Hey guys! Sven back for another fantasy hockey season writing for Razzball. With one under my belt already I’m looking forward to interacting with you faithful commenters once again, and of course always making improvements to these articles! I am going to start the 2019-20 season with another 31 in 31 team preview.
Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2019-20 fantasy hockey season. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to streamers, deeper league holds, even to rookie-eligible prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material! Reminder that the stat totals are from last season.
Last year my previews went alphabetically, but this year we’re going to go division-by-division, starting with the top team. Our first stop on the 31 in 31 tour – Calgary! The Flames had an impressive offensive 2018-19 headlined by Johnny Hockey and Giordano’s Norris-winning performance, and their unexpected goaltending tandem got the job done. This team has shown me no signs of slowing down (from the fantasy perspective), but there are some question marks. Let’s take a look:
SURE-FIRE STUDS: Johnny Gaudreau (82GP 36-63-99), Sean Monahan (78GP 34-48-82), Matthew Tkachuk (80GP 34-43-77), Mark Giordano (78GP 17-57-74), Elias Lindholm (81GP 27-51-78)
Johnny Hockey. Johnny Ham N’ Cheese. Johnny-B-Good… Scratch that, Johnny-B-Top-15-Player! He for sure is in the conversation for top 10 this year if not next year, but I’m not sure if he can make a drastic jump (99 points is a lot!)
Provided this top line and top PP group stay together, expect more of the same from the Flames Fab Five. Lindholm you can likely wait on (I don’t bother checking ESPN’s early rankings), and there is always that possibility that they split up the top line. I’m going to play devil’s advocate and say Giordano and Tkachuk’s production dip, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still great fantasy options.
SVEN’S SLEEPER: Rasmus Andersson (79GP 2-17-19).
Alright, a lot of things need to happen/go right for Andersson to make the jump. Here is what is known: He has a full NHL season under his belt now, and he chipped in for a goal and two helpers in five playoff games last season. With the Brodie trade rumours swirling and the way Calgary’s other youth have stepped up to perform, why not give the kid a shot? He could be the perfect compliment 5on5 to Giordano, and will certainly receive PP#2 time. He will go undrafted in most leagues, but keep your eye on him.
HOLDS: Cam Talbot (35GP 11-17-3, .893SV% 3.40GAA), TJ Brodie (79GP 9-25-34)
I have a feeling Talbot can put this past season behind him and emerge as the starter over Rittich. It certainly helps to have a much better team in front of him, and we have seen what he is capable of in the past when people haven’t talked much about him. I like Brodie in deeper leagues as he just all-around chips in. I keep hearing he may be dealt to make room for the young bloods on the back-end like Oliver Kylington and Juuso Valimaki. A new team may provide him with more offensive opportunity, but until then he is a depth D as far as fantasy goes.
STREAMERS: Mikael Backlund (77GP 21-26-47), David Rittich (45GP 27-9-5, .911SV%, 2.61GAA)
Backlund will continue to chip in as long as Tkachuk is on his wing. As for Rittich, his value may increase if the Flames decide to rotate starters. I’m going to assume that Rittich will be ranked much higher than Talbot in most rankings despite his shaky second half, but I guess we will see what happens come training camp.
PROSPECT PIPELINE: Dillon Dube (AHL: 37GP 15-24-39)
Dube is an honourable mention because he played the exact minimum number of NHL games (25) last season to be considered a rookie. With the mid-season call-up of Andrew Mangiapane, Dube was sent back to Stockton (AHL) to work on his game, where he tallied over a PPG. I’m not sure how he will be used during 2019-20, but he showed last season he has the skill to produce in pro hockey. He may need another year bouncing between leagues, but I have high hopes for the 2016 2nd rounder. Valimaki actually played 24 games for the Flames last season, but with him being 7th or 8th on the Flames D depth chart I can’t see him making an impact this year.
Martin Pospisil (USHL: 44GP 16-47-63)
Now this is an interesting guy. After playing Junior over in Austria, the Slovakian born Pospisil spend two seasons adjusting to North America in the USHL, where he was selected in the 4th round by the Flames in 2018. Now, he makes the jump straight to the AHL. His 253 PIM two seasons ago may have something to do with his quick promotion, but I am certain this kid will need at least one maybe two full seasons in the AHL before we see him in the Calgary red. But you know what they say; anything is Pospisil.
Luke Philp (USports: 24GP 21-24-45)
Another interesting journey. After spending parts of five seasons in the WHL, Philp played three seasons at the Univeristy of Alberta before getting signed by the Flames organization this year. What this guy has going for him is he is already 23-turning-24, so it’s not like they have to wait on him to grow or adjust. Could be quite the story if he ends up getting called up to the big club, and I’m excited to see how his first pro season goes.
Adam Ruzicka (OHL: 65GP 35-43-78)
A 2017 4th-rounder, Ruzicka is slated to leave the OHL a year early and start his pro career in Stockton. I was able to see him play a couple of playoff games for Sudbury (OHL) and he has some creativity with his passing for a power forward. His size fits in well with the Western Conference style and he could be a good compliment to Calgary’s speed and skill guys down the road, similar to the role Jankowski plays now. I’m excited to see how he adjusts going from Junior to the AHL.
If you think I missed covering a prospect, be sure to check out my article from last season!