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Hey everyone!  With the season fast approaching, I’m going to put the team previews to the side and instead focus on the prospects.  You can find my rankings under the banner at the top of the page and I’ll have an updated top 200 on one page up on Wednesday morning.  I’m going to cover the rest of the Central Division in this post and then have an entire post on Pacific Division prospects later in the week.  Let’s go team by team looking at their top few prospects and their fantasy potential:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

SMASHVILLE brought itself onto the national scene making a run to the Stanley Cup Finals despite finishing 4th in the division.  They were a couple questionable calls away from potentially winning a Cup in their first trip in franchise history.  I’m not upset about it or anything, I only bet them to win the Cup in the preseason last year :/  Anyways, most of their team is back with a couple supplementary additions to help make another deep run.  Let’s take a look at what Peter Laviolette has to work with:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The St. Louis Blues had quite the roller coaster ride of a season in 2016-17.  They started off slowly before rallying to the point where playoffs were a certainty.  That didn’t stop Doug Armstrong from shipping out Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline after they couldn’t agree to a contract extension.  Despite the loss of Shattenkirk and Robby Fabbri to a torn ACL, the Blues upset the Wild in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Predators in round 2.  There are some questions on the blue line and in net but their forward group, if healthy, has incredible depth plus elite talent.  Let’s take a look at what Mike Yeo has to work with:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Minnesota Wild had an excellent regular season in 2016-17, their first under Bruce Boudreau, finishing with 106 points.  Unfortunately for them, they had another first round exit, this time as a prohibitive favorite against the St. Louis Blues.  I was all in on the Wild last year in the regular season strictly because of Boudreau; the man is as good as it gets behind the bench.  Arguably my biggest call of the year, having Devan Dubnyk 40 spots higher than ADP, worked out perfectly as Dubnyk finished as the #3 overall goalie.  With a few players breaking out and others finding their form again, the Wild remain a very interesting team for fantasy purposes.  Let’s take a look at the plethora of options Boudreau has to work with: 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Chicago Blackhawks were the best team in the Western Conference during the 2016-17 regular season but unlike in years past, the postseason had no success.  The Blackhawks were demolished in the first round by the Predators leading them to make some radical offseason changes.  Out goes Artemi Panarin, back comes Brandon Saad.  Out goes Marian Hossa due to injury, back comes Patrick Sharp.  Out goes Niklas Hjalmarsson, Connor Murphy comes back in return.  Overall, I really don’t like the direction that Chicago is going as I discussed on this podcast.  Despite the fact that I think they could be in a battle this season just to make the playoffs, there’s still plenty of fantasy talents worth discussing.  Let’s take a look at what they’re working with:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It seems counter-intuitive to say but last season was great for the long term future of the New Jersey Devils.  For the last few seasons, the Devils have been outside of the playoffs but not high enough to get a top 5 pick.  Luckily for them, the lottery ball fell their way and Nico Hischier fell into their laps.  They’re still going to be bad this year (if they don’t finish last in the Metro, it’s a miracle) because their defensemen are an abomination but how bad is going to come down to goaltending and the progression of their young talent.  The good news is their top six has a fair amount of talent for fantasy hockey so they’re not a complete wasteland.  Let’s take a look at what the Devils are working with:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

If I had to pick a team to break out this year like Columbus did last season, it would be the Carolina Hurricanes.  They have an excellent young core in place, especially on the blue line, and now they may finally an answer in net.  After being dragged down by a few different goalies (mostly Cam Ward), Scott Darling now gets his chance to be a #1 goalie.  If his performance in Chicago is a predictor for the future, Darling should be just what the Hurricanes need to make the jump.  Let’s take a look at what Carolina is working with:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Philadelphia Flyers were one of the most irrelevant teams in the league last season.  That’s not to say they were a complete bottom feeder, they certainly weren’t, but they were never truly in the playoff hunt either.  The majority of their top players had down seasons leaving them with the third most points of any non-playoff team 7 points out.  Luckily for them, the lottery gods were on their side as they hit a 7.3% chance of moving into the top three in the lottery, and more importantly, a 4.6% chance of moving into the top two.  In comes Nolan Patrick to add to their developing young core.  Can their core members who are currently in their prime bounce back?  Can their blue line be even average?  What will they get in net?  As Reid and I talked about in our Metro Division preview podcast, they are on the biggest wild cards in the league.  Let’s take a look at what the Flyers are working with to see if we have any answers for fantasy this coming season:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
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