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 ninth stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we start up our Central Division breakdown in Music City with the Nashville Predators. The Preds are still on the cusp of something great, but their results have only regressed since their 2017 Finals appearance. To land one of the free-agent big fish, they had to salary dump a big fish of their own. In a Central that looks as competitive as ever, here’s who the Preds will rely on to finish back on top.
SURE-FIRE STUDS: Roman Josi (82GP 15-41-56), Viktor Arvidsson (58GP 34-14-48), Matt Duchene (73GP 31-39-70)
Josi is an absolute stud and will continue to be even without Subban. On a team where most of the offensive punch is by committee, Arvidsson is the guy to turn things up a notch. I think we see a new career high if he is healthy. 34 goals in 58 games? That’s a sick joke! I like this spot for Duchene a lot as he won’t have to deal with all of the top-line matchups. Should make for a nice 5on5 production, and STP will boost him into stud territory.
SVEN’S SLEEPER: Dante Fabbro (NCAA: 38GP 7-26-33)
Ahhh, yet another rookie-eligible Dman that can have a solid impact this season. With Subban gone, not only is there a vacancy in the Preds’ top-four, but also a PP spot. Fabbro has the two-way game to keep up and not bog down his partner 5on5 (likely Ekholm), and has proven his offensive capabilities. If you’re looking for a rookie late, I see Fabbro slipping under quite a few radars with all eyes on Hughes and Makar.
HOLDS: Ryan Johansen (80GP 14-50-64), Filip Forsberg (64GP 28-22-50), Mikael Granlund (79GP 16-38-54), Ryan Ellis (82GP 7-34-41), Mattias Ekholm (80GP 8-36-44), Pekka Rinne (56GP 30-19-4, .918SV%, 2.42GAA)
Johansen is a hold because I don’t usually consider a forward with 15 goals or less in three straight seasons to be a stud. Forsberg was hurt for a chunk of last season, so this is his chance to say “Hey Sven, screw you bud, I’m a stud!” Granlund didn’t have the 16GP in Nashville he was probably hoping for, but I’m thinking him and Duchene will play well off each other on that second line. Solid buy-low option (I’m thinking he won’t be ranked very high). Ellis is as solid as they come, and I’m hoping his draft stock lowers a bit from last season so I can consider taking him. Ekholm I see as a bottom-end hold. 44 points is very impressive, but I don’t think it’s a sustainable offensive output from him. Love the guy outside of fantasy. I’m saying this is Rinne’s last season as a full-time starter, and that’s saying a lot. I’d call him a bottom-end #1G. Juuse Saros, my roto league backup had steady numbers in 31GP last season, so he holds some fantasy value.
STREAMERS: Craig Smith (76GP 21-17-38), Kyle Turris (55GP 7-16-23)
At times last season Smith seemed like a hold, but his role in the middle-six is yet to be confirmed. Stream him if he gets top-line minutes. I’m thinking Turris was extremely frustrated last season going from 51 points to less than half that, but I think he will have hot streaks throughout the year and may get some top-six nods on the wing.
PROSPECT PIPELINE: Eeli Tolvanen (AHL: 58GP 15-20-35)
Sure, Tolvanen had a solid rookie season with Milwaukee (AHL). Unfortunately for him, this Nashville forward corps is super deep and there’s really no slot for him to jump up into. Another season in the Always Hungry League will only help his development, and with a few UFAs due up this off-season, next year seems like the year for Eeli.
Brandon Fortunato (NCAA: 26GP 5-23-28)
A rare journeyman of the NCAA (two-year stints at both Boston U and Quinnipiac), Fortunato will make his pro debut this year, but more than likely with Milwaukee (AHL). At 23 years young, the Preds are likely going to make him part of their big-club D corps next season, provided that he shows well in the AHL.