The Top 10 most likely candidates to be first-time 70-point players in 2016-17
Getting to the 70-point mark nowadays is the hardest its been since the days of the clutch and grab. Last year saw 17 players get 70-plus points. Five of them did it for the first time (Brent Burns, Blake Wheeler, Johnny Gaudreau, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Artemi Panarin). Trying to figure out who is going to do the same this year is key to winning hockey pools. While people used high draft picks on Tyler Seguin or John Tavares, you could have picked up Kuznetsov and Panarin much later and gotten the same production. So which players have a good shot to hit 70 points for their first time this year? Just keep in mind that the odds of all these players reaching this mark are low. But some players will do it and these are the ones that stand out to me as having the best chance.
Also, you’ll notice there is no Nikita Kucherov on the list. He would normally be a top-three pick for me. But as of this writing, he wasn’t signed and looks like he may miss the first few games of the season. I think Kucherov could get 70 points in a full season. But in 75 or less games? Probably not. If he signs in the next week, I would put him pretty high on this list. I’m using the same logic for not including Sean Monahan. With linemate Johnny Gaudreau not signed yet, that will greatly impact Monahan’s chances to reach 70 points.
Onto the list.
10. James van Riemsdyk
Van Riemsdyk has slowly become the forgotten player in Toronto. Everyone is focusing on the three rookies: Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. Even Nazem Kadri has been getting plenty of love. But the Leafs still need a veteran to lead these young guns and the 27-year-old van Riemsdyk is the best option with plenty of ice time.
Last year just goes to show how talented Forsberg actually is. Much of the time he was stuck playing with Mike Ribeiro, Craig Smith and Mike Fisher. This year could see him line up regularly with Ryan Johansen instead. As Donald Trump would say, that’s huge. And let’s not forget the addition of P.K. Subban could help boost the middle-of-the-pack offense. That in turn could lead to more points for Forsberg.
8. Mike Hoffman
Hoffman has a lot to live up to this season as he signed a four-year deal this summer. But more importantly, he won’t be jerked around by coach Dave Cameron anymore. There’s a familiar face behind the bench in Guy Boucher (Boucher was Hoffman’s coach in junior). I expect Hoffman to see more ice time and could potentially flirt with 40 goals as well as 70 points.
7. Jack Eichel
Eichel will benefit simply by this young team being another year older. Plus, they now have Kyle Okposo (who I ranked number one on a similar list a year ago although I think Eichel will finish just shy of 70 points once again). Eichel should take that next step forward and be able to hit 70 points.
I’ve mentioned MacKinnon many times this summer as someone in line for a boost this year although it is hard to overlook that he’s been injured in each of the last two years. But he’s also spent his entire NHL career playing for Patrick Roy. Things should be different now that MacKinnon has a competent coach. Provided he stays healthy, of course.
Not only does Radulov have a great chance at hitting 70 points himself, it’s quite possible he’ll be the guy to drag Max Pacioretty over the 70-point mark for the first time in his career as well. Radulov has posted great stats in the KHL where he had a point-per-game in each of the last seven seasons. Radulov will be on the top line in Montreal and see plenty of power play time. He’s also going to be playing for a long-term deal if he wants to stay in North America.
Scheifele just needs a little more consistently than he had last year. Five times he went at least three straight games without a point, including a six-game and a five-game pointless streak. But he did finish the year with 34 points in 26 games and had 61 points in 71 games. And he had just 11 points with the man advantage. He needs to increase those power play totals to get to reach 70 but it’s easily doable.
There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic that Toffoli will be the biggest breakout player by the end of the season. His ice time has gone up every single season. So has his point totals. He can also hold his own defensively, which means less chance of being benched. He also saw quite a bit of time with Anze Kopitar last year. So yeah, lots of reasons to think he can hit 70 points.
2. Kris Letang
All Letang really needs to do to hit 70 points is stay healthy. But let’s not forget that last year he put up 67 points in 71 games. And that’s with a slow start by most of the Penguins players. Letang actually had 53 points in 46 games once new coach Mike Sullivan was hired. Those are insane numbers (a 94-point pace over 82 games).
Well, duh. They only thing going against him is his injury history. Granted its relatively short. But he’s missed significant time in the last two seasons when you include juniors. Yes, it’s still early and one of those injuries involved him getting into a fight. But the same thing happened to Taylor Hall and we all know how much of a headache his injuries became for fantasy GMs. Regardless, McDavid is a generational talent and should be good for his first 70-point campaign this year.
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