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 tenth stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re headed back up north to Winnipeg. These guys appeared to be headed in the right direction when they lost the 2018 WCF to the Cinderella Golden Knights. A season and a half later and I really don’t know what to think about these guys. That being said, they have some studs and some prospects I’m excited about.
SURE-FIRE STUDS: Blake Wheeler (82GP 20-71-91), Mark Scheifele (82GP 38-46-84)
Wheeler has maintained his place in the top 15. Scheifele was ranked criminally low going into last season, that certainly won’t be the case this year (I would think).
SVEN’S SLEEPER: Kyle Connor (82GP 34-32-66)
Speaking of Jets, prepare for takeoff. Takeoff of the left wing pure-bred goal scorer Kyle Connor. Two seasons in and he’s notched 30 goals in both, I’m excited to see what’s to come. I’m hoping he isn’t ranked too high so I can take a stab at him.
HOLDS: Dustin Byfuglien (42GP 4-27-31), Josh Morrissey (59GP 6-25-31), Patrik Laine (82GP 30-20-50), Connor Hellebuyck (63GP 34-23-3, .913SV%, 2.90GAA)
Byfuglien is just outside my #1D territory, that’s why he’s a hold. A healthy season back up to the 15-goal mark will fix that, but I’m now holding my breath. Morrissey impressed me last season, and I’m excited to see what he’ll do once he dresses a full 82 games. Laine had one of the worst 30-goal seasons ever, but 30 tucks are 30 tucks. Expect a bounce-back this season, especially in STP. Hellebuyck had an underwhelming Sophomore season, but to me he’s still a bottom-end #1G/solid #2G.
STREAMERS: Nikolaj Ehlers (62GP 21-16-37), Jack Roslovic (77GP 9-15-24), Neal Pionk (73GP 6-20-26)
I gave Ehlers the benefit of the doubt last season, but he is just too streaky to be considered a hold. He had high expectations coming in and has tapered off a bit from his 64-point Sophomore season. I’m hoping he can bounce back this year. As for Roslovic, I’m waiting for him to break out and produce like he did in his second USNTDP season. Perhaps with Ehlers’ inconsistency he could see top-six ice. Pionk had his moments in his first full NHL season, and with a change of scenery and a consistent role, I’m thinking he could be a hold come mid-season.
PROSPECT PIPELINE: Kristian Vesalainen (KHL: 31GP 6-11-17)
A 2017 first-rounder, Vesalainen logged five games (0-1-1) with Winnipeg, then 22 games (4-9-13) with Manitoba (AHL), before heading back overseas to play for Jokerit (KHL). His big body and high tempo fit the North American game, so we will see how he develops back in the AHL this season. He is much in the running for a roster spot come training camp.
Leon Gawanke (QMJHL: 62GP 17-40-57)
Gawanke is fresh off a season with Cape Breton (QMJHL) where he was just under a PPG. A 2017 fifth-rounder, he could turn out to be quite the late steal if his pro career takes off. He is slated to start the season in Manitoba (AHL). Welcome to the Razzball database!