We’re just days away from puck drop on the 2016-17 Fantasy Hockey season. Below are a few sleepers, busts, targets and breakouts as well as Fantasy Hockey rankings for the upcoming season. Keep in mind, there really isn’t a standard format when it comes to playing Fantasy Hockey. Some play with plus/minus, others like myself choose to leave that stat out. I’d much rather play with hits, shots on goal, power play points and blocks as opposed to plus/minus and penalty minutes. If you’re playing in a straight points league than Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby are sure bets at the top of the overall ranks, but if you play with shots and hits than Alex Ovechkin is my number one overall player.
It’s very important to take a goalie within the first three rounds of your draft. Your standard head-to-head league consists of four goalie categories – four of the 10 total – which is huge. Grabbing a top five goalie will go along way and keep you in your matchup each week. Carey Price and Braden Holtby will begin the goalie run and it’ll happen early in the second round. Price, Holtby and Ben Bishop will be on a lot of my teams.
I also have no problem waiting it out and looking for upside and value when it comes to drafting goalies. At least in a couple of your leagues. Last year you could of taken care of your net by representing a team – GBC – Goalie By Committee the Fantasy Football in me says. Jake Allen and Brian Elloitt in St. Louis or Frederik Andersen and John Gibson in Anaheim. Two good teams with four good goalies who produced almost every single night. You were always guaranteeing yourself a start when St. Louis or Anaheim played.
With Elliott playing in Calgary and Andersen looking to take the starting role in Toronto, all four will have a chance to be the guy. This year you could draft both Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray (hand) who has seen his rank drop since his injury. The same can be said for Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss or Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason. It’s quite possible you won’t be able to employ that strategy in the first place, which is why drafting a Top 5 goalie is so important.
Jenner touches all categories as he finished the 2015-16 season with 30 goals, 14 power play points, 225 shots on goal, 213 hits and 71 blocks. Jenner was one of only four players to have at least 20 plus goals and 200 plus hits. He was also one of only four players to finish with 200 plus shots and 200 plus hits. In fact, Jenner and Alex Ovechkin were the only two players in the league to have 30 plus goals and 200 plus hits last season.
Monahan is a straight up sniper! He’s scored 80 goals over his first three seasons and has seen an increase in points in each of those years. He’s one of the best faceoff players in the league if you’re into playing with that stat. He’ll eventually be a 35-40 goal scorer in the league and it could happen as soon as 2016. Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau got it going on. They scored over 30 percent of the Calgary Flames goals last season.
Malkin hasn’t played a full season in the NHL since 2008 and although he’s averaged over a point per game for his career, I think we’ve seen the best of the Russian center. Malkin found himself on the third line during Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup run and made a very limited impact during the World Cup of Hockey. In fact, several Russian’s finished with higher TOI totals than him. Malkin is now on the wrong side of 30 having just celebrated his dirty thirty. Seems like it’s all down hill for him.
Scheifele is in for a breakout season, if you don’t count the 29 goals and 61 points he managed last year as one. 194 shots and about a goal every other game in the second half of the season last year shows us he’s ready for the spotlight. Scheifele is slated to play with rookie Patrik Laine and Blake Wheeler in what will be a dynamic trio in Winnipeg. Scheifele averaged 0.62 points per game in his first 37 games, but turned it up by averaging 1.12 in his final 34.
Galchenyuk moved into a center role in Montreal, number 1 on the team and that’s when he took off. The former third overall pick scored nine goals in his rookie season, 13 in 2013, 20 in 2014 and 30 last season. He put up career highs not only in goals, but assists, points and shots on goal. He’s primed to continue to improve. Expect Galchenyuk to skate with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher. Galchenyuk scored 16 goals in his final 22 games, while playing at the center position with Pacioretty by his side.
Schenn had a career high in goals (26), assists (33), points (59), plus minus (+3), power play points (22) and shots (178). He also threw 187 hits and should find himself playing with Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux. The trio was one of the hottest lines going in the second half of the season.
Henrique went from scoring 16 goals in 2014 to reaching the 30 mark last year which was a career high for him in terms of goals and points (50). He’s the number one center this year in New Jersey and will get to play with Taylor Hall this season. Henrique has shown he can be productive on the power play and penalty kill. He needs to be on your radar.
Rask is slated to be the Hurricanes’ first line center and he’s fresh off a 21 goal, 48 point sophomore season. A big difference from the 11 goals and 33 points he managed in his rookie campaign. He won’t cost much on draft day, in fact he may go undrafted. That would be a mistake. Expect 20 power play points, 25 plus goals and 200 plus shots.
Zibanejad has seen his point totals do this since 2012; 20, 33, 46 and then 51 last season. His last season with the Ottawa Senators as the center was shipped to the New York Rangers in the offseason. 25 plus goals and 60 plus points is attainable for Zibanejad in the big apple. In 2015 he fired 150 pucks on net, last year he had 184. Expect 200 plus in 2016.
It’s NHL or another season in the OHL for Marner and he just has nowhere else to go but up having put up 116 points in 53 games last year while playing for the London Knights. Marner followed up that regular season by putting up 44 points in 45 playoff games. He has 242 points in his last two regular seasons in London. He’s a great target in later rounds and needs to be on your radar in keeper leagues.
Toews’ point total declined for a third straight year in 2015 as he only managed to put up 58 points. It’s his assists numbers that continue to drop as he’s scored 28 goals three straight seasons. For years, he’s always had the better linemates, but this year he’ll be stuck with an aging Marian Hossa while Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin continue to to hit the highlight reel.
Marchand is coming off a career high in goals (37), points (61), blocks (35), power play points (8), short handed points (8) and shots on goal (250). He had a terrific showing for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey and he will no doubt carry that over in 2016. He gets a slight boost if you play with shorthanded points as he’s one of the better penalty killers in the league.
Drouin had quite the year last season; benched most of the time, press box, minors, failed to show up, demanded a trade, returned for playoffs and picked up 14 points in 17 games. Now that he’s found some confidence and he’s found chemistry with some of his teammates, expect the Jonathan Drouin we all thought we were getting when he was selected third overall in 2013.
Ladd has bust written all over him; what an awful singing by the New York Islanders. Ladd put up only 34 points in 59 games with the Jets before getting traded to the Blackhawks at the deadline. Although he picked up 12 points in 19 games in Chicago he found himself on the bench more than on the ice. He’s a guy who can help you across the board and should benefit from playing with John Tavares, but we’ve seen the best of him and he looked pretty slow during the playoffs. He declined in every single category last season. Expect the same this year.
Kane has been in the news for all the wrong things over the past few years, but there is no doubting his skill. Kane only managed to play 65 games in Buffalo last year, but he was able to score 20 goals, pick up 171 hits and 271 shots on goal. If he can manage to play a full season, 30 goals, 200 plus hits and 300 plus shots are in reach. People may shy away from him come draft day which could mean even more value as he’ll be playing in a top six role with some skilled forwards.
Maroon is someone you can spend a last pick on if you want. He excelled in Edmonton after being traded from Anaheim, scoring 14 points in 16 games. Milan Lucic is slated to play with Connor McDavid, but nothing is set in stone. Maroon could find himself with power play time and decent linemates. He gets a boost in penalty minute and hit leagues.
Pavelski is another guy who hits all categories. 38 goals, 40 assists, +25, 147 hits and 224 shots on goal last season. There’s not doubt he’s a first round pick, but he gets a boost in leagues with hits, shots, plus/minus and faceoff wins. Pavelski has a plus +60 rating and 90 power play points over his last three years. Pavelski no longer has eligibility at each forward position, but two out of three ain’t bad.
Simmonds touches every single Fantasy Hockey category and he does a fantastic job with each. Simmonds had 60 points, 32 goals, 21 power play points, 229 shots on goals, 192 hits and racked up a career high 147 penalty minutes in 2015. Simmonds has scored at least 28 goals his last four seasons and simmonI’m not counting 2012-13 lockout season where he had 15. He scored 28 the year before and is expected to hit 30 again this year playing alongside Claude Giroux who has the most points in the NHL since 2011.
Gallagher was on his way to a career season in year four in the NHL. The right winger had 19 goals and 40 points in 53 games – on pace for 60 plus points if not for two separate injuries which kept him sidelined. Gallagher can hits 25-30 goals while providing a a few hits, power play points and a ton of shots on goal.
Much like Simmonds and Gallagher, Brouwer brings a bit of everything to Fantasy Hockey. He scored 18 goals last year, picked up 10 power play points, hit 200 people and put 142 pucks on net. It sounds like Brouwer will either play with Sam Bennett or Sean Monahan. Two very skilled centers. Matthew Tkachuk, Bennett and Brouwer already seem to have chemistry.
A game-high seven shots on goal for Sam Bennett. Mark Giordano next with four. Between Bennett and Troy Brouwer, they had 15 shot attempts.
— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) September 27, 2016
Worst Brouwer plays with Monahan and Johnny Geadreau which is not bad at all.
Don’t be fooled by name value here. Hossa is a terrific hockey player. He was Chicago’s best player in a 7-game series against the Blues last year and he was productive in the World Cup of Hockey while playing for Team Europe. Problem is, Hossa enters his 19th season and is a coming off a season where he scored a career low 13 goals.
Smith scored 21 goals last season and has now scored at least 21 in three straight seasons. His 37 points across 82 games was a far cry from his 52 and 44 over the last two years. Smith found chemistry in a top six role when Ryan Johansen was acquired. You can count on 50 plus points from Smith in 2016.
In leagues with goals, assists, power play points, shots on goal, hits and blocks, Brent Burns finished as the number one overall Fantasy Hockey player. Four spots ahead of Erik Karlsson and we are really splitting hairs here when it comes to ranking them. They may even go back to back in drafts.
That said, Burns had 353 shots in 2015 which was the second most in the league and over 100 more than Karlsson. Not as many points, but more goals while playing on a lethal power play in San Jose that ranked third last season. The Sharks have had a top 10 power play in the league for eight of the last ten seasons. The power play points, extra hits and shots are the categories that help you win your matchups.
Weber finished fourth in goals (20), first in power play goals (14) and was one of only seven defensemen to finish with 175 plus shots, 100 plus hits and blocks. All of those numbers were good for a 4th overall finish at his position. The move to Montreal should have no negative impact on his overall game and is a discount for where he’s going in drafts.
Carlson was on his way for a career year until he suffered a knee injury. Ready to top his 55 points (16 ppp) in 82 games back in 2014-15. Carlson finished last season with 39 points in 56 games with 14 of them coming on the power play. He averaged more than three power play minutes a game in 2016 compared to 2015 and he will once again quarterback a fantastic PP in Washington. He’s a top five shot blocker in the league and deserves a boost in those formats.
Ristolainen is one of just a handful of defensmen to rack up 200 plus shots, 130 plus hits and blocks. 21 of his 41 points came on the power play as he doubled his point total from his second to third year in the NHL. The 6-3, 21-year-old can skate like the wind and will continue to progress with a young and exciting Sabres squad that will put up some goals in 2016. They’ll also allow a few which gives Ristolainen a slight decrease in plus minus leagues.
Daley only had six assists in 29 games for Chicago last year, but he excelled when traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He had 22 points in 53 games and spent time on the time power play unit where he had seven points. 19 of his 22 points came in his final 40 games with Pittsburgh showing he became much more comfortable in their system. Daley picked up another six points during the playoffs before suffering an ankle injury. He makes for a great late pick to round out your D group.
Rielly has seen his point total go from 27 in his rookie year to 29 in year two and now 39 just last season. There’s no question he’ll continue to improve and is the staple on the blue line where he’ll man a power play with some good young players. Reilly only threw 58 hits after totaling 95 plus in each of his first two seasons, but his blocks and shots on goal have risen in each of the past two seasons as he gets more ice time. The Maple Leafs should be better this season but expect Rielly to finish as a minus player four the fourth straight season.
Kulikov will most likely go undrafted in 90 percent of leagues this year, but his ownership will surpass the 50 percent mark by mid season. Last year in Florida, Kulikov came one shot away from 100 plus which would have been a nice addition to his 100 plus hits and blocks. Kulikov didn’t light up the score sheet having only put up 17 points, but even though he was the 3rd or 4th option on the power play he still managed to pick up six PPP. The Russian defenseman will get more ice in Buffalo and plenty more minutes on the PP.
Dumba scored 10 goals and added 16 assists in his third and first full season in the NHL. Dumba only played 13 games as a rookie in 2013 and only 58 in 2014. He managed to score eight goals in both of those years proving he as a knack for finding the back of the net. Look for his ice time to come up and his 12 points on the power play last season should be his floor this year.