The weekend is here which means that some of our readers (hopefully) have some free time. What better way to spend that free time than to start getting prepared for the 2018-19 fantasy hockey season? Head to the Dobber Shop and snag your copy of the 2018-19 fantasy hockey guide now!
Travis Yost of TSN posted an article yesterday about how goal scorers score, but I was more interested in this tweet:
Other random interesting things — the guys who are most frequently hitting the post or the crossbar as a fx of their shot volume. Last three years here. pic.twitter.com/L9rQ5vTIIN— Travis Yost (@travisyost) August 16, 2018
Some bad luck running for a few names there…
Over in our ‘Capped’ section, Alex MacLean has been going team by team and reviewing which players are worth to buy and sell. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 in those links. He picks one player from each category and offers his reasoning.
This got me thinking: in general, which players am I drafting or avoiding this year? Thanks to the inspiration from Alex, I thought I’d go through those players now. For today, I’m going to go team by team and picking one skater (no goalies) from each roster that I’ll likely be drafting more than most this year. My next Ramblings will cover one player from each roster that I’ll be avoiding more than most.
Keep in mind two things: we have no ADP data yet and I haven’t completed my projections. There is a lot that could change in the next month, especially with health. These are just initial leanings based on offseason research and reading things from around the community both here at Dobber and on other sites.
Let’s assume standard Yahoo roto leagues: goals, assists, plus-minus, PIMs, shots, and PPPs. This is also just for one-year leagues. Some of these guys will be familiar as I’ve written about them often this summer, others less so. We’ll just go in alphabetical order.
Anaheim Ducks – Ondrej Kase
I am a true believer that before this season is out, Kase is the regular top-line right winger next to Rickard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf. Corey Perry is cooked and Jakob Silfverberg is locked into the second-line shutdown role. Kase won’t get the top PP minutes but he’ll be able to return a profit on his ADP without them.
Arizona Coyotes – Alex Galchenyuk
It seems likely that Galchenyuk will be skating with Clayton Keller and will also be on the top PP unit, which I assume will be a heavily-used one. There is a five-on-five shooting percentage rebound coming and with an elite playmaker like Keller beside him at 5v5 and on the PP, there could be a huge season incoming.
Boston Bruins – Jake DeBrusk
I won’t cover this at length given I did so just yesterday.
Buffalo Sabres – Sam Reinhart
Regardless of what the rest of the lineup looks like, Reinhart seems locked in beside Jack Eichel both at five-on-five and on the power play. I noted recently just how good Reinhart’s five-on-four production has been and, like Galchenyuk, if that five-on-five scoring comes along, there could be a big season incoming. He shouldn’t have an expensive ADP, either.
Calgary Flames – Mark Giordano
This is one where the ADP will tell a big story. Regardless, with the trade of Dougie Hamilton, it seems inevitable that Giordano assumes the mantle of the PP quarterback and is the only defenceman on the top unit (please, no more TJ Brodie). His production has dipped the last couple years but a lot of that is due to a drop in PP production; he had two seasons of 20+ PPPs in 2013-14 and 2015-16 but managed just 24 total over the last two years.
Carolina Hurricanes – Andrei Svechnikov
It’s not often that I target 18-year old rookies in redraft leagues but Svechnikov oozes all the talent necessary to succeed in his first year. He’ll be properly sheltered behind Sebastian Aho and Justin Williams, which should allow him to just play his game. All the hype is around Rasmus Dahlin but Svechnikov should have more success in the fantasy game this year. We’ll see where his ADP lands but this is a guy I will probably want on as many rosters as possible.
Chicago Blackhawks – Brandon Saad
I’ve written at length about how Saad is due for a rebound in a big way this year and I stand by it. This is a player with 30-goal potential who will assuredly be available well outside the top-100 picks. I worry about what the Blackhawks will do with their PP units and PP production has been the bane of Saad’s fantasy potential for years. All the same, Saad’s five-on-five production will be enough to return a profit on his ADP.
Colorado Avalanche – Tyson Barrie
Barrie is one of eight defencemen to play at least 60 games and average 0.5 points per game in each season over the last five years. The others are Dustin Byfuglien, Roman Josi, Erik Karlsson, Torey Krug, Alex Pietrangelo, PK Subban, and Keith Yandle. With that top-end offence, on that power play, with his track record, Barrie is one of a handful of d-men with 60-point potential this year.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Josh Anderson
One player who opened my eyes more than just about anyone in 2017-18 was Anderson. I didn’t see the fantasy potential going into the season but he looked absolutely dynamic. Injuries slowed him down but he should push for the top line again, perhaps settling on the second line behind Cam Atkinson. Regardless, he’s evolving into a very good goal scorer and those injury concerns will keep his ADP low.
Dallas Stars – Valeri Nichushkin
I’ve had a fantasy crush on this guy since he ran over Team Canada at the 2013 World Juniors. If he can put it all together this year, there is the potential of a true game-breaking goal scorer. Consistency is the issue but I will take a flier on him to find out whether he can find that consistency or not.
Detroit Red Wings – Dylan Larkin
There should be hesitation being too high on any given Red Wings forward given their defence corps but I’ve written extensively this summer (here to start) about the upside for Larkin this year. This is one of those cases where I’d rather be a year too early trying to get his upside on my roster than a year too late.
Edmonton Oilers – Jesse Puljujarvi
To me, Puljujarvi represents the perfect buying potential. He’s a top-5 draft pick from just a couple years ago who had sky-high expectations but hasn’t met them yet with raw production. Nonetheless, he showed flashes of why he had sky-high expectations last year. I wrote a couple months ago that he could finish second on the Oilers in goals and I have not deviated from that assessment. He is the team’s best right winger right now.
Florida Panthers – Mike Hoffman
There is a lot to like about the Panthers this year given their offseason additions and the run they made in the second half of last year. Hoffman is poised to see both top-6 minutes and top PP minutes. Whether he skates with Aleksander Barkov or Vincent Trocheck is almost irrelevant, though the former would be preferable to the latter.
Los Angeles Kings – Ilya Kovalchuk
Here’s the issue for the Kings: it’ll be hard to have significant contributions offensively without top PP minutes. That is why I’m a little lower on Tyler Toffoli this year than in prior seasons. People will over-draft Anze Kopitar, I worry about Jeff Carter’s age, and I will not draft Dustin Brown in a non-hits league. For their forwards, process of elimination leaves Kovalchuk.
Minnesota Wild – Matt Dumba
There are injury concerns with Ryan Suter going into the year (though he’s said he aims to be ready for training camp). Dumba’s secondary assist rate jumping to a career-high is a worry but he should be able to pick up the difference in any regression through PP production and increased ice time. He has a 40-point floor now and may be available later than Suter in drafts.
Montreal Canadiens – Artturi Lehkonen
Given he’s coming off a 12-goal season and has never cracked 20, he should be pretty cheap in drafts. All the same, he might be the team’s third-best goal scorer behind Pacioretty and Gallagher and I’ve written recently that he could even slide onto the top PP unit. He’ll be much cheaper than Brendan Gallagher and has similar upside. I’m banking on 20 goals and 40 points and will take whatever else he can provide above that.
Nashville Predators – Kevin Fiala
Draft. Him. Everywhere. Just do a search on Dobber to see how much I’ve written on him over the last couple years.
New Jersey Devils – Kyle Palmieri
He will be another favourite of mine this year. There is debate about whether he could end up on the second line but he’ll excel on the power play. If healthy, there is 30-goal, 60-point potential with Palmieri in 2018-19. He can even provide a healthy amount of hits for those playing in leagues with such stats.
New York Islanders – Ryan Pulock
This could be a rough year for the Islanders but the top of the roster is still loaded with offence and that’s good news for Pulock. He should avoid top matchups which is absolutely going to murder the plus/minus of Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk. He has the talent to sneak a 10-goal, 40-point season while keeping the plus/minus hit to a minimum, relatively speaking.
New York Rangers – Pavel Buchnevich
There is a new coaching regime in New York and hopefully this one gives Buchnevich more than 11:55 TOI/game at five-on-five. Defensive issues are a concern but the same could be said about nearly the entire roster. If that’s what keeps him from 13 minutes a game at five-on-five, I’ll be bald by March.
Ottawa Senators – I dunno, Mark Stone?
Philadelphia Flyers – Shayne Gostisbehere
This seems obvious but this is more to say that I will be targeting Ghost a lot as the first defenceman on my team. I’ll let others draft the likes of Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, and Victor Hedman. I’ll take Gostisbehere for the across-the-board production (outside of a healthy amount of PIMs) he can provide in standard roto leagues.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Daniel Sprong
The top power-play minutes won’t exist for Sprong but he will get a spot on the roster. It could be a frustrating own week-to-week for those in H2H leagues because the Penguins always have their lineup combinations in flux, but if Sprong can show out, he could earn himself a spot alongside Evgeni Malkin. We’ve often seen Phil Kessel on the third line to spread the scoring. It could happen again, and I’ll bet a late-round pick on it.
San Jose Sharks – Timo Meier
Another player who may not see the top PP minutes but is on the verge of busting out. The Dobber guide has Meier lining up on the left wing of Joe Pavelski and I agree with that assessment. Even without the top PP minutes, if he’s skating with the Joes (and they’re both healthy), Meier could be a 25-goal, 50-point player this year.
St. Louis Blues – Robby Fabbri
There is so much talent up front for the Blues now that it’s easy to overlook the fact that Fabbri is both healthy and the assumed second-line left winger. All that he needs is healthy but he should have a very low ADP because of those concerns. There could be an easy 20 goals and 45 points to be had late in drafts.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Brayden Point
My belief is that not only does he improve on last year, but a big part of the improvement comes on the power play. I know Alex Killorn saw a lot of those minutes but Point ate some of the minutes and just watching him and reviewing his stats, he’s already an elite centre. I expect a 70-point floor here and will be willing to pay for it in drafts.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Auston Matthews
The only things keeping Matthews from being an elite fantasy options are power-play production and health. I will bet on a young player being able to get healthy; remember when Taylor Hall was injury prone? He’s averaged about five missed games a season over the last three years. Even with John Tavares in town, Matthews is on the verge of a 40-goal, 80-point season. He’ll be a first-round pick for me.
Vancouver Canucks – Alex Edler
He’ll get overlooked a lot and is definitely more valuable in leagues that count real-time stats. All the same, he should be the power-play quarterback and that has value in any league regardless of the team he plays for. He can probably be had as a fourth or fifth defenceman in 12-team standard roto leagues and will give 30-plus points with solid peripherals.
Vegas Golden Knights – Tomas Tatar
He’ll be the forgotten Golden Knight even though he’s one of just 25 forwards with four consecutive seasons of 20-plus goals. He should line up on the second line with Paul Stastny, a true playmaker. Do not be shocked to see Tatar return to the 25-goal plateau.
Washington Capitals – Jakub Vrana
I’ve been waiting for the breakout from Vrana and though it hasn’t come yet, it seemed he cemented himself on the second line towards the end of last year and into the playoffs. If he can skate all year with Nicklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie, even without top PP minutes, the breakout season can come this year. Andre Burakovsky is a concern to take his minutes, though.
Winnipeg Jets – Bryan Little
It was a tough 2017-18 for the pivot but that should only help depress his ADP into fantastic value. He should be the centre for Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers, two top-flight producers. Even without the top PP minutes, there is a cheap 50-point season to be had here.
- Ramblings: Goalie Controversies in Calgary and Pittsburgh, The NHL’s Top Line Debate, and The Tale of Shotgun Jake (Nov 11)
- Ramblings: Parise’s projection, Galchenyuk’s impact, Anderson’s workload, Hoffman’s revenge, Ehlers’ linemates and more (Nov 12)
- 20 Fantasy Hockey Thoughts
- Top 10 under-the-radar hot starts
- The Journey: Calder Trophy Race – November 2018
- Geek of the Week: Aaron Ekblad's Weak Start to Your Benefit
- Wild West: Head-to-Head Matchups, Erik Karlsson
- Fantasy Hockey Podcast: So Chabot Right Now