Just like the Devils who I wrote about yesterday, the Carolina Hurricanes overachieved quite a bit reaching 86 points. Young defensemen really stepped up giving the Canes one of the best young bluelines in the league. They'll need better goaltending this season and the young forwards to now take that step to make the push into the playoffs. While I don't think they get there because I don't trust either goalie (Spoiler!), they are a team that could surprise. Let's take a look at how their roster is shaping up along with their top 5 prospects.
It's hard to say a team that finished in 7th place in their division with 84 points overachieved but I'd argue that the New Jersey Devils did just that. Amazingly, they were in playoff contention for the majority of the season until their all-world goalie Cory Schneider went down with an injury. The Devils had plenty of surprises among their forwards while their defense is as bad as it gets from a fantasy perspective. Will their forwards repeat or was last season a fluke? Let's take a look!
At this time last year, the Columbus Blue Jackets were a trendy pick to make a jump into the playoffs. Let's just say that almost any chance of that was shot down in the first two weeks of the season. The Blue Jackets starting 0-8 and lost the first 7 by at least 2 goals. The team was a complete mess leading them to fire their coach and hire John Tortorella, who let's just say belongs nowhere near an NHL bench. They also altered the core of their franchise with the Seth Jones - Ryan Johansen blockbuster and look for the team to breakout post-hype. The Jackets have a lot of interesting young forwards along with some older guys who still carry plenty of value so let's take a look!
The Florida Panthers were the biggest surprise of last regular season, riding breakouts from their elite young talent along with the resurgence of some veterans to win the Atlantic Division. Despite bowing out in the first round, last season's success has the Panthers facing the most pressure they have in years. Many consider them as a sneaky Stanley Cup contender this year. They have plenty of fantasy options at all positions worthy of our attention so let's take a look at their roster:
A season after making the Stanley Cup finals, the Tampa Bay Lightning put up a valiant effort in their attempt to return. Unfortunately, they ran into the buzzsaw that was the Pittsburgh Penguins and fell in the Conference Finals. Nevertheless, I think that last season was a rousing success for them. They didn't have Steven Stamkos throughout the playoffs due to a blood clot and now they have him locked up for 8 more seasons at a very good price. The emergence of Jonathan Drouin following a holdout also brings optimism for a return to the Cup finals. They still have some work to do figuring out parts of the roster but they're positioned to be a contender for years to come. As expected with a contender, there are plenty of fantasy options to choose from so let's take a look!
1989-90. That's the last time the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs. The streak was in serious jeopardy last season as Detroit didn't have a point to spare finishing in a tie for 3rd in the Atlantic but getting in on a tiebreaker; no team in the Eastern Conference made the playoffs with less points. Following the departure of Pavel Datsyuk, the Red Wings are faced with their toughest challenge yet to keep the streak alive. From a fantasy point of view, their roster is loaded with players who have great upside but also a low floor. Let's take a look!
The Boston Bruins are a franchise in limbo. Last offseason, they made a bunch of questionable moves that were focused on the future; I'd argue they made them worse in the future but they certainly made them worse in the short term. On the other hand, their current core, especially the forwards, played at an extraordinary level to keep them in the playoff hunt. Unfortunately for them, they missed the playoffs on tiebreakers leaving the franchise in the worst position to be in; not a true contender but not bad enough to get the necessary talent for a brighter future. Not much has changed; they should fight for the playoffs again but they're far from being a threat in the East. That said, they have a lot of decent fantasy options along with some elite guys so let's take a look at how their roster is shaping up:
As a Sabres fan, I thoroughly enjoy the dysfunction of the Ottawa Senators. When I look at them from a neutral point of view, they're incredibly frustrating. The Senators have arguably the best player in the NHL in Erik Karlsson in his prime and have done a horrible job filling out the rest of their roster. They have made brief playoff appearances in recent years but last year's 85 point season is about what they can expect again. The Sens will struggle to remain in the playoff race barring a revival between the pipes or a surprise breakout or two. That said, they have some quality fantasy pieces that are worth discussing so let's get to it!
The Montreal Canadiens were poised to build on a terrific 2014-15 last year only for their season to end in November. They didn't know it at the time but the reigning Hart and Vezina winner Carey Price had his season end after only 12 games started. Most people expect the Canadiens to bounce back this year but after one of the worst trades in recent memory, it's all going to be on Price's shoulders. In my opinion, it'll take another all-world season just for Montreal to contend for the playoffs. Despite a flawed roster, they still have some interesting fantasy pieces so let's take a look!
After two years of being in the basement of the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres made a large improvement in 2015-16. They finished one game below the NHL's version of .500, finishing with 81 points. This coming season, the Sabres should be ready to make a push for a playoff spot, especially considering that they are in arguably the weakest division in the NHL at the moment. At least that's what I'm hoping for being a Sabres fan! Let's take an in-depth look at the Sabres current roster and a few of their top prospects for those of you in dynasty leagues: