We’ve finally made it to team 30. The Anaheim Ducks are the last team to preview for the upcoming season following a Pacific Division title. They ended up losing in game 7 to Nashville in the first round leading them to make a pair of horrible coaching decisions. Firing Bruce Boudreau and hiring Randy Carlyle is an absolute disaster for this team going from one of the best to one of the worst. I suspect that the change alone costs this team at least 10 points. Anyways, there’s still plenty of talent here at different age points that are worth looking at so let’s get to it!
Finally this goaltending situation is in the hands of one man. Former #1 goaltending prospect John Gibson is the true #1 following the trade of Frederik Andersen to Toronto. Gibson was terrific in his 40 games last season with a 2.07 GAA and .920 sv%. The biggest question around Gibson is whether or not he can produce over a full season but I have little doubt about it. I ranked Gibson 58th overall as my #11 goalie. I think that #11 is probably right but he needs to move up closer to goalies 8-10 so that’ll happen in my rankings update. He should be a bottom end #1 goalie this season and Gibson is as good as it gets for dynasties.
Jonathan Bernier comes over from Toronto to backup Gibson. He was absolutely awful last season with a .908 sv% and a 2.88 GAA. In his first season in Toronto, he had a .923 sv% so the talent is there; perhaps a change in scenery will help him out. Watch Bernier’s first few starts to see how he looks to decide if his future appearances are worth streaming.
There are three quality guys here but the problem is they all eat into each other’s value. For fantasy, Sami Vatanen is the best player due to his playing time on the first power play unit. Vatanen finished last season with 38 points in 71 games, 18 of which were on the PP. The shots are merely average and the penalty minutes are below average so Vatanen needs to produce points to be valuable. As long as he stays healthy, I’m expecting him to be in the 45 point range. I have Vatanen at 156th overall as a #3 defenseman worthy of a mid round pick.
Hampus Lindholm is clearly the best of the bunch in real life. He finished with 10 goals and 18 assists last season with solid contributions in the other categories. Lindholm is still only 22 and is going into his 4th season, the year I’ve been talking about as the time where defensemen should put their offense together. I love taking Lindholm as a #5, possibly even a #4, due to his upside. He’s already an elite possession player and with the minutes he should be playing, there’s a ton of potential.
It’s crazy to think that Cam Fowler is still only 24 considering he’s entering his 7th season in the NHL. The problem is that his highest point total was in his rookie season. Last season he finished with 5+23 in 69 games with 17 PPP. The shots and PIM are poor so he needs more points to be worthy. As your last defenseman for an assist boost, Fowler does just fine, but the upside isn’t there barring an injury to one of the other two guys.
Kevin Bieksa‘s days of putting up 40+ points are over. While the penalty minutes make him worth mentioning as a streamer or a deep league value, you can’t hold a guy who had 15 points last season.
I don’t think he’ll be up to start the season but in dynasties, I love Shea Theodore. He looked like he belonged in his brief stint last season with 3+5 in 19 games. It’s only a matter of time until he’s up and eventually, he should be running the first power play unit.
It wasn’t that long ago that Corey Perry was a first round pick in fantasy. That time is in the past but he’s still the Ducks best forward. Perry scored 34 goals and 28 assists last season playing all 82 games. The 68 PIM are very nice despite it being far less than it used to be and the shots have dropped to average from elite. I have Perry at 37th overall due to those warning signs, plus a big drop in even strength production. I suspect he’ll be gone before I get a chance to take him but despite not being a top 10 player anymore, I’d love to get him in the 4th round.
His partner in crime, Ryan Getzlaf, is in at 51st overall, although he’s going to move into my top 50 once it’s revised. Getzlaf’s main value comes in assists; he got back to 50 last season in 77 games. Getzlaf scored only 13 goals but that was mostly due to a horrible shooting percentage. The plus-minus has been great for four straight seasons, the penalty minutes are a plus and his PPP and SOG are sufficient enough. He’s a great fit in almost all team builds because assuming the goals bounce back, he’s a plus in all categories while crushing assists.
And here’s the dropoff. There isn’t any forward that I’m excited about on the rest of the roster. I have Ryan Kesler down at 165th overall. In my ranks, I said the following about Kesler: “Last season was surprisingly decent with 21+32 but his biggest asset at this point is his penalty minutes. He barely gets to 2 shots per game, it’s been 5 seasons since he topped 53 points and the Ducks will surely be worse this year without Bruce Boudreau. He’s such an easy fade for me; I’m thrilled his ADP is so high. Most places still have him in the top 100 which is asinine; take someone with much higher points upside or get 100+ PIM.” And that’s me quoting me copying what Grey does!
There are no other forwards in my top 200 although a few should come in the top 250. Rickard Rakell appeals to me most coming off a 20+23 season. My hope is that he plays with Getzlaf and Perry; if that happens then Rakell should definitely be owned. I like taking him with one of my last picks hoping he gets that opportunity.
Jakob Silfverberg is right on the fringe of being a hold or elite streamer. He finished with 20 goals and 19 assists last season with solid shots. You can go either way with him and I can’t argue; I don’t feel strongly about him either way.
Antoine Vermette comes over from the desert following a 17+21 season with 93 PIM. I’m not drafting Vermette in 12’ers though. One, he’s going to be on the third line in Anaheim. Two, his shots suck. Three, his previous career high in PIM was 60; 93 is a complete outlier. Four, he had 17 PPP; there’s no guarantee he gets a power play role. Five, there is no five, the first four should be enough!
In dynasties, Nick Ritchie is an excellent selection. There’s even some talk that he could start the season with Getzlaf and Perry. He didn’t do much as a rookie outside of penalty minutes but Ritchie was a top 10 pick for a reason and he’s still only 20 years old. There are other fliers I like taking more but I’ll keep an eye on Ritchie’s role early on.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS
1) Nick Ritchie
2) Shea Theodore
3) Brandon Montour
4) Nicolas Kerdiles
5) Jacob Larsson
And that’s a wrap on the season previews! I hope these help everyone understanding each team’s situation and its fantasy impact, I know it helped me writing about all of it. I’ll be back on Thursday either with the Pacific Division Podcast and / or the rest of my top 250. As always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below. Take care!