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Shots on Goal: Top 9 Look - Pacific Division

Peter Maingot

Peter has been covering fantasy sports for Rotowire for over 10 years. He's covered hockey, football and basketball over the past decade but now focuses strictly on the frozen game. From the Great White North, Peter is a strong proponent of physical, up tempo hockey.

The NHL landscape has changed drastically over the past nine weeks. This nine-week window has included the NHL Entry Draft, the start of free agency, and all 30 teams' prospect development camps. With that in mind, we will conclude a series of articles looking at each division on a team-by-team basis to discern the important alterations that affect fantasy hockey. We will look at departures, additions, as well as those rookies/prospects that are knocking on the proverbial door for key roster spots. This examination will not cover every player movement but rather those that are considered more pertinent for roto players. Thus, don't be concerned if most fourth-liners are omitted.

Anaheim Ducks

Dustin Penner Ryan Getzlaf Corey Perry
Kyle Palmieri - Nick Bonino Teemu Selanne
Andrew Cogliano/Matt Beleskey Saku Koivu Jakob Silfverberg

Teemu Selanne returns for another season, leaving the Ducks stacked at right wing with Corey Perry, Selanne, Kyle Palmieri, and newcomer Jakob Silfverberg all naturals from the right side. Either Palmieri or Silfverberg will have to move to left wing to play in the Ducks' top six. Based on his comfort level with Nick Bonino, Palmieri seems the more logical choice. Training camp and exhibition play will be the deciding factor, but Palmieri and Bonino have played together with both the Ducks and their AHL farm team, providing Palmieri with an advantage at this point. Silfverberg, acquired from Ottawa in the Bobby Ryan trade, scored 10 goals and 19 points over 48 games in his first NHL season last year, very similar to the 10 goals and 21 points in 42 games Palmieri racked up for Anaheim. Another point to consider is that Selanne won't play all 82 games. The team has already gone on record saying that Selanne will be rested from time to time during the Olympic season, which will see a schedule almost as brutal as last season's 48 games in 99 days due to the long 18-day Olympic break. As a result, expect to see both Palmieri and Silfverberg play top-six minutes at times this year.

It's very clear who the top three centers are Ryan Getzlaf, Nick Bonino, Saku Koivu - but left wing remains a work in progress. We've already mentioned that one of Palmieri or Silfverberg could be switched to left wing in order to play in the top six. Then there's the top line left wing gig. The first line has an opening at left wing to play alongside Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The early favorite is free-agent addition Dustin Penner, who returns to the organization that he began his NHL career with in 2004. Penner played on the same line with Getzlaf and Perry in 2006-07, winning a Stanley Cup while scoring 29 goals and 45 points in 82 regular season games. Anaheim GM Bob Murray signed Penner in the hopes that the trio could rekindle that chemistry. Although Penner was a complete washout in Los Angeles, scoring just 11 goals and 37 points in 117 games over the last three seasons, he's a reasonable gamble at one year and $2 million.

Andrew Cogliano (13 goals, 23 points in 48 games) and Matt Beleskey (eight goals, 13 points in 42 games) are both better suited for third line duty but one of them could move up a notch if Penner fails to regain his scoring touch. Another potential top-nine possibility is Emerson Etem. The 21-year-old Etem came on during the playoffs with three goals and five points in seven games. He's very fast, but still a bit raw. Prior to his postseason breakout, he'd registered just one point in April, a span of 12 regular season games.

With Selanne not expected to play every game and Dustin Penner anything but a sure bet to play top-six minutes, both Palmieri and Silfverberg are viable sleepers in roto many leagues.

Calgary Flames

Curtis Glencross Michael Cammalleri David Jones
Sven Baertschi - Mikael Backlund/Matt Stajan Jiri Hudler
T.J. Galiardi Matt Stajan/Sean Monahan/Markus Granlund Lee Stempniak

The Flames are in rebuild mode and they'll ice a team almost entirely devoid of any real first-line talent. Michael Cammalleri had 32 points in 44 games last season, but the fact remains that he's surpassed 50 points just once in his last five full 82-game seasons. Curtis Glencross is a gritty, two-way top-six talent. He's scored 65 goals and 117 points in 186 games over the past three seasons. After those two, the options become less formidable, with top prospect Sven Baertschi generating the most positive buzz. The Swiss left-winger, chosen 13th overall in 2011, split his first pro season between the AHL (26 points in 32 games) and the NHL (10 points in 20 games). Baertschi should have a large role this season in Calgary, with his presence on the first power play unit almost a given regardless of whether he plays on the first line or second line. The first line right wing will be either Jiri Hudler (10 goals, 27 points in 42 games) or newcomer David Jones. We tabbed Jones for the first spot, as he was an off-season acquisition, makes $4 million per season, and will help justify their trade of Alex Tanguay to Colorado. While Jones scored just three goals and nine points in 33 games last year, he averaged 24 goals over the previous two full NHL seasons and he's a big body (6-2, 210) like Glencross (6-1, 200), thus allowing the diminutive Cammalleri (5-9, 180) to avoid doing most of the dirty work.

The second-line center spot could be one of the three guys Mikael Backlund, Matt Stajan, Sean Monahan with the 18-year-old Monahan more of a long shot. Backlund, still just 24 despite five years of NHL experience, has been slow to emerge since being drafted 24th overall in 2007, but did manage to score eight goals and 16 points in 32 games last season while averaging 15:07 of ice time and 1:24 on the power play. Stajan, who averaged 56 points over his two seasons with Toronto between 2008-2010, has not surpassed 31 points in a season the last three years. While Stajan did manage 23 points in 48 games last season for Calgary, he's likely headed for third line duty. Monahan boasts pro size already (6-2, 190) and has been a top producer in juniors over the past two seasons for the Ottawa 67s, averaging 32 goals and 78 points in 60 games. Unless he makes a major impression in exhibition play, he'll likely return to junior for one more season, though on this Flames rebuild anything is possible. The third line wingers should be T.J. Galiardi, a Calgary native and one time 15-goal scorer who will be playing in his hometown for the first time in his career, and Lee Stempniak (nine goals and 23 points in 47 games last season). A player that could crack the top nine with an impressive camp and exhibition season is center Markus Granlund, a 20-year-old who's played the last two seasons for Helsinki in the Finnish league (10 goals, 30 points in 50 games last season). Granlund plays bigger than his size (5-11, 185), showing a grit and fearlessness that will serve him well in his pro career. He also has a chip on his shoulder at this point in his career, being known mostly as Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund's little brother.

Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall - Sam Gagner Jordan Eberle
David Perron - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Nail Yakupov
Ryan Jones /Ryan Smyth Boyd Gordon - Ales Hemsky/ Linus Omark

Update 09/27....
Hall playing center while both Gagner and Nugent-Hopkins are injured.
Temporary second center may be Mark Arcobello, a high-scorer in AHL last season (68 points in 74 games)

The future is now for the Oilers. Team expectations are higher than they've been in quite some time after what has been a fairly long rebuild since their surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006. The team has been given a pass by both fans and local media for years. Truth be told, they fell apart quickly after 2006 when Chris Pronger forced a trade, Mike Peca was not re-signed, and the team grossly overpaid several holdovers after their impressive playoff performances. Ridiculously fat deals were handed out to Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Fernando Pisani, and Dwayne Roloson, among others. The Pisani deal was the most egregious error, as he never came close to matching his fluky playoff scoring performance. Fast-forward seven years later and Hemsky is still here, still injury-prone and still overpaid. More on Hemmer later.

The first line returns in full with Sam Gagner (38 points in 48 games) centering budding stars Taylor Hall (50 points in 45 games) and Jordan Eberle (37 points in 48 games). The second line, however, will look different this year with newcomer David Perron playing left wing. The 25-year-old's playmaking ability (67 points over his last 105 games) should mesh well with right winger Nail Yakupov (17 goals, 31 points in 48 games). While their center is expected to be Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, he won't be available until possibly November. Hopkins had surgery on Apr. 23 to repair a torn labrum and could miss all of October; that's 14 games. Who plays second line center to start the season? Barring a trade, it will be either Boyd Gordon or Anton Lander. Neither has proven to be a top-six talent, so a trade could happen, as the Oilers are overloaded on the wings. Gordon, 29, was signed to play third line center and they may just stay there. Lander, just 22, certainly has more upside but has yet to establish himself as a full-time NHLer, let alone man the vital No. 2 center spot. Another possibility is that Hall moves over to center from left wing. That would mean that Perron would move up to first line left wing to start the season.

As mentioned previously, the Oilers have an abundance of top-nine wingers. After Hall, Eberle, Yakupov and Perron, they have RW Hemsky, LW Ryan Smyth, LW Ryan Jones, and LW/RW Linus Omark. Hemsky, whom the Oilers were unable to trade this summer due to the aforementioned excessive contract ($5 million due for 2013-14, the final season of his deal), will likely be moved at the trade deadline. Hemsky, who scored at nearly a point-per-game clip between 2005-06 and 2010-11 (0.92 ppg), has seen his scoring rate plummet in the past two seasons (0.52 ppg). Smyth (13 points in 47 games) is a hometown hero and leader whose speed and production has dropped considerably since his heyday. Smyth will likely play fourth line role but could see third line duty in October with Nugent-Hopkins out and Hall possibly playing center. Jones will be the third line left wing in all likelihood while Omark faces an uphill battle to make the team.

Los Angeles Kings

Dustin Brown Anze Kopitar Justin Williams
Tyler Toffoli Mike Richards Jeff Carter
Matt Frattin Jarret Stoll Kyle Clifford

The Kings have a lot of continuity in their top nine. The first line remains the same led by the talented Anze Kopitar. Unfortunately, the Kings system doesn't allow for a lot of freewheeling hockey, so Kopitar may never put up the kind of numbers we think he can. He had a modest 10 goals and 42 points in 47 games last year while linemates Dustin Brown had 18 goals and 29 points in 48 games and Justin Williams had 11 goals and 33 points in 48 games. This line has been together for a few years now but can they increase their output?

Second line right wing Jeff Carter led the team in goals with 26 but added only seven assists in 48 games. His center Mike Richards potted 12 goals and 32 points in 48 games. Tyler Toffoli, the Kings' second-round pick in 2010, joined their line late in the season and showed some promise (five points in 10 games). It was his first year as a pro and he spent most of the season in the AHL where he quickly proved he could produce, scoring 28 goals and 51 points in 58 games. The 21-year-old scored 109 goals and 208 points in his last 133 games of junior play. His skill set bodes well for the Kings' second line this season and makes Toffoli an interesting sleeper in deeper formats for this season.

Matt Frattin joins Los Angeles following an off-season trade from Toronto and should be the third line left wing. Jarret Stoll returns as one of the better third line centers in the league. Stoll, who had a seizure in early July, is 100 percent ready for training camp. The third line right wing should be Kyle Clifford, 22, a gritty kid who is good on the forecheck, can drop the gloves and pot the odd goal (seven goals, 14 points in 48 games).

Phoenix Coyotes

Mikkel Boedker- Martin Hanzal Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Mike Ribeiro Shane Doan
Max Domi/Guillaume Latendresse - Antoine Vermette David Moss

While the Yotes' top line returns intact from last season, their center will likely get usurped. Free-agent addition Mike Ribeiro, who has 397 points in his last 428 games (0.93 points per game), is a far more proven pivot than last year's No. 1 center, Martin Hanzal (23 points in 39 games). Mikkel Boedker (26 points in 48 games) could see a major boost in production playing with Ribeiro, especially if he can crack the top power play unit. That unit will ice the Yotes' best forward the past several years in Radim Vrbata (28 points in 34 games), not to mention Ribeiro and gifted defensemen Keith Yandle (30 points in 48 games) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (24 points in 48 games).

The second line should see Hanzal at center between Lauri Korpikoski and Shane Doan. Hanzal's deployment on the second line should help Korpikoski regain his form. The Finnish left wing had averaged 18 goals and 39 points in his two previous seasons before last season's six-goal, 11-point effort in 36 games. Doan (27 points in 48 games) should also benefit from the addition of Hanzal, a big body at 6-6, 236. The best two fantasy candidates are Ribeiro and Vrbata, along with Yandle. Doan could be of interest in standard leagues if management decides to keep Vrbata with Hanzal on the second line and/or if Doan can secure a spot on the first power play unit.

Antoine Vermette, a one-time first line center whose production has dropped considerably over the last two seasons, will anchor the third line. He's gone from being over his head as an NHL No. 1 center to now being a very dangerous third line center. One benefactor of Vermette's demotion to the third line will be David Moss. Moss had 17 goals in 57 games for Calgary in 2010-11 but has just seven goals in 57 NHL games since. The third line left wing will be either first-round pick Max Domi or training camp invite Guillaume Latendresse. Domi, the 12th pick of the 2013 NHL draft, scored 39 goals and 87 points in 64 games last season for London of the OHL. Is he NHL ready? We won't know until the exhibition games start. He's 5-9, 197, tough and skilled. If Domi's not NHL ready, training camp invitee Latendresse could play his way onto the team. The big-bodied and talented Latendresse's main challenge the last few years has been staying healthy. He played 27 games last season (scoring 10 points) after playing only a total of 27 games over the two previous seasons combined. His scoring has also decreased during that time. After potting 25 goals in 55 games for Minnesota in 2009-10, he's scored just 14 goals in 54 games since. Still, he's only 26 and 6-3, 230. He'll get a long look.

San Jose Sharks

Patrick Marleau Logan Couture Joe Pavelski
Tomas Hertl Joe Thornton Brent Burns
Raffi Torres Tyler Kennedy Tommy Wingels
IR: Martin Havlat

The Sharks' line situations will be fluid again this season, as they like to move Joe Pavelski to third line center at times to add more balance to their attack. Make no mistake, though, Pavelski will see a lot of ice time between regular shifts and work on both the power play and penalty kill. Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture spent most of last season together and we see them staying together once again this year.

The Sharks will have two new players in their top nine this year in Tyler Kennedy and Tomas Hertl. The veteran Kennedy comes over from Pittsburgh and is capable of playing anywhere in the top three lines, while the young Czech native Hertl will be playing his first season in North America. Hertl, the Sharks' 2012 first-round pick, won't turn 20 until November yet has already completed two full seasons in the Czech League, scoring 30 goals and 55 points in 81 games. Hertl may experience growing pains, but at 6-2, 200, he won't be easily intimidated playing on the smaller ice. Though a natural center, Hertl is expected to play his first pro season on Joe Thornton's left wing while Brent Burns will play the right wing. Burns was moved from defense to forward last season when San Jose was struggling offensively. The consummate team guy, he's agreed to stay up front at the request of GM Doug Wilson. It should be noted that Burns was a power forward in junior hockey before turning pro, at which point he played a bit of both initially before eventually becoming a full-time defender. Burns had nine goals and 20 points in 24 games last season after being moved to Thornton's line.

The third line should feature Kennedy along with Raffi Torres and Tommy Wingels. Torres had six points in 11 games for San Jose after his late season trade from Phoenix. Torres has reached double digit totals in goals in five of the last six full NHL seasons. Moreover, he's averaged 16 goals per season in the last four NHL campaigns in which he's played at least 60 games. Torres, like Kennedy, brings a physical dimension as well as some sand paper to a San Jose team that no longer has power forward Ryane Clowe.

Vancouver Canucks

Daniel Sedin Henrik Sedin Alexandre Burrows
David Booth - Ryan Kesler Jannik Hansen
Chris Higgins - Jordan Schroeder/Mike Santorelli/ Bo Horvat Zack Kassian

The first line returns intact with Alexandre Burrows playing the muscle on the Sedin line. Burrows scored 13 goals and 24 points along with 54 PIMs in 47 games last year. Over the past four full regular seasons, Burrows has averaged 29 goals and 55 points along with 110 PIMs. Burrows has proven to be quite dependable for Vancouver, amazingly having missed only 13 games over the past six seasons. Last season was the second straight year that Daniel Sedin scored less than a point per game, finishing with 40 points in 47 games.

Henrik has been the better of the Sedins the last two seasons, outpacing Daniel in the scoring column on both occasions. However, the overall points per game outputs for both have dropped over the last two years. The good news is that the soon-to-be 33-year-old twins are in the last year of their current contracts.

One player expected to thrive under new head coach John Tortorella is No. 2 center Ryan Kesler. Kesler missed most of last season (13 points in 17 games) and was less than stellar the season before (49 points in 77 games). The two seasons prior he'd averaged 33 goals and 74 points along with 85 PIMs. Kesler's wingers are expected to be David Booth on the left flank and Jannik Hansen on the right side. Booth, who has been ravaged by injuries the last two seasons and missed 56 out of 140 games, may not be ready for the season opener, as he's still recuperating from ankle surgery. Chris Higgins would start in Booth's spot if he can't play. Higgins, with just 61 goals and 126 points in his last 298 games, lacks Booth's scoring ability.

The third line center spot is unknown right now, with several contenders Jordan Schroeder, Mike Santorelli, Bo Horvat - expected to battle for the role during camp and exhibition play. The 22-year-old Schroeder split last season between the AHL (33 points in 42 games for the Chicago Wolves) and the NHL with Vancouver (nine points in 31 games). Santorelli is two seasons removed from a 20-goal, 41-point season with Florida. The last two seasons have not been kind, however, with just 15 points in 94 games. To be fair to Santorelli, his ice time dropped from16:41 (2:41 on the PP) in his 20-goal year to only 12:24 (1:06 on the PP) the following season. Horvat, the ninth overall selection in last June's NHL draft, is a long shot to make the Canucks at the ripe age of 18. However, he could follow in the footsteps of players like Colorado's Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly as an 18-year-old center playing top-nine minutes in the NHL. Horvat certainly has the junior numbers to excite Vancouver management and fans alike; despite playing most of the 2012-13 season as a 17-year-old, he managed to score a combined 49 goals and 84 points in 88 games (regular season plus playoffs). Horvat's feat of 16 goals in 23 playoff games last spring was particularly impressive. Unlike most 18-year-olds when drafted, Horvat doesn't need to add muscle and bulk up he's already 6-0, 206. One thing about the Canucks' third line that seems fairly certain is that Zack Kassian will play the right wing. The Canucks paid a high price for Kassian in Cody Hodgson and they'd like to see an improvement from last season's 11 points in 39 games.