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Two Teams, One Cup

(5/29/12) It's the calm before the storm on the eve of the Stanley Cup Final, and it's eerily quiet in the world of fantasy hockey.  The Kings and Devils each enter the series at relatively full health, but we do have a couple of minor updates on the injury front.

Devils defenseman Henrik Tallinder is finally cleared to play, after sitting out with a blood clot since early January.  We don't expect to see him for game one, but he could draw into the line-up later in the series if the Devils suffer an injury.  He's not particularly fantasy relevant - he notched only 6 assists in 39 games during the regular season - but if your league allows pick-ups, anyone still playing has value.

We also had a Simon Gagne sighting over the weekend, as the Kings forward skated with the team and is cleared for contact (concussion).  Whether he does actually take the ice for a game remains up in the air, but we have to think it's a bit of a long-shot.  He's ready in case the Kings are desperate, but they clearly don't want to rush him into action, and his conditioning likely isn't there - Gagne was only recently cleared and hasn't played since late December. 

In other news, everyone is talking about the non-retirement of Martin Brodeur, who said this week he has no intention to hang up the skates after this season, regardless of whether the Devils win or lose.  And why not keep playing?  He's obviously still got it.  The fairy tale ending of going out with another Stanley Cup win would be a great story, but we've never understood the rush to put players out to pasture.  We've heard it described as sad to see a veteran player who can't do it any more, but isn't there also something to be said for that guy who's still out there, playing his heart out until he completely breaks down?  

Not to say that Brodeur is breaking down, far from it.  From a fantasy perspective, he's definitely still got something left in the tank.  He's not the 70-game workhorse he used to be, but he can still be very effective over 50-60 starts.  And the Devils still play a disciplined style that translates well to goalie stats.  Assuming he does indeed return, we'll probably slot Brodeur somewhere in the 10-12 range amongst fantasy goaltenders next season.  

Looking beyond the Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks extended the contracts of forward Jamal Mayers (one year) and defenseman Johnny Oduya (three years).  Ok, not exactly earth-shattering for fantasy owners, but it means Mayers will again be an option in very deep roto-leagues or as a low-level fantasy enforcer.  Meanwhile, Oduya is a decent player as a depth defenseman, but his fantasy relevance is virtually zero.

And in other negotiations, the agent of Ryan Suter is expected to sit down with representatives from the Predators this week to discuss a new contract.  Suter is set to become an unrestricted free agent as of July 1st, and he may decide to see what the market will bear before signing, but the Preds would surely like to have the ink dry before the deadline.  It'll be interesting from a fantasy perspective to see if he stays or leaves, but there's hardly any point to speculating right now.  The only thing we know for sure... Suter is going to get paid.