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. Since this will likely come out when the season is just starting, you all already know what to expect and who to draft from the Metropolitan Division. That being said, I still have some sleepers I’d like to weigh in on! The prospects from these teams will come out when I release my full prospect list! Alright, let’s get started with Washington.
SVEN’S SLEEPERS – METRO DIVISION MADNESS
Washington Capitals – Jakub Vrana (82GP 24-23-47)
Vrana had the sneakiest (almost) 25 goal season ever. Him and Kuz on that line are like night shift roads crew workers – you never really see them get the job done, but when you wake up the next morning you sure appreciate it. Vrana is a little bit of PP time away from a real impressive 2019-20 season. I would target him late in most drafts if you’re up for a little gamble. I’m also a big fan of Jonas Siegenthaler, but I don’t think the fantasy relevance will be there just yet for him.
New York Islanders – Michael Dal Colle (AHL: 34GP 18-16-34)
I know a lot of you were expecting Devon Toews to come up here – and the kid can play – but something about Dal Colle makes me think he’s gonna FINALLY pan out this season. I mean, the kid went fifth overall for a reason. After finally proving he was too good for the AHL last season, he had an okay stint with the Isles. I’m thinking he gets some consistent top-six time on Nelson’s wing and puts together a great little season. The fact that this Islanders group scoring will likely be pretty spread out makes him nothing more than a streamer at best unless he absolutely pops off.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Alex Galchenyuk (72GP 19-22-41)
The former third overall pick in a relatively weak draft begins the season on his third team in his many years as a pro. What I like about his chances in PIT is a little bit of Russian chemistry between him and Gino. He’s no Kessel (yet?), but he does have a 30-goal campaign and two 50-point campaigns under his belt already. He’s worth a late round gamble for sure.
Carolina Hurricanes – Jake Gardiner (62GP 3-27-30)
Viz is big on Andrei Svechnikov, as am I, but you’ve heard that story already. Let me tell you a story about a guy that is so used to being Toronto’s whipping boy that he’s probably scared of his own shadow when he crosses the Canadian border. The guy put up 50 points and they were still calling for his head. With that behind him, he’s now in a smaller market with a solid role where he can just play hockey. If that doesn’t scream ‘great season’, I don’t know what does. Look for consistent PP time and a decent amount of offensive zone starts for Gardiner, making him a great depth D pick.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Alexandre Texier (Liiga (55GP 14-27-41)
What a story. A 2017 second-rounder grinding in the Finnish league gets the nod to come to North America and chip in on one of the greatest upsets in hockey history. Now, with a couple of big names gone and room for the kids to develop, who gets the #1LW spot with Dubois and Atkinson? Texier baby! I love everything about this situation, the only question is how long he can struggle before Torts sends him someplace else. I don’t like the sample size, but I love the opportunity. First line ice is hard to come by especially for a rookie, so let’s see how this plays out!
Philadelphia Flyers – Kevin Hayes (71GP 19-36-55)
Everyone sees the ticket he got from the Flyers and automatically thinks he won’t be able to play up to it. It’s certainly worth noting here that Couturier will carry the load in terms of defensive matchups, giving Hayes a better opportunity offensively. This coupled with his proven ability (51GP, 42 points with NYR) and his experience playing in a large market? Show this guy some love ESPN! He is ranked stupid low, and will prove to be one of the great buy-low candidates of 2019-20.
New York Rangers – Pavel Buchnevich (64GP 21-17-38)
I was big on Buch going into last season, but the first line wings in NYR were a revolving door. Now, we have every indication that he’s going to be #1RW with Panarin and Zib, meaning a heck of a lot of opportunities offensively. That alone should mean he’s taken in the teen rounds, but the PP2 time helps his case as well. As long as coach Quinn doesn’t want to see what everyone else wants to see – Kakko playing with that top line – Buch is a great pickup.
New Jersey Devils – Mackenzie Blackwood (23GP 10-10-0, .918SV%, 2.61GAA)
With all of the spotlight on the Devils newcomers Hughes, Gusev, Simmonds and Subban, I think the goaltending torch will be low-key passed on this season. Schneider will likely get his opportunities early on, but I think Blackwood is just going to take the ball and run with it. He had a great showing in a relatively small sample size last year, but I think he truly has what it takes. I am drafting him late in drafts but truly think he will be a solid #2G by the end of the season.
That’s it for now folks! I will be back soon with a full prospect list, and buy-sell-holds once we get a couple weeks into the season!