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 19th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re heading East from Toronto – or should I say, est – to Montreal! Last season, coach Claude Julien and the Habs surprised the Atlantic division, coming just a single point shy of a playoff birth. With some young talent taking major steps forward last season, can the Canadiens pull it off again?
SURE-FIRE STUDS: Max Domi (82GP 28-44-72)
Domi had an incredible first season in Montreal, proving he was just a late bloomer after all. Another season to build chemistry with line mates should create a comparable 2019-20.
SVEN’S SLEEPER: Victor Mete (71GP 0-13-13)
Mete’s numbers in his first two seasons are nothing special. That being said, he gradually showed his offensive upside in Junior. This has me believing his confidence with the puck and offensive upside at the NHL level is slowly brewing. This combined with Montreal’s LD being thin has Mete – though admittedly a bit of a stretch – being a streamer. I expect a nice healthy point increase, similar to that of Girard on Colorado. This gets him to the point where he’s owned in deep leagues.
HOLDS: Carey Price (66GP 35-24-6, .918SV%, 2.49GAA), Shea Weber (58GP 14-19-33), Brendan Gallagher (82GP 33-19-52), Jonathan Drouin (81GP 18-35-53)
Price received no love going into last season, but almost single-handedly carried (or should I say Carey’d) his team to the playoffs. He’s still one of the best goalies in the game so his roto numbers should play, but I’m going to hold off on him in points leagues based on the roster in front of him and how competitive the Atlantic is. As for Sheriff Shea, when healthy he’s an absolute minute muncher and still has a cannon of a shot.
Two straight 30-goal seasons has me listing Gally as a hold coming into this season. It’ll depend on the size of your league, but he continues to fill the net after some bad injury luck earlier in his career. I still believe in Drouin and think his best point totals are ahead of him, and if he’s consistently on Domi’s line just that may happen this year.
STREAMERS: Tomas Tatar (80GP 25-33-58), Phillip Danault (81GP 12-41-53), Jeff Petry (82GP 13-33-46)
I’m of the opinion that Tomas… Tataaaaaaarrrrrr! Played way over his head last season. This season, we see him regress to a streaming target. A beneficiary of Tatar’s play was Danault, who I see sliding into more of a defensive centre’s role with Domi’s line receiving the key O-zone starts. Sophomore Jesperi Kotkaniemi appears to be stuck at #3C for the time being, limiting his fantasy value for 2019-20. Paul Byron has about a 50-point ceiling at this point, but it all depends who he plays with.
As for Petry, I know what you’re thinking. He has back-to-back 40 point seasons! True, but that was with a banged up Shea Weber. If Weber stays healthy, Petry is off #1PP and will have to quarterback a much less lethal #2PP.
PROSPECT PIPELINE: Ryan Poehling (NCAA: 36GP 8-23-31)
Poehling had to be my first prospect covered given his hat trick AND shootout winner in his first NHL game to close out 2018-19. The St. Cloud State (NCAA) alum had an incredible showing in an incredibly small sample, so that makes me ask this question. Do we have a Brock Boeser first pro season on our hands, or a Casey Mittelstadt? Only time will tell. It doesn’t look good for Poehling at the moment given the absolute log jam of forwards Montreal has under contract, but only time will tell. My initial guess is he starts the season in the AHL and his output demands that he gets called up.
Nick Suzuki (OHL: 59GP 34-60-94)
The 4-year OHL standout will take his talents to Laval (AHL) this season, looking to build off his third consecutive 90+ point Junior season. Suzuki faces the same issue as Poehling this year, but with a number of NHL-caliber forwards off the books next season, consider Suzuki a prime 2020-21 candidate for the Habs lineup.
Joel Teasdale (QMJHL: 66GP 43-37-80)
Fresh off a very successful Q career, Teasdale will also join Laval (AHL). A Quebec native, playing close to home will only benefit the 20-year-old. I don’t know much about him, but unlike Poehling and Suzuki he plays the wing, which may improve his call-up chances in comparison.
Otto Leskinen (Liiga: 57GP 8-23-31)
Earlier I mentioned the Habs being thin at LD. Bring on Otto! The 22-year-old Finn was signed by Montreal after a solid offensive year with KalPa (Liiga). With parts of four seasons playing against men under his belt, we may see him in the NHL sooner than later. For now, welcome to the Razzball database!