James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Realigning your plans

Friday, March 15, 2013

Once the NHLPA signed off on the uneven but fairly logical (and time zone-friendly) realignment plan for the 2013-14 season - and a bit beyond - it was basically inevitable that the NHL’s Board of Governors would vote in favor of giving it the go-ahead.

This probably affects fantasy in the least more profound and most subtle ways. That’s especially true because it’s unlikely that this impacts anyone’s plans beyond absolutely the most obsessive keeper league guys who legitimately gave certain players tie breakers because they played in weaker divisions.

(Really, though, those guys’ attention to detail probably goes deep enough to open up the possibility of a realignment contingency plan.)

Click here for deeper details about the new plan, but here are the nitty gritty bits about who will be where:

Western Conference

Division "A"

Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver

Division "B"

Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg

Eastern Conference

Division "C"

Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto

Division "D"

Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Washington

Again, this makes the smallest impact in fantasy of all the realms of the NHL, but let’s throw out a few thoughts anyway (while importantly acknowledging that it’s dangerous to judge realignment too much based on how teams are playing now since things can change rapidly in the salary cap era). Note: these will mostly be big picture, rather than particularly fantasy focused.

  • Let’s pour out a 40 for the easier, simpler days when you could pencil in the Canucks for a Northwest Division title during prediction time. It was a good run.
  • Seems like a solid break for the California teams: they get rid of the pesky Stars (who are starting to improve), kept with their state mates and got some (current) cupcakes in Edmonton and Calgary
  • Life gets a touch easier for the Central Division teams, although losing the Detroit Red Wings’ attendance boost smarts.
  • Winnipeg isn’t hilariously out of place anymore.
  • The Stars get to stay in the Central time zone.
  • The Red Wings and Blue Jackets are big winners for moving to a more travel (and time zone)-friendly situation in the East. In Columbus’ case, they get an improved chance of making the playoffs, even though the Blue Jackets will need to master that whole “actually being good” thing despite the changes. (They’ve shown some signs of doing so lately, at least.)
  • Traveling wise, the Panthers and Lightning are in an awkward situation with Northeast Division teams plus Detroit. At least they’ll benefit at the box office, though.
  • The days when Carolina and/or Washington lapped up the rewards of the terrible Southeast are coming to an end. Like their former Southeast mates, there are attendance perks and competitive drawbacks to these plans.

So there’s a smattering of observations about realignment. Surely you can tuck into other quarters of the Internet to delve even deeper than that, though.

Let’s move on to the worst news from Thursday.


Teams suffered some tough injury blows yesterday.

Knee injuries ended both Alexander Sulzer and Kris Versteeg’s seasons. Versteeg’s just had putrid luck in 2013, which is a shame because he asserted himself nicely as a go-to guy with the Florida Panthers last season.

While it might not be of the season-ending variety, it’s still frustrating to see Vincent Lecavalier placed on the IR and out indefinitely with a lower-body issue of his own. He just started to somewhat justify all the excessive praise and pay he’s received the last several years this season, but the aging star’s health is becoming a more persistent problem as time goes on.

Read about a variety of fantasy hockey issues and observations after the jump.

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James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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