Commentary

2009-10 Sleepers and Busts

Updated: October 14, 2009, 9:48 AM ET
By Fantasy staff | ESPN.com

The day of the fantasy hockey draft is arguably the best of the season ... unless you're lucky enough to win your league, that is. But for the rest of us, it's the day for which we prepare fastidiously, making sure to keep several names in mind as our sleeper picks, and making ready insults to land upon the owners who draft the players we've projected as busts.

Attempting to digest the market for fantasy hockey players is a little bit like trying to do the same with the stock market. There's an almost endless supply of information available on a truly vast sea of options, and sometimes it can be hard to cut through the fat to get to the useable information. On a fundamental level, there's always a bit of guesswork. Fortunately for you, we have a great lineup of fantasy hockey experts on hand to dole out some of their choicest recommendations for overvalued busts and undervalued sleepers at each of the major positions: forward, defenseman and goalie.

Moreover, each of our experts is no stranger to debating the merits of any of these players, so you'll also find a justification attached to each name, letting you know why we think the way we do. So enjoy, take heed, and hopefully you'll be the one who gets to celebrate in April. -- Tim Kavanagh

Sleepers: Forwards

Listed in order of when our respective experts would take the players in a standard draft.

Marian Gaborik, RW, Rangers (Sean Allen): You might not look at Gaborik as a sleeper, considering he is on most NHL fans' short lists as one of the most impressive goal-scorers in the game. But really, he comes with an injury discount at the draft table; in fact this year he is ranked for the ESPN standard game as being worthy of an eighth-round pick. There is one reason I am advocating Gaborik as worth the risk as early as the fourth round: He was a 40-goal scorer in the league's most defensive hockey system in Minnesota under coach Jacques Lemaire. There isn't much of a historic precedent for high goal-scoring forwards moving away from the "trap" and into high-energy offensive system's like New York Rangers coach John Tortorella's, but surely there will be an increase in goals in such a move. How many can Gabby get for Torts ... 50? 60? For the Wild, players always had to have defense in the back of their minds, but this Rangers team will let Gaborik skate free. There is always the concern with injury for Gaborik, but after missing all but 17 games last season, he has the conditioning in place to hold together for at least another season before he falls apart again. But even with the risk Gaborik carries, I'm still taking a chance in the first few rounds of my drafts, because I think he has the upside, if healthy, to be a No. 1 forward.

Derick Brassard
Jamie Sabau/Getty ImagesDerick Brassard has scored better than a point per game in parts of five seasons in the QMJHL and the AHL.

Derick Brassard, C, Blue Jackets (Jim Wilkie): Brassard, 21, was almost as good a rookie story as teammate and eventual Calder Trophy Winner Steve Mason until the center dislocated his right shoulder on Dec. 18. He had gradually gained coach Ken Hitchcock's confidence to earn more ice time, chalking up 10 goals and 25 points in 31 games before his season was cut short. Now healthy -- and apparently bulking up nearly 20 pounds -- Brassard has the No. 1 center job to lose and he should be feeding wingers Kristian Huselius and Rick Nash for plenty of points.

Paul Stastny, C, Avalanche (Tim Kavanagh) I was initially attracted to Stastny because his father, Peter, helped me win so many Cups in NHLPA '93 on Sega Genesis. 2008-09 was a bust for Stastny due to two pretty bad injuries: a broken forearm and foot, if you don't recall. Putting last season aside, Stastny is just ahead of a point per game for his career, as he had 78 points in 82 games during his colossal rookie campaign followed by 71 in 66 games as a soph. With Joe Sakic retired, Stastny will be the main man in the middle for the Colorado Avalanche, and his projection as a 10th-rounder is way too low given the fact that he should produce at least at point per game in 2009-10. He's not a No. 1 center yet, but he's a solid No. 2 and you can feel good taking him after you've got your stud for that top pivot position.

Steven Stamkos, C, Lightning (Tristan H. Cockcroft) Considering he didn't even finish among the top 125 forwards on the Player Rater in his rookie season, Stamkos by all rights will be classified by fantasy owners as an out-and-out bust. But those who do so and deflate his price tag come draft day are foolishly overlooking his game logs; the guy was featured in the Tampa Bay Lightning offense the second half of the season and is an unquestioned power-play force. Consider this: From the point of his first career hat trick on Feb. 17 through season's end, Stamkos played in 26 games and amassed 16 goals and 24 points, and six of those goals came on the power play. Project that to a full season -- since he's going to be a featured man again in the Lightning offense as a sophomore -- and you're talking a point-per-game beast, and I'm sure there's a scout or two out there who will remind you his ceiling is quite a bit higher than that.

Stamkos (Pierre Becquey) There's nothing quite like a post-hype prospect's coming into his own at a discount price. Stamkos is still a kid, he won't be 20 until February, and that's why it's easy to buy into the concept that he's growing into his immense talent. His 15-points-in-15-games outburst in March coincided with increased ice time and shows exactly what he's capable of: becoming a point-per-game performer with a nose for scoring and a mainstay on the Lightning power play.

Saku Koivu, C, Ducks (Victoria Matiash): Sometimes, all you need is a change of scenery to help soothe the soul and boost the ol' battery. After 13 NHL seasons, the 34 year-old former Montreal Canadiens captain leaves behind the lashing winter wind and equally suffocating fan pressure that only hockey-mad Montreal can provide with pounding, merciless, regularity. As a new homestead, Anaheim differs greatly; both the weather and media spotlight are far more subdued. Watch a regenerated and relaxed Koivu thrive on the Ducks' second line alongside fellow Finn Teemu Selanne, especially with opposing defenses focused largely on the team's top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry. Koivu netted 75 points in 81 games with the Habs back in 2006-07. If healthy this season -- and there's no valid reason to believe last year's foot injury is still a concern -- he'll approach that mark. This guy's a genuine fifth/sixth round pick. Get him later than that and you're snagging a gem.

Sleepers: Defensemen

Mark Streit, D, Islanders (Tim Kavanagh): Streit will be battling with No. 1 overall draft pick John Tavares to be the first New York Islander off the board in fantasy drafts. While Tavares has the hype, Streit has already played the part of the fantasy hero. In 74 games played last season, Streit finished with 16 goals and 40 points while averaging over 25 minutes of ice time per game. The most incredible stat is that he ended up a plus-6 for a team that let up 76 more goals than it scored. With the addition of Tavares and the continued development of the other young bucks on the team, the goal differential will likely shrink while Streit's offensive numbers will increase. Once the top six D-men are off the board, feel safe with Streit as an elite member of the next tier.

Zach Bogosian
Kirby Lee/US PresswireZach Bogosian was the third overall pick of the 2008 draft.

Zach Bogosian, D, Thrashers (Tristan H. Cockcroft) First of all, understand this sophomore won't even turn 20 until next July 15, so what Bogosian did in his rookie campaign for the Atlanta Thrashers is nothing short of remarkable. He tallied nine goals, 19 points and a plus-11 rating, and he achieved the latter on a team littered with players in the red in the category. After the All-Star break, Bogosian maintained the pace of a 15-goal, 35-point performer with a healthy share of power-play time, and he's on an offense that not only will want to feature him, but also sports a pretty decent power play. There's a lot of upside here.

Kris Russell, D, Blue Jackets (Sean Allen): The former Canadian Hockey League Defenseman of the Year has been a letdown in Columbus. In a four-year career with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Russell was the Western Hockey League Defenseman of the Year twice and Player of the Year once, while finishing with 196 points in 241 games. The team won the WHL Championship under Russell's leadership and lost in the Memorial Cup final in 2007. He had all the makings of an NHL star on the blue line, but after two seasons in Columbus, Russell has barely made his mark on the team. Although coach Ken Hitchcock is being overly protective of Russell's development and has come right out and said he doesn't want him to have the pressure of running the power play, it's worth taking the chance that the 22-year old can change Hitchcock's mind. How long can Hitchcock keep a straight face while marching out Fedor Tyutin?

Tobias Enstrom, D, Thrashers (Victoria Matiash): There's a variety of reasons to hold young Mr. Enstrom in high regard this autumn. At 24 years old, he's clearly durable, having played every single regular season game in the past two years. Listed at 5-foot-10 and (an overly generous) 180 pounds, his diminutive size forces the Thrashers to use him in an offensive role, with power-play opportunities a-plenty. He ended the 2008-09 campaign on a scoring tear, netting 20 of his 32 total points in the final 22 games. Plus, he managed to emerge with a plus-14 rating, a nearly miraculous number considering Atlanta's well-documented struggles in that category (see Tristan's analysis on Bogosian). Lastly, if you believe Bogosian will blossom into a star, as many do, that's reason enough to give Enstrom serious consideration. If you can't snag the former, who will go relatively early in most drafts, you may as well pick up his defensive pairing partner much later on. That investment could pay off handsomely all season long.

Drew Doughty, D, Kings (Jim Wilkie): Doughty made a big impact on the Kings in his rookie season -- averaging 23:50 minutes per game -- and should prosper with his team's improved lineup that added veteran forward Ryan Smyth and defenseman Rob Scuderi. Now 20, and the youngest player invited to Canada's recent Olympic orientation camp, Doughty will use that confidence boost to surpass the six goals and 27 points he scored last season while likely improving his minus-17.

Keith Yandle, D, Coyotes (from Pierre Becquey): A 22-year-old defenseman with a fine offensive makeup, Yandle managed 30 points in 69 games last season and could climb his way up the defensive depth chart and into some prime minutes this season. He's a solid passer who can join in the rush or set up and quarterback the power play. With all the untapped offensive potential that could finally emerge in the desert this season, grab Yandle as your last defenseman to see if there's something there.

Sleepers: Goalies

Pekka Rinne, G, Predators (Tristan H. Cockcroft): That 29-win, 2.38-GAA rookie debut of his, in 52 games? It's legit. He was tabbed a top prospect at the onset of last season, one with future top-10 fantasy status, and while he did melt down in the regular-season finale, the experience will be good for him. It'll keep Rinne hungry, ready to lead his team back into the playoffs and he'll surely continue to face a boatload of shots with a defense in front of him that can't exactly be classified as elite. You'll get Rinne as a No. 2 fantasy goalie; he has clear No. 1 potential.

Jonas Hiller
Dave Reginek/NHLI/Getty ImagesJonas Hiller started all 13 of the Ducks' playoff games last season, posting a .943 save percentage and 2.13 goals-against average.

Jonas Hiller, G, Ducks (Jim Wilkie): After Jean-Sebastien Giguere faltered at midseason, Hiller took over the No. 1 goalie duties and helped lead the Ducks to their first-round upset of the league-leading San Jose Sharks. Both goalies played in 46 games, but Hiller was 23-15 with a 2.39 GAA and .919 save percentage compared with Giguere's 19-18 record, 3.10 GAA and .900 percentage. It's likely both will continue trending in opposite directions for the reloading Ducks. Hiller's age, 27, and contract, $1.3 million for one more year, are also more attractive in the long run than the 32-year-old Giguere's $13 million remaining for the next two seasons. Hiller has a legitimate chance of putting up No. 1 goalie numbers this season, let someone else buy into Giguere's name value.

Steve Mason, G, Blue Jackets (Pierre Becquey): How does a Calder Trophy-winning young hotshot goalie with a 33-win season under his belt qualify as a sleeper? When you can grab him as a borderline No. 1 goalie and net yourself one of the top three goaltenders in the league. Mason is poised to better his stats and lead a hungry Columbus Blue Jackets team to respectability. Forget the talk of Mathieu Garon's earning a quarter of the starts in Columbus, let that drive down Mason' value, and snag him in the fourth or fifth as your No. 1 goalie.

Chris Mason, G, Blues (Sean Allen): You've seen some of the splits on Mason's finish to last season, but here's a new one: Once the calendar flipped to 2009, Mason played in 40 games and had a 2.10 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage, a record of 24-10-6 and five shutouts. Phenomenal numbers for such an extended period of time, especially since Mason was not getting any time to rest. The St. Louis Blues are going to be even better this season with Paul Kariya returning, Erik Johnson and Alex Pietrangelo back on the point and one more year of development for Patrik Berglund and T.J. Oshie. Mason needs to be embraced as the No. 1 goalie he will be this season, and don't feel bad about springing on him as early as the fifth round.

Jonas Gustavsson, G, Maple Leafs (Tim Kavanagh): The Toronto Maple Leafs were an enigmatic team last year, but the addition of defensive stalwarts Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin will pay immediate dividends in stabilizing the team. The starting job is Gustavsson's whenever he's ready, and he could be quite effective even in his first season. Last season in the Swedish Elite League, he posted a 1.96 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in the regular season, then got even better in the playoffs, with a 1.03 GAA, 0.961 SP and five shutouts in 13 games. He's ready for the pressure of playing in Toronto as well, as the 24 year-old told The Toronto Sun in July that "In Toronto, everybody talks about hockey. I like to be in the heat." He doesn't appear to have much of a ceiling based on what the scouts have said, and if you like risk, you'll love "The Monster".

Mike Smith, G, Lightning (from Victoria Matiash): What does the fantasy world have against Mike Smith anyway? He's big, talented, level-headed and relatively consistent. Before missing the last chunk of the season with post-concussion problems, he posted excellent personal numbers -- 2.62 GAA and .916 save percentage -- despite the dismal performance habitually put on by the players in front of him. Now that the Lightning have pulled their socks up a bit in the defense department, notably with the additions of ex-Canuck Mattias Ohlund and draft pick Victor Hedman, Tampa's clear No. 1 has the chance to really shine. And most importantly, he's healthy. Don't be put off by Smith's low fantasy ranking; in his second full season as an NHL starter, this 27 year-old is perfectly poised to excel.

Busts: Forwards

Zach Parise, C, Devils (Pierre Becquey): You've heard it plenty of times before, but it bears repeating. You can't win your league in the first round, but you can lose it. So if I'm spending my first pick on a player to spearhead my offense, it sure as shootin' ain't gonna be one coached by Jacques Lemaire, especially not when that player, young or not, has exactly one 94-point season to put up against a couple of 65- and 62-point efforts in the two seasons prior. Sure, a lot Parise's value is derived from his stellar plus/minus, which won't go in the red with Lemaire at the helm, but if it doesn't come with a point per game, I'll get my first-round plus/minus somewhere else, thank you.

Alexandre Burrows, C, Canucks (Tim Kavanagh): Burrows was a waiver-wire hero last season. Following his promotion to the Sedin Twins line, Burrows was good for 26 points in the final 27 games, and added 68 penalty minutes for good measure. But, wait a second, that means he had only 25 points in his first 55 games! He's ranked pretty high given that disparity, and the fact that we don't yet know if he's sticking with the Sedins for 2009-10. The other guys in that neighborhood -- Jarome Iginla, Joe Thornton, Mike Richards -- are a much safer play, and the early rounds of fantasy drafts are no place for risk. Let someone else be disappointed when Burrows gets bumped from the top line in favor of Pavol Demitra.

Patrick Kane, RW, Blackhawks(Sean Allen): You know what? Let's leave the whole beat-up-cabbie-with-cousin-over-20-cents thing out of this argument completely. Unlike fellow Chicago Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews, who improved in every aspect of his game in his sophomore year, Kane pretty much repeated his rookie season. Maybe he's just a 25-goal, 70-point kind of guy. You know what that gets you? A poor man's version of Shane Doan. Kane will get treated like a No. 3 forward, but he won't deserve to be drafted that high unless his plus/minus improves to the teens, but he finished in the minuses in both of his seasons. Kane can be an asset, but he's not worth being drafted any earlier than the ninth round.

Sean Avery
AP Photo/Ed BetzSean Avery is the proud owner of 1,178 well-earned career penalty minutes.

Sean Avery, LW, Rangers (Victoria Matiash): Anyone who believes this temperamental ruffian and coach John Tortorella will traipse amicably, hand in hand, through the entire NHL regular season together is living in some half-baked fantasy world, no pun intended. Once the honeymoon of a brand new October start is over, Avery will do something reckless, the less-than-patient Tortorella will throw a hissy fit, and the relationship will sour. Sure, the freshly-humbled ex-Dallas Star put up decent numbers in his short stint with the Rangers last year -- 12 points and 34 penalty minutes in 18 regular season games -- but once the playoffs hit, he returned to his undisciplined ways, which is when the coach blew a gasket of his own, with good reason, and benched him. Expect a well-behaved Avery for about two months before some incident takes place, with the inevitable depreciation in ice-time to follow. There's no reason to waste an early pick on someone so volatile, when others (see: New Jersey Devils' David Clarkson) will earn plenty of penalty minutes and put up points without the same risk.

Simon Gagne, LW, Flyers (Tristan H. Cockcroft): Ah, the adventure that is drafting Simon Gagne. You just never know what -- or more accurately how much -- you're going to get, and I'm referring to his number of games played. Check out his numbers working backward the past six seasons: 79, 25, 76, 72, 80, 46. Does that sound like captain consistency? Hardly. Gagne might be the kind of guy who can average you a point per game, better than half a goal per contest and healthy numbers in plus/minus and on the power play, but taking him at the price he'll command puts you at tremendous risk. Sure enough, he is already battling groin issues heading into the preseason, which isn't a promising sign for a player with his track record in the health department.

Jason Blake, LW, Maple Leafs (Jim Wilkie): Although Blake led the Leafs with 25 goals and 63 points, it required some benchings and cajoling from coach Ron Wilson to squeeze that out of the veteran winger. Blake will turn 36 on Sept. 2, so it's too much to expect him to improve upon last year's numbers even if he can remain healthy and on the top line. Toronto's weakness at center and overall unimpressive group of forwards mean Blake and all the Leafs will struggle to score.

Busts: Defensemen

Jay Bouwmeester, Flames (Pierre Becquey): If Bouwmeester is going to be drafted as a No. 1 defenseman, he's going to have to prove he can play like one, and that's a tall order. Despite some pretty decent Florida squads that allowed Bowmeester to show off his 50-point upside with some 40-point seasons, the big defenseman has one season of positive plus/minus on his ledger, along with a couple of neutral seasons and, in his rookie and sophomore days, detrimental ones. He's also never eclipsed 79 penalty minutes because this 6-foot-4, 214-pound man just doesn't throw his weight around as much as he should. Add to that the fact that a good defenseman must trust his goaltender in order to jump in on the rush, and then remember that his new goalie is Miikka Kiprusoff, and you have to wonder just where the elite numbers that will make him a top-10 defenseman will come from. Power-play production? You can get that cheaper -- and better -- by waiting another round or two.

Scott Niedermayer, D, Ducks (Victoria Matiash): He's old now, and all alone. As harsh as that sentiment strikes, it's accurate: Scott Niedermayer is 36 years old and his big, blueliner buddy of the last three seasons, Chris Pronger, packed his skates for Philadelphia in June. No one can expect the same scoring output from the veteran under those circumstances. In this, his final playing year (seriously), the future Hall-of-Famer will be relied upon to provide leadership and guidance to the slew of new faces on defense more than anything else. Yes, he'll still put up some reasonably good numbers, 40-45 points perhaps, but not enough to merit being chosen in early fantasy rounds.

Brent Seabrook, D, Blackhawks (Tim Kavanagh): The Blackhawks may be considered a hot fantasy commodity by some due to their impressive run through the playoffs last season. They've got three defensemen who will be drafted among the top 15 D-men overall, and Seabrook is the one you want the least. To wit, his 26 points over the course of last season are not anything special, and his 60 penalty minutes don't satisfy anyone's bloodlust either. He's just kind of a solid, middle-of-the-road guy, and you can do better than that where he's being taken.

Rob Blake
Don Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesRob Blake is entering his 20th NHL season, his second with the Sharks.

Rob Blake, D, Sharks (Tristan H. Cockcroft): I admit it, I tend to shy away from the aging superstars, and that's an across-the-board fantasy strategy, but especially so when the player is coming off a remarkably sound year in the waning seasons of his career. Blake was the seventh-ranked fantasy defenseman on the Player Rater, and he did it at the age of 39 coming off back-to-back sour seasons, (take a look especially at 2007-08). He'll turn 40 in December and I've got a lot of respect for the Sharks' other defenders, like Dan Boyle, Christian Ehrhoff and even the young Marc-Edouard Vlasic. You'll have to pick Blake like a No. 1 or 2 fantasy defensemen; I see you getting more of a No. 3 option.

Blake (Sean Allen): The Sharks are a good home for Blake, but putting up his best fantasy season since 2002-03 just leaves way too much room for disappointment. Blake is getting up there in age; this is the 39-year-old's 20th NHL season. Not to mention the fact that Marc-Edouard Vlasic has been making a serious case to move up the depth chart. A lot of Blake's value last season came from his 110 penalty minutes and his plus-15, two stats that could evaporate in a heartbeat, considering he finished the previous year in L.A. with a minus-19 and averaged 70 PIMs during his tenure in Colorado. Then there is the offseason foot surgery he had. Too many things could go wrong when selecting Blake ahead of safer, productive defensemen.

Wade Redden, D, Rangers (Jim Wilkie): Redden, 32, continued his statistical decline last season with his worst points total (26) since his second NHL season and the fewest goals (three) he's ever had in one campaign. Redden was also horrible in his own end (minus-5) in the first year of his six-year, $39 million contract. While the Rangers overhauled the forwards in the offseason, no significant additions were made to help Redden and his fellow Blueshirt blue-liners. Stay far away.

Busts: Goalies

Cristobal Huet, G, Blackhawks (Victoria Matiash): Poor, poor Cristobal. The guy's been forced to share the starting goaltender's role his entire career, even when it originally seemed he was the clear No. 1. Take last year, for instance: the prematurely unwanted Nikolai Khabibulin stunned the Chicago Blackhawks by standing on his head, earning half of the team's starts, and finishing the season with a 25-8 record, 2.33 GAA and .919 save percentage. Huet performed well himself, but again, only for half a season. Now, with Khabibulin safely in Edmonton, there's talk of youngster Corey Crawford's challenging for appearances in Chicago. Regardless of how likely that scenario may or may not be, Huet has never played in more than 52 games a season in his entire NHL career. And that's reason enough to avoid him in the early rounds.

Cam Ward, G, Hurricanes (Tristan H. Cockcroft): He might have had an exceptional 2008-09 season, worthy of the No. 6 spot among goalies on the Player Rater, but what I remember from Ward, both over the years and late in last season's playoffs, is that he's a terribly streaky performer. Case in point: He was 1-6 with a 3.73 goals-against average and .883 save percentage in his final seven playoff starts as his Hurricanes went four-and-out in the Eastern Conference Finals. Ward also tends to be a bit of a slow starter, with a 2.92 GAA and .901 save percentage in October and November in his career, and he's already dealing with back problems heading into the preseason. Need I say more?

Carey Price
David Butler II/US PresswireCarey Price was terrible on the road last season, with a 3.21 goals-against average and .895 save percentage away from the Bell Centre.

Carey Price, G, Canadiens (Tim Kavanagh): It's true, this offseason was an exciting time for the Montreal Canadiens, given their level of activity in the free agent market. Unfortunately for Carey Price, the team focused on adding offensive firepower while letting surly defenseman Mike Komisarek head over to Toronto. Price will be under heavy pressure to carry the team while all the new faces adjust to one another -- although it'll be a little easier for reunited Devils teammates Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez -- and he's got Jaroslav Halak behind him, eager to jump into the spotlight upon the first miscue. Price was a disaster down the stretch and in the playoffs last season: 33 goals against in his final 11 games of the season followed by 15 goals against in 4 straight losses to the Bruins. With more pressure from the Montreal faithful mounting on the 22 year-old entering season No. 3, and a more than capable backup waiting in the wings, Price is way too much of a risk as a No. 1 goalie for my tastes.

Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Penguins (Pierre Becquey): He was drafted first overall in 2003, he's got a Cup ring, 35- and 40-win seasons under his belt ... and a career .908 save percentage to go along with a 2.87 goals-against average. The Penguins win games with offense, and while they were middle-of-the-pack in limiting shots on goals last season, it's both the quantity and quality of the shots Fleury faced that made him cough up 2.67 goals every 60 minutes. He's not a threat to finish in the top 15 in either ratio category, so all you get with the wins is a slightly less soul-crushing version of Miikka Kiprusoff. (Yes, that's right, that's two shots I took at The Kipper in this piece. And he let them both in.)

Marty Turco, G, Stars (Sean Allen): Turco hasn't had a great time since the NHL lockout. In four seasons, only one has been good enough to justify him as a true No. 1 fantasy goaltender (2006-07). He was borderline No. 1 in 2007-08, but downright unusable in both 2005-06 and 2008-09. So, we have an inconsistent goaltender on a team that missed the playoffs last season and has lost its No. 1 defenseman to the KHL. Alex Auld, whose goals-against average and save percentage with Ottawa last season were both significantly better than Turco's, is there as a backup. Auld will be the first proven backup Dallas has had in a while, and new coach Marc Crawford has never been afraid to pull the plug on struggling goaltenders. At the end of the day though, even if you think Turco keeps his starting job all season, any goalie who is going to start 70 games for you will have a huge impact on your ratios, so he better have a stellar goals-against average and save percentage. Turco has occasionally been OK in the goals-against department, but his save percentage since the lockout is .903.

Jose Theodore, G, Capitals (from Jim Wilkie): Theodore, 32, already was somewhat of a bust last season (32-17, 2.87 GAA, .900 save percentage). But now he's clearly not in the Capitals' long-term plans after Semyon Varlamov, 21, took the reins in the playoffs and was 7-6 with a 2.53 GAA and .918 save percentage. Theodore has also had some off-ice issues to deal with this offseason, and his mind might not be fully on hockey as we enter 2009-10. Are you willing to bet he's back to his form from the beginning of this decade, or even back to the 2.44 GAA and .910 save percentage from 2007-08? Me neither.