I’m Feeling a Draft in Here

2309788059.jpgAs fantasy drafts are now taking place, let’s get right to the meat of it:

The Sens are loaded with fantasy worthy players, but figuring out who all of them are is the real trick.  The are some no-brainers, so let’s start with them:

Dany Heatley: Heater will be the 2nd player off many draft boards after God…er….Crosby [removes tongue from cheek].  Heatley is the only player with two straight years of 50 goals and 100 points, so he’s a pretty safe bet.    Add to that that he’s in a contract year and will be looking to cash in.  Multiply that by the fact that he has stated that he intends to increase his shot totals this year; something he’s done in every season save “the accident” season. Heatley’s only health problems have been the result of “the accident”, so there’s no reason to think he’ll get injured.  Count on another 50-55 goals and 110 points.

 Spezza: Depending upon your stomach for injury risk, Spezza will go late in the first or sometime in the 2nd round.  On a point per game basis, Spezza is 2nd in the league only to Crosby over the past 2 seasons.  The disconcerting part is that a kid this young has had problems with a wonky back.  There has been no talk of it so far this preseason, so factor that in as you will.  He did a better job with shooting the puck last year, so he could tally 35-40 goals with 110 points, if he gets in 75 games.

Alfredsson: As has been the case the past 2 seasons, the Sens have been looking for more balanced scoring, which means moving Alfie to the 2nd line.  Murray was pretty stubborn about keeping lines in tact for the power play, so Alfie’s numbered suffered when he was moved from the point.  Still, he managed 87 points playing sparingly with Heatley and Spezza.  I’m putting him down at the 80 point level (30G, 50A) with some upside potential if he gets tossed back in on the top line for any length of time.

Emery: Here’s one of your riskier picks.  Emery is just coming off wrist surgery and has just started practicing with the team.  He’ll probably go in the 2nd round in many leagues, but be warned; he’s had a rocky offseason and there are reasons (that I won’t go into) to think he may be on the outs with the team.  Paddock has come out and said that the number 1 job is his, but I’m not going to look at him as my number 1 goalie.  If he’s there in the 4th or 5th round, I’ll grab him but then make sure I have Gerber as a handcuff. 

Redden: He slumped last year so may be sliding down draft lists.  I saw him go in the 9th round (right before I was going to grab him).  This is a contract year for him, so he has that motivation.  He has also been challenged by the coach to be more productive so he has that motivation.  Something to consider, however….Redds is building a 6500 square foot house in Kelowna (which is nowhere near Ottawa) that is due to be completed about the time he hits free agency.  This doesn’t bode well for his long term relationship with the Sens.  If he makes it to the trade deadline with the Senators, I would say he’ll be in the 55 point range.

Fisher: Armed with a new 5 year contract, there will be pressure on Fish to improve on his 48 points in 68 games.  Playing with Alfie would certainly help, but he has to stay healthy and he’s had trouble doing that with his “caution to the wind” style of playing.  While this makes him a fan favourite, it also tends to mean time on the shelf.   I think I predicted he would get 65 last year if he stayed on the 2nd line which wasn’t the case.  I’m going back to the “65 point well” and predict he will play with Alfie for most of the season. 

Corvo: He spent some time in the doghouse and ended the year on the 3rd pairing.  In looking at the roster, it’s difficult to see who would bump him from the top power play unit unless they pull Alfie back there.  Tonight’s preseason game should give a good indication of who will occupy the spot opposite Redden on the PP, so I’ll give an update at that time.  Corvo on the top PP unit probably gets 40-45 points.  If he’s on the 2nd unit, bump him down 10.  I still see him on the third pairing playing with Schubert or Nycholat or Richardson.

Here’s where it gets quite a bit dicier.  At this point, Patrick Eaves is the odds on favorite to get the top line spot.  His tenure there last year was spotty at best.  He’ll have to impress in camp to start the season there and if he doesn’t, he’ll likely play on the 4th line which makes him waiver material.  Vermette is another with top line possibility, but there is some concern that he may not be defensively responsible enough and there’s also a reticence to split him off from Kelly with whom he kills penalties, so third line is as likely for him with Neil and Kelly.  Which is what makes Zubov so intriguing in this equation.  He’s been lighting it up in early preseason and it’s not inconceivable that he would make the team.  If he does, he’s not going to be a 3rd or 4th liner and I would put him in with Fish and Alfie if he makes it.  McAmmond is so very versatile that I could see him getting a shot at the top line.  He certainly has the speed to keep up with the big boys and is very responsible.  I wish I could be more specific about these players, but I have a reputation (as a fence sitter) to consider.  Eaves is worth a late draft pick and deeper league owners may look at the others with hope and prayer until this all shakes out.  Certainly keep you eye on the situation and if your league drafts late in the preseason, there may be better information available. 

As for the rest of the defense, I’m going to say Meszaros and Schubert get the point duties on the 2nd power play unit.  Again, a lot depends on what they do with Alfie.  Phillips and Volchenkov aren’t really draftable unless you really just want a kick in the +- (I mean that in a positive way).  Phillips put up some points last year, but don’t expect 25 points from him this year.  He was playing for the contract he got.  Expect him to go back to his 20 points levels of yore. 

Neil: 30 points and 200 PIMs.  There is talk that McGratton might be a casualty of the new rules and instigator penalty, which would improve Neiler’s value.  If that’s the case,Neil will still get 3rd line time and be expected to handle the rough stuff.  If Neil is on your waiver wire when the Buffalo games roll around, grab him for the 5-25 PIMs he’s likely to get in those games.

Gerber: He is the last Senator I will project as a draftable player.  Certainly those who already have Emery should grab him as a handcuff and those in deeper leagues can take a shot at him to mess with the owner who waited too long to do so.  Even if he never gets out of the backup role, he’s still going to get 25-30 starts and win 15-20 games.

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