We’ve reached our final four stops: Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, and Toronto. Apologies for leaving y’all stranded yesterday, been a little under the weather.
If you’d like to look back over the other team previews, you can find them all below:
Forwards to watch: Tyler Toffoli, Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Jonathan Drouin, Josh Anderson, Brendan Gallagher, Mike Hoffman
Defensemen to watch: Jeff Petry, Alexander Romanov
Goalie(s) to own: Carey Price, Jake Allen
Thanks to whacky divisions last year, we’ll finish this series out with division rivals who also played each other in the Stanley Cup Finals. On the Montreal side, there’s plenty of fantasy firepower here. There are proven vets, rising stars, and hopefuls with upside. Tyler Toffoli went nuts last year and beat up on every else in the all-Canadian division, scoring 28 G in just 52 games (44-goal pace). I’m not about to predict another pace that high from him, but I think 30+ should happen pretty easily. He brings a good amount of hits and a fair amount of shots to the table as well. Locked into top line, top PP minutes. One red flag: he shot 17.7% last year, which was 5.9% higher than the previous year and 3.1% above his previous career high. Josh Anderson and Brendan Gallagher are two dudes I do my best to roster in categories leagues that count shots and hits. They have solid goal upside, but it’s the hits+shots that make them well worth their cheap ADP. You can snag both these guys in the final rounds…maybe even the last round. I’m very interested to see how Cole Caufield gets deployed. Right now he’s projected top line and top PP, so we’ll have to see how long (or if) that sticks. The kid can shoot and can skate well but his awareness isn’t always up to snuff. That’ll come with experience. At any rate, his 9th-round ADP is a little steep for my liking, especially since there aren’t any peripherals to fall back on if the points don’t come. Nick Suzuki matched his 41-point output in his rookie season but did so in 15 less games. Also had 16 points in 22 playoff games. If I fade C and end up with him as my C2 then that’s fine by me. Would bet we see 60+ points and solid category coverage overall. Jonathan Drouin is another interesting one to watch. He’s only 26 so he’s yet to hit those truly prime years. He’s talked about his mental health issues a lot lately and seems to be in a much better place. I’m assuming he’ll get top-six minutes but can’t say for sure, especially when Mike Hoffman recovers from his lower-body injury. I’m reluctantly listing Hoffman as one to watch because he wasn’t much in St. Louis and I don’t think he’ll be much in Montreal. Too many mouths to feed. Good for a stream if nothing else, but there’s a chance he sticks top six and finds his way to 30ish goals if things go well.
Jeff Petry rocks. Love this dude. Absolutely D1 material. Elite category coverage and borderline elite points. You’ll get 50 points minimum with, like, 15 of those being goals. You’ll get shots, you’ll get hits, you’ll get blocks, you’ll get PPP. No more Shea Weber, so it’s the Petry Show now. If you need bangs with some decent points upside, Alexander Romanov could be your guy. I know he just had 6 points last season, but Joel Edmundson will miss some time to start the year and Romanov could take his place as Petry’s top-pairing sidekick. Even if not, he’s pretty locked into top-four minutes and will get looks on the second power play squad. Don’t want to confuse you; I’m not saying there’s high point upside, but there is a little bit. The bangs will definitely be there. He crunched 138 bodies in 54 games last season while also blocking 60 shots.
Carey Price won’t be with the Habs to starts the season. Price voluntarily entered the NHLPA Player Assistance Program earlier in the week. There aren’t any details, but kudos for putting mental health first. Get better, CP! Their #2 guy, Jake Allen, will be their #1 guy for the indefinite future. Allen wasn’t super awesome with Montreal last year but was very awesome indeed the year prior when still with the Blues. The Blues fan in me still loves Jake the Snake and wishes him all the best, so hopefully he can kick off 2021-22 in a big way.
Forwards to watch: Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson, Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris
Defensemen to watch: Thomas Chabot, Nikita Zaitsev
Goalie(s) to own: N/A
I don’t care about the contract drama and I don’t care that Brady Tkachuk is looking likelier by the day to miss Opening Night: I want him. I want him like Roland of Gilead wants to find the Dark Tower. I want him like Gollum wants to reunite with The Ring. There has never been a player to record both 300 SOG and 300 H in a single season, but Brady T paced for it last year and was a single SOG pace away from it two years ago. If he plays a full year, I’ve got no reason to doubt he’ll do it. Even if he misses a handful of games to start, it’s still likely he’ll do it. I guess people see the fact that he hasn’t scored 50 points before (has always paced for it) and think he’s not worth your time. That’s a huge mistake. In truth, there’s no LW I’d rather take in cats league. I can sort of respect the fade in points, but if H/SOG are worth enough, then his floor is fantastic. He’ll score at least 25 goals this year, watch! And if you happen to play in a PIMs league then this guy is arguably Top 5. Drake Batherson has had some hype for a while and at times looked really good last season. You’ll probably remember the stretch where he scored 8 goals in eight games, which included a streak of 7 goals in six consecutive games. Everyone rushed to the waiver wire to snag him, but he only managed 8 goals in 32 games the rest of the way. There’s upside despite the growing pains that come along with playing for Ottawa. Top line and top PP will happen (had 15 PPP last season). Dude hits a lot, too. Josh Norris is a very cheap center with a good amount of upside given he’ll be the top-line, top-PP center, flanked by Tkachuk and Batherson. Norris finished 4th in Calder voting, scoring 35 points in 56 games. He even chipped in 34 blocks, 72 hits, and 17 takeaways. He’s no superstar (yet), but there’s a solid late-round value to be had here. I’m not sure I’m all that excited by Tim Stutzle for redraft leagues, but he’s tantalizing enough he warrants a mention. He won’t unseat Brady for top LW minutes but will probably still work into the top power play unit. Not his fault, but his linemates are just blah. Stream and hope for some points/PPP but I can’t argue for drafting him really. Little surprised to see he even has a Yahoo ADP right now given he’s going around folks like Oliver Bjorkstrand, Viktor Arvidsson, and Jaden Schwartz. All three of those guys are better, safer picks.
Thomas Chabot got back up to a 52-point pace last season after the previous year’s 45. Chabot has somewhat disappointed since that time he scored 14 G and tallied 41 A in just 70 games as a 22-year-old, but he’s still a strong fantasy contributor. Feels like that 45-point pace is his floor while 50+ points is likely. The only real question mark is whether the guys he’ll be passing the puck to can put it in the back of the net. I’m willing to bet that Ottawa power play can surprise folks, and he’s got the firmest grasp on PP1 QB duties as anyone in hockey. Chabot was also well over a block and hit per game last year, chipping in about-but-not-quite 1.5 per for each. Some of yinz like to play in TOI leagues as well, so you probably know how awesome he is in those, leading the league in even-strength ATOI last year. Nikita Zaitsev is Ottawa’s resident bang daddy: 350 hits+blocks most likely.
I can’t in good faith recommend a Sens goalie. Murray ain’t got it, and as good as Gustavsson was in limited action last year, you can’t expect a repeat performance. Though given his previous performances in the AHL, it’s very nice to see that kind of progress at the NHL level.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Forwards to watch: Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, Anthony Cirelli, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn
Defensemen to watch: Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev
Goalie(s) to own: Andrei Vasilevskiy
Welp, the Bolts are favorites to three-peat for a reason: they’re pretty good at hockey. Being pretty good at hockey usually translates to being pretty good for fantasy hockey, too. The Lightning have top-flight scorers, depth options, blueline contributors, and fantasy’s consensus #1 goalie. Nikita Kucherov needs no real explanation on my part. Should score 40+ goals, 60+ assists, upwards of 300 shots, and likely 30+ PPP. Obvious 1st-rounder. Brayden Point is also a stud, with, like, a point-per-game floor and 90+ point upside. Steven Stamkos isn’t exactly what he used to be (a perennial 50-goal threat), and injuries are piling up, but assuming he’s healthy then he’s got, what, a 70-point floor? Evolving Wild projects 62 points and I’ll gladly take the over on that. Ondrej Palat will have LW1 minutes and PP1 exposure. And when your linemates are Point and Kucherov, that should mean good things for fantasy. Palat’s ADP is sitting around #75 overall right now. Fine price for the floor/upside; he’s coming off a year where he scored 0.84 pts/G, tied for the best mark of his career. Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli are fine players who make good deeper league additions, but on, say, a standard Yahoo roster they don’t make the most sense in the world. Always good for a stream, especially Killorn since he’ll see PP1 time.
Victor Hedman is a clear D1 who has a chance to be fantasy’s #1 blueliner. I don’t need to try to convince you…he’ll score goals, he’ll get a ton of assists, he’ll shoot, he’ll get PPP, and he’ll bang. Mikhail Sergachev is a solid late defender to grab. If not for anything else, he’ll be the man if something were to happen to Hedman. But he scored at a 44-point last year and is projected for 45 by the EW folks. He brings 200+ hits+blocks to the table and will get PP2 looks. The PP2 unit for Tampa is not exciting at all, but hey, it’s something! In points leagues, I’m not all that interested in Sergy, but he’ll be viable in banger categories leagues.
Do I even need to fluff my word count talking about Andrei Vasilevskiy? He’s an elite talent on an elite team. Vasi has had no less than 12 GSAA in each of the last four seasons, twice getting above the 20 milestone. Should get 40 wins and provide strong ratios/counting stats. The only thing you have to decide is if you want to pay your 1st-round pick for him or not. I’m vehemently anti-reaching for goalies, but you do you!
Toronto Maple Leafs
Forwards to watch: Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, John Tavares
Defensemen to watch: Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin
Goalie(s) to own: Jack Campbell, Petr Mrazek
Alrighty, folks. This is it. Our last stop: Toronto. Auston Matthews is a definite Top 10 pick with a case for going Top 5. You’ll get arguably the league’s best goal scorer who will shoot a ton and also bang a fair amount. Should get buckets of PPP as well. Mitch Marner also rules, carrying a 1st-round ADP at a thinner position. Can’t go wrong snatching him late 1st round or early 2nd round; his floor/upside margin is minimal. He brings about 30 goals, 65+ assists, well over 200 shots, and lots of PPP. William Nylander and John Tavares aren’t in the same tier as the previous two but there’s still plenty of value to be had. Both have 65- to 70-point floors with upside for more. They’re good goal scorers, they can dish the rock, they’ll shoot, and they’ll give you PPP. Nylander can be had in the 8th round, and the dude is among the league’s elite (92nd percentile or better) in xGF%, HDCF% (High Danger Corsi For %), and HDGF% (High Danger Goals For %). His 2.17 primary points/60 last year was 93rd percentile. Tavares is pretty much right there with him in all those metrics. In layman’s terms, they can flat out ball. Tavares can be had in the 3rd round…I like that Nylander price a lot better. Basically the same player but at a thinner position, not to mention you can get him rounds later.
Remember that time Morgan Rielly scored 20 goals? Not gonna bank on that happening again, but Rielly is entering his prime years and is set up nicely to score an easy 50 points nonetheless. Being the PP QB on a unit with Matthews/Marner/Tavares/Nylander will do that. Bangs are respectable, shots are respectable, and points should come regardless. Jake Muzzin is good for 40ish points himself and brings a bunch more hits/blocks along with him. Obvs he’s a banger category guy rather than a points guy, while Rielly plays well in any format. I didn’t list him above, but Rasmus Sandin is a guy to keep tucked into the back corner of your noggin in case anything happens to Rielly; Sandin would probably be the dude to swoop in and fill in on the top PP.
The goalie situation in Toronto is interesting now. No more Freddy Andersen. Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek will split duties. How much of a split is kind of up in the air. Gotta figure Campbell is the “No. 1” goalie, but just how much of a No. 1 is the question. Both Campbell and Mrazek were good last season, posting 7.89 and 4.45 GSAA, respectively. I was more than a little surprised to learn Toronto was -6% xGA/60 at 5v5 play compared to the league average, and we know Toronto is simply going to outscore people more often than not anyway, so both guys are in a pretty darn good spot fantasy-wise. Mrazek also managed 10.44 GSAx in just 12 starts last year before injury. Could this be an even-split situation? Hot hand? Hard to say right now even with the season just a few days away. One thing’s for sure: neither will be a workhorse.
Well that does it, folks. The 2021-22 Razzball Fantasy Hockey Team Previews are in the books. I hope they’ve been helpful as you prep for the new fantasy season! Be on the lookout for my Friday/Sunday streamers articles each week moving forward.
I do a some fantasy baseball as well as a some fantasy hockey here at Razzball. Find me on Twitter: @jkj0787. DMs are always open for questions, comments, concerns, complaints, etc. Odds are good I’m drinking black coffee, dark beer, or some form of bourbon at any given time.