I’ve often wondered what a fantasy all-star squad would like if voted on by the fantasy general managers.
There would be the obvious favorites (Connor McDavid, Erik Karlsson and Nikita Kucherov) plus the young upstarts (Elias Pettersson) and the grizzled veterans (Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin). Obviously, much of it would depend on league settings, but just like the actual NHL all-star game (coming up this weekend), there would be sure to be some debate over who made the team and who was left off.
Below are 10 players that have been fantasy all-stars this year, but may be a little under-appreciated in fantasy circles.
10. Jonathan Toews
Toews is a great on-ice talent, but he is not the greatest fantasy asset. Until this year. After Sunday’s five-point game, he now has 47 points in 50 games and is on pace for 77 points, which would be a career high. He’s also on pace for 34 goals, which would tie his career high set back in 2008-09. He’s also been gold in leagues that count faceoffs with 626 faceoff wins so far. He’s still not worth in cap leagues, but is finally showing plenty of value in other leagues.
9. Mike Hoffman
Every September, I have a list of 10 under-the-radar players that could hit 70 points for the first time. I listed Hoffman on this list almost every year, but gave up on him this season. Of course, this would be the career year for Hoffman, as he’s on pace for 73 points. His 23 goals are just six off his career high and his 21 power-play points are four off his career high. He’s also on pace for 262 shots, which would also be a career high. All this is to say San Jose is looking really silly for trading him away last offseason.
8. Sam Reinhart
There has been plenty written about Sabres' teammate Jeff Skinner, but Reinhart has been the biggest surprise coming out of Buffalo this season. Even if you are a firm believer in the fourth-season breakout theory, no one would have projected a 75-point pace. Why such a breakout season? Keep in mind that a year ago, his most frequent linemates were Ryan O’Reilly, Zemgus Girgensons and Scott Wilson. This year, his most frequent linemates are Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner. That’s a massive upgrade.
7. Mark Stone
I am actually surprised that Stone isn’t in the NHL all-star game this year (and that he has actually never made an all-star squad). Some of it makes sense, as he’s never cracked 65 points, but he is on pace for 84 this year. One of the reasons for lower points in years past is that he can’t stay healthy (his games played total has actually decreased every year since 2014-15). While his shot rate and shooting percentage are both at career highs, it’s also a contract year, which always bodes well for a great season that leads to an overpayment.
6. Alex Tuch
So, who else had Tuch leading the Knights in points at the 50-game mark of the season? Last year, Vegas had two players reach the 75-point mark and another two reached 60. This season, Tuch is the only Vegas player on pace for more than 56 points (at 38 points in 42 games, he’s actually on pace for 67 points). which is pretty incredible considering he’s not getting great ice time (average of 17 minutes per game), he constantly has new linemates and he’s not producing on the power-play.
5. Torey Krug
Krug’s points total doesn’t look as impressive as some other defensemen, but you have to remember he missed most of training camp and the first 11 games of the season with an ankle injury. Since returning to game action, his 31 points is fifth highest among defensemen. Overall, Krug’s points-per-game pace is the best he’s ever had, and his 19 power-play points are only six off his career high.
4. Phil Kessel
Kessel has the most underappreciated fantasy career of our generation. He never gets the love that he deserves despite the fact that he never misses a game, consistently puts up points, consistently puts up powerplay points, and is good for three shots a game. What more do you want from a right winger? In 48 games this season, Kessel has 20 goals, 54 points, 130 shots and 23 power-play points (for the record, only four players have 20 goals, 30 assists, 130 shots and eight power-play goals this year).
3. Cam Atkinson
Atkinson has long been a Dobber darling, and while he has put up productive seasons before, this year has really seen him bust out. His 27 goals and 48 points are already higher than he posted last year. He’s on pace for 47 goals, which would put him in the top-10 goal scorers. It’s helping that he’s also on pace for 321 shots. This would be a good time to remind you that Atkinson turns 30 this summer, so this would be the best time to sell high on the Columbus forward.
2. Kris Letang
Letang often gets overlooked because of his injury history, but he’s been excellent this year. He is on pace for 71 points, which would be a career high, and is the fourth-highest ranked defenseman in Yahoo pools. Just look at his on-pace numbers (over 81 games since he’s already missed one game): 19 goals, 70 points, 28 power-play points, 53 PIM, 247 shots, 144 hits and 152 blocked shots. That’s impressive. Brent Burns is the only defenseman of the past 20 years to reach 19 goals, 70 points, 50 PIM and 245 shots in a season, just to show how great a season Letang is having.
1. Evander Kane
Although Kane’s isn’t having as great an offensive a season as many other all-stars, he’s putting up a great fantasy season in almost any league with peripherals. In standard Yahoo leagues (goals, assists, plus/minus, power-play points, shots and hits), Kane ranks 28th. He’d actually be ranked higher if he was able to improve on his plus/minus (plus-three) and power-play points (seven). His 81 PIM is second in the league, so that’s also a bonus in fantasy leagues that count that stat.
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