Hey guys! Sven back with another 31 in 31. 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 second stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we visit the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks season can be summarized by Katy Perry’s 2008 hit “Hot n Cold”. They showed signs of being one of the elite, and signs of being a defensive nightmare. Despite their captain’s departure, this team still has a very good core with a few years of window left.
SURE-FIRE STUDS: Brent Burns (82GP 16-67-83), Logan Couture (81GP 27-43-70),
Erik Karlsson (53GP 3-42-45), Timo Meier (78GP 30-36-66), Tomas Hertl (77GP 35-39-74), Martin Jones (62GP 36-19-5, .896SV%, 2.94GAA)
There is lots to talk about here, including my correct and incorrect takes last season. Timo Meier? Great year as expected, he will need to maintain that to justify his contract. Tomas Hertl? Man, if I could personally apologize to this guy for not even considering him in my write-up last year, I would. Almost a point-per-game last year and this year he is a lock at #2C. Burns and Karlsson proved that they can share the load (but will the Houston Rockets be able to), so as long as Karlsson stays healthy they are both slated to be top D picks. Martin Jones got the job done from the fantasy points perspective, but in rotisserie leagues he was a bit of a nightmare with his SV% and GAA. Still a #1 no doubter IMO.
SVEN’S SLEEPER: Kevin Labanc (82GP 17-39-56)
Being on the east coast, I didn’t take in as many Sharks games as I would have liked last season until playoffs. This is where I saw just how elite of a shot Labanc has. He gives the opposing PK one more deadly shot from the point to worry about when the Sharks are a man up. On a one-year, one-million-dollar contract and likely to play #1RW, 2019-20 will be his coming out party. We should see a nice healthy jump in points provided his body stays healthy.
HOLDS: Evander Kane (75GP 30-26-56)
30 tucks is no joke, but Kane’s fantasy value is a step below any Shark I have mentioned thus far. I only really consider a player to be a “must have” if they are a constant on the #1PP AND play top-six forward minutes. Sadly, he is only 1/2. Still a solid option, but not as high as last season.
STREAMERS: Marc-Edouard Vlasic (72GP 3-22-25), Marcus Sorensen (80GP 17-13-30)
Melker Karlsson (79GP 12-4-16), Joe Thornton (73GP 16-35-51), Tim Heed (37GP 2-11-13)
I’ll try to keep it short for each player. With Vlasic, he’s your standard D that logs so much ice that he is bound to chip in points. He also got the nod at #2PP last season. Sorensen looked great at times last season playing with Jumbo Joe, and there is a vacancy in the top-six group. Melker will only become fantasy relevant if a member of this top-six goes down to injury. Next is Thornton, assuming he re-signs. He could find some old magic if they manage to bring back Patrick Marleau too, but he is likely going to be the #3C and take draws for the #2PP. Jumbo can still bring it when healthy. Lastly, I just love Tim Heed. The times I have seen him play he strikes me as a Swedish Brent Burns. Hopefully with Braun getting dealt to Philadelphia, Heed can play a full season and even secure some #2PP reps.
PROSPECT PIPELINE: Dylan Gambrell (AHL: 51GP 20-25-45)
Gambrell had a respectable first season out of college with the Barracuda, and was even able to tuck his first NHL goal in two playoff appearances. The 2016 second rounder will likely be their #4C if Jumbo does re-sign, but it would be a step in the right direction. We will see this year if he can chip in points while playing a checking role.
Alexander True (AHL: 68GP 24-31-55)
Dailyfaceoff.com has True listed as San Jose’s #2RW before the season even starts, so I figured I’d take a peek. The undrafted Dane improved significantly in his second AHL season, and is a big bodied natural centre. Based on the current makeup of the Sharks’ contracts, I think True will spend another year with the Barracuda. We will likely see him at some point this season though.
Jonathan Dahlen (AHL: 57GP 14-19-33)
Funny that this time last year I was considering Dahlen a lock to make the Canucks in 2019-20, but they shipped him off after Dahlen’s agent requested a trade. Based on his production last season, it looks like he’ll need another year in the Always Hungry League. Look for Dahlen towards the end of the season.
Danil Yurtaikin (KHL: 40GP 10-9-19)
If I’m this kid, I’m signing an endorsement deal with a fantasy hockey site and saying on camera “I hope Yurtaikin me in your draft this year!” Sorry, that wasn’t funny. The 22-year-old Russian will almost certainly need a year in the AHL to adjust to the North American league, but it’s encouraging for the Sharks organization that he has a year of pro hockey under his belt already.
Lean Bergmann (DEL: 50GP 20-9-29)
A much more interesting path to the San Jose Barracuda for the German-born Bergmann (two seasons in the USHL before going back to Germany), but 20 goals playing against men is no joke for a 1998-born player. Let’s see how he plays in the AHL this season! I bet you were expecting a leaning joke, but two terrible jokes back-to-back would not be good.
If you think I missed covering a prospect, be sure to check out my article from last season!