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 15th stop, we finish off the always competitive Central Division with the Minnesohhhhhta Wild. With a pending GM change stalling RFA signings and an already old core only getting older, I personally think this will be a miserable season for the Wild. That being said, there are some fantasy impact players:
SURE-FIRE STUDS: Matt Dumba (32GP 12-10-22)
Dumba had silly numbers before missing the remainder of the season with a torn pectoral. In my mind, he has established himself as a #1D and should be drafted accordingly.
SVEN’S SLEEPER: Jordan Greenway (81GP 12-12-24)
Greenway is in an incredibly tough situation with the additions of Fiala and Zuccarello supposedly above him in the lineup, and to be competing for ice with fellow countrymen Luke Kunin and Ryan Donato. I have seen what he is capable of, even at the NHL level. The kid just needs a shot. What I am hoping is a combination of Greenway and another young winger can rejuvenate Koivu enough to make it a great season for all three. A lot of things need to go right to make Greenway break out, but screw it, you heard it here first!
I may as well mention Donato at this point (56GP 10-15-25). Honestly, I love him as a player and he had a good showing post-deadline with the Wild, they just have too many NHL-caliber forwards right now for him to have a fantasy impact. I’m hoping he gets as much opportunity as possible and logs a full-time NHL season, but I guess we’ll see what happens.
HOLDS: Zach Parise (74GP 28-33-61), Ryan Suter (82GP 7-40-47), Jason Zucker (81GP 21-21-42), Eric Staal (81GP 22-30-52), Jared Spurgeon (82GP 14-29-43)
Parise, much like a few other players from his era was given no love heading into last season. He nearly reached 30 goals again and had an unbelievable bounce-back. He is a solid pick towards the end of your draft. The prime offensive minutes may be passed from Suter to Dumba, but he is still an absolute horse and will continue to give that consistent mid-fourties point total.
I expect a much more consistent season from Zucker. He has enjoyed the high of his 64-point 2017-18 season, and steps into this season with a chip on his shoulder. Back to 60-points for Zucker, and he may even be a great buy-low pick depending where he’s ranked. Staal is still the undisputed #1C so he will be a hold for now, but I’m not drafting him. Spurgeon enjoyed a nice little points boost with Dumba being out of the lineup, but I expect him to regress slightly back to his career-normal numbers. Being a pending UFA, he could increase or decrease in value if he is moved at the deadline. Keep your eyes peeled! For now, he’s a great depth pick at #4 or 5 D.
STREAMERS: Mats Zuccarello (48GP 12-28-40), Kevin Fiala (83GP 13-26-39), Devan Dubnyk (67GP 31-28-6, .913SV%, 2.54GAA), Mikko Koivu (48GP 8-21-29)
I’m tempted to consider Zucc a hold since he’s slated at #1RW, but I will hold off for now as he dropped off quite a bit last season. I haven’t seen enough from Fiala just yet to call him a hold, but he will take a big step forward this season. If he goes undrafted, he is for sure on my watch list. Dubnyk drops from hold to streamer solely because I don’t think this team is going to do well this season. He had the most GP out of all goaltenders last season and that takes its toll on players, so I expect a disappointing season. Viz also touched on Dubnyk in his “off-season losers” article. Count Koivu in for chipping in points all year long,
PROSPECT PIPELINE: Nico Sturm (NCAA: 39GP 14-31-45)
Sturm, an undrafted stand-out at Clarkson (NCAA), was signed by the Wild following his third season and promptly inserted into the lineup for two games. Given that he’s already 24, like most college prospects he’ll have a good shot at cracking the lineup. That being said, he’ll likely end up in Iowa (AHL) for at least a season given just how many NHL forwards they have. Given his numbers in the NCAA and Junior, Sturm is a playmaker through-and-through and I see a lot of good things in the future for the towering centre, especially with this team and how they’re aging at that position. Fellow college player Brandon Duhaime out of Providence (NCAA) will also begin his pro career this season with Iowa.
Alexander Khovanov (QMJHL: 64GP 25-49-74)
Khovanov had an impressive Sophomore season with Moncton (QMJHL) and we will probably see more of the same this season. It is also likely that he will represent Russia at the WJC, which means I can take a proper look at him. To sign a 2018 third-rounder already, Minnesota must see something special in him.
Connor Dewar (WHL: 59GP 36-45-81)
Speaking of 2018 third-rounders, here we have Connor Dewar. A year older and ready to move on from his stint as captain with Everett (WHL), Dewar will join the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa this season. He gradually showed the ability to put up points in his junior career, so we will see how much of that translates to his pro career. Another notable prospect joining Iowa, drafted third-round the year prior is OHL graduate Ivan Lodnia.
I covered most of Minnesota’s 1998-born prospects last season, with the exception of Will Bitten who was traded this season. Check out his breakdown in my Montreal Canadiens blog post last season!