Hello again, Razzfolks!
Closing out the Metro today with the Rangers, the Flyers, the Pens, and the Caps. Tomorrow we venture to the Atlantic Division as our culminating destination.
For all the team previews up until this point, links are below:
New York Rangers
Forwards to watch: Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Ryan Strome, Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere
Defensemen to watch: Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba
Goalie(s) to own: Igor Shesterkin
Firstly I want to note the Rangers’ off nights, something I’ve unforgivably forgotten to mention in previous editions. The Ducks lead the NHL with 45 off nights, but the Rangers are right on their heels with 44. What are off nights, you may ask: typically, they are Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays/Sundays. Most of the league is in action on any given Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday, but oftentimes the schedule is lighter the rest of the week. That is prime stream time, and I also use it as a mental tiebreaker when I’m trying to decide between two players on draft day. Off nights allow you to maximize your totals since you’ll have open lineup spots. Anywho, you get the idea. The Rangers boast three bona fide superstars, two forwards and one defender, whom we’ll get to in a bit. You know who the forwards are: Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad. Bread Man has 100+ point potential, which honestly just feels like his floor at this point. Zibby feels like a point-per-game player at worst but I’m not sure I can see 100 points as his ceiling. Still a total stud, of course. He brings good bangs and great shots. Category beast. Ryan Strome and Chris Kreider can give you anywhere from like 55 points to 70+. All these guys should make up the top PP unit and should rack up PPP, and Strome’s C/RW eligibility is an extra little boost in Yahoo formats. Now we get to the highly-touted 1st-round picks: Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere. The departure of Pavel Buchnevich spells good things for both since it ensures they’ll both get top-six minutes on the right wing. I’d figure it’s Laf on the top line and Kappo on the second, but either way it means one of ‘em will be alongside Zibby and the other on the opposite wing from Bread Man. Kakko has not impressed for the most part but I’ll watchlist him just the same. Laf did score 12 G last year with inconsistent ice time while also chipping in 43 hits. I’m always gonna lean toward someone who brings a little extra to the table. That way if they’re not scoring then you’re at least getting a little value.
Adam Fox, man. What a damn season last year! Insane. We knew this kid would be good, but that good?! I’m a tiny bit afraid he’s peaked too soon and has nowhere to go from here but down. That’s just the pessimist in me; I’m confident he just is that good. He’s basically a Cale Makar who will also block shots. Maybe score a few less goals, though Evolving Wild likes him for 11 G this year while Dobber’s got him for 10. Fox is easily Top 5 fantasy D material. He had 42 points as a rookie, getting bigger minutes as the year went on. Then last year he upped the pace, scoring 5 more points in 15 less games (70-point pace!). Tony DeAngelo’s absence certainly helped, but now this year Fox will be the main man starting on Opening Night. After the Pionk trade and before I even knew who Adam Fox and Tony D were, I had Jacob Trouba pegged for a huge breakout (remember that time he hit 50 points with the Jets?). Instead, he’s turned into the guy who crunches bodies and soaks up pucks. There’s little offensive upside with Troobs, but he’s got a 40ish-point ceiling with upwards of 350 blocks+hits. If you happen to count PIMs then there’s some added value there since he’ll get you roughly 50 or more.
The only goalie to bother with from NYR is Igor Shesterkin. Regression was expected last year and it happened to a degree, but really your expectations should have been hella tempered after only 12 starts in 2019-20. I’m still very pleased with a .916 SV% in his first full-ish season as a starter. Shesty was above average in both GSAA and GSAx despite a much-less-than-ideal heatmap showing above-average excess shot rates close to the net (via HockeyViz). Dude’s very good but the Rangers will likely continue to be a lackluster defensive squad. Perfect G2 but wouldn’t be overly thrilled with him as my G1.
Forwards to watch: Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee, James van Riemsdyk, Cam Atkinson
Defensemen to watch: Ivan Provorov, Keith Yandle, Rasmus Ristolainen
Goalie(s) to own: Carter Hart
The Flyers pack about as much fantasy punch as Gritty is a badass mascot. If Claude Giroux were a tooch younger, then it’d be a dead-even match. Giroux is on the downward trajectory, though, sadly. Still very capable of 70+ points but I don’t think we see 90 or more from him again. And I say very capable of 70, just don’t mistake that for his floor. He’s paced for low- to mid-60s the past couple seasons. I know it’s niche, but if you’re in a FOW then Giroux is extra sexy given his LW eligibility. Sean Couturier is one of the very best two-way players in the game even if that doesn’t show up all the time in fantasy (doesn’t it much but his name is always in the Selke mix). Can’t say it for Giroux, but I would say Coots’s floor is about 70 points. Travis Konecny kinda had a turd year last season, pacing for just 56 points when scoring 61 in just 66 games the year before. Solid candidate for a bounce-back year given he’ll likely be top line and top PP with Giroux, Coots, and co. That’s a law firm I’d happily pay to represent me! Anyway, TK is a potentially criminal bargain on draft day, currently going in the 14th round on Yahoo. That’s an easy two thumbs up from me. Joel Farabee has evolved into a very good player, and his 2.44 primary pts/60 last year were 96th percentile (!!!) among all forwards. This dude is twenty one years old right now. He was only 20 last year, scoring 1.48 goals/60! That’s 97th percentile! In the National Hockey League! The best hockey league in the world! For context, that’s just below the likes of Leon Draisaitl, Alexander Barkov, and Kyle Connor. I’ve been avoiding James van Riemsdyk lately due to his injury history but he sure did have himself a good year, scoring a career-high 0.77 pts/G last year. If healthy, he’s a good cheap source for points (but nothing else really). Interested to see how Cam Atkinson works into the Philly lineup but I think things are a little too crowded to see a ton of fantasy value from him. Virtually no shot at top line minutes in my mind, and honestly I think he’s got little shot at even top-six minutes unless Farabee totally regresses. Wouldn’t be overly shocked to see 20 G and 200+ shots still. I’m not a huge Kevin Hayes fan from a fantasy standpoint (though he does always seem to bring me good luck when I stream him), and I’m especially not into him this year as he’ll be out for around 6-8 weeks following tum tum surgery (abdominal surgery, in layman’s terms).
Kind of a three-headed monster for fantasy relevance on the blueline with Philly. Ivan Provorov is the best player back there, but Keith Yandle will probably pop in and harsh Provy’s PP1 buzz. Yandle kinda sucks IRL, but he’s made a living for years being a PP specialist. He could not-totally-unrealistically get 40 points and every single one of them could be PPP. I’m only half-exaggerating. Provy likes to shoot, though, and I love a D-man who likes to shoot. Double-digit goals are to be expected. Former Saber Rasmus Ristolainen joins Philly this season. He’ll do two things: obliterate human bodies and block a lot of shots. He’s worth a roster spot solely for his hits, but he’s a must-own if blocks also count. We’re talking 400 hits+blocks minimum. Probably closer to 450.
Carter Hart sucked last season. No other way to put it. That’s putting it kindly, in fact. If Philly could play every game at home then he’d be one of the best in the league. One look at his career home/away splits will tell you all you need to know on that one. But damn, the dude put up a 9-11-5 record last year with an .877 SV% and 3.67 GAA. When you combine for .915 SV% and 2.59 GAA in your first two seasons as a 20- and 21-year old, people expect better. The real kick to the nuts is it wasn’t bad luck. Philly was actually better than league average in xGA/60 at 5v5, yet Hart was -22.58 in the GSAA department and -23.82 in GSAx. SO MANY BARF EMOJIS. ALL THE BARF EMOJIS. Sorry to get middle school on you with all caps, but that’s just how dadblasted awul he was. But every smart day trader lives by this motto: buy the dip. The dip is at an all-time low. Time to buy is now, especially if you’ve got a panicked dynasty leaguemate.
Forwards to watch: Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust
Defensemen to watch: Kris Letang
Goalie(s) to own: Tristan Jarry
Let’s get the injuries outta the way first: Evgeni Malkin out at least two month with a knee injury; Sidney Crosby will miss at least the first couple of weeks or so while recovering from wrist surgery; Jake Guentzel tested positive for COVID-19 but won’t miss much time if any, assuming no serious complications. Malkin is infamous for missing the most vital parts of the fantasy season, so maybe the fact he’s getting the injured days out of the way from the start will mean you can count on him the rest of the way. I’m gonna let someone else believe that. I’m out on Malkin the same way I’m out on Stephen Strasburg in baseball for the remainder of time. Crosby and Guentzel are still sexy, though. I mean don’t get me wrong, I know Malkin is sexy and will provide elite stats when he’s on the ice, I’m just personally not interested in the risk anymore. Crosby missing two weeks will barely be noticeable come end of season. Guentzel is one of the increasingly fewer 40-goal threats out there. Pens aren’t very deep, though, and only one more forward has my eye in fantasy: Bryan Rust, who jumped onto the fantasy scene back in 2019-20 with 56 points in 55 games. Pace dropped significantly last year, with 42 points in 56 games, but you still gotta dig him. He’ll play alongside Crosby when he’s back, and if that doesn’t whet your whistle then maybe his upwards of 100 hits will. Rust is just a solid contributor across the board. Goals? Solid. Assists? Solid. PPP? Solid. Shots? Solid. Hits? Solid. Plus-minus? Solid. If I had to boil him down to a single word, you guessed it! Solid.
Gimme Kris Letang or no one from the Pens back line. Letang rakes when he’s on the ice. He can still score goals, shoot a lot for a defenseman, and is good for 200+ hits+blocks as well. I’d go so far as to say he’s borderline elite if we knew we could count on even 70 games from him. Sad truth – as you probably know if you’ve played fantasy hockey long enough – is that he’s reached that mark too few times in his career. Did play 55 of 56 games last year, to be fair, but did so only once in the previous four seasons.
Tristan Jarry won leagues two years but may have lost a few last season. I don’t exactly recall his ADP but it feels like it was in G1 territory given he was coming off a good year and was supposed to be a probable workhorse for a strong defensive team. The Pens weren’t exactly strong in that regard, but they were far from bad (tied with PHI at -3% xGA/60 at 5v5). I feel about Jarry how I feel about Hart, basically. Buy the dip. Solid risk/reward for the price as a G2 these days (#115 overall Yahoo ADP at time of writing). Can’t ignore the fact the Pens glory days are all but behind them, though. Gonna be a rough start to the season without Crosby/Malkin, no doubt. Maybe a less-smart-than-you GM in your league drops him or will sell low while the going’s tough?
Forwards to watch: Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Anthony Mantha, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie
Defensemen to watch: John Carlson
Goalie(s) to own: Ilya Samsonov
The Capitals already have a lot going for them in fantasy hockey, but they’ve also got 44 off-night games on tap, tied with the Rangers for second-most in the league. Noice. As for the forwards, you know what Alex Ovechkin is gonna do. The Great Eight could score 50 goals or he could score 35, but he’ll definitely shoot the hell out of the puck and rack up the hits and PPP. Still one of the best LW to own. Tom Wilson only matters if hits count since he’s a good bet for 25ish goals and 200 or more hits, but he’s a behemoth if both hits and PIMs factor in. I’d be less confident in Evgeny Kuznetsov if not for a nagging hip injury that Nicklas Backstrom is still recovering from. Backstrom might not be ready for the start of the season, and it’s really anyone’s guess how long he’d be out if that were the case. At any rate, I don’t like his 8th-round Yahoo ADP at all. He’s mostly good for assists and PPP; there are much better picks you can make in that range. Anthony Mantha didn’t blow anyone’s socks off last year but I still think he’s got another gear he can reach. As things stand, he’s a cheap source of goals and shots and a smattering of hits, but there’s solid upside for more. Feel like 20 goals and 200+ shots is a safe bet. If Backstrom is healthy, that means Kuznetsov is the second-line C alongside Mantha. I like that pairing. T.J. Oshie scored 22 G and had 21 A in 53 games last season, pacing for well over 60 points. He’s always been consistent with the goals and hits, and his 20.8 SH% last year doesn’t even worry me that much. Usually that screams “REGRESSION!” with just about anyone, but Oshie has been 17.5% or better in four of the last five seasons. He’s just one of dem dudes. Doesn’t shoot a lot, but the rate at which they go in is very high.
John Carlson is great. Could score anywhere from 60 to 80 points honestly. There will be double-digit goals, like 50 or more assists, good shots, decent hits, very good blocks, good plus-minus, and lots of PPP. There just ain’t anything this guy ain’t contributing in outside of PIMs, FOW, and goalie stats. This paragraph is short and sweet: dude’s hella elite.
Ilya Samsonov is currently DTD with a lower-body injury, though it doesn’t sound very serious at all. Wouldn’t let it affect my draft day decision. Samsonov took a step back last year after having a pretty strong debut season but would have a firm grasp on the #1 goalie gig in Washington. And to be fair, he only started 19 games last year, which is a small sample in and of itself. Could be that he’d have righted the ship given more time, but as it was, he posted -3.03 GSAA and -6.63 GSAx. I for sure don’t want him as my first goalie if it can be helped but wouldn’t mind him as a G2. The Caps will be competitive.