- Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks: Daniel was a bit of a disappointment last season with only 12 goals in 47 games.
Hopefully, he was just one of those players that just never really got into the groove due to the lockout, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit worried about him. He is now playing for a new coach that favors a defensive style rather than the wide open play he is used to, and there is also a new contract that may be weighing on his mind.
- Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars: The acquisition of Tyler Seguin allows the Stars to move Benn to his more natural left wing position. Benn now won’t have to worry about getting down low in his defensive end and can just concentrate on his offense, which is loaded with upside. Assuming Seguin blossoms into the player he was expected to be when selected second overall in the 2010 draft Benn could very easily approach 40 goals.
- Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers: Hall had his best season to date last year (16G, 34A) and is only getting better. He plays on a dynamic line with Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, for my money the best young line hockey, and should at the very least be a 30 goal scorer this season to go along with 75-plus points. The Oilers are weak on defense and average at best between the pipes, which could lead to quite a few shootouts this season, and that’s music to any Fantasy owner that has Hall or Eberle on their team.
- Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild: Parise had a solid campaign last season after signing his huge free agent contract. He would’ve been on pace for 31 goals had the season not been shortened by the lockout. Whether or not he can ever reach the 40 goal plateau could depend upon whether or not Mikko Koivu ever makes that jump to become a number one playmaking center. The chemistry with Jason Pominville, who was acquired from the Sabres at the trade deadline in April, will also be a factor.
- Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins: When you look at the Bruins depth chart, Marchand is listed as being on the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson, while Jarome Iginla, Milan Lucic, and David Krejci will form what is considered to be the top line. What does this tell me? Well for one, the Bruins are loaded, but also this could be good news for Fantasy players if opposing teams line up their number one defensive pairing against the top line, leaving what looks to be a much higher scoring line to go up against a weaker unit.
- Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks: Sharp reminds me so much of the Kings Jeff Carter; a pure sniper who can play center or wing. They both line up on the second line but both possess top line talent. Sharp excels at ramming home one-timers from the slot, especially on the power play. My one worry would be who will be centering his line; right now it’s Brandon Pirri, and I’d be lying if I said that fills me with confidence.
- Rick Nash, New York Rangers: Nash is the definition of a power forward, someone who is next to impossible to knock off the puck when chugging down the right side. His first season on Broadway was a success, as he had 21Gs and 42 points. An optimist could believe that he will do even better now that the Rangers have hired coach Alain Vigneault, who favors a more open style of offense.
- Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins: How many people realize that Kunitz was on a 40 goal pace last season? Like Pascal Dupuis and James Neal, he is reaping the benefits of playing with Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin. Defenses pay so much attention to those two that Kunitz sort of gets lost in the shuffle. He’s a savvy veteran, who knows where to be on the ice to either receive a pass or put in the rebound, and that is not as easy as it sounds.
- Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks: Marleau has taken quite a bit of grief over the years for the Shark’s inability to deep into the playoffs, but when you look at his numbers it’s hard to see why. He is a perennial 30-plus goal scorer who never made a peep about switching from center to wing. Perhaps you’re thinking it’s because he doesn’t show up in the playoffs. Well, looking at his numbers you see he has scored 57 goals in 140 games. Those numbers are pretty much on par with those in the regular season. Might be time to blame someone else – Joe Thornton anyone?
- Matt Moulson, New York Islanders: Moulson never seems to get the credit he deserves for someone who has averaged 31 goals over the past four seasons. He has also only missed one game over that time span. He plays on a line with one of the best players in the game in John Tavares and averages 10-plus PPGs a season. Sure he isn’t sexy, doesn’t skate around defenders, doesn’t have a booming shot, but he knows where to be on the ice and isn’t afraid to do the little things to score goals.
- Thomas Vanek, Buffalo Sabres: Vanek has been mentioned in a few trade rumors, as the Sabres look like they eventually may have to undergo a big time rebuilding. Now, Vanek had a fantastic year last season, scoring 20 goals in only 38 games, but look at who his line mates are this season – Cody Hodgson and free agent bust Ville Leino. Is there anyone else worried about how this trio will perform?
- Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs: Last season was an interesting one for Lupul. He missed 32 games due to a broken hand suffered when was hit by a Dion Phaneuf slap shot, but he also scored 11 goals in the 16 games he did play. Yikes. Prorate those numbers and you have a 50 goal season. Is that really possible for Lupul? Probably not, but he can score, and 30-40 goals should almost be automatic.
- Ryan O’Reilly, Colorado Avalanche: O’Reilly starts what would be my third tier of left wings. Guys who have upside but also have some question marks. O’Reilly is being moved from center to LW, so how he adjusts will go a long way towards deciding what kind of year he will have. I’m throwing out his numbers from last season (6G, 14A), as he was a holdout and really never got into the rhythm of a short season. The Avs remind me quite a bit of the Oilers and Islanders, young teams that are going to struggle defensively and in net, so they will have to outscore opposing teams to win games.
- Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche: The 2011-12 Calder Trophy winner also had a down year last season, and that may have been due to the concussion he suffered early on. The problem for Landeskog is that he was the loser in the decision to move O’Reilly to wing, as this forced his demotion to the second line, where he won’t play with the kind of talent that could make him a 30 goal scorer.
- Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings: Brown is the kind of player that gets under the skin of opponents. He plays the game on the edge, which means he will spend his share of time in the sin bin. That’s good for Fantasy owners looking for PIMs to go along with a player who will score 20-plus goals and has the upside to make that 30.
- Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings: Zetterberg’s name alone is probably why he will go higher in drafts than he really should. But look at his numbers over the past couple of seasons; he’s become a 20 goal scorer. Not to mention I also worry about quite a few of the Detroit forwards, as this is an aging group and we’re back to an 82 game season. Anyone else concerned about them breaking down as the season moves along?
- Dany Heatley, Minnesota Wild: Heatley would not even be on the Wild if not for the rules preventing a team from buying out a player who is hurt. So for now he is on the second line, which will certainly hurt his production. It would seem to be only a matter of time until he finds himself playing for a different team.
- James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs: JVR finally seems to have found a home in Toronto. He never quite reached his potential in Philly, but being paired Phil Kessel after Lupul went down to injury seems to have worked wonders. The big question will be whether or not JVR stays on that line now that Lupul is back.
- Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets: Ladd is yet another player that flies under the radar, but when you look closer at his numbers you see there is 30-goal potential to go along with 60 points. What’s even better is that you can get him late, as Fantasy owners seem to discount Winnipeg players for some reason.
- Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins: The Bruins may have had a great season last year, but Lucic did not with only seven goals in 46 games. Is this a sign of things to come? Probably not, but I don’t see 30 goals coming either. The Bruins possess two strong offensive lines and they won’t need Lucic to be out there when they absolutely have to score. He is not even the best left wing on the team (Marchand). In leagues that reward PIMS, however, he will certainly help out.
- Patrick Elias, New Jersey Devils: Sooner or later father time has to catch up to Elias.
- Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets: I’m loving all of the Jets, especially since I can draft them late. They can’t stop many from scoring, but they will score plenty of their own too. They are a fun team to watch.
- Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers: Well someone has to score for Florida now don’t they? If he played for a good team there would be plenty of hype about him.
- Milan Michalek, Ottawa Senators: An Injury ravaged season hurt him last year. Question now is, was he a one year wonder, or can he once again be relied upon by Fantasy owners?
- Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia Flyers: So many question marks here. He was also hurt last season. Hard to tell if 2011-12 was a breakout season or just a career year, and with the unknown status of Claude Giroux, just too many red flags for me.
- Jiri Tlusty, Carolina Hurricanes: Tlusty is another one year wonder for now, but he does play with Eric Staal.
- David Perron, Edmonton Oilers: Hopefully, the change of scenery will do him some good.
- Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes: Skinner had a huge rookie campaign, subpar second season, and picked it up again last year. Which player are we getting this season?
- Curtis Glencross, Calgary Flames: Might be the only Flame worth drafting.
- Bryan Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks: Bickell is getting a prime spot on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, which could lead to solid numbers. But if he underperforms, Chicago might play rotating wings until they find the right combination.
- Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens: Pacioretty had a breakout 2011-12 campaign but took a step back last season.
- Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks: In most leagues you should be able to draft him as a defenseman. If he stays at wing all season, he could score 20 goals.
- Chris Higgins, Vancouver Canucks: He will be playing on a line with Ryan Kesler, which should help.
- Alexander Steen, St. Louis Blues: One of these seasons the line of Steen, T.J. Oshie, and David Backes will have a big year.
- Tomas Fleischmann, Florida Panthers: Like the Flames, the Panthers are a lock for a lottery pick next year.
- Ryan Clowe, New Jersey Devils: Well Clowe had a down season for San Jose and seemed to be hurt for most of his time in New York. Maybe things will go better across the Hudson River.
- Josh Bailey, New York Islanders: Bailey came on strong during the last month of the season. Could this be a sign of things to come?
- Carl Hagelin, New York Rangers: Well, someone has to replace Marian Gaborik.
- Dustin Penner, Anaheim Ducks: He’s playing on the top line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.
- Viktor Stalberg, Nashville Predators: Stalberg will get his chance to shine on a team that really doesn’t have any pretty toys, not offensively anyway.
Feel free to follow me and ask any Fantasy related questions you like on twitter, @georgekurtz.
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