Hey guys! 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. On our 22nd stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re headed right to the Michigan/Ontario border – Detroit Rock City baby! The wings have former players such as Stevie Y at the helm, and boy is this team going to be young and skilled. We saw glimpses of what some of these kids can do last season, will they bring it this season?
SURE-FIRE STUDS: Dylan Larkin (76GP 32-41-73)
Viz and I were high on Larkin and it paid off… Buuuuuuuuut now I probably won’t take him this year because of how highly ranked he is. I am keeping him in my other league though!
SVEN’S SLEEPER: Taro Hirose (36GP 15-35-50)
We’ve seen this several times before in recent memory. An absolute weapon of a season in college, and an impressive stretch upon joining the NHL team (10GP 1-6-7). Will Hirose be a Mittelstadt, or a Boeser? Only time will tell. I think he is going to succeed, but only with the right line mates. I like the idea of him and Athanasiou together, as one is a playmaker and one is a purebred goal scorer. We’ll see, but put Hirose at the top of your list of rookies.
HOLDS: Andreas Athanasiou (76GP 30-24-54), Tyler Bertuzzi (73GP 21-26-47), Anthony Mantha (67GP 25-23-48)
Athanasiou had the sneakiest 30-goal campaign I’ve ever seen, but the way he flies down the ice it totally makes sense. From the STP perspective, the Greek Freak is bound to tack on a few SHG and will certainly be in the mix for #1PP. Hold, but don’t draft him too early. As for Bertuzzi, he worked his way up to being called “a poor man’s Matthew Tkachuk” in his first full NHL season. I am a bit biased as he is from my hometown, but as long as he’s on Larkin’s wing he is a hold! The same goes for Mantha, who was incredibly streaky last season but really improved as the season went on.
???: Dennis Cholowski (52GP 7-9-16), Filip Hronek (46GP 5-18-23)
Honestly, whoever QBs the power play and ends up playing the higher 5on5 minutes. I would give the slight edge to Hronek because he is a right-handed shot – something that Larkin, Mantha, Bertuzzi, and Athanasiou don’t have. Whichever one wins the PP sweepstakes is a hold. Mike Green could also bounce back – he did put up a good abbreviated season – but I think Blashill will let the kids play.
STREAMERS: Meh, I don’t see a lot of promise with this team. As far as goaltending goes I guess I could put them here, but I can’t see Jimmy Howard or Jonathan Bernier being all that fantasy relevant this year. Michael Rasmussen could become relevant this year, but the addition of Filppula gives Detroit a sneaky amount of depth at centre.
PROSPECT PIPELINE: Filip Zadina (AHL: 59GP 16-19-35)
After sliding to Detroit’s sixth overall pick in 2018, the Wings shocked most when Zadina didn’t make the team last season. After a head scratcher (statistically speaking) of a first pro season in Grand Rapids (AHL), I’m not sure what to think going into this season. Zadina should by all means crack this young roster, but there’s no telling right now who his line mates will be. In the event he does make the team, I can’t see him beating out Mantha or Hirose at RW, or Bertuzzi/Athanasiou at LW. Only time will tell, but I would almost rather see Zadina rip up the AHL than struggle in the N.
Moritz Seider (DEL: 29GP 2-4-6)
Fast forward one year and the Wings are picking at sixth overall again. They go against the grain, picking an absolute tower of a German dman in Seider. Pros: he played most of a season against men last year in the German pro league. Cons: I don’t know much about him, but he really hasn’t put up points just yet. With three seasoned Dmen becoming UFAs next season, Seider may be in the mix for the 2020 Wings roster. We’ll see how he develops in the DEL this year.
Joe Veleno (QMJHL: 59GP 42-62-104)
What some were calling a steal of a pick for the Wings at 30th overall in 2018, Veleno absolutely had his way with the Q last year in Drummondville. It was quite the big fish small pond season, and hopefully his scoring touch doesn’t get taken at customs when he transitions over to the pros with Grand Rapids (AHL). Depending on his first half, I can definitely see Veleno approaching call-up territory.
Jared McIsaac (QMJHL: 53GP 16-46-62)
Jeeeeeeez this 2018 draft could turn out to be a smash hit for the Wings. In the second round, they picked up this offensive defenceman who – much like Veleno – lit up the Q last season, but with Halifax. McIsaac looks ready to return to Halifax for another ridiculous season, and the Nova Scotia boy could get the nod for Team Canada at the WJC.