Well, training camps open next week and before you know it, it’ll be time for fantasy drafts. Particularly given that the Calgary Flames were one of the eight best teams in the National Hockey League last year – it seems weird to us, too – there might be a growing temptation to draft Flames players wherever possible.
So which players should you try to grab and who should you steer clear of? We dissected Yahoo’s rankings for the entire Flames roster to give you some tips and tricks for using Flames players to maximize your fantasy hockey success.
Players are listed with their Yahoo overall rank in brackets.
- Jonas Hiller : Hlller was Calgary’s starter more often than not last season, though he lost the net to Ramo in spurts throughout the season. Unless one of the really top-flight goalies are available, maybe go with Hiller; he’ll start a lot and Calgary’s defense is better than last year’s.
- Karri Ramo : On one hand, Ramo can be really good – arguably better than Hiller at times. But he’s really streaky, and he started less often than Hiller last year. Ramo’s also missed time with injury in each of the past few seasons, so durability may be a concern. If you need a third goalie to rotate in and out, Ramo might be a good fit.
- Joni Ortio : I’d steer clear of Ortio unless the Flames make a move involving one of their other goalies. There’s no guarantee he’ll be on the NHL roster, and even if he is, there’s no guarantee he’ll start very much.
- Mark Giordano : Giordano’s a bonafide Norris contender. He’s going to have the most minutes on the team and get a ton of power-play time. He’ll probably also be paired up with whoever’s playing the best amongst Calgary’s other defenders. If he’s available after you draft a couple forwards (or maybe a goalie), grab him.
- Dougie Hamilton : Hamilton is going to get lots of even-strength and power-play time, though at worst he’ll be on the secondary unit – Bob Hartley kept a right-handed point shot on both units, so odds are Hamilton and Wideman are both on the PP. He’s not yet as established a points-producer as Giordano, but keep an eye on him in the middle rounds of your draft.
- Dennis Wideman : Wideman’s even-strength minutes will likely drop with Hamilton’s arrival, but he’ll probably also get a lot more offensive zone starts than he did last year due to the Flames having a deeper group (and the ability to hide Wideman a bit). As mentioned, he’ll probably be on the power-play, though he’ll probably lose minutes to Hamilton a bit. He’s likely a third-pairing player and a power-play specialist. Don’t expect him to replicate his insane production from last season.
- T.J. Brodie : I don’t know why Brodie is this low. He’ll probably get a bunch of power-play time. He’ll definitely get a good amount of even-strength time. He’ll be playing most likely with either Giordano or Hamilton. His production hasn’t been super-amazing, but he’s quietly been a steadily-increasing offensive player. I’d take him before Wideman, to be honest.
- Kris Russell : The good news: he probably won’t need to prop up Dennis Wideman defensively anymore. The bad news: Hamilton arriving probably means he gets a lot less power-play time, and probably less production.
- Deryk Engelland : He was decent at the end of last season with T.J. Brodie, but he’s a third-pairing guy. May have some value in leagues with big rosters that count penalty minutes, though.
- Ladislav Smid : Offensively challenged, and if he’s healthy to start the season he’ll be a third-pairing player (at best). Avoid.
- Tyler Wotherspoon : Probably won’t start the season in the NHL, and if he does, probably won’t be more than a third-pairing player this season.
- Johnny Gaudreau : Gaudreau was one of the engines of the Flames offensive attack last season. He’s a year older and wiser. Unless you’re worried about a sophomore slump, keep an eye on him in the early rounds. He’ll get a ton of power-play time.
- Sean Monahan : Monahan quietly joined the 30-30 club last season, putting up 30 goals and 30 assists on Calgary’s top line. As he and Gaudreau get more experienced, likely both of their offensive numbers will improve. Like Gaudreau, he’ll get a lot of power-play opportunities.
- Jiri Hudler : I don’t think Hudler will have the same kind of crazy offensive year as he did last year, but he won’t regress nearly as much as Wideman will. As long as Hudler is getting power-play minutes and lines up alongside Gaudreau and Monahan, he’ll get a chance to put up numbers.
- Sam Bennett : Bennett’s still a bit of an unknown quantity, and nobody’s sure if he’ll be the same player that he was in the playoffs. Heck, he might be better. All I know is if he’s in the NHL, he’ll get a lot of power-play time. He’s a good option late in a draft if you want somebody on your bench that can put up some points.
- Mason Raymond : I have no idea what’s up with this ranking. Raymond ended last season on the fourth line, and Calgary suddenly has Bennett and Michael Frolik on the roster. Avoid Raymond, as he won’t get much (if any) power-play time.
- Michael Frolik : I’d group Bennett and Frolik together. Frolik may end up playing a bit more often, as he can take on some penalty-killing duties as well as play on the offensive side of the puck. He might not have the offensive upside of Bennett, though, which somewhat explains him being a bit lower than his young teammate.
- Josh Jooris : I’m a bit perplexed by Jooris being so far up on this list. He’s not going to get a ton of power-play time and he’s behind Hudler and Frolik on the right side (and behind Monahan, Backlund and possibly Bennett at center). Maybe he’s a mid-season pick-up if he gets hot, but otherwise steer clear.
- Lance Bouma : Bouma’s either the team’s second-best left-winger behind Gaudreau, or its third-best behind Bennett and Gaudreau. My gut says that he sticks in the bottom six and on the PK, in which case his chances for offense will be lessened. Avoid.
- Mikael Backlund : The big question-mark regarding Backlund depends on whether Sam Bennett plays center or the wing. If Bennett’s on the wing, suddenly you have Backlund centering him and Frolik and potentially getting a lot of power-play time. If he’s a center, though, Backlund gets bumped down the depth chart a bit. Backlund could be a good value pick in the late rounds.
- Joe Colborne : Won’t get much, if any, power-play time and plays in bottom-six. Avoid.
- David Jones : Probably plays more than Colborne if he stays healthy, but won’t get much power-play time. Avoid
- Matt Stajan : Third or fourth line center. Won’t get much, if any, power-play time. Avoid.
- Brandon Bollig : Most likely player to be a healthy scratch to get a younger guy in the line-up.
- Paul Byron : Byron can play anywhere, but that also means it’s very tough to predict where he fits in. Avoid unless he gets off to a crazy start.
- Markus Granlund : Granlund probably starts the year off in the AHL.
- Micheal Ferland : I wouldn’t draft him, but keep an eye out for him. If the Flames have injuries, or if Ferland can be effective early in the season, you could see him creep into the top nine or top six. He’s a super sleeper on this team and could be a solid pick-up in the middle of the season.
- Drew Shore : If he plays on the NHL team to start the year, it’ll be on the fourth line. Avoid.
- Emile Poirier : He probably starts the year in the AHL, to be honest.