Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Carolina Hurricanes
For the last 16 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 17th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – Last year in this spot I opined that the Hurricanes did not really resolve their goaltending issues. I had improved with McElhinney and Petr Mrazek over Cam Ward, but it looked both risky and marginal. Turns out I was partially right. It was a risk, but Mrazek and McElhinney weren’t so bad, particularly in the second half. They weren’t great, but they weren’t horrible. Mrazek, who is returning this year, had 23 Quality Starts (57.5%) last season, but seven of those were down the stretch in the final quarter. Is Reimer an upgrade on McElhinney? Based on last year – a resounding ‘no’. But historically Reimer has been better and at 31 he’s certainly younger. Once again, goaltending is a question mark, but if Mrazek can pick up where he left off in the second half then Reimer could be a solid and clear-cut backup.
The loss in leadership from Williams cannot be overstated. And the loss of grit from Ferland can similarly not be understated. But Dzingel can at least replace Williams’ offense and Haula gives this team a lot of strength up the middle. From a fantasy standpoint, the offseason changes did little in terms of impact. From an on-ice standpoint, the changes made the team marginally worse. But this will be more than mitigated by the fact that this is a young team still on the rise – and in the end they will be better this year.
Ready for full-time – Martin Necas is close to being NHL-ready. He looked great in training camp last year and actually made the team, but then was overwhelmed by the size and speed of the NHL game and was quickly sent to the AHL to regain his mojo. And that, he did. He posted 52 points in 64 games for Charlotte. As the roster currently stands, the Hurricanes have 12 established NHL forwards, leaving room for a 13th. What may happen is Necas gets sent down for a month or two, and then called back up for good in December. But he is worth owning in deeper fantasy formats, and all keeper formats. (More on Necas here)
Haydn Fleury is a defensive defenseman who bounced up and down between the NHL and AHL last year, and he also spent a lot of time in the press box. The former seventh overall pick (in 2014) has to clear waivers in order to be sent down, so chances are the team will keep him even if his camp is average. But he holds little to no fantasy value. His waivers status will be a big reason why highly-touted Jake Bean will likely not make the team. (More on Fleury here)
Saku Maenalanen needs just 17 more NHL games to become eligible for waivers. So if he makes the team, at the 16-game mark the team may just decide to send him down if he’s struggling. He will compete with Necas for a roster spot. After strong numbers in Finland, Maenalanen’s first season in North America was up and down. Literally – he played 31 AHL games (14 points) and 34 NHL games (eight points). If he ever gains fantasy value it will be down the road and not for this year. (More on Maenalanen here)
Alex Nedeljkovic is Carolina’s top prospect goaltender and although he won’t make the team – James Reimer is the backup. So right there you know that Nedeljkovic is going to see some NHL time. Reimer is a notorious Band-Aid Boy. If Mrazek struggles with Reimer is (inevitably) injured, Nedeljkovic could be a sneaky-good waiver-wire snag. (Read out fantasy scouting profile on Nedeljkovic here)
Carolina Hurricanes prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – Carolina’s offense is on the rise. After finishing 23rd in goals scored in 2017-18, they jumped to 16th last season – and I anticipate a further rise to 11th in the season ahead. Offensively, this is a really deep team. That top line of Nino Niederreiter (who did extremely well playing with) – Sebastian Aho – and (likely) Andrei Svechnikov is just getting started. They have all the ingredients to become one of the better lines in the league. The addition of Haula gives the ‘Canes a solid No.2 center between possibly Teuvo Teravainen and Ryan Dzingel. And with veteran Jordan Staal centering playoff hero Warren Foegele and Brock McGinn, the third line can put some pucks in the net too. And I really think Lucas Wallmark is underrated and likely too good for the fourth line. On defense, Dougie Hamilton is a solid fantasy option, while Jaccob Slavin is still on the rise. The goaltending has question marks and the prospec t pipeline is average, but generally speaking I wouldn’t mind owning a few Hurricanes on my fantasy squad.
Fantasy Grade: B- (last year was C+)
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2019 Offseason Fantasy Hockey Grades
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