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 16th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we crack open the Atlantic Division with the President’s Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning! It is no secret this team has a chip on its shoulder heading into this season, looking to take care of some unfinished business. With a few nice low-risk deals made this off-season, the Lightning look ready to dominate again.
SURE-FIRE STUDS: Nikita Kucherov (82GP 41-87-128), Steven Stamkos (82GP 45-53-98), Brayden Point (79GP 41-51-92), Victor Hedman (70GP 12-42-54), Andrei Vasilevskiy (53GP 39-10-4, .925SV%, 2.40GAA)
There is nothing I can say here that you don’t already know.
SVEN’S SLEEPER: Mikhail Sergachev (75GP 6-26-32)
Viz went in-depth on this pick in a separate article (you can read that here), but there is a nice launch pad sitting there for Sergachev. Consistent top four minutes and PP#2 time would be notable on any team for a young defenceman. But Tampa freakin Bay? Sign me up! Honourable mention here to Anthony Cirelli (82GP 19-20-39), but he is locked down at #3C for the time being.
HOLDS: Ryan McDonagh (82GP 9-37-46),
I doubted McDonagh last season, but he showed just how reliable he really is. This year, we hold!
STREAMERS: Yanni Gourde (80GP 22-26-48), Tyler Johnson (80GP 29-18-47), Alex Killorn (82GP 18-22-40), Ondrej Palat (64GP 8-26-34), Kevin Shattenkirk (73GP 2-26-28)
Any of these forwards could become a hold, it really depends on how the line combinations end up. I would give the edge to Palat for now to play with Kuch and Stammer. As for sheriff Shatty, I see a nice bounce-back campaign on the horizon. Nothing wrong with being a PP specialist.
PROSPECT PIPELINE: Nolan Foote (WHL: 66GP 36-27-63)
Since there is a slim chance any prospect can crack Tampa’s lineup this year (barring injury), I guess we’ll start with their 2019 first rounder… Okay, that was a little blunt. I would give Mitchell Stephens, Taylor Raddysh or Alexander Volkov the edge to draw the first call-up. Foote is primed for a big fish small pond season with Kelowna (WHL) and a spot with Canada for the WJC. What benefits him going forward is that he is a 2000-born player with a late birthday. Despite his NHL-draft eligibility occurring this season, he already has three Junior seasons under his belt and can likely be brought up to the AHL as early as the end of this coming season. Speaking of the AHL, maybe Nolan can join his brother Cal Foote there, who had a solid first season with Syracuse. QMJHL star and fellow 2000-born forward Gabriel Fortier will likely also have the same path up the pipeline.