Hey guys, Sven again with our stop in the Motor City 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.
Dylan Larkin – 82GP 16-47-63. Much like Viz, I believe Larkin is one of the premier sleepers in the league heading into this season. Though the Red Wings were a non-factor for much of the 2017-18 season, Larkin had a great bounce-back year from his 32-point performance the year prior. Viz has a full article on why Larkin is a true sleeper and I could not agree more with it. Ranked #120 for ESPN’s initial pre-season rankings, he is sure to be drafted before then!
Anthony Mantha – 80GP 24-24-48. Mantha played 20 additional games in his sophomore season and recorded 12 additional points in 2017-18. Likely to play on Larkin’s line, Mantha will benefit from an increase in Larkin’s production. He is a big body with great skating, and could very well break out in his third NHL season.
Thomas Vanek – 80GP 24-32-56. 34-year-old Vanek enjoyed a season that seemed to rejuvenate his career, as he was a power play weapon for the Canucks and provided an offensive punch down the stretch for the Blue Jackets (15 points in 19 games). The Red Wings signed Vanek to a one-year deal to provide some leadership and secondary scoring, and I am sure he will do just that. In deeper leagues, he is worth acquiring from free agency if he gets off to a great start. It is likely he will receive middle-six minutes and a good dose of PP time.
Tyler Bertuzzi – 48GP 7-17-24. Now I am a little biased being from the same town as Bertuzzi, but hear me out on this one. With Vanek likely to receive second-line minutes, and a few rookie forwards (which I will mention later) perhaps starting the season with sheltered ice time, the #1LW spot is wide open for Bertuzzi. He is mostly known for his energy and aggressive play, but I believe he is on the cusp of turning into a real offensive threat in the big leagues. He is an adept finisher and can also pass the puck, with his energy making him very compatible to play with a more-skilled Larkin and big-bodied Mantha. With the proven ability to rack up PIMs as well, Bertuzzi is looking more and more like a sleeper target. This is a crazy idea; however we will see what the Wings’ lines look like come October.
Henrik Zetterberg – 82GP 11-45-56. Ten years since his career-high 92-point season, Zetterberg has not determined whether or not he will continue his NHL career. In addition, there’s no telling whether or not the 37-year-old will be able to stay healthy for another NHL season. That being said, Zetterberg can still put up points if he chooses to play. It would be a shame to see him call it quits, but if he suits up this season he is an assist machine and a legitimate streaming target. Editor’s note: Sounds like it’s likely that Zetterberg won’t be playing this year, or possibly ever again in the NHL. I wouldn’t touch him in any drafts this year. – Viz
Mike Green – 66GP 8-25-33. It is unlikely that Green will repeat his 31-goal performance of 2008-09, however Green is likely to receive big minutes and PP time for Detroit. I would expect another mid-thirty-point total from Green this season, likely making him a later pick in deep drafts.
Jimmy Howard – 60GP 2.85GAA 910SV%. After back-to-back seasons of being overshadowed by up-and-comer Mrazek, Howard received a heavy work load last season and was able to put up half-decent numbers. With the very real possibility of the two Red Wings goaltenders splitting time this season, I do not see Howard as a guy to own unless he miraculously gets red hot.
Jonathan Bernier – 37GP 2.85GAA 913SV%. After two seasons posting respectable backup numbers on playoff-bound teams, the 30-year-old Bernier will receive a new challenge in stopping pucks for the rebuilding Red Wings. Though we do not know much yet, I see the possibility of starts being split between he and Jimmy Howard this season. Much like Howard, Bernier will not be owned unless he takes over the starting role and is on a hot streak.
Filip Zadina – QMJHL: 57GP 44-38-82. Despite falling to sixth overall in the most recent draft where the Red Wings happily took him, Zadina is undoubtedly a high-end talent. This was put on display at last year’s WJC, where he scored seven goals in seven games to help the Czechs reach the semis. He and Hurricanes’ prospect Martin Necas displayed so much chemistry together on the power play that part of me thought Carolina would take Zadina with pick #2. Zadina may need time to further adjust to the North American play-style, and will reportedly report back to Halifax in major-junior if he does not crack the Red Wings’ roster. Only time will tell, and I can even see him fitting in nicely in the Wings’ top-six if he finds his comfort upon making the team.
Evgeny Svechnikov – AHL: 57GP 7-16-23. Likely the front-runner to join the Wings’ top line over Bertuzzi, Svechnikov is a deadly player in the offensive zone. With an incredible shot and smooth skating, he should fit in nicely with the rest of the Red Wings’ youngsters and could even receive PP time. With just 16 NHL games under his belt, Svechnikov is still rookie-eligible and is certainly worth taking a look at if you need a rookie.
Filip Hronek – AHL: 67GP 11-28-39. In his first full season in the minors, the 2016 second-rounder put together a solid campaign with nearly 40 points. With a rapidly aging defensive corps, Hronek and his respectable 6’0” frame could compete for a roster spot as early as this season. He is a very smart player and always seems to be in the ideal position on the ice to be able to create plays. If he does make Detroit, I can’t see him eating up minutes and chipping in points unless injuries occur.
Dennis Cholowski – WHL: 69GP 14-52-66. Cholowski is another 2016 Wings pick that may compete for a roster spot heading into this season. He is about the same size as Hronek, but appears to be capable of producing much more offence, which was on full display in his nearly PPG campaign with two teams in the WHL. It will be interesting to see if his offensive punch translates to the pros, whether it is Detroit or Grand Rapids, the more likely of the two options seeing as Hronek already has a year with the club under his belt. He will certainly be an exciting prospect to watch this season.
Michael Rasmussen – WHL: 47GP 31-28-59. Though the 2017 first-rounder is slated to return for a “big fish small pond” season in the WHL, Rasmussen is hoping to crack Detroit’s roster. The towering 6’6” centre has spent his offseason putting on muscle, preparing to take on NHL defencemen and continue to use his size effectively. If he does make the big club, it is unlikely he will see many minutes unless an injury occurs. That being said, he has all of the tools to be an NHL two-way centre down the road.