Thursday, May 8, 2008

Looking toward 2009

2007-08 was another forgettable season for the Islanders. The same could probably be said of your fantasy team if you had more than an Islander or two on your roster.

Clearly, the Isles need a ton of scoring help. While the youngsters are expected to chip in next
season, it's unreasonable to expect better numbers than what the team's scoring leaders were able to put up this year.

Expect Garth Snow and Co. to acquire some talent via free agency. Let's just hope that talent pans out a little better this time around. Judging by the volume of gritty-but-not-threatening forwards littering the roster, a trade must be in the works. As it stands now, the team has eight third/fourth line players, and yes, that includes Trent Hunter. Realistically, this team has no top-line talent up front. Bill Guerin proved this season that he no longer has the desire to skate hard every shift, or the willingness to go hard to the net and score the dirty goals. Mike Comrie showed flashes of skill, but did nothing to change his reputation as a second line center. And there's nothing wrong with that, unless you're being paid $4 million a year on a team with no top-end talent. Comrie was wildly inconsistent this year, both in desire and skill. Once he signed his extension late in the season, his play dropped off significantly. Hunter has lost his confidence, as evidenced by his hesitation to unload his cannon.

Anyway, my advice for those in keeper leagues--stock up on Kyle Okposo (if available), Blake Comeau, and maybe even take a chance on Sean Bergenheim, who performed well at both ends of the rink all season, and consistently put up offensive numbers towards the end. On defense, Chris Campoli is ready to step in on the top powerplay unit. Jack Hillen could be the sleeper pick of the off season, but there's no guarantee he'll have a spot on the roster come October. Hillen looked comfortable during his short stint on Long Island late in the season. Finally, Rick DiPietro, the only Islander with significant fantasy value, is poised to have a career season if Ted Nolan can convince him that 70+ games just isn't a good idea for an injury-prone goaltender with a 15-year contract. That being said, Wade Dubielewicz is expected to re-sign, and in doing so will likely be signing up for 20+ games next season. Dubie struggled early this season when he was playing less than once a month, but really picked up his game especially after DP opted for surgery. So, if you're league is so deep that backup goaltenders are important, Dubie may just be your man.

Keep 'em: Okposo, Comeau, Campoli, DiPietro, Dubielewicz

Deal 'em: Hunter, Guerin, Comrie

Forwards

Returning: Kyle Okposo, Trent Hunter, Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie, Mike Sillinger, Richard Park, Blake Comeau, Jon Sim, Andy Hilbert, Shawn Bates, *Sean Bergenheim, *Tim Jackman.

Incoming: Ben Walter, Frans Nielsen, Jesse Joensuu, Joel Rechlicz.

UFAs: Ruslan Fedotenko, Josef Vasicek, Miroslav Satan, Jeff Tambellini.

Defense

Returning: Chris Campoli, Freddy Meyer, Radek Martinek, Brendan Witt, Andy Sutton, *Bruno Gervais, *Aaron Johnson.

Incoming: Jack Hillen, Dustin Kohn, Jamie Fraser.

UFAs: Bryan Berard, Rob Davison.

Goaltenders

Returning: Rick DiPietro

UFA: Wade Dubielewicz

* denotes RFA


As always, feel free to email with questions, comments, and rants: FantasyNYI@hotmail.com.

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