra does not bring a lot to the table in terms of statistics but you can never overvalue dual position eligibility. He will still be an important part of the Canucks attack, but will probably not play more than 70 games. I would pencil him down for 50 points and a solid amount of powerplay time.
Keep an eye on: Steve Bernier, Mason Raymond, Mikael Samuelsson
DRAFT WORTHY DEFENCEMEN
Kevin Bieksa – Despite missing time with injuries, Bieksa was a valuable fantasy defenceman last year. He put up 43 points, 25 of which were on the PP, and 97 penalty minutes in 72 games. However, I think the loss of long-time Canuck and stay at home presence Mattias Ohlund will hurt Bieksa’s value considerably. He will be expected to shoulder a greater load defensively which may cut into his point total. He should still be good for 40 points and 100 penalty minutes over a full 82 games, and is worthy of a roster spot.
Mathieu Schneider – After escaping Atlanta, Schneider put up 17 points in 23 games with Montreal, including 14 on the power play. He should quarterback the Canucks powerplay with Bieksa, and will be a valuable fantasy player.
Christian Ehrhoff – Even after recording 42 points with San Jose last year, Ehrhoff may be on the odd man out on the Canucks top powerplay unit. However, if Schneider goes down with an injury, which is not unlikely given his age, Ehrhoff will reap the rewards. Either way he is worthy of a roster spot.
Keep an eye on: Sami Salo
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Roberto Luongo – There is no two ways about it, Luongo is the best goalie in fantasy hockey and he showed it last year averaging a shutout every 6 starts. He can single-handedly win all four goaltending categories in any given week. He will also be playing for not only the Canucks this year but also to impress Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman, who must decide between Luongo and long-time Canada netminder Martin Brodeur for the 2010 Olympics. I expect Luongo to be at his best.
Bonus: NHL Players mentioned on How I Met Your Mother: Mason Raymond 1 – Rest of the leauge 0
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