In 2016, the Honda Civic will be getting a small redesign; upgradable turbo engine, higher fuel efficiency with a more stylish/sportier look. Now I’m all for saving some money and buying an older model, but with all the benefits that comes with a new car (reliability, new tech, streamlined power, next generation knowledge) would you blame me if I went with the new over the older model? Why am I starting this article by writing about a car? If you haven’t made the connection, each year in the NHL there seems to be more and more new talent replacing the old and this season is no exception. Pesos and I have put our bickering aside to come up with up and coming talent to watch.
Young Players We’re Watching
I think we all know about Connor McDavid, and if you need any more info on Jack Eichel, see Viz’s post “I like Eich”. Some of these names are not new this year, but didn’t live up to the hype in their first year and are ripe for the picking this season. Sure, in the pre-season there are always position battles and young guys fighting to be noticed, but let’s look at some names that will actually stay, and potentially make a difference on your fantasy team this year:
Jonathan Drouin age: 20, LW (TB) – He has been playing alongside Steven Stamkos in the pre-season and building up their chemistry. Playing beside Stamkos, the points will be there, if he stays. In 3 pre-season games so far, he has 4 points (2G/2A, 2 on the PP)
Johnny Gaudreau age: 22, LW (CGY) – He hasn’t really stood out in the preseason but then again, it’s only the preseason. In spite of this I have a feeling like we will be talking a lot about this young Calgary team that features a ton of future potential and there are a few more of these guys on this list.
Aleksander Barkov age: 20, C (FL) – He didn’t play in the Panthers pre-season game against Tampa but had an assist and was plus 2 against the Stars. Look for a breakout season from this guy.
Dougie Hamilton D age: 22, (CGY) – With the injury to T.J. Brodie, Hamilton moves to the top D line with Mark Giordano. This has top defensive pairing in the league written all over it. As mentioned above, Calgary is a young team eager to prove themselves.
TJ Brodie D age: 25, D (CGY) INJ (week to week: Broken bone in hand) – Depending on how well Hamilton plays with Giordano, this might cut into some of Brodie’s point totals this season, but this kid is gold in a keeper league.
Sam Reinhart age: 19, C (BUF) – Very exiting pre-season so far, with 3 points in 2 games (2 on the PP). They are also talking about moving him to the wing so that he can log some top 6 minutes (as O’Reilly and Eichel are both Centre)
Ryan Strome age: 22, C (NYI) – A goal, 3 shots and 3 hits in a little under 17mins of ice time in a loss to the Devils. The Islanders are surely going to be a contender in the east and Strome will be a big part of that.
Mark Stone age: 23 RW (OTT) – Stone came out of nowhere last season and has continued this intensity in the pre-season. In the 1 game he played so far this pre-season he has 2 point (1G/1A).
Sean Monahan age: 20, C (CGY) – He scored a goal in a 4-1 win over the Canucks. Going into his third season I think it’s safe to say that Monahan will improve, albeit slightly, on his point totals from last year. Depending on your league’s setup, Monahan could be a late round pick worth taking.
Sam Bennett age: 19, C (CGY) – In three preseason games, Bennett has 2 points (1G/1A). He missed most of last season due to injury but was back and a played surprisingly well in the playoffs.
Dylan Strome age: 18, C (ARI) – If Arizona was smart they would be sending Strome back to juniors like they did last season with Domi. This team is going to be a mess, might as well let Strome dominate the OHL and World Juniors. If he stays up I think he’s worth a flier and worth watching closely for a keeper league.
Max Domi age: 20, C (ARI) – He is young and full of potential but only has 1 point in the preseason. He’s going to be a good player but in Arizona he won’t be surrounded by all stars to push him to be better so it might take him awhile to come into his own.
Other Things We Noticed in Preseason Play
Tyler Ennis C, LW (BUF) – In two preseason games so far he has 5 points, playing a total of 20:58 minutes per game. Watching him play with Eichel is exciting and you can see he’s playing with more confidence and intensity.
Paul Stastny C (STL) – He scored three points in a 6-0 win over the Stars. As he is turning 30 this winter, Stastny could be starting to slow down. He’s had a solid preseason but I’m not confident it’s going to translate into regular season success. I’ve had Stastny on my teams for a couple of years now and have watched him on the wire in some of my shallow leagues. Although he’s had some ups and downs, I’m not ready to give up and hope although expect some volatility from him this year.
Jeff Skinner LW,RW (CAR) – Skinner leads the preseason in goals with 4 in two games however he hasn’t matured into the player most thought he would and his injuries are a factor. Carolina is going to be in the bottom-five this year and don’t expect much more than 35 points from him this season.
Zdeno Chara D (BOS) – Chara is day-to-day with an upper body injury which is not good. There’s a lot of miles on that frame and let’s be serious, Big Z isn’t getting any younger. The Bruins are a Rask injury away from the lottery. One positive is some of the young guys in Boston are going to get more playing time. The bad news is they traded away their best young defender (Hamilton). Dark times lie ahead in Beantown.
Milan Lucic / Anze Kopitar / Marian Gaborik (LA) – I actually haven’t seen them play together (have they yet?) but I did see some practice video, I’m pretty excited for this line.
Evander Kane LW (BUF) – Similar to Ennis, it’s easy to see that Kane and this Buffalo team are having fun on the ice as they prepare for regular season. Some teams are trying out lines and combinations, or still trying to figure out how they will fit but Buffalo’s key members seem to be there already. In the 2 games Kane has played, he has 3 goals (1PPG, 1SHG), his ice time per game is 22:24 minutes.
Vladimir Tarasenko RW (STL) – What’s to be said? He leads the pre-season in points on a Blues team that could use the offence, especially when the post season rolls around. This guy is going to be dominant.
Ryan O’Reilly C, LW, RW (BUF) – There are too many Buffalo players on this list. Especially being a Sens fan, it’s tough to watch your team’s pre-season games and take away more highlights from the competition. In two games, O’Reilly has three points (1G/2A). BTW, I’m currently drooling over his multi-positionality (Yahoo).
3 VS 3 Overtime Play
This format is going to be exciting when the NHL introduces it In the 2016-17 season as there will be so much open space for stars to run around. It also means make one mistake and you’re basically done. Just look at what JVR did last night against the Canadians. I’d rather watch a team’s top three face off against each other than watch what sometimes feels like an endless shootout.
Patrick Kane’s trial is taking up way too much sports highlights
What a mess this has been! Personally I think Kane should have taken an absence from the team, or at least the NHL should have stepped in and said “look, take some time and get this sorted out”. Suspending him with pay isn’t saying he’s guilty, but it is what it is.
Marv’s Final Thought
These are just some of the things we saw and by no means is this an exhaustive listing of the pre-season highlights but it gives us a great idea of the season to come. If you want to talk exhausting, try not disagreeing with Pesos for a whole week! I guarantee that once the season starts, Marv vs. Pesos will be in full gear and you can all weigh in on who’s smarter.
Please do not hesitate to ask us any questions about your leagues, drafts or players in general. We look forward to your comments.
Marv & Pesos