Hello again, Razzfolks!
Back with my second installment of the Pacific Division team previews. Let’s just jump right on in, eh? See what I did there? Canadian joke? Cuz hockey? Haha lol I’m funny.
San Jose Sharks
Forwards to watch: Evander Kane, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier
Defensemen to watch: Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Mario Ferraro
Goalie(s) to own: N/A
I don’t know if you’ve been following this Evander Kane soap opera, but it’s something else. First gambling accusations, now sexual assault allegations. It’s not 100% the dude even plays, but we’ve gotta operate on the assumption that he will for now. He’s going 11th/12th round in Yahoo at the time of writing, which has his risk of not playing baked in there. If he plays all year, he’ll destroy that ADP. It’s roughly #135 overall; he can finish top 50 in his sleep and should push top 25 in categories. 60-point floor with loads upon loads of shots+hits. Timo Meier is kind of Evander Kane Lite. More or less the same number of points, but fewer extras. Still probably looking at around 225ish shots and 120ish hits, give or take. I’m all about that. Tomas Hertl doesn’t bang or shoot nearly as much but is a 65-70 point guy most likely. His 1.96 primary pts/60 at even strength put him in the 88th percentile among forwards, and his 2.61 ES pts/60 ranked in the 92nd. Simply put, he’s a star. Logan Couture isn’t what he used to be. His pts/G has declined three straight seasons, going from 0.86 pts/G to 0.75 to last year’s mark of 0.58 — his worst since his very first season. Sure, he could rebound. I’d just look at other options if I were you.
Part of me still wants to believe Erik Karlsson can rediscover his Ottawa golden days. The smarter part of me is going to completely fade him on draft day. I just can’t anymore. Still…there’s a teensy part of me that wonders “what if…” Anywho, Brent Burns still rocks. He’s not a 1st-round guy anymore, but he still shoots a lot, will score, will hit some, and will block a lot of shots. Think 45 points is a reasonable expectation, with a 50-point ceiling still not totally all the way out of the question. Banger-league folks needn’t let Mario Ferarro slip past…350 or more hits+blocks is possible. He hits like prime Mike Tyson and will block well over 100 shots. Even you standard-leaguers could use his hits on streaming basis, at least!
Yeah. No. Sharks goalies are 10000000% undraftable in most formats.
Forwards to watch: Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Eberle, Brandon Tanev
Defensemen to watch: Mark Giordano, Adam Larsson, Vince Dunn
Goalie(s) to own: Philipp Grubauer, Chris Driedger
Won’t lie, I’m not impressed with what Seattle ended up putting together. They left a lot on the table, so naturally we all assumed “side deals!!” with glints of excitement in our eyes. Then…no side deals. They did set themselves up for plenty of financial flexibility, at least. Anyway, for fantasy, the forwards don’t excite me much. Jaden Schwartz will remain a top-line LW with top PP, but he’ll either be centered by Jared McCann or Yanni Gourde, who are steps back from Ryan O’Reilly. It’ll probably be Jordan Eberle on the right, and he’s fine and all, but I like him a lot better next to Mathew Barzal. You may be surprised I left McCann/Gourde off the watch list, but I just don’t see much happening with them. Gourde doesn’t have the Bolts’ supporting cast anymore, and McCann doesn’t have Malkin/Crosby. I don’t think guaranteed top-six minutes on an expansion team will translate to much fantasy value outside of streaming. I do love me some Brandon Tanev, though. He can score a little, but he will demolish any human being in his path. I will be disappointed with < 300 hits. Plus his official team portrait is the best.
Veteran Mark Giordano should man the top line and top PP. He’s even more valuable in leagues that count blocks, cuz he should have plenty. I’m expecting 40-45 points, slight upside for more, with decent shots+hits and great blocks. Adam Larsson also will absorb pucks and crunch bodies, so he’s a must-own in banger categories leagues. Good bet for 350 or more hits+blocks. Vince Dunn is intriguing. He’ll see some power play time, and maybe there’s a chance he works his way onto the top unit, either in a two-D scenario or he just takes it from Gio if he struggles. I dunno. I just know as a Blues fan I always wanted this guy to QB the top PP, but Krug showing up ruined any hope of that. He sure can move a puck around.
Viz has Philipp Grubauer as the #8 fantasy goalie for this year. I can see it happening, and I can also see his drafters being disappointed. Colorado was so insanely crazy good last season. HockeyViz (no relation to Viz…I think) is a really cool site, and they show that Colorado’s 5v5 offense was +20% xGF/60 compared to league average while also being -22% xGA/60. So, like, their offense was the best and their defense was the best. That’s a recipe for fantasy goalie success, folks. Here’s the kicker: Seattle will absolutely not do that. I think Grubes will still be a good fantasy goalie, but honestly I don’t want him as my G1 if I can help it. G2? Sure. But I’m taking someone else before him. That’s not to slight what Grubes did, posting 13.1 GSAA (goals saved above average), good for 6th-best in the entire league. Just don’t wanna put all my eggs in that basket, ya dig? His injury history isn’t ideal. Chris Driedger isn’t a bad G3. He’ll see a fair number of starts and is a rather talented dude on what should be a defensively-minded squad. Florida took steps forward last year defensively, but Driedger still outperformed expected metrics (46 GA vs 53.7 xGA; 94.8 FSV% vs 93.97 xFSV%). Translation: less goals allowed than expected and a higher Fenwick SV% than expected. Also had 12.6 GSAA, which ranked directly behind his teammate.
Forwards to watch: Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, Nils Hoglander, Conor Garland, Vasily Podkolzin
Defensemen to watch: Quinn Hughes, Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Goalie(s) to own: Thatcher Demko, Jaroslav Halak
Gonna be some new faces in town in Vancouver who could lend a big fantasy hand. I’m extra excited about uber-prospect Vasily Podkolzin, who is shaping up to be a categories stud. He’s found his scoring touch while already being known as a scrappy two-way player who will throw his weight around. He’s projected top-six alongside J.T. Miller or maybe Bo Horvat, depending if Miller plays center or plays wing next to Elias Pettersson. Doesn’t matter, I’m in and will be targeting him late in drafts as a high-upside sleeper. Interested to see how Conor Garland fares as well; moving from the Yotes to Vancouver is obviously a huge upgrade. Figure he’s the second-line LW to Miller/Horvat, and either way that’ll be a good place to be. Could we see 55-60 points? Maybe. Likely will see PP2 minutes. Nils Hoglander showed flashes last year, so if he can avoid a sophomore slump then he just might provide a ton of extra value. Could very well be the top-line LW next to Petey. Brock Boeser has a pretty easy 30+ goals in him, so a 60-point floor seems like a safe wager. Four of these guys are capable of 60 points pretty easily, with Garland potentially able to get there. Miller is extra valuable in categories leagues given the hits.
We know what Quinn Hughes will do at this point. He might score 10ish goals but he almost definitely will get at least 50 assists. Lots of PPP. Very few peripherals, however, so I like him much more in points leagues. I’m not a big fan of assist-heavy players in categories. Oliver Ekman-Larsson also came over from Arizona, but his case isn’t quite an upgrade cuz he’s definitely not usurping Hughes as the top PP QB. He should still provide solid value in leagues that count hits and blocks. Maybe he finds that goal scoring touch that got him on the fantasy map years ago, who knows? Also, don’t forget Tyler Myers as a nice hits/blocks streamer. That’ll be his job with Alexander Edler out of the way.
Vancouver should be a competitive squad, so that makes both goalies viable in fantasy. Thatcher Demko is pretty good and is just fine as your G2. I don’t have anything glowing to say about him, but he should do you just fine. Jaroslav Halak can still ball and could make a solid G3. Vancouver isn’t nearly as defensively sound as Boston, though, so he’ll have to play well to keep pace with what he’s been able to do in a Bruins sweater. In fact, he’ll have to play very well. The Nucks were +24% in xGA/60 last year compared to league average. Yikes! Boston, on the other hand, was -14%. Oof. Maybe Halak isn’t a great idea after all…
Vegas Golden Knights
Forwards to watch: Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault, Evgenii Dadonov
Defensemen to watch: Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore
Goalie(s) to own: Robin Lehner
There’s not a whole lot to say that you probably don’t already know about Vegas players aside from newly-added Evgenii Dadonov. You know what you’ll get with Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, and Jonathan Marchessault. Lots of goals and shots with Patches, lots of shots and a few less goals with Marchy, and all-around contributions from Stone, who should be a point-per-game player. The average fantasy player doesn’t play in leagues that count takeaways, but I’m nerdy enough to pay attention to them. Stone is elite in takeaway leagues. As for Dadonov, I’m not sure what to expect. If he sees top-six time, 30 goals is not only possible but likely. If not, then we’ll get what he did last year for Ottawa probably. Maybe not quite as bad as 0.36 pts/G, but I won’t give a hoot or a holler about him in fantasy if he’s bottom six. I didn’t list William Karlsson just because he’s too boring for me. Not a lick of peripherals and mostly assists. It’s clear his 43-goal season a few years back was a fluke. Evolving Wild projects him as Vegas’s fifth-most valuable player in points leagues, but I’m just not buying that/I don’t care.
Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore are both very fine fantasy D-men. I like Theo more cuz goals + shots from a D-man really revs my engine. Petro is still a real good banger league option; if blocks don’t count, though, then I’m good. Theo is good for 15ish goals, 250+ shots, 45ish assists, and great PPP. I’m happy if he’s my D1 in any format.
Robin Lehner is likely a Top 5 fantasy goalie, assuming health. The ratios will be there, the wins will obviously be there, and the volume will be there. Absolute gold in any league setup. I’m just worried about his health record. No more Marc-Andre Fleury means he’s the man and a half, though, so you gotta operate on the assumption he’s healthy and will absolutely crush it. Last year’s 63.2% Quality Starts (starts with at or above league-average SV%) and 13 W in just 19 starts tells you all you need to know. However…all that being said, he’s going #18-19 overall in Yahoo leagues right now. I can sort of maybe kind of support Andrei Vasilevskiy being your first pick, but I can’t support any other goalie that early. Viz and I agree here: don’t pay up for goalies. Someone will return similar value rounds later in your draft, and someone you haven’t even heard of will probably jump onto the scene and be awesome anyway.
Thanks for reading! Central Part 1 drops same time tomorrow.
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.