Puck drop is coming soon for the NHL as the Vegas Golden Knights look to defend their Stanley Cup against a host of teams, including the Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, and everyone else. Across the league, we’ve watched as rosters change and lineups take shape across the preseason.
With so much that happened, and so many players to know heading into your drafts, click on any specific team below for all the essential data heading into your drafts.
Jump ahead: Anaheim Ducks | Arizona Coyotes | Boston Bruins | Buffalo Sabres | Calgary Flames | Carolina Hurricanes | Chicago Blackhawks | Colorado Avalanche | Columbus Blue Jackets | Dallas Stars | Detroit Red Wings | Edmonton Oilers | Florida Panthers | Los Anglees Kings | Minnesota Wild | Montreal Canadiens | Nashville Predators | New Jersey Devils | New York Islanders | New York Rangers | Ottawa Senators | Philadelphia Flyers | Pittsburgh Penguins | San Jose Sharks | Seattle Kraken | St. Louis Blues | Tampa Bay Lightning | Toronto Maple Leafs | Vancouver Canucks | Vegas Golden Knights | Washington Capitals | Winnipeg Jets
It’s all about the kids in Anaheim. Under new coach Greg Cronin, forwards Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, and Mason McTavish are expected to take another step forward. Both Zegras and Terry have point/game potential, while McTavish should bust through 60 as a second-line center in his second full season. Outside of dynasty competition, roster-hopeful Leo Carlsson merits monitoring instead of immediately drafting in in all but the deepest fantasy leagues. Even if he manages to stick in the NHL for most of this season, a likely role in the bottom won’t reap immediate fantasy dividends.
While young defenseman Jamie Drysdale boasts breakthrough potential as the eventual heir apparent to Cam Fowler, don’t dismiss the elder defender in the here-and-now. Goalie John Gibson only appeals as a fantasy commodity if/when he’s traded away from a Ducks team that’s still in the process of growing and figuring it all out.
How about that Logan Cooley? Quickly stunning those unfamiliar with the elite prospect in early exhibition play, the 19-year-old is already injecting himself into the premature Calder conversation. No small feat, considering who’s making his own debut with the Blackhawks this fall. Forecast to center a second scoring line with new Coyote Jason Zucker and 20-year-old Dylan Guenther, the University of Minnesota dropout has 60-point-potential written all over him. As does Zucker, who benefits from playing with a pair of electric kids at even-strength and on the power play.
Otherwise, alongside rising center Barrett Hayton, winger Clayton Keller is due to score a bunch again after erupting for 86 points in his sixth season. Los Angeles export Sean Durzi is the most intriguing blue-line fantasy pick, as a threat to boot either Juuso Valimaki or J.J. Moser from the power play, while regularly contributing in other fantasy-relevant facets.
Two questions manifest for fantasy hockey when thinking about the retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci: Will David Pastrnak be OK without them? Will another center emerge as a strong fantasy asset?
Let’s answer both at once with the knowledge that Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha played 606 minutes at five-on-five last season, with a 65% goal share (45 goals), and Zacha should be Pastrnak’s pivot this season.
But replacing the total lost offensive talent won’t be simple, as Charlie Coyle and James van Riemsdyk are next up for the scoring lines. Brad Marchand might not rebound from his 129th overall showing last season, but Charlie McAvoy might improve on his 92nd-place finish.
The wins won’t be as plentiful as last season’s record showing for the franchise, and the initial expectation would be a split in the crease between Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman.
This season will be about even more evolution for the fantasy relevance of the up-and-coming Sabres. Joining the ranks of Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin among the top-25 overall is probably a tall order, but Dylan Cozens (with another big step forward) and Alex Tuch could crack the top 50.
Dahlin takes up a lot of space, so Owen Power may still need some seasoning before both of them can be fantasy forces together.
By not going another route in the offseason, the Sabres have indicated a willingness to let Devon Levi take the ball and run with it as the starter. Given the talent up front, there’s a ton of potential value packed in Levi as a fantasy pick.
Under rookie head coach Ryan Huska, fresh-faced GM Craig Conroy, and with new captain Mikael Backlund re-signed, there’s a wholly needed fresh wave of positivity in Calgary to launch 2023-24. So get ready for Jonathan Huberdeau to rebound after hemorrhaging 70 points from the previous season in Florida. No, he won’t collect 115 again, but 75 – 80 feels well within reach, skating on a line with top center Elias Lindholm. Same goes for Nazem Kadri, who stumbled his way through a 56-point campaign after pacing out at 1.23/game in 2021-22 with the Avalanche. Both will be better.
As will the go-to between the pipes for the Flames. One doesn’t simply challenge for the Vezina one year and then fall to pieces the following without several factors wreaking havoc. A fresh start with the aforementioned key figures at the helm should help clear those nasty influences away. Markstrom is a good-to-great goaltender. He’s worth a flier as a No. 2 in just about any league of reasonable size.
In deeper leagues, give rookie Matt Coronato a look as potential linemate to Kadri. The former Harvard boy can score. Yegor Sharangovich also serves as an interesting asset, in hoping for a clean slate after not quite figuring it out with any consistency in New Jersey. Particularly if he settles in the Flames’ top-six.
Despite the heaps of talent across the roster, only two Hurricanes cracked the top 100 for overall fantasy last season: Brent Burns and Martin Necas. Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov would have been there if not for injuries, though.
Michael Bunting gets a chance to jump into the top six, parlaying his experience with superstars in Toronto. And don’t sleep on Seth Jarvis hitting the breakout age curve for forwards.
The Hurricanes run six deep on defense and the top question is whether Burns can repeat again at age 38. As backup, Tony DeAngelo returns to the club as a potential power-play specialist.
Whoever is in net will get fantasy points, and Frederik Andersen will get another chance to claim the 1A starter gig.
They say that Connor Bedard kid is supposed to be something special. Fantasy managers now only need to suss out whether he’s going to be special to the tune of 60, 80, or 100 points this rookie season, and select him in redraft leagues accordingly. Playing alongside the 18-year-old on a top line and power play, Taylor Hall could be in for a point/game campaign, which would serve as a nice rebound showing after last season’s (comparatively) dreadful collection of 36 points in 61 games with the Bruins. There’s also merit to investing in whoever slides in on the other side of Bedard, be it Tyler Johnson or up-and-comer Taylor Raddysh.
Defenseman Seth Jones projects to lead Chicago’s blue line in scoring, with ease, in amassing 50 points or so and a good number of shots and blocked-shots. Again, playing with Bedard at even-strength and with the extra skater will boost Jones’ fantasy potential.
The addition of former Predator/Jacket Ryan Johansen is interesting. As is the acquisition of ex-Canadien Jonathan Drouin, who plodded his way through six (mostly incomplete) seasons in Montreal. In view of their respective fresh starts and projected new roles, both reclamation projects should intrigue fantasy managers in deeper leagues. The Avalanche finally have a proper replacement for Nazem Kadri on their second line in Johansen, while Drouin is poised to start the season on a top unit with former Halifax Mooseheads teammate/current top-five fantasy forward Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen (no slouch himself). It’s worth noting, this is what MacKinnon himself wants. With such linemates, the third overall draft pick (2013) should finally break through the 60-point barrier for the first time. Johansen boasts extra appeal as a proven scorer and projected asset on the Avalanche’s top power play. He’ll put up 70 points.
On the blue line, Cale Makar remains any manager’s choice No. 1 defenseman, particularly in leagues that reward power-play points at a premium. Third-year defender Bowen Byram is hoping his first full, healthy season results in a haul near 50 points. There’s no reason to expect a drop off from Alexandar Georgiev after last year’s impressive debut in Denver. Only Connor Hellebuyck and Juuse Saros started more games, and just Linus Ullmark won as many (40). Any fantasy quad would be lucky to have Georgiev as their No. 1 netminder.
The Blue Jackets massively upgraded their blue line this offseason, by virtue of Zach Werenski returning to health in conjunction with trades for Damon Severson and Ivan Provorov. They also added a potential top-line center (yes, starting now) in Adam Fantilli at the draft.
These upgrades should help return Johnny Gaudreau to elite and setup Patrik Laine to potential do the same.
So many sleepers for fantasy picks reside here, including Kirill Marchenko, Kent Johnson and the return of Alexandre Texier, but the depth chart will determine which ones potentially hit.
Elvis Merzlikins has been pretty rough to have in fantasy in recent campaigns, but the Blue Jackets did so much this offseason to the defense that it’s moderately tempting to consider stashing him late in drafts.
There’s an easy argument to be made for ranking Jake Oetinger above any other netminding asset in the NHL. Establishing himself as a top-tier fantasy goalie in 2022-23, Oettinger won 37 games, third most, while posting a 2.37 GAA. Not bad for a 24-year-old in his first full season as the club’s No. 1. While there’s talk Oettinger could see a marginal decrease in workload in 2023-24, don’t give that too much thought. Remember, the first-round draft selection (2017) lost only 11 games in regulation – another 11 in overtime in 2022-23. Such a ratio suggests he’s due a few more victories, when the Stars inevitably enjoy greater success in the extra frame, balancing out to an excellent fantasy performance once more.
A resurgent Jamie Benn joined the Stars’ top fantasy trio up front – Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Joe Pavelski – in averaging more than 2.0 fantasy points/game (2.1) in ESPN standard leagues this past season. After collecting a mere 46 points the previous, last year’s haul of 78, including 30 with the extra skater, feels difficult to replicate. However, alongside rising Sophomore center Wyatt Johnston, in and around 65 seems in reach for the physical veteran.
New to Dallas on a one-year deal, Matt Duchene is in position to kick his production back into gear after last season’s humdrum campaign in Nashville. Not to the tune of 83 from the previous year, but definitely more. Defenseman Miro Heiskanen is, far an away, the Stars’ No. 1 fantasy commodity on the blue line.
Adding a weapon like Alex DeBrincat could unlock the next level for Dylan Larkin and Moritz Seider, two already valuable fantasy commodities. DeBrincat brings some serious goal scoring to the power play. He was 18th overall for fantasy in the 2020-21 season.
Could that also help drive Lucas Raymond to the next level and a proper breakout for the third-year winger? If not, David Perron could be in for another sneaky, veteran fantasy season.
With an upgraded defense, Ville Husso is a candidate to rebound from a disappointing debut after the Red Wings invested in him last offseason.
The Oilers’ top-two forwards remain clear first and second draft selections, in all fantasy scoring leagues. New winger Connor Brown should see the best numbers of his career, skating on the right side of the finest center on the planet, while a healthy Evander Kane boasts 40-goal potential on McDavid’s other flank. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (104 points) and Zach Hyman (83) aren’t likely to replicate their outstanding numbers from last year, but still have the wherewithal to finish Top-25 and Top-35 in scoring respectively.
On defense, Darnell Nurse does it all well, whereas Evan Bouchard shines brightest in fantasy leagues that reward power-play production at a premium.
It’s between the pipes where the Oilers’ most pressing fantasy questions lie. Does Sophomore Stuart Skinner have the makeup to establish himself as one of the league’s most consistent netminders? Is Jack Campbell in for a bounce back campaign after last year’s dismal act? Fantasy members who answer “yes” to the first query should definitely target Skinner as their No. 2 in deeper leagues. Those optimistic about the second possibility might consider Campbell a late-grab sleeper pick with the potential to surprise.
Injuries to Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour will keep the team’s two best fantasy defenders on the sidelines until what sounds like November or December. It’s a massive opportunity for Gustav Forsling.
You know the superstars that drive the offense, which means there are roles up for grabs next to Aleksander Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk beyond Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Bennett; Could it be Evan Rodrigues? Eetu Luostarinen? Asking for Verhaeghe to repeat his massive showing is a tall ask, and remember his 42 goals still only drive him to 67th overall for fantasy.
But perhaps the biggest question here is the crease. Sergei Bobrovsky will be trying to channel some of that postseason magic into the regular season. Spencer Knight, meantime, is back from the player assistance program and looking to recapture his from.
The fresh forward pairing of Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kevin Fiala in L.A. should entice fantasy fanatics everywhere. After campaigning for a change of scenery, again, the former Jets center has plenty to prove in his new, again, environs. Centering a top-six line with Fiala – who just earned 72 points in 69 games in his first turn with the Kings – will offer Dubois an excellent chance to make a positive first impression. If fantasy stalwart Anze Kopitar ranks higher than either Dubois or Fiala it’s only because of the captain’s consistent production, year over year. Meanwhile, Kopitar’s linemate Adrian Kempe is coming off his first 40-plus goal season (41) and stands poised to chase down that number once more.
Those interested in a sleeper asset up front might give Quinton Byfield a good, long look. After two part-time seasons with the Kings, the 21-year-old is expected to kick it up a notch, enjoying a regular shot to compete within this club’s impressive top-six. Byfield is worth a gander in deeper leagues, no question.
Some will argue that pundits aren’t addressing Pheonix Copley enough as a fantasy asset with great upside between the Kings’ pipes. He was sufficiently good in 37 games this past season, posting a 24-6-3 record and 2.64 GAA. With Jonathan Quick thousands of miles away in the Big Apple, and new backup Cam Talbot hoping to rebound off last year’s unsavory experience in Ottawa, the Kings’ net – behind an admirable defensive corps – could/should belong to Copley, at least to start.
On that particular blue line, veteran Drew Doughty endures as fantasy royalty, while rookie Brandt Clarke is hoping to become a household name, inside and out of fantasy circles, in short order.
Superstar Kirill Kaprizov serves as an elite fantasy star, capable of amassing upwards of 100 points, when active. Take note, he’s healthy, and considerably fired up, right now. Kaprizov’s projected linemates, Mats Zuccarello and, once fully recovered from an upper-body issue, Ryan Hartman, present as serviceable, and often underappreciated, fantasy commodities to draft in later rounds. But not before Matt Boldy or Joel Eriksson Ek, who both pack more fantasy punch from the second line. Eriksson Ek furthermore sports that bit of extra fantasy swagger in leagues that reward hits.
Young blueliner Calen Addison operates as an off-radar asset in fantasy competition that favors power play points. The now 23-year-old led the Wild’s blue line with 18 power-play points, and it wasn’t even close, in just 62 games last year – his first full NHL campaign.
Minnesota’s net likely now belongs to Filip Gustavsson, with aged veteran Marc-Andre Fleury on board to pitch in here and there. Gustavsson was outstanding through 39 games in 2022-23, boasting a 22-9-7 record, 2.10 GAA, and .931 SV%. He’ll start at least 50 contests this round.
Whether the Habs are ready to compete on the whole is debatable, but Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield are primed for a major breakout here. There are another scatter of possibilities for fantasy on the offense, not the least of which is Kirby Dach, but also Sean Monahan, Josh Anderson, Juraj Slafkovsky and Alex Newhook, all battling for opportunity.
Rafael Harvey-Pinard put up huge numbers across just 34 games, so he’ll be one to watch at the start of the season to see if he can repeat it.
However, as much as the offense is going to be fun for fantasy, the Canadiens are still not loaded on the back end. There’s no reason to think Jake Allen is going to suddenly lock down the crease. Mike Matheson was a pleasant surprise on the blue line with 2.20 fantasy points per game — and he may get the chance to do it again with few challengers.
Defenseman Roman Josi remains a bonafide star in the fantasy hockey field, checking essentially every box with flourish. If Colorado’s Cale Makar is already spoken for, draft-wise, managers could do much worse than “settle” for Nashville’s star veteran as a consolation option.
In net, the Predators’ No. 1 played 64 games in 2022-23, three fewer than the previous season, while posting a nearly identical .919 SV% and 2.69 GAA. If this re-tooled team can remain competitive under new coach Andrew Brunette, and win games in step with his more “offensive brand” of hockey, Juuse Saros endures as a Top-5 goalie asset in most fantasy leagues.
As for who’s scoring for the Predators this season, the smartest cash is on the forward pairing of Filip Forsberg and new center Ryan O’Reilly. Before losing the final 32 games to an upper-body injury, Forsberg collected 19 goals and 23 assists in 50 contests, down from the previous year’s totals of 42 and 42.
Second-line winger Tommy Novak is looking to replicate, if not better, last year’s unanticipated haul of 43 points in 51 games. Not bad for a skater who played a good part of the season in the AHL. There’s no reason to believe Novak can’t again flirt with a similar pace, but this time through a full run in the NHL. Fantasy managers in deeper leagues should keep that possibility in mind.
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The Devils will be centered around Jack Hughes building on his 18th-overall fantasy showing from last season, with Nico Hischier anchoring the second line with his 42nd-overall finish. Mixing in around them will be some valuable wingers, including some potential new ones like Tyler Toffoli (aiming to rebound) and Alexander Holtz (aiming to establish himself).
An offseason to get used to his role with the Devils could also propel Timo Meier back to the fantasy elite.
Dougie Hamilton takes a lot of air out of the room when it comes to the defense, but Jack’s brother Luke Hughes will be trying to bring his offensive touch, too.
Vitek Vanecek is the 1A starter, but Akira Schmid showed some flashes last season. The crease here should generate value regardless, so earning minutes will determine how much value they each have.
A new coach could bring new dynamics to the Rangers’ still-potent offense with Mika Zibanejad as the anchor. Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin didn’t meet the same threshold last season that they did in 2021-22. Can coach Peter Laviolette help hold off the decline in value?
Perhaps more importantly: Can Laviolette bring out the best in Alexis Lafreniere or Kaapo Kakko? Or find an offensive role that benefits Blake Wheeler?
The defense remains strong for fantasy, with Adam Fox challenging for best overall among defenders, Jacob Trouba remaining a source for counting stats and K’Andre Miller finding value.
Igor Shesterkin will benefit from the team recapturing its form as a whole and remains a lock as a top goaltending choice.
Built from the net out, Ilya Sorokin is easily the best fantasy pick from the Islanders. The team is constructed to drive his value.
A healthy Mathew Barzal hasn’t had a heck of a lot of time to gel with Bo Horvat, so the hope is that the latter can prop up Barzal’s stagnated value in recent seasons. If they stick together, there will be a golden opportunity on the other wing for someone — and Oliver Wahlstrom has the inside track.
Noah Dobson already has quality seasons under his belt, but is also coming into the breakout age for defense.
With the core now constructed and signed long-term, it’s time for the Senators to take the next step. Tim Stutzle stepped past an injured Josh Norris to be the top-line center. So the good times should role with both of them healthy.
Brady Tkachuk and Drake Batherson are on an upward trajectory among the top six, while Claude Giroux and the newly arrived Vladimir Tarasenko will be trying to conjure up past glory with their great surroundings.
The defense is deep, with Thomas Chabot still likely at the top of the pyramid, but ebbs and flows where Jakob Chychrun and Jake Sanderson take turns as top dog are likely.
There is also a lot of pressure on Joonas Korpisalo to show his performances from last season — with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Los Angeles Kings — can carryover to a starting role. It’s worth taking a chance on him.
One again, the status of Sean Couturier going into a season is a hot topic for fantasy. A healthy Couturier back with Travis Konecny could get them both grooving on offense. Even though the Flyers are in a quasi-rebuild, they have a complete top six pushing against the door for fantasy. Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost and Owen Tippett represent the future, while Scott Laughton was a surprise at No. 158 overall for fantasy last season.
With Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngelo out the door, Cam York has a clear path to power-play quarterback duties.
Carter Hart represents risk versus reward, with the likelihood that this will be another down year as he waits for an opportunity to backstop a playoff-bound team.
Erik Karlsson is a Hail Mary for the this aging Penguins core, but a Hail Mary sometimes does the trick. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang should have at least one year left in them to push elite levels. Adding a rejuvenated, Norris-defending Karlsson to the mix will make this a dangerous, if top-heavy offense.
Jake Guentzel’s injury to start the season opens a small window for Reilly Smith to gain some footing in the top six after coming over from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Tristan Jarry needs to rebound from a down season that was hampered by injury. If the Penguins can rally for a solid season, Jarry could remind us how he finished 25th overall for fantasy in 2021-22.
The fantasy pickings are a bit slim with a Sharks squad that isn’t anticipated to comparatively score much or win a lot of games. Forward Tomas Hertl will produce, that we know. Maybe even to the tune of 70 points or so. When returned to health, now seemingly sooner rather than later, veteran Logan Couture is likely to contribute on the regular.
Otherwise, this collection of exports from elsewhere – Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Mikael Granlund – is estimated to plod along without providing too many fireworks. However, whichever defenseman lands on San Jose’s top power play – be it Mario Ferraro or Jacob MacDonald – deserves a little extra fantasy love from simply falling into that fruitful position.
Forward Jared McCann won’t score 40 goals again this year. The odds of Vince Dunn potting another 64 points from the blue line feel equally long. Each showing was far too anomalous in respect to either’s resume to reasonably expect the same again. Instead, chalk up the top-line forward for a still-impressive 30/30, and Dunn for a respectable 50-point campaign, with a good number of assists counting with the extra skater. On the other hand, top center Matty Beniers appears on the upswing after bursting forth with 24 goals and 33 helpers in his rookie season. The reigning Calder winner projects to eclipse 60-65 points in his Sophomore campaign.
If he holds up physically – and that won’t become more clear until we’re a few games in – Andre Burakovsky serves as a nifty sleeper candidate. Before tearing his groin in February, the winger potted 39 points in 49 games, including 14 on the power play. Forwards Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle merit fantasy consideration in the deepest scoring leagues, while rookie Shane Wright appears bound for a full-ish round of seasoning in the AHL.
The Blues expect both Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou to be better after lackluster campaigns in 2022-23. If all goes to plan, the top-line/power-play pair will justify their respective $8.125-million annual paychecks in leading St. Louis in scoring.
When fit, forward Pavel Buchnevich can be comfortably counted on to average a point/game. Outside of the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 run with the Rangers, the 28-year-old has yet to play a (near) full season.
While defender Torey Krug has the higher fantasy ceiling, it’s worth noting Justin Faulk is coming off the most productive – to the tune of 50 points – season of his NHL career. Faulk also doesn’t shy away from shooting on net and blocking opposing shots.
Rookie Joel Hofer is expected to challenge Jordan Binnington for playing opportunities in goal. If Binnington continues to decline as he has recently, the 23-year-old will get his chances.
Talk about a challenge to start the season! Andrei Vasilevskiy, the backbone of the Bolts, is out for at least two months following back surgery. And you know there will be questions about whether he can return to form after those two short months.
This doesn’t change the skaters available for fantasy, hopefully, but does change the dynamic under which they will play. With the knowledge that your goaltender is one of the best behind you, it can change how a team plays.
And, no, Jonas Johansson is probably not worth a high investment. But you could stash him at the end of deeper drafts.
But, for the time being, you can still treat the core as you would for fantasy. Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point are the big three, with Brandon Hagel possibly pushing for a bigger share with Alex Killorn out of town.
Mikhail Sergachev will be pushing Victor Hedman for a larger share of the pie again — and he earned it last season, beating Hedman for overall value.
Adding some fresh faces to four top-40 fantasy forwards from last season could have the Leafs looking to push three deep on their lines. Certainly that’s been some of the preseason looks they’ve been giving, with Auston Matthews, John Tavares and William Nylander all down the middle.
Tyler Bertuzzi feels like a natural replacement for Michael Bunting on the top line and could be in for big fantasy boost with his new linemates. Matthew Knies and Max Domi will be vying for a shot at value in the top six, too, but none of these new faces will get access to the power play.
Ilya Samsonov comes into his second season in Toronto with no questions about his role as the No. 1 starter, so his 108th-overall fantasy finish last season may have just been a preview.
Now healthy, Thatcher Demko will have an easier time of it with new defenders Ian Cole and Carson Soucy aboard. It’s also worth noting the Canucks were significantly better defensively once Rick Tocchet took over for Bruce Boudreau. Poised to earn around 60 starts, Demko presents as a Top-15 fantasy goalie one more, especially if Vancouver’s most productive up front continue to put the puck in the opposing goal at the same rate as last season (3.61/game).
Like Elias Pettersson who erupted for 102 points in 2022-23.
Or J.T. Miller, who fell back to a point/game pace with 82 in 81 contests.
Everyone knows Andrei Kuzmenko-truly in the best shape of his life, apparently, is dying to score 40 after falling one shy through his first NHL season. Don’t sleep on Kuzmenko; he’s driven.
Forward Anthony Beauvillier sports solid fantasy dark-horse potential as a winger alongside Pettersson. After playing less than half the season in Vancouver following his trade from the Islanders, the adjustment period is over. Power-play machine Quinn Hughes is a Top-10 fantasy defender in most scoring-heavy fantasy leagues.
Vegas Golden Knights
The state of Mark Stone’s health is a persistent concern. When fit and able, the veteran winger is a formidable fantasy force, more than capable of maintaining a point/game pace. Unfortunately, his enduring back issues are always playing in potentially costing the veteran anywhere from a handful to a considerable number of games.
On the flip side, Jack Eichel appears in solid shape after his own stretch of serious injury concerns. As demonstrated by his performance on route to winning the Knights’ first Cup, the club’s top center is more than capable of eclipsing the 80-85 point mark, while averaging close to four shots/contest. No question, he’s a fantasy centerman worth grabbing very early on.
Top-six contributors Ivan Barbashev, Chandler Stephenson, and Jonathan Marchessault also merit draft consideration in mid-to-late rounds, as fantasy assets in all but the shallowest of leagues.
On the blue line, Alex Pietrangelo is as well-rounded as they come in fantasy competition that recognizes scoring, along with defensive categories (see: blocked-shots). Shea Theodore provides extra fantasy pop in leagues where power-play points count as a premium. In net, a now-healthy Logan Thomspon is hoping to steal starts from the recently re-signed, and postseason darling, Adin Hill, who appears to own the starter’s gig, at least out of the gates.
A new coach could breathe some new life into this aging offense, as Spencer Carbery brings his power-play tricks from the Leafs to help Alex Ovechkin continue his goal hunt on the advantage.
But for this to truly work, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson and John Carlson all need to have bounce-back campaigns. Heck, even Anthony Mantha and eventually an injured Max Pacioretty need to do the same.
In other words, there’s a lot of risk with this squad.
If things go well, Darcy Kuemper would be a fantasy boon, but his fortune will ride with the overall fortunes of his teammates.
With Pierre-Luc Dubois and Blake Wheeler sent packing, youngsters Cole Perfetti and Gabriel Vilardi are being gifted ripe opportunities to carve out permanent roles within the Jets’ top six. As second-line center in the case of Perfetti, and somewhere on the wing regarding Vilardi. However it shakes out, it’s time for both to make some productive hay, particularly the former King, who enters his fourth full season at age 24.
After Kyle Connor, who’s going to pot more than 40 goals again after last year’s stumble, Mark Scheifele, and Nikolaj Ehlers are drafted, the aforementioned up-and-comers should catch any deep-league manager’s eye.
Defenseman Josh Morrissey is a great, if not elite, fantasy asset as the Jets’ top power-play quarterback. The major concern being last season’s collection of 76 points (60 assists) was wildly out of character for the seven-year veteran. Asking for another 70-plus might be too big a demand. Near 60? Sure, okay.
Connor Hellebuyck is a top-tier goaltender who isn’t so sure he wants to remain in Winnipeg after his contract expires next summer. So he could move mid-season. Meaning recent acquisition Laurent Brossoit, who just won a Cup with Vegas, might become a lot busier than initially thought. That tidbit can’t be overlooked in any but the shallowest of fantasy leagues.
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