The season is finally upon us. My final drafts have wrapped up this weekend and I wish I could say that I stuck to my plan – but alas. Now that most drafts are done we can now turn our attention to the first matchup of the season. If you are playing in a Yahoo format that means you have a solid week and a half of games to account for. If not much of the below will still be relevant.
For this week’s article we are going to leave a couple of final notes from preseason, and take a look at who might be some good grabs for week one.
First up: Preseason:
There a number of potential highlights and lowlights from the weeks of preseason games, but I have limited the scope here to four players or situations in particular to be aware of.
Sam Steel (ANA): Steel finished the 2018-19 season very strong on a line with Ricard Rakell and Jacob Silfverberg. That line produced well over it’s head, with point per game finishes for most of the members. It was back together for the preseason and while I am not expecting point per game numbers from any of the linemates, Sam Steel was getting upwards of 18 minutes a night, which is a big increase from his 18-19 numbers. If he can still play with Rakell he is certainly worth a gamble early on.
Derek Stepan (ARI): During much of the off season most of the chatter was about Nick Schmaltz and the potential Arizona line of Clayton Keller, Schmaltz and Phil Kessel. Unfortunately for Schmaltz Stepan seems to be the early beneficiary. He has been getting almost 20 minutes a night over four preseason games and the majority of those shifts have been with Keller and Kessel. If he can keep up that deployment we could see a nice bounce back from a relatively disappointing 2018-19.
Alex Nylander (CHI): Nylander is likely enjoying the fruits of his move to Chicago. He has suited up for four preseason games in the Windy City, and his most common linemates have been Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. This is potentially excellent news, though the recommendation here is still a bit of a wait and see though as we have seen players in that same position not meet optimistic expectations.
Michael Ferland (VAN): Now on his third team in three seasons, Ferland still seems to have something his coaches like. He played two preseason games, got upwards of 18 minutes a night and appeared to have been a lock with Elias Pettersson when he was in the lineup. This is definitely something to watch, as he showed in Carolina that he could do something with top six deployment (though to be fair in Calgary he demonstrated that failing to produce is also an option). During the summer it seemed likely that J.T. Miller might be the one getting a shot with Pettersson, but for the moment it appears to be Ferland.
Week One Notes:
I am sure many of you have, as I do, a pick or two that you would be ok not having made. The teams just before you sniped your player and you get caught up in the draft with your time winding down and make a panic pick. It happens. In this case that could be a blessing as it may allow you to do yourself a favor and pick up someone who could help you in the first matchup. There is a huge variation in team games over this matchup, with some teams playing three times and others playing six or seven. It is time to take a quick look at some players who might be available who can help you up your games played.
Josh Morrissey – WPG – Seven Games
Morrissey fell criminally late in my drafts, and it is worth checking if he fell completely off the radar in yours. He has seven games in the first matchup and has been manning Winnipeg’s top power play. With Jacob Trouba traded and Dustin Byfuglien pondering his future in hockey, Morrissey is the go to option. Byfuglien could make his decision any time so Morrissey is the perfect candidate to grab, get the strong start and then see what happens.
Paul Stastny – VGK – Six Games
I have mentioned Stastny several times this summer in various places, but I am definitely interested in what he can do in Vegas on a line with Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. He does have injury concerns though, and hasn’t topped 50 points since 2013-14 (that’s total points, not pace). Because of that he also feel very far in my drafts and was available as a last pick for a couple of managers. If he is available now is the time to grab him. He isn’t yet injured, has 70+ point pace potential, and a solid schedule.
Esa Lindell – DAL – Six Games
This one is definitely more of a multi-cat pick up. He can probably give you a 30ish point pace, but Lindell puts up great hit and block numbers. If you are looking to fill categories (likely other than points) he is certainly a good add.
Kevin Labanc: SJS – Six Games
Labanc has shown flashes of potential the last couple of seasons, but this could be a good opportunity to take a chance on him. His ADP is still very low considering he could end up on San Jose’s top line and power play. He saw good deployment during the preseason, most of it with Timo Meier, and he has a strong upcoming schedule. This is definitely the week to take a chance on Labanc.
Mikael Backlund: CGY – Six Games
Backlund is about as plain as they come. He has been putting up a 50 point pace for the last four seasons. There isn’t much new to expect here, but if you are looking to up your games played this week the second line in Calgary is a pretty safe place to go. You likely aren’t going to hit it big, but you won’t get too hurt either. Speaking of, he did leave his last preseason game as a precaution, so if it looks like he isn’t suiting up for his first games take a look a Michael Frolik instead.
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