Hey everyone, Sven here with our stop in Calgary for 31 in 31! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2018-19 fantasy hockey season: The 31 in 31 daily segment. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to 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.
Johnny Gaudreau – 80GP 24-60-84. Johnny Hockey seems to be just on the cusp of his prime years in Calgary, and should be able to repeat his production from last season. The Boston College alum is one of the best players in the game for creating scoring chances, and will have plenty more opportunity to dish some apples out if new flame James Neal is on his line.
Sean Monahan – 74GP 31-33-64. I find Monahan to be a very underrated player as far as fantasy goes. For another year he will be the #1C on a top-heavy team and will likely play with Johnny Gaudreau, and much like Gaudreau I believe Monahan is just entering his prime. Expect a healthy 65-70 points from Monahan again this season, and see if you can steal him midway through your draft.
James Neal – 71GP 25-19-44. The 31-year-old sniper certainly showed he still has his scoring touch last season with the new Pacific Division force Golden Knights. Now with a new team and a fresh contract, the flames hope that Neal will be able to mesh with his line mates and chip in offensively, whether he is centered by Monahan or Backlund. I expect Neal to be able to pop 20-25 goals again this season, as he will also receive a healthy amount of PP time. I expect him to be available later in the draft in most leagues.
Matthew Tkachuk – 68GP 24-25-49. I love watching Tkachuk play because he is always involved on the ice, whether it is a scoring chance or just trying to create some energy for his team. With second-line minutes and a healthy dose of PP time, I would not be surprised if Tkachuk eclipses the 60-point mark in his third season for the flames. He is a no-brainer pick in leagues that have PIMs as a stat, and a legitimate sleeper in other leagues.
Elias Lindholm – 81GP 16-28-44. Though Lindholm was not the largest name in the deal that brought him and Noah Hanifin over from the Hurricanes, I believe he has the potential to really establish himself here in Calgary. I can see him fitting in nicely in the Flames’ top six, with either him or Neal at RW on the top line. His skating ability and vision would be a nice fit with Backlund and Tkachuk, who will likely provide the bulk of the team’s secondary scoring. If he receives second line minutes, Lindholm is worth a look in deeper leagues.
T.J. Brodie – 73GP 4-28-32. With Mark Giordano aging and Dougie Hamilton in Carolina, the door is open for Brodie to establish himself as a top pair defenceman. My expectation is he will be given plenty more ice time and opportunity on the PP, and if he is able to transition well I think we may be in store for a great season from him. His career high of 45 points two seasons ago seems very attainable, and hopefully with the offence up front he will be able to improve on his -16 rating last year. I see Brodie as a great pick in the late rounds of your draft.
Mark Giordano – 82GP 13-25-38. The Flames captain is slowly starting to show his age, but is certainly a durable player that will log key minutes for Calgary this season. I expect he will continue to chip in offensively, but I would not be surprised if Giordano has a substantial point drop-off this season.
Noah Hanifin – 79GP 10-22-32. Going into his fourth season in the NHL, Hanifin is certainly trending upward, improving by ten points in the process. A fresh start with a team in need of tightening up in their own zone will certainly be a good challenge for the 2015 fifth overall selection, however his ability to quickly transition the play from defence to offence should bode well for the Flames. I expect a new career-high point total from Hanifin this season, and would certainly take a look at him as a potential third or fourth defenceman on your fantasy team.
Mike Smith – 55GP 2.65GAA 916SV%. Going into last season, I certainly had my doubts about Mike Smith being “the guy” for Calgary, a team that made the playoffs but was bounced by Anaheim yet again the year prior. Smith sporadically played decent enough to win games when he was healthy, but this Flames team will not see the post-season again until he is able to be consistent and be the backbone they need. With the addition of Hanifin on the back end to sure up their own zone, I think Smith will be able to piece together a much better season. However, at 36 years old he is quite the gamble. He is worth drafting as a #2 goalie, however I would only do so if you are late to the punch with that position.
Rasmus Andersson – AHL: 56GP 9-30-39. After logging ten games at season’s end for Calgary, Andersson looks to have a spot on the third defensive pairing. However, with the depth the Flames seemingly have at D there is some good news and bad news. Good news for Andersson is he will likely get plenty of ice-time, as it seems that Calgary will be able to roll their pairs with PP ice being given to their top guys. Bad news, especially within the fantasy realm is that with three good pairings, the scoring will be fairly spread-out, with the exception of special teams. This means even if Andersson is given his fair share, he likely will not put up points unless he really finds his groove. Take a look at him mid-season to see if he has put together any point streaks you can capitalize on.
Tyler Parsons – ECHL: 28GP 3.16GAA 902SV%. The Tyler Parsons I remember from watching Canada lose in the gold medal game would never have a GAA over three. The 21-year-old certainly got off to a rough start transitioning to pro from major-junior, but I have a feeling he can bounce back. With current backup Jon Gillies on a waiver-exempt $750k contract, Parsons could easily find himself with the big club if he turns it on this year. Until there is any sign of him seeing NHL action (perhaps an injury to Mike Smith?), much like Thatcher Demko last year I wouldn’t look at him until the following season.
Juuso Valimaki – WHL: 43GP 14-31-45. With Rasmus Andersson allegedly starting the year with the Flames, the 2017 first rounder Valimaki becomes a key blueline prospect in the AHL this year. After recording just over a point-per-game in two of his three WHL seasons, the big-bodied Finn will look to prove his puck-handling skills when he goes pro this season. If he plays with the confidence and vision he exudes in highlight videos I have seen, he could very well see some time up in Calgary. Keep your eye out around mid-season in the event of injury or is Andersson doesn’t work out for Calgary.
Dillon Dube – WHL: 53GP 38-46-84. Dube is the first of three Flames prospects to tear up the WHL last year. There is no telling which of the three will receive the first opportunity up with Calgary after starting the season with Stockton in the AHL, but Dube has the advantage having already played six games with Stockton last year, tallying four assists. The reigning WJ champion has a wicked shot and seems to be able to dictate the pace of the game with his speed and vision. With the recent buy out of Troy Brouwer, the 2016 second-rounder may even have the opportunity to start the year in Calgary. Dube is currently my front-runner to see some time in the NHL, but it is unlikely he will put up substantial points playing in Calgary’s top-heavy forward group.
Glenn Gawdin – WHL: 67GP 56-69-125. Gawdin exploded for 125 points in his final season with Swift Current, finishing second in WHL scoring. It is no doubt the former fourth-rounder has found his scoring touch, but it has historically been difficult for players to translate their major-junior success to the pros. It will be interesting to see how Gawdin performs in Stockton (AHL), and I personally will be keeping my eye out for him in the event he gets off to a running start.
Matthew Phillips – WHL: 71GP 48-64-112. Listed at only 5’7”, Phillips has proven in his major-junior career that size doesn’t matter, as he tallied 112 points in 71 games for Victoria this past season. His sizzling speed and ferocious fore-checking had defenders’ heads spinning, and he isn’t afraid to go into the dirty areas. It will be very entertaining to watch his energy in the AHL this season, and I am excited to see how the 2016 sixth-rounder develops.