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 eighth stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re finishing up the Pacific Division with the Los Angeles Kings. The aging Kings had a 2018-19 to forget. The Kovalchuk experiment was underwhelming, Quick missed a big chunk of the season, and the team struggled for offence all season long. Expect a bit of a rebound for this team and their veteran core, but don’t expect playoffs.
SURE-FIRE STUDS: Anze Kopitar (81GP 22-38-60), Drew Doughty (82GP 8-37-45)
It’s hard to top a 92-point campaign. Kopitar was doing it all himself for some of the year, and managed to notch 60 points. He will notch right around the 65-75-point mark again this year. I still consider Doughty a big fish among NHL Dmen, and the regression from the season prior was inevitable given just how bad the Kings were last season. He will bounce back much like Kaptain Kop.
SVEN’S SLEEPER: Nikolai Prokhorkin (KHL: 41GP 20-21-41)
Ohhh baby am I excited for this one. There are a few things about Prokhorkin that make him special. First, he is a centreman that shields the puck very well and used his big frame to create offence last season with SKA St. Petersburg (KHL). Second, he literally gallops up the ice. In the footage I’ve seen of him, it’s like no one can keep up. Third, he was a PPG playing in one of the higher-skilled leagues out there. Fourth, he turns 26 TWO DAYS after the rookie eligibility cut-off, making him rookie eligible this season. I have no idea how he will turn out for LA this season, but I’m all for gambles like this. Ladies and Gentlemen, your big sleeper for 2019-20.
HOLDS: Jonathan Quick (46GP 16-23-7, .888SV%, 3.38GAA), Dustin Brown (72GP 22-29-51),
Quick missed a good chunk of the year, and as his team crumbled around him he did the best he could. I consider him a #2G hold this season, similar to where people placed Price or Lundqvist last season. He can still play, and should still have fantasy value. As long as Brown plays alongside Kopitar, he is a great buy-low option and can still produce.
STREAMERS: Ilya Kovalchuk (64GP 16-18-34), Tyler Toffoli (82GP 13-21-34), Jeff Carter (76GP 13-20-33), Alex Iafallo (82GP 15-18-33), Adrian Kempe (81GP 12-16-28)
Kovalchuk was massively underwhelming, Toffoli had another mediocre season, Carter is only getting older, and both Iafallo and Kempe may not be ready for top-six minutes, BUT – the secondary scoring HAS to come from somewhere. I like Iafallo if he’s going to be a constant at #1LW as a potential late-round pick.
PROSPECT PIPELINE: Carl Grundstrom (AHL: 55GP 16-23-39)
Grundstrom was shipped to LA as one of the big pieces in the Muzzin trade to Toronto. In a 15-game stint with the Kings last season, he impressed tucking home five goals. He plays the heavy power-forward game that will make him shine in the Western Conference, but I think he needs another year before he truly becomes fantasy relevant. If things go well this season, we may see him make the jump from third line winger to top-six.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan (WHL: 32GP 20-23-43)
A 2017 second-rounder, Anderson-Dolan produced at an alarming rate for Spokane (WHL) despite an abbreviated season. Dressing in five games for the Kings down the stretch (0-1-1), I think he has an outside shot at making the big club. If not, a transition year in Ontario (AHL) won’t hurt him.
Mikey Anderson (NCAA: 40GP 6-21-27)
The Kings have a log jam of young back-end talent that appears ready to play in the NHL, but with the exception of Matt Roy (25GP in the NHL last season) Anderson has some offensive upside. I’m thinking he has a good shot to make the team out of camp, and if he does there is a #2PP vacancy.
Kale Clague (AHL: 52GP 7-22-29)
Much like Anderson-Dolan, I’d give him an outside shot at cracking the Kings roster. However, there are a number of much older defensive prospects in the Kings pipeline clogging – or I guess clagueing – the way for Kale. He did have a solid AHL rookie season though.
Blake Lizotte (NCAA: 37GP 14-28-42)
Lizotte has demonstrated a of playmaking ability despite his 5’7 frame. We will see how he can continue to produce against men in the AHL this season, but he has been able to get the job done at every level he has played thus far.
Akil Thomas (OHL: 63GP 38-64-102)
You can pretty much take my 2018-19 pre-season write-up on Anderson-Dolan and copy-paste it here. Thomas lit up the OHL last season and will likely do so again this year. I’m excited to see if he’ll crack the Team Canada WJC roster.
Many of you are probably wondering why there is no coverage of 5th overall pick Alex Turcotte. For this prospect segment, I usually lean towards guys that are already under contract with the team and can make a fantasy splash soon. Turcotte is committed to Wisconsin (NCAA) so we will have to wait at least a year on him. That being said, he could be a guy that gets signed later on in the year as we’ve seen with other young prospects like Mittelstadt, McAvoy and Makar. Also, at pick #22 they drafted Tobias Bjornfot, who is signed but will likely play against men in Sweden this year.
If you think I missed covering a prospect, be sure to check out my article from last season! Gabriel Vilardi, Sheldon Rempal, Rasmus Kupari, Michael Eyssimont, and Daniel Brickley were all featured.