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 13th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we visit the Colorado Avalanche. With some interesting off-season moves to give them some depth up front, and a silly amount of offensive talent on the back-end, watch out for the Avs this season.
SURE-FIRE STUDS: Nathan MacKinnon (82GP 41-58-99), Mikko Rantanen (74GP 31-56-87), Gabriel Landsekog (73GP 34-41-75)
The Mack Daddy has solidified himself as a top 5 player in the league. I was horribly wrong about Rantanen following his amazing start, but he ended up repeating his total from the previous season in seven fewer games. Seems sustainable going forward. I’m not big on Landeskog moving forward solely because I think they might shake up their lines, and I feel like he’ll be ranked far too high to be draftable.
SVEN’S SLEEPER: Cale Makar (NCAA: 41GP 16-33-49)
This isn’t even really a sleeper based on the hype surrounding the former 4th overall pick, but I think he’ll have an amazing season given the vacancy on that deadly #1PP unit. Makar was a stud at UMass Amherst last season, and had a strong showing with the Avs in the playoffs (10GP 1-5-6). I’m hoping he can be my rookie, but I refuse to overpay.
HOLDS: Nazem Kadri (73GP 16-28-44), Philipp Grubauer (37GP 18-9-5, .917SV%, 2.64GAA)
Kadri’s last-season point totals aren’t attractive, but keep in mind he got bumped down to #3C in Toronto. The two seasons prior he tucked 30 goals, and may even get a sniff on the #1PP. He’s bound to have a big bounce-back season, with 60 points back in sight. With Varlamov going the way of free agency, Grubauer will be the starter for the Avs this season. Given the team in front of him it’ll be easy for him to rack up in points leagues, but he still has to stop the puck. I’m not sure if I like his sample size, but he’s a #2G option.
STREAMERS: Samuel Girard (82GP 4-23-27), Tyson Jost (70GP 11-15-26)
I was tempted to make Girard a hold, but he may be by mid-season. An absolute stud in major-junior, he is starting to produce now two seasons into his pro career. He has that outside shot at prime PP time, however he will log much more 5on5 ice this season. Jost will benefit from the departure of Kerfoot and the acquisition of Kadri, and I think he has a chance at being a hold at some point this season. Andre Burakovsky also has potential given his change of scenery. Joonas Donskoi also helps make this team not as top-heavy, but I can’t see him raising his ceiling unless he gets to accompany the top-line. JT Compher had a solid second full NHL season, but Kadri coming in bumps him down to #3C and likely off the PP.
PROPSECT PIPELINE: Bowen Byram (WHL: 67GP 26-45-71)
Selected fourth overall at the most recent draft, Byram is a shifty defenceman with a ton of offensive talent, which he put on full display in Vancouver (WHL) this past season. I think he has a legitimate chance of cracking this Avs roster, but from the fantasy perspective I don’t think he’ll have much of an output with Makar and Girard getting reps ahead of him. If he doesn’t make the Avs this season, he’ll be a treat to watch for Canada at the WJC and will be a prime candidate to make the jump next season.
Conor Timmins (2017-18 OHL: 36GP 8-33-41)
After watching this guy become a household name at the WJC for team Canada, it was hard for me to believe that he couldn’t play a single game of last season due to a concussion. For 2019-20, he is back in the conversation of Dmen that might make this Avs roster. By the looks of things, he and Byram will be the two main candidates. Given what he’s been through over the past season, a year in the AHL to adjust to the pro game won’t hurt.
Logan O’Connor (AHL: 64GP 19-23-42)
O’Connor didn’t produce any numbers to write home about in his three years at Denver (NCAA), but had a respectable first pro season with Colorado (AHL). Since his jump to the NCAA this organization has had a ton of opportunity to see him and watch him develop, and another productive season could land him a call-up at some point this year.
Martin Kaut (AHL: 63GP 12-14-26)
Not the greatest first season in North America, but Kaut getting a year older only means more time for him to thrive in his 6’2 frame. He was Colorado’s first rounder in 2018, and will likely be expected to step up his production in the AHL this season.
Nick Henry (WHL: 69GP 29-65-94)
A playmaker through-and-through, the Avs are probably laughing that they got this guy in the fourth round back in 2017. He had a killer season in the W before dressing for three AHL games at the tail end of the season. I’m hoping he can hit around the 40-50-point mark in his first pro season and be on the big club’s radar come next year.