Howdy, Razzguys n gals!
I’m stoked to bring you my first-ever piece of fantasy hockey content here at Razzball. If you pay attention to the fantasy baseball side of things, then you’ll know me from there. But believe it or not, I know a thing or two about fantasy hockey and hope to share my unparalleled wisdom with you all. Poor Viz has been doing it all by himself, so I figured I’d lend a hand.
I’ll be doing an eight-part Team Previews series, with each division getting two parts. Today is Pacific Part 1, tomorrow will be Part 2, then Wednesday and Thursday will be the Central. Next week, we’ll do it all again with the Metro and the Atlantic on Monday-Thursday.
Hope you enjoy!
Forwards to watch: Max Comtois, Trevor Zegras
Defensemen to watch: Jamie Drysdale, Cam Fowler
Goalie(s) to own: John Gibson
Well, the Ducks are bad. There’s not a whole lot to like here for fantasy purposes even. Dynasty is a different story, but if we’re talking redraft leagues, then there’s not much to get excited about. Trevor Zegras, Max Comtois, and Jamie Drysdale stand out. Future superstars in the making, perhaps, especially Zegras/Drysdale. We’ve seen Comtois can score and hit like a bastard. If he sticks next to Zegras, then I think we see upwards of 50+ points and 300 or more shots+hits. He’s a LW/RW eligible dude going in the 14th round right now on Yahoo. He’s virtually a lock for top line and top PP. Was more than a little surprised to see he scored 2.3 pts/60 last year, which isn’t too far behind the rate at which J.T. Miller and Matthew Thachuk scored. Even better, his 2.0 primary pts/60 at ES was 89th percentile among all forwards league-wide. Huge sleeper pick.
Drysdale’s value hinges upon whether or not he’s the PP1 QB. If it’s not him, it’s Cam Fowler, and if it’s Fowler, then there’s a little fantasy value to be had there. He doesn’t hit much, but he’ll block a few shots and get you a smattering of PP assists. Drysdale I’d treat as a late-round flyer, but get ready to drop him pronto if the deployment is unfavorable/inconsistent.
Lastly, we’ve got John Gibson. Sometimes that guy looks like a world-class netminder and sometimes he looks like a world-class nobody. Last year’s first 12 games netted him 5 W, a .923 SV%, and 3 SHO. Then from Game 13 onward, he went 4-15-4 with an .894 SV% and 0 SHO. He’s a fine enough G3 in the right format (maybe even a passable G2 in ones that count volume rather than ratios), but please don’t fade goalies so hard that you’re stuck with him as your G1. I’m all for fading goalies, but I can’t support that level of fade.
Forwards to watch: Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Blake Coleman
Defensemen to watch: Rasmus Andersson, Nikita Zadorov
Goalie(s) to own: Jacob Markstrom
Ah, there we go: a team with some actual fantasy firepower. The Flames are pretty disappointing in real life, but this is a mini fantasy goldmine. Matthew Tkachuk needs very little introduction or rationale. He’s a fantasy superstar, especially if it’s a categories league that counts hits and/or PIMs. Matty T is gonna get you 250ish shots and maybe upwards of 200 hits. He’s about a point-per-game winger, too. You get the picture. Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau should be an easy 60-point floor, 70+ ceiling. Johnny Hockey used to have that sexy 100 point ceiling (had 99 in 2018-19), but his last two seasons have taken a step back. Still a very strong fantasy option, all things considered. Worth noting he shot 17% last year, which was a career high. Also worth noting he shot 8.6% the year before, which was a career low. So my heart tells me he’s somewhere in the middle. Think a 25G/50A season is quite reasonably attainable. That being said, he’s going ahead of the likes of J.T. Miller and Nikolaj Ehlers in Yahoo, and I’m not sure I’m about that life. Blake Coleman was a fantasy behemoth with New Jersey, then he took a big hit as a bottom-six guy with Tampa. I figure he’s back to top-six stuff with Calgary, thus he should score a respectable amount of goals, shoot a lot, and hit a lot. Good draft day value to be had there if I’m right. If I’m wrong, he’s Tampa Coleman all over again. Sean Monahan was once sexy but alas is no longer. I could see him being the top-line C, I could see him being second-line C, and I could see him being third-line C. The Flames have a few guys who can rotate around there. I gotta think he gets top-six minutes, thus he has solid fantasy value with decent upside for more, but only 28 points in 50 games isn’t all that comforting.
For the defense, there are only two names I care about. Mark Giordano is off to Seattle, so that leaves a crystal clear path for Rasmus Andersson to handle top PP duties. That alone puts him firmly on my fantasy radar as a sleeper who should outperform his ADP of *checks notes*…WHAT? He doesn’t even have a Yahoo ADP right now?! As for Nikita Zadorov, he’s only viable in bangers. Hits and blocks and hits and blocks and…I mean, we could be looking at 300 hits from this dude. The fine folks over at Evolving Wild project him for 298; he paced for 283 last season.
What’s there to add about Jacob Markstrom? He’s honestly a borderline elite fantasy goalie in my mind. You just know what you’re gonna get. He’ll chug minutes, racking up wins and saves along the way. I’d be properly chuffed to have him as my G1 regardless of format. Plus, like, the Pacific isn’t that scary of a division outside of Vegas and Edmonton and kinda Vancouver.
Forwards to watch: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Kailer Yamamoto, Zach Hyman, Jesse Puljujarvi
Defensemen to watch: Darnell Nurse, Tyson Barrie
Goalie(s) to own: Mike Smith
No need to spend time on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. McDavid should be the #1 pick regardless of format, and Leon is my #2 pick in points leagues (with Nathan MacKinnon getting a tiny bump for me in categories because of his elite shot volume). The rest of the top six are whom I’ve got labeled as ones to watch. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a potential point-per-game type with a very safe floor. He should see top PP and stick next to Drai on the “second” line, which is equivalent to anyone else’s first line. Opposite him should be Kailer Yamamoto. Flanking McJesus will likely be former Maple Leaf Zach Hyman and Jesse Puljujarvi. Hyman and Juju bring more value in categories leagues since they’re both a good bet for 100+ hits and anywhere from 15 to maybe 25 goals if they have up years in SH%. Edmonton had the league’s best power play — cuz how can you not with fantasy’s #1 and #2 — and Hyman is projected to be a part of the top unit. Hyman has always been a metrics darling with less-than-ideal fantasy results, but playing next to McDavid puts anyone in my crosshairs.
The Oilers don’t just have two of the best forwards, they also boast two of the best fantasy D-men. Darnell Nurse is an absolutely gargantuan force in categories leagues. He will score goals, he’ll get some PPP, he’ll shoot plenty, and he should very easily net you 300 hits+blocks. The majority of leagues I play in count peripherals (I especially enjoy face-off and takeaway leagues), so Nurse is always near the top of my list. He does everything. Tyson Barrie will man the top PP unit, and given it’s the best one, we can pretty safely expect 30+ PPP from him. He’s got 50-60 points, 30 PPP, and 200+ shots written all over him. Stud. I had honestly written him off after his failed Toronto experiment…oof. I try to stay from PP-or-bust types, but this guy’s an exception to the rule. Don’t forget: Oscar Klefbom is likely to miss the entire season.
Where the Oilers most certainly do not shine is between the pipes. I almost didn’t even want to like Mike Smith here. I really almost didn’t. For now, though, he’s projected to be the main man. Not a workhorse, mind you; dude’s too old for that. But he’ll win games and rack up saves. I’m avoiding him at all costs in ratio leagues, but a volume league or points league gives him some more value.
Los Angeles Kings
Forwards to watch: Anze Kopitar, Viktor Arvidsson, Alex Iaffalo, Dustin Brown
Defensemen to watch: Drew Doughty
Goalie(s) to own: N/A
Anze Kopitar put up 50 points in 56 games last season, and almost half of those points came on the man-advantage. Anze’s been a good player for a long time, it’s just sometimes you get superstar Anze and sometimes you get above-average Anze. If he can net 61 points this year, he’ll hit the 1000 mark for his career. Viktor Arvidsson is a new face in town and should be Anze’s right-hand man at 5-on-5. It’s much less of a guarantee that he’ll see top PP time, however. Still, he could net 20+ goals with 200+ shots, with room for more if he ends up working into the top unit. Alex Iaffalo will definitely see top PP time and top-line 5v5 time as well. Could see upwards of 50 points from the guy. He’s more of a sexy streamer in my mind. Same with Dustin Brown. Dude still shoots a lot and hits a lot. I thought about adding Quinton Byfield as one to watch, but I’m not ready to even take a late-round flyer on him yet. He’s gonna be stuffed into a bottom-six role thanks to the arrival of Phillip Danault, whom I didn’t mind as a cheap source of assists in Montreal but whom I can’t get behind in LA. Obvs Byfield is an elite dynasty prospect, but I’m watchlisting him at best in regular formats. At the first sign of looking like a comfortable NHLer, though, you should be ready to pounce.
Drew Doughty gonna Drew Doughty. He will tank your +/- if you play in leagues with that (I don’t outside of Yahoo public leagues, cuz I always get the draft itch and just want one more team dammit!). But, he’s got 10 or so goals in him. Then he’s got 35 or 40 (or 45?!) assists in him, with a good chunk of them on the power play. He will also most definitely bang. Lots of hits. Lots of blocks. Other than Doughty, I don’t give a hoot about any other blueliners in black and white except for streaming purposes. Alexander Edler and Matt Roy should pile up hits and blocks, so some wise streaming would allow you to maximize your weekly totals.
Meh, I can’t think of a positive way to spin a Kings goalie. Someone’s gotta play in net, and that someone should be Cal Petersen more often than not. Jonathan Quick is hella donezo, so it’s time for him to pass the torch. Petersen is an exciting prospect who holds much more dynasty value than he does redraft value. The Kings pipeline is stacked; lots to be excited about if you’re a patient Kings fan. For non-dynasty folks out there, I’d just stay all the way away from these guys.
Let me know what you think in the comments! Tune in same time tomorrow for Pacific Part 2.
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.