With the start of American football it means that hockey is on the horizon folks. Naturally, mock drafting is underway and I’ve started hitting the practice circuit on ESPN. I’ve noticed several players from the same team falling in drafts that fantasy managers should consider stacking. The following will not cost first and second round picks while still providing great value. If you follow these writings at all, you know my endearment for drafting at least one pair of line mates from a team for my fantasy squad(s). With arguments for and against this strategy, this piece is not to serve either party. The following are players either cemented together or highly likely to see time with one another routinely at even strength and on the power play.
Ryan Getzlaf’s routine underappreciation is shameful and soon enough his winger, Rickard Rakell, shall join him in said disrespect. Though you cannot count on either for a full 82-game effort, it’s safe to assume you’ll see 70-plus contests, with Getzlaf’s 56 game campaign last year an outlier. Rakell has done nothing except improve offensively each year for the Anaheim Ducks, now finding himself knocking on the door of the heralded 70-point plateau. I fully expect him to transcend it this year, especially with Getzlaf healthy and hopefully avoiding freak injuries. Beyond points, the 25-year old Swede delivers hits with 115 last year, plays over 19 minutes a night, and even gets you faceoff wins with 105 in 2017-18. For those of you in multi-cat settings, that makes for a valuable winger. As for Getzlaf, you’re looking at a discounted number-1 fantasy center for your roster. The absurd 50 assists in the 56 contests he suited up in warrant the title. Long harped on for lack of shooting, he posted 117 shots in his appearances, averaging to two a game. Both can be had beyond Round 5 and are a guaranteed lock on the top line. Have them on your radar as the draft unfolds for not many duos offer the category coverage of these two.
The Ottawa Senators are being avoided in mock drafts like the Arizona Coyotes the year prior. After all the drama and now the trade of Erik Karlsson, it’s led to their fantasy relevant players draft price plummeting. Matt Duchene started off slow after his arrival in Canada’s capital but turned the afterburners on in the second half with 39 points in the last 42 games. Relishing his role as top line center, the top-20 option for face-offs won is equally adept at scoring goals and setting them up. Only appearing in 58 contests, Mark Stone posted a 1.07 PTS/game for a flailing Ottawa squad and maintained a positive plus/minus. Stone has been in the 60-point vicinity for several seasons but last year was a higher gear that could’ve potentially led to 70 points had he not been injured. Many will see the departure of Mike Hoffman and Karlsson as a hindrance to their potential production, but Stone will see the almost 21 minutes a night he played last year as a focal point offensively while Duchene stands to see a surge in minutes as well. A takeaway machine, look for Stone to put his best foot forward in a contract year looking for a long-term deal. Together these two could make sweet music together on the ice with styles that complement each other. Have a modest point cap in place though, as these two will routinely see top defensive assignments. With Karlsson gone, both are going to fall in extreme fashion during drafts. On a random quick note, his departure makes Thomas Chabot worth a late round flier pick to round out your defensive corps.
While Johnny Gaudreau will come at a high draft price as he should, the other two parts of the Calgary Flames top line are to be had for lesser value. James Neal seems like an afterthought in mock drafts, yet he can easily score 25-30 goals being flanked by Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Though one cannot expect anything reminiscent of his glorious 2011-12 campaign where he posted 40 goals and 41 assists, Neal will have every chance to flourish on the top line in Alberta. With Neal all you are banking on are healthy goal and shot totals buoyed by his consistent 10-12% shooting the past five campaigns. Now 23 years of age, Monahan posted his highest points per game last season at 0.86. His first three quarters of the season were impressive with him posting 58 points in 62 games played. Like Duchene, he’s a top-20 option for face-offs won with room to improve as he progresses into his twenties. His shooting percentage was two percent higher than the prior two seasons, so he may regress back towards the 27 goals he put up in those campaigns. Despite this, Monahan has already proven to be remarkably consistent. If he can avoid tapering off in the fourth quarter like he did last season, you’re looking at a potential bargain barrel 70-point center.
You’ll look like a genius when you draft these two and watch the points flow in plethora. Brock Boeser plain and simply will not be denied goals. Possessing a generational release, the alarming goal scoring pace he put up in his rookie campaign is no fluke. Horvat’s point production before and after his injury speaks to how capable he is on the ice. Though he’s not an elite skater, Boeser possesses the uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time to unleash his shot. He’ll never be a multi-cat stud, but he is going to provide a wealth of offense both at even strength and on the man advantage as apparent in his 10 power play goals and 23 power play points in 62 games played. Bo Horvat, whom I recently covered in his own piece, is poised to really breakout offensively with Boeser at his side full time. On a team that really just possesses a good top line at forward and nothing special beyond, these two will see loads of ice time and opportunities to generate offense. Another top-20 faceoff win option, the London Knight alum is in line for a career season on a Canucks squad many will be sleeping on. Not to say they are a contender but Elias Pettersson will help change the outlook in British Columbia.
It will never be discussed but these two performed well in the final 14 games played last year. Mika Zibanejad potted eight goals, five assists, 141 FOW, 45 SOG, and 19 hits while Chris Kreider accrued four goals, eight assists, 30 SOG, and 14 hits in the same time. The New York Rangers are being perceived as a weaker squad this season but do not be shocked when they surprise. Though lacking a true superstar forward barring a breakout finally from Zibanejad or young Filip Chytil, they do possess above average forward depth. The recent trade for Adam McQuaid helped shore up a shaky blue line and Henrik Lundqvist remains in net albeit older yet capable of stealing games still. The team has speed and skill to make it tough even for the perceived contenders and with no expectations of them to make a run, they can just simply play the game. Zibanejad has one of the most underappreciated one-timers in the league and is guaranteed to line up in the left circle on the primary power play. Solid in the faceoff circle, he really makes for a nice piece on your squad later in drafts. Kreider will never reach the potential he should have ascertained with his physical gifts and speed but nonetheless is a capable forward that provides a well-rounded stat line. These two are going to play together at even strength and will be leaned on heavily to produce. A nice stack to be had later on in your draft, do not fret investing in the inhabitants of 4 Pennsylvania Plaza.
With Paul Stastny now in Sin City, Bryan Little is in line to reclaim his second line center gig between Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers. Though 2017-18 was disappointing in that he only posted 43 points in his first 82-game campaign since 2013-14, I’m willing to give the Edmonton native a mulligan. One of the more consistent producers in the league with point per game paces of 0.78/0.74/0.74/0.80 in the four seasons prior to last year, him being flanked by Ehlers and Laine gives me confidence in a rebound. A top-15 faceoff win option Little will be looking to redeem himself to the Winnipeg Jets. Still only 22 years of age, Ehlers has established his floor at the 60-point plateau. Unfortunately, with the abundance of options in Manitoba, the young Dane will be hard pressed to find the 70-point plateau. Regardless, these two shall see time together on the secondary power play unit, providing you potential for a power play stack. Both make safe plays on a contending squad even though they’re not primary options for the Jets.
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