Hey guys, Sven here as we head to Colorado for 31 in 31! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2018-19 fantasy hockey season: The 31 in 31 daily segment. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material!  Reminder that the stat totals are from last season.

Forwards
Nathan MacKinnon – 74GP 39-58-97. The former first overall pick was given no love in the rankings heading into last year’s fantasy season, as many figured Colorado would have a brutal season. Those that let MacKinnon fall to them in their drafts reaped the rewards of a monster season that was a massive part of Colorado going from worst in 2016-17 to a wildcard spot in 2017-18. This year, it is certainly no secret that MacKinnon is the real deal, and I would heavily consider taking him as a first-round pick.

Mikko Rantanen – 81GP 29-55-84. Another large factor into Colorado’s success last season was a breakout season from Rantanen. After putting up a respectable 38 points in his rookie season, playing the wing on MacKinnon’s line allowed him to explode for a PPG season. Rantanen has not proved himself in my books just yet as a sure pick, however I think he will be able to put up another nice season. I’m excited to see if he can prove me wrong and repeat what he was able to establish last season. Rantanen is a player that will likely be taken early in drafts based on his numbers, and can potentially be sold high early on.

Gabriel Landeskog – 78GP 25-37-62. Landeskog was able to rebound from a terrible 33-point performance in 2016-17 last season. He seems to be a more physical Captain Serious, and will certainly be a key provider of offence for the Avs this season, regardless of whether he is #1LW or #2. He is the type of guy that will likely fall in a draft because sports fans know him for his physicality and less for his ability to put up points.

Alex Kerfoot – 79GP 19-24-43. Much like Brock Boeser, I was very excited to see what Kerfoot was able to do in the NHL following a successful college career. He managed to put up 43 points in his rookie season, and appears to be a lock on the Avs second line. Beware of the sophomore slump, however I believe Kerfoot is a legitimate sleeper that could even see some time on the first line.

Tyson Jost – 65GP 12-10-22. Tyson Jost initially had a hard time adjusting to the NHL in his rookie season, but was able to eclipse the 20-point mark with some time spent in the AHL. It seems as if the Avs are going to give him plenty of opportunity to play this year, so I am hoping that Jost turns it around this year and is worth picking up sometime during the season. Is it possible to have a sophomore slump if you already had a rookie season slump?

Defence

Tyson Barrie – 68GP 14-43-57. Clearly Tyson Barrie stopped wrestling his teammates in hotel rooms, as he put up a career high 57 points in 2017-18. I have every reason to believe that Barrie will continue to eat minutes and quarterback the Avs PP (he lead the league in avg. PP time last season), therefore I think he is primed for another great season. He is certainly worthy of drafting as your first defenceman in fantasy, and would be a steal if you got him later in the draft.

Samuel Girard – 73GP 4-19-23. Girard put up a respectable rookie season, briefly playing for the Predators before being shipped to the Avs in the Duchene deal. Though his defensive play could use some touching up, there is no question that Girard is an offensive weapon and an excellent skater. I would consider Girard a legitimate sleeper in deeper leagues, as he will play top-four minutes and receive a good dose of PP time. Though the Barrie/Zadorov pair will eat up the most ice time for the Avs, I expect Girard to have a great season, free of any sophomore slump.

Goalies

Semyon Varlamov – 51GP 2.68GAA 920SV%. Varlamov’s quality of play down the stretch is what pushed them into a wildcard spot, but a late-season injury resulted in Jonathan Bernier taking over. If Colorado is to push for the playoffs yet again this season, Varlamov will need to be on his game again. The Central division is tough to play in, and MacKinnon and company can’t possibly put up six goals every game. I see Varlamov as a fringe #2 goalie selection in deeper leagues, as he will likely split time with newly-acquired Philipp Grubauer.

Philipp Grubauer – 35GP 2.35GAA 923SV%. After quietly playing well behind Braden Holtby in Washington, Grubauer was traded to Colorado to shed cap. Depending on his play, Grubauer has the potential to receive a ton of play time behind Varlamov, and perhaps even take over the starting role. Much like Varlamov, I would suggest passing up on Grubie Rubie Roo in the draft, and hope that he has some hot streaks later on in the season.

Rookies/Prospects

Vladislav Kamenev – AHL: 17GP 3-13-16. Kamenev is the second player to be acquired from Nashville in the Duchene deal in this article. Three games into his NHL career, his forearm was broken on a hit from Brooks Orpik and the 2014 second-rounder missed significant time. However, he was able to put up respectable point totals in his limited AHL time. DailyFaceoff has the rookie-eligible Kamenev starting the season with the Avs, and has the potential to provide some key secondary scoring either at centre or the wing. The big-bodied forward has proven to have great hands in tight, which could earn him some PP#2 time. He is a potential mid-season pick up if he starts to receive top-six minutes in place of Sven Andrighetto.

Conor Timmins – OHL: 36GP 8-33-41. I had always heard great things about Timmins from a few friends that have watched him play in Sault Ste. Marie. After seeing him at the WJC, I am sold on the 2017 second-rounder. With excellent smarts and good size, Timmins excelled on a very good Greyhounds team and will look to have that translate to the AHL. With five fairly established defenceman and sophomore Girard up in the NHL, I do not see Timmins getting a call up until the end of the season unless there are injuries.

Ty Lewis – WHL: 70GP 44-56-100. After breaking out in his third season of major-junior, Lewis was signed by the Avs and will report to the Colorado Eagles (AHL) for the start of the season. In the limited footage I have seen, he is excellent at using his speed to create space for himself as well as his teammates. He is an excellent passer on the rush and can finish. Though it is likely Matt Calvert will round out the Avs forward corps to start the season, Lewis should be able to find his game in the minors and push for a call up by midseason.