Hockey Pool Sleeper Picks

Well, it is that time of year again. Hockey Pool drafting season. With the NHL set to begin play less than a week away many of you will be participating in hockey pool drafts and for you, here are a few of my sleeper picks, guys who might fly under the radar of some people, or guys who might have much improved NHL seasons. Kari Lehtonen – The Atlanta Thrashers I believe will be one of the most improved teams in the NHL and Lehtonen will be a huge part of that. Lehtonen is capable of 30+ wins this season

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Five Teams who Lost the Most

St. Louis Blues: They will certainly be singing the blues in St. Louis this year as no team has fallen further than the Blues. MacInnis has retired, Pronger was traded, and Demitra, Khavanov and Osgood were let leave for other teams. And to make matters worse, Keith Tkachuk is vastly out of shape. Lalime should be a decent replacement for Osgood but no one is going to adequately replace those other guys. Barring a miracle I can’t see the Blues being close to playoff contention. Colorado Avalanche: They big loss was Peter Forsberg but they also lost Adam Foote, Paul

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Five Most Improved Teams

Pittsburgh Penguins: The only direction they could really go was up, but they have gone up by quite a large margin. They haven’t really lost any significant players but have added Sergei Gonchar, Mark Recchi, John Leclair, Zigmund Palffy, Jocelyn Thibault and of course Sidney Crosby. Due to their weak defense I am still not convinced that they are a playoff team, especially if Lemieux can’t play a full season, but they are much improved and will no longer be pushovers. They will be dramatically better and could jump to the 80-90 point range. Atlanta Thrashers: I like what the

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Dan Blackburn- How Good Could He Have Been?

On Sunday, former first-round draft pick Dan Blackburn announced his retirement at the tender age of 22. Selected 10th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, he was projected as their future starter and the heir apparent to Mike Richter. Then, in October of 2003, Blackburn suffered an injury to his left shoulder which resulted in nerve damage and left him unable to play for the following season. When he did return in 2004-05, it was with the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL, and he sported two blockers, as his injury prevented him from

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Pittsburgh Penguins

(Also posted at The Devils Advocate) What they lost: The stigma of being a losing team. The only players they lost are Kris Beech, Matt Bradley, Michal Roszival, and J.G. Aubin. Hardly the kind of players who would be considered monumental losses. What they gained: Hope… and a ton of it. The most notable addition to this team is Sidney Crosby. While it remains to be seen just how much of an impact he will have on the ice, it is hard to imagine this kid being a flop. The future of the NHL is a Penguin. Aside from him,

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Nik Antropov – Another chance?

In today’s Toronto Sun regular columnist Steve Simmons wonders what Pat Quinn sees in Nik Antropov and Alex Ponikarovsky and whether they deserve another chance with the Leafs. You see, most of the hockey world looks at Nik Antropov and sees this large, gangly, marginally accomplished hockey player and they have to wonder what happened to that kid with all the promise. But let’s compare Antropov to two other big, power forward type players at early stages in each of their careers. Player A Player B Nik Antropov Age Games Goals Points Games Goals Points Games Goals Points 19 5

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Best Lines in NHL

With all the player movement since the NHL last played we can’t be sure if all of these lines will be used by the coaches of the teams but here is my list of the best possible first lines teams could use if desired. Be sure to also vote for your top line in the poll in the menu to the left. (poll should be up for several days) Vancouver Canucks – Markus Naslund-Brendan Morrison-Todd Bertuzzi While Brendan Morrison is a good player he isn’t really an elite center in the NHL but his wingers are so good and have

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Philadelphia Flyers

(Also posted at The Devils Advocate) What they lost: The heart of their offense. Gone are LeClair, Recchi, Amonte, Roenick, and Zhamnov. That’s four future-Hall of Famers gone in one extended offseason. Four of their top five scorers, and five of their top ten are gone. No team in the division was harder hit on offense than the Flyers. What they gained: Peter Forsberg, one of the all-time great talents in the game, has come back to Philly. Unfortunately for the Flyers, he isn’t the same player he was when they originally gave him up for Eric Lindros. Forsberg still

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Chicago Blackhawks Outlook

Significant Subtractions: Bryan Berard, Jocelyn Thibault Significant Additions: Nikolai Khabibulin, Martin Lapointe, Mathieu Barnaby, Jim Dowd, Adrian Aucoin, Jassen Cullimore, Jaroslav Spacek, Todd Simpson. Goaltending: He cost a bundle (4 years, $27 million) but the Blackhawks managed to significantly upgrade their goaltending with cup champion Nikolai Khabibulin. Khabibulin is one of those guys who when he is on his game is one of the best around but who at times can look mediocre as well. On a couple occasions during the 2003-04 season he all but lost the starting job to John Grahame but come playoff time he was the

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Western Conference Goaltender Roundup

Anaheim: J-S Giguere should start again for Anaheim, although he may not be recognizable without his over-sized equipment. Russian prospect Ilya Bryzgalov is a strong possibility for the backup role, however, former Ducks netminder Steve Shields has also been invited to camp and could claim the role. The expectation is that Shields and Adam Wall will play net for Anaheim’s farm team. Calgary: Mikka Kiprusoff headlines Calgary’s attempt to return to as Western Conference Champions, and there is some question as to whether he can maintain the form he showed after being acquired from San Jose. The backup position remains

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