Eastern Edge: Fantasy hockey takeaways – Part 3

Brennan Des

2020-06-02

In this week's Eastern Edge, I'll continue highlighting important fantasy hockey takeaways for each team in the Eastern Conference. I tried to include information from the 2019-2020 campaign that may be forgotten during this extended offseason. Hopefully, these reminders will be useful when NHL action eventually resumes. This is the third of five* installments, where we'll cover Montreal and New Jersey. I apologize for the brevity of this week's article, I promise to make it up to you with four teams next week! Check out the following links to see previous installments:

 

Part 1 – Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes

Part 2 – Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers

 

Montreal Canadiens – Drouin's Development

The Habs got off to a strong start this year, posting an impressive 11-5-3 record to kick off the regular season. Unfortunately, they couldn't sustain that momentum as they went on to win just 20 of their next 52 games – which included two separate eight-game losing streaks. I highlight the contrast between their first 19 games and the 52 that followed, because it coincides with another important event – Jonathan Drouin's wrist injury. Drouin tallied 15 points in those first 19 games of the season – a 64-point-pace – and looked like an elite player in the process. He was battling hard for every puck and always seemed to be making the right play. Unfortunately, he tore a tendon in his wrist on November 15th against the Capitals and was sidelined for the next few months as he recovered from surgery. He returned to the lineup in February but was much less effective, failing to register a point through eight appearances before suffering an ankle injury that kept him out for the rest of the regular season. We knew he had potential to be a special player when he was drafted third overall in 2013, but a lot of people have since written him off as a 50-55-point forward given his body of work in the NHL. I personally believe that his performance to start this season is indicative of what we should expect from him going forward. Had it not been for a couple of injuries, I think more people would have recognized how much he's elevated his game. In my eyes, Drouin represents a low-risk/high-reward option in fantasy hockey leagues as a potential 65-point player that should be available in the late rounds of fantasy drafts.

While Montreal's overall performance this season was disappointing, there are a few impressive individual performances worth highlighting. For starters, each member of the top line (Tomas Tatar, Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher) put together a strong showing this year. Tatar led the team with 61 points in 68 games – a 74-point pace, Danault continued his evol