Hey guys! Sven here back with our stop in Montreal for 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 2018-19 fantasy hockey season: The 31 in 31 daily segment. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to 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.
Jonathan Drouin – 77GP 13-33-46. Drouin’s first season under the Montreal media pressure was respectable for a 23-year-old adjusting to playing centre. The 2013 third-overall pick is set to have another heavy work load this season, and will be able to put up a floor of about as many points. If Pacioretty rebounds from last season, Drouin could see the 60-point mark. ESPN is showing him no love in their top 300 rankings, so he is a top-liner that you can steal late in your draft.
Max Domi – 82GP 9-36-45. Taken 12th overall in the same draft as Drouin, Domi had yet to blossom with Arizona and was traded for Alex Galchenyuk. A change of scenery can only help the tenacious former London Knight, and he is a top-six lock on a rebuilding Montreal squad. At 23 it’s hard to see Domi break out just yet until the organization gets a better supporting cast around him, though the 50-point mark seems more than attainable. Domi will be available in the mid-teen rounds in most leagues.
Brendan Gallagher – 82GP 31-23-54. One of the lone bright spots last season for Montreal was seeing Gallagher healthy for a full 82 games, leading to a new career-high. Whether he is on the Habs’ first or second line, Gallagher should be able to continue to provide a scoring punch and could eclipse 60 points with a bit of puck luck. He will likely be taken slightly before Domi, however I would be fine with either pick as it’s not safe to say who will be on the top line just yet.
Tomas Tatar – 82GP 20-14-34. After being traded to Vegas at the deadline from Detroit then dealt to Montreal for Pacioretty in the offseason, the 27-year-old former second-rounder’s head must be spinning. That being said, he will likely have a top-six role on this rebuilding Montreal squad, which potentially sets the table for a bounce-back season. Tatar has regressed steadily from his 56-point campaign in 2014-15, but a new scenery and new line mates may be the difference maker. The boost in ice time will for sure positively impact his confidence, after being scratched for much of Vegas’ historic Cup run. That being said, he is a streamer at best in virtually every league, given the team around him and his regression.
Nikita Scherbak – 26GP 4-2-6. Just four games over the rookie eligibility limit, Scherbak will look to play full-time with the Habs this season. The big-bodied winger was Montreal’s first-rounder in 2014, and has slowly been developing in the minors over the past three seasons. He seems to have good vision and a quick release, but I am not holding my breath on a breakout season this year. It will likely take him a full-time NHL season to find his footing, but he will be a treat to watch.
Shea Weber – 26GP 6-10-16. It appears right now the earliest Weber can return from knee surgery is mid-December, which drastically affects his fantasy stock heading into this season. Though I am not a huge fan of drafting injured players and burying them for half the season, Weber will be a very important piece for Montreal both from a team and a fantasy perspective when he returns. Ranked just outside ESPN’s top 200, he will be available as a late pick if you have someone lined up to take off free agency at your draft’s end.
Victor Mete – 49GP 0-7-7. The time is now for Montreal to give Mete all of the opportunity he can handle, but I’m not sure if they will give him these minutes just yet. Though the 2016 fourth-rounder has plenty of upside, his time to shine will likely come down the road. He will receive some PP time, but I don’t see Mete as a pickup this season.
Jeff Petry – 82GP 12-30-42. As much as I dislike Petry, I must remain unbiased and talk about the upside he has with Weber out of the lineup. With sophomore Mete likely receiving sheltered minutes, this likely leaves Petry as the top-pair and #1PP option. Though I do not expect much from this squad, he could be a pleasant surprise for the first-half of the season.
Carey Price – 49GP 3.11GAA 900SV%. Carey Price has come a long way since being considered an off-the-board pick at fifth overall in the 2005 draft. Now, with the Habs in full rebuild mode in front of him, it is tough to tell what type of season the former Vezina winner will have. From a fantasy perspective, I can’t see Price recording very many wins even if he can steal some games for Montreal, but there is no question he is still one of the top goaltenders in the league. I personally would not draft him, but if he falls further than the early teen rounds you would be stupid not to.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Liiga: 57GP 10-19-29. Already dubbed as the #1C the Habs are looking for, the 2018 third overall pick the top prospect I knew the least about heading into the draft. The 6’2” Finlander is creative with the puck and has a high hockey IQ, and will hopefully develop nicely into what Montreal needs. His goal is to crack the lineup this season and I think he is capable of doing so, however it will take him at least a year or two to blossom into a top-six guy.
Noah Juulsen – 23GP 1-2-3. With a good shot at making the Canadiens roster while Weber is sidelined, Juulsen is a solid two-way defender that loves to push the pace physically. Though he doesn’t strike me as a guy that will put up points, he will benefit from the big-league reps he sees this season and may be able to chip in offensively.
Matthew Peca – AHL: 63GP 13-33-46. After spending the majority of the past three seasons in the AHL after a solid career at Quinnipiac (NCAA), Peca may get his first crack at full-time NHL play since being signed by Montreal. The 5’8” centre has had plenty of time to develop with Syrcause, and I expect a respectable, but not noteworthy rookie season if he is able to crack the roster.
Nick Suzuki – OHL: 64GP 42-58-100. It has been surreal for Vegas fans thinking the same day he took over the team’s Instagram, Suzuki was traded in a package that brought Pacioretty to Vegas from Montreal. Though Montreal definitely benefits from acquiring another young dynamic centre, they have 15 forwards currently under contract that will likely compete for roster spots. These forwards do not count third-overall pick Kotkaniemi, or 2017 first-rounder Suzuki. Whether he has a big fish small pond year in the OHL or suits up for Laval in the AHL, Suzuki will be a thrill to watch not only this season but for years to come. Hopefully the Habs make room for him soon.
Jake Evans – NCAA: 40GP 13-33-46. This is the Habs prospect I am most excited about, however with 15 NHL forwards currently signed it is unlikely the Notre Dame stud will get his chance at the NHL this season. That being said, a transition year can never hurt when going from college to the Pros, and the 2014 seventh-rounder will look to flourish in Laval. He is a terrific passer and I am excited to see how he pans out.
Will Bitten – OHL: 62GP 20-44-64. A third-rounder in 2016, Bitten is smaller forward that will look to transition from major-junior to the AHL this season. With a tremendous hockey sense, a quick release and amazing skating ability, Bitten appears to have all of the tools to thrive at the next level, and I am excited to watch him develop in Laval this season.