Miss some of the pre-season Doses? Here’s a handy list of what may still be useful for you as you draft, strategize or merely want to kill time on the toilet or at your cubicle.
With some of the more esoteric concepts out of the way in those above links, the Dose pivots to interesting 2015-16 storylines for each NHL team.
If you’d like to read the Atlantic Division version, head here.
We are going in alphabetical order, so let’s pivot to the Central Division this time around.
Hate to say it, but it's tough to look forward to the Blackhawks this season.
Granted, it will be intriguing to see if they stumble, but this one of those situations where people decide not to be fans of a dynastic team ... and such decisions are justifiable.
Who ARE these guys?
Sure, the Avs are run by Hall-of-Famers who happen to be kind of cooky in their beliefs regarding how the game should go. Each off-season, they only seem to dig their heels in deeper as far as making curious investments ($4.75 million is a lot of bacon for Carl Soderberg, cats and kittens). Granted, I can't really beat them up too much for trading Ryan O'Reilly; his departure seemed inevitable since BEFORE Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic took over.
(ROR's off-season misadventure was pretty ugly, too, and he's lucky that this was an off-season of infinitely worse stories.)
Anyway, I'm most curious to see how Nathan MacKinnon plays.
Last summer, he was getting drafted probably a little too early after a strong finish to his rookie season. Now he's the opposite of the flavor of the month, yet he's just 20.
With contract year motivation, the kid could put on one hell of a show.
I find myself in an odd place with the Stars, and not JUST because they became infinitely more entertaining the season after I moved away from the DFW area.
(Granted, getting to see Jaromir Jagr in a Stars sweater - yes, that happened - was weird and fun.)
Anyway, it's odd because I'm not specifically a fan of the team, but I'm a fan of their style.
At the same time, I don't really love the way they're structured. They're blowing money on two OK-to-good goalies - is that really how you want to budget $10.4 million? - and keep patching things up with excessive payments in weird areas.
All that aside, neutral fans should root for the Stars to succeed because they're electric fun and are likely to score and be scored on in bunches.
Frankly, the NHL needs teams like the Stars to succeed, so others might (*crosses fingers*) decide to copy them. I can't be alone in grumbling when people speak ironically about a great 60-point season, and that's the age we're in.
As much fun as it is to beat up on Thomas Vanek for essentially burying his linemates in Minnesota, it's tough not to be a little perplexed by this team.
How can Mike Yeo and Chuck Fletcher do just OK once again and keep their jobs?
The Wild spend like crazy. They have two $7.5 million guys in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Mikko Koivu, Vanek and Jason Pominville all make huge money with at least two of them showing decreasing returns.
Devan Dubnyk was a great story, but man, that's a scary contract if he can't approach his breakthrough year. Niklas Backstrom really symbolizes Minnesota's mistakes, though, as $3.42 million in dead money.
At some point, you have to start showing your owner that your team is worth these big bucks, right?
Do the Predators lead fantasy hockey in viable defensemen, at least in standard formats?
Ryan Ellis is more of a nerdy pick/sign of my brilliant wife's influence, but he's also really good. I wouldn't say he makes it in standard formats, but it just shows that Nashville's remarkable in that area.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
For all the negativity surrounding this team, the Blues are still heavy in players at-or-around their primes. They're still a squad with some serious strengths, especially if they can swindle someone into taking Jay Bouwmeester off their hands so they can use that money to keep players who are actually still useful.
Paul Stastny fascinates me for how much he's not fascinating. It seems like he's been the pretty good player paid like a star for his entire career now. I can't think of a ton of other sports examples of quality players who are almost always unsettling because their contracts sort of give you bitter beer face every time.
So, the (seemingly dying?) rumor was that the Boston Bruins at least had Dustin Byfuglien on their list of defensemen to try to pluck away.
What would be the most entertaining situation for Big Buffy, though?
I'm not sure, but one that would be fun - without doing any real research, because (fart noise) - would be the San Jose Sharks.
Imagine that team just barnstorming everyone with a combination of Byfuglien, Paul Martin and Marc-Edouard Vlasic on defense while Brent Burns returns to that high-end group of top forwards? You'd have the two positional weirdos on the same team, and it would be a beautiful thing.
Anyway, those big contract year situations - Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd - are easily the most fun thing to consider for Winnipeg. Ladd is basically everything that Byfuglien is not, but if the Jets decided to send him out as a rental, he could be a sneaky splash for a deep-pocketed contender.