As part of the ever expanding SBNation Empire (AVE, CAESAR!), SBN is happy to announce that Fantasy Hockey Scouts, one of the top Fantasy Hockey sites on the web, has joined our network.
When we got wind of this, we decided to ask them a few questions to see what they thought about the Blue Jackets, and how they can help you in your fantasy pools this year....Q: First, let's get a big one out of the way: Many of our readers are relatively new to fantasy hockey. What can the FHS team bring them? What kind of resources do you offer?
A: What we bring is that we're in the trenches eating, breathing, dreaming fantasy hockey all year round. We're watching hockey from around the world, mostly from a fantasy perspective, and then we consolidate all that we're seeing into our blog posts in the form of analysis, opinions and recommendations and keeping you up-to-date on trending players, injuries, prospects & more.
We've got lots of resources for fantasy GMs... of course, during draft season we offer a full draft kit, but a few of our more popular and one-of-a-kind items are The Breakout Bible (a 120-page report just on potential breakout players), our Fantasy Prospects DataBase (a ranking of the top 500 prospects (in Excel) for fantasy leagues) and our Crease Conflicts page (where we track all 30 goalie battles from around the league so that you can grab a #2 before he takes over the #1 job).
Q: Columbus has a lot of youth that needs to "step up" this year if the team is to have success. We'd like to ask you about a few players. First off, perhaps the key to the CBJ's success or failure this year - what do you guys see this season for Steve Mason? Is he primed for a bounce back, or should drafters stay away?
A: We see Mason bouncing back a little from the horror that was last year but don't think he'll come close to his rookie season form. Working for him is that he doesn't have any competition as Garon isn't going to take his job but we think he'll miss having Hitchcock's system in place. Fantasy GMs shouldn't stay away from Mason, he should be a decent #2/3 goalie but since most goalies are volatile from one year to the next, you're better off waiting until later in the draft and seeing who you can get at a discount.
Q: Next on the list is Nikita Filatov. What do you think of the Russian winger and his chances to succeed in the NHL under Scott Arniel?
A: We're big Filatov fans at FHS, in fact he's our #1 ranked fantasy prospect right now (for players with under 75 NHL games). Having said that, we're not that bullish for this year (we predict he'll be in the 45-50 point range) as we're not sure this guy is ready to bring it for a full season and we're also not sold on how aggressive Arniel is going to be. Arniel was effective in the AHL since his team's played strong defense and they never really lit it up offensively (pity they couldn't convince Guy Boucher to take the job). So definitely grab Filatov in keeper leagues and consider throwing a late round pick at him in one-year leagues.
Q: One of Columbus' players who seems ready to break out is Jake Voracek. Do you think he could be a later round steal? Where do you see his ceiling this year?
A: We're big fans of Jake's as well, thought Hitchcock was really holding him back and we were nearly wetting our pants with his finish to the season under Claude Noel. Voracek would be a great late round pick as there's a ton of upside there, we're projecting him for 24+37=61 points but high 60s wouldn't surprise me. One fantasy note for Jake though is that he's not much of a contributor in plus/minus, PIMs or shots, so don't overrate him in standard leagues. To bring up the PIMs, we'd fully endorse if he wants to drop the gloves more often like he did with Letang the other night... although we suspect his face would disagree.
Q: Earlier this summer, we wrote about how Antoine Vermette had the potential to become an elite first line center in the NHL. From an outside perspective, do you see him continuing to improve?
A: You guys are obviously a lot closer to the situation than we are but from our perspective, we think Vermette has maxed out his potential. Can't see him going much beyond the 65 points he had last year, actually we're projecting him to regress a little to 24+34=58 this year. Maybe he'll be a late bloomer but for the most part those those elite guys are establishing themselves early in their careers whereas it took Vermette six seasons to crack the 60 point level. In addition, Vermette doesn't shoot enough (averaged 168 shots over the past three seasons) and we think he got pretty lucky last year converting on 17% of his shots after shooting under 12% over the prior three years combined.
Q: In this year's guide, I noticed you have R.J. Umberger and Anton Stralman as "Power Play Surprises". Is there another CBJ player out there that people may be sleeping on?
A: Well your readers will know all about him but fans of other team's might not know too much about Derick Brassard and that's a guy who we think could breakout this year. Again, we think Hitchcock held him back and with another year under his belt, more ice-time & better linemates, we think he could put up 50-55 points (assuming he stays healthy, which we don't have to remind you guys about).
Q: Last but not least, more than a few CBJ fans have Rick Nash in their pools or keeper leagues. What do you think is his potential for this year?
A: We see Nash improving on last year's totals (we're predicting 40+37=77) as the team should be playing a somewhat more aggressive style, taking a few more chances and, maybe for once, they'll have a decent PP??? But we think Nash's upside is limited due to the talent he has the play with. We'd really like to see him (back on LW) playing with Voracek & Brassard but maybe they're not ready for that yet.
Thanks again to the guys at FHS, and go check out their site!