We’re only two days away from the start of the season!  I hope you’re as excited as I am.  For today’s post, I’m going to give you ten bold predictions for this upcoming season and why I feel that way.  Let me know your thoughts on them below.  Let’s get to it!

1) Evgeni Malkin leads the league in points.  He’s not in the top ten betting favorites for the Art Ross, but I think Malkin is primed for a huge season.  One, he has less time to get injured which is obviously the biggest concern.  Two, he had 74 points in 55 games last season.  If he plays around that pace again, he’ll have a real chance.  Three, he’ll have a full season of Zucker on his left wing.  Four, he’ll continue to see second pairs because Crosby will see the tougher matchups.  I have Malkin worthy of a pick at the end of the first round because of the injury risk, but the upside is undeniable.  I suspect you’ll be able to get him in the second round where he can easily decide leagues.

2) The Chicago Blackhawks have the worst record in the NHL.  Yes, they still have Patrick Kane.  However, we have no idea when Jonathan Toews is going to return (if at all) and that leaves Carl Soderberg centering their second line.  Their defensemen are a bottom five unit in the NHL, and they could have the worst goaltending duo in the league.  Maybe Collin Delia surprises, but I have my doubts behind this team.  I can see this team being a massive disaster where the top line ends up around break even, but the rest of their team gets caved in.  I expect Detroit to just be bad instead of all-time bad leaving the door open for Chicago to fall all the way to the basement.  I simply don’t see any upside here unless Pius Suter plays and surprises, but expecting him to be a Panarin or even a Kubalik is a stretch.  I would only want Kane, DeBrincat, Kubalik, and Strome in fantasy, and I’m even a bit scared about Kubalik with his big drop off in linemates.  I want nothing to do with their defensemen and absolutely nothing with their goaltending.

3) Tyson Barrie totals 50 points.  I’ve talked extensively on Barrie in multiple posts, but I want to reaffirm that I’m all in on Barrie in Edmonton.  He couldn’t go to a better spot and is primed for a massive season.  Funny enough, I expect this to lead to him being significantly overpaid as a free agent in 2021.

4) Andrei Svechnikov finishes in the top three in goals.  You can still get Svechnikov at 300-1 on some sports books for the Richard Trophy which I think is worth a flier.  While I suspect he ultimately falls just short, I think we see a huge season from Svechnikov with him landing in the 30-35 goal range.  He’s going to be a top DFS target for me early in the season.

5) Aaron Ekblad sets a new career high in points despite the shortened season.  He’d need 42 points in 56 games which I think is in play.  One, my Keith Yandle prediction as far as being one of the most overrated fantasy players this season is already shaping up to be a win, as Quenneville said today that he’s not even a lock to be in Florida’s starting lineup.  Even if he is, it’s certain that Ekblad’s going to be on the first power play unit.  While I’m down on the top unit in general, it’s still a big boost for Ekblad.  I would move him up now towards the bottom of the top 20 defensemen.

6) The Dallas Stars miss the playoffs after making The Stanley Cup Final last season.  I’m not in love with this prediction, but I think it’s a much bigger possibility than general consensus. Seguin is out until April and Bishop at least into mid-March.  To go along with that, we haven’t seen Anton Khudobin receive a lot of volume during the regular season in years and I’m worried that he doesn’t hold up at his age.  They’re an injury to one of their two stud defensemen or Khudobin from being in rough shape.  A lot will depend when their early postponements are rescheduled and exactly when they get their studs back, but I think there’s a solid chance that two of Nashville, Florida, and Columbus end up ahead of the Stars, and I don’t see a path to finishing ahead of Tampa or Carolina without Seguin and Bishop.

7) The Calgary Flames win the North Division.  While it might not make a fantasy impact, I see their young defensemen taking a step forward this season, especially Rasmus Andersson.  He’s a player I’m monitoring closely early to see if he can get the power play necessary to be relevant.  Jacob Markstrom is a huge upgrade, and I think we get somewhat of a bounceback from their top line.  Toronto is listed as a heavy favorite with a big group of everyone but Ottawa behind them, but from a regular season perspective, I like Calgary’s chances to emerge after last season’s disappointment.

8) The Sabres have a top three power play.  Homer time!  The Sabres were 20th in power play percentage last season so this would take a huge step forward.  That said, I think it’s well within play.  The top unit of Reinhart, Hall, Eichel, Olofsson and Dahlin should be terrific, no doubt about it.  In fact, the top unit was strong last season and now it adds Hall.  However, the big improvement to me is on the second unit.  The second unit was an absolute dumpster fire last season and now, it’s looking very competent with Skinner, Staal, Cozens, Tage Thompson and Colin Miller.  Miller’s spot could end up Risto’s, but I’m hoping Miller gets first chance.  Either way, Thompson is somebody that needs to be discussed.  It now looks like he’s going to get first crack playing with Eichel and Hall.  He’s got an incredible shot and while it hasn’t translated to NHL success yet, he was great in the AHL last season before suffering a season-ending injury in his first NHL game.  He’s still only 23 years old and it’ll be hard to fail playing with Eichel.  He’s worth drafting with your last pick right now for the Sabres back-to-back on Thursday and Friday and an even better DFS option.

9) The Arizona Coyotes, despite being in contention for a playoff spot up until the very end of the regular season, will have zero skaters worth holding.  Darcy Kuemper should be solid and Antti Raanta could be a great streamer against the California teams, but their offense struggles mightily.  That means Phil KesselClayton Keller, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson all disappoint while Jakob Chychrun doesn’t have his breakout.  This may be the boldest prediction of all since it’s extremely rate that a team, even a really bad one, doesn’t have one player worth holding.  That said, Chabot, Patty Kane, Larkin, and Kopitar have the worst teams covered.  Even streaming Coyotes or players against the Coyotes doesn’t sound appealing.  Their defensive commitment could be enough to get into the playoffs, but Arizona will be a tough watch.

10) None of the three Calder favorites wins the trophy.  That means it’s not any of Alexis LafreniereIgor Shesterkin, or Kirill Kaprizov.  The implied probability of any of these three winning based on the betting market is somewhere around 75%, so while 25% isn’t exactly bold, these three are the overwhemling favorites.  Lafreniere is starting on the third line and while that can change, I expect a good, but not great rookie season.  I’m a big Igor fan, but the division could make his numbers look worse than his actual level of play.  I still like Kaprizov as well, but he could disappoint being on the first line going against the top defensemen in his division.  I don’t know who it is that ends up stealing the award but I suspect a season like Dominik Kubalik had last season would be good enough to win this year.  Maybe Dylan Cozens carries his stellar play at the WJC right into the NHL.  Same story could happen for Trevor Zegras.  Tim Stutzle and Gabriel Vilardi should get plenty of opportunity on bad teams.  Ilya Sorokin could thrive right away in the Islanders system.  There’s enough upside in the second tier of Calder contenders that I say one of them emerge.

It’ll be fun to look back at these at the end of the season.  I’ll be back on Wednesday with some late news on lines and a preview of opening night!  In the words of Bart Scott, “Can’t wait!”  As always, feel free to ask any questions, leave any comments, or give any suggestions below.  Thanks for reading, take care!

  1. Mordacious Levator says:
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    same 12 teamer from yesterday
    no good reason why the top 2 wingers on DET’s only good (quite good) line cost that. till bob is back, just nab driedger, or raanta, or an upside (i can’t believe quick is still starting, it doesn’t make sense) backup, cal petersen (who i’ve been obtaining in any dynasty clearly, esp since he didn’t come from the top of goalie dynasty prospect rankings to what he’s ranked now slowly, i.e. he wasn’t owned like askarov/s.knight, and earlier samsonov/sorokin/saros and others were for a while before they hit the NHL either), or kahkonen, or greiss, but DET ain’t upside.

  2. Gerald says:
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    Exciting year for the Sabres Viz. What seed do you think they are as a playoff team? Think they can win a playoff round?

    The devils has the other thompson brother tyce thompson? think he can make the team one of the years?

    also devils just signed Vatanen. Ty smith still has to make the team right? Think they will roll with 7 D men?

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      I have a hard time thinking they’ll make the playoffs in that division, it’s so brutal. If they were any of the other divisions, they would have a better chance. I think they’ll be competitive, but having to beat out one of Boston, Philly, Pittsburgh or Washington will be hard enough, and then you still have to beat out the Islanders, Rangers, and Devils. They could improve a lot and still miss. If they do get in, I have a hard time seeing them winning a round unless Eichel and Hall are that good.

      I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tyce play. I know he played at Providence, but anything I give you on him would be just regurgitating what I’ve read.

      I really like that signing for cheap. Their defense overall looks pretty decent now, and if they struggle, they can always flip him at the deadline. From everything I’ve read, Smith has impressed in camp so I suspect he makes the team.

      My guess is that the pairs are: Murray-Subban, Smith-Severson, Butcher-Vatanen with Kulikov being the extra. I don’t think they go 7D early, but if they’re all playing well, it could be in the cards when Hischier is back. There were times Ruff played 7D here and there’s a lot of questions with their bottom six, so if a few of those guys struggle, I wouldn’t be surprised by 7D

  3. LG Hockey says:
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    Viz,

    Loving your articles any they are extremely helpful to gain an advantage over my buddies! It’s great to have you back.

    Huge trade offer I received and wanted your advice.

    His Draisailt, John Carlson and Fiala plus a first round pick (10 team league and we keep 6 per team so a very good player could be had with this pick) for:

    My Eichel, Svechnikov and Makar and a last round pick

    This is a keeper and it is very difficult to give up my young talent but wanted to get your thoughts. Other players he has are Malkin, Teuvo T, Markstrom and Carter Hart if you see another combo or addition that could be made.

    My team for reference and H2H yahoo with G, A, P, +/-, SOG, PPP, Hits and W, GAA, Sv % and SO

    C – Eichel
    C – Kadri
    LW – Svech
    LW – Forsberg
    RW – Rust
    RW – Bjorkstrand
    D – Makar
    D – Dahlin
    D – Sergechev
    D – Toews/ Matt Grzelcyk
    Bench: Backstrom, Perron

    G – Saros
    G – Ullmark
    Bench: Cam Talbot, John Gibson

    Thanks!
    LG

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Hey LG, hope you’re doing well! Glad to hear from you. This is quite the blockbuster of a trade.

      I would marginally lean towards saying no, but I wouldn’t blame you on doing it. These are all players I like, but I think Makar could overtake Carlson as soon as this year, Draisaitl is only marginally better than Eichel, and I clearly prefer Svechnikov to Fiala, as much as I like Fiala. The pick swap makes it close, and I really think it’s a matter of personal preference. It’s hard to say you lose on the deal when you get the best player in the deal. Your keepers are very young overall so I’d lean towards staying on that path.

  4. jasen James says:
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    Hey Viz,
    I just had the 12th pick in a 12 team yahoo roto league. Standard scoring. 12th position is somewhat tricky. I think that the top 6 are pretty much set in stone. Even though I dont like to go goalie that early, would have gone Vasilevsky had he still been there. Pretty happy with the results. Let me know what you think?
    1(12)KANE
    2(13)PETTERSSON-homer pick here. wasnt overjoyed taking Kane but felt like I had to at 12.
    3(36)C.HART-lehner was gone, between Hart and Rask. went with upside
    4(37)SCHEIFELE-felt like a steal
    5(60)HALL
    6(61)Q.HUGHES
    7(84)BOESER-team Canucks is shaping up nicely
    8(85)GRUBAUER-really happy that he was still around. Francouz went in the 7th?!?
    9(108)BARRIE
    10(109)DEANGELO-this was my first meh pick. Like the pick but dont love it
    11(132)BJORKSTRAND-was set to go Fiala. taken the pick before me….
    12(133)OLOFSSON-So angrily grabbed two big upside picks with LW/RW eligibility
    13(156)GIBSON-flipflopped on gibson/talbot. Figure id go with the talent.
    14(157)HORVAT
    15(180)KAPRIZOV
    16(181)GRZELCYK-fingers crossed

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      By standard scoring, do you mean Yahoo’s standard that includes hits and such? I think it’s slightly early for Pettersson but not outrageous by any teams, I don’t mind the pick at all. Definitely like Hart/Schiefele turn quite a bit. If it’s with the extra categories, I think this is quite a bit early for Hughes since he’s a near zero in hits. If it’s what I consider to be standard, then I have no problem with the pick. I don’t get the Francouz love myself, I’m on board with Grubauer there. Really like how you filled out the bottom of your roster. Overall, I think you did a very good job

      • jasen James says:
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        Hey Viz
        So somebody already panic dropped E.Kane. My team is light on hits so just wondering
        1. Who to drop?
        2.Is he worth my number 1 waiver priority?
        3. How much of my $100 budget for the season should i use
        4.Also would you drop Grzelcyk for either Shattenkirk or Subban?
        Rust is also available.
        Thanks

        • Viz

          Viz says:
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          Oh wow, that’s crazy. It sure sounds like he’s going to play so I would definitely make him top waiver priority. As for who to drop, man that’s tough. I guess Horvat? That’s painful to even type but it has to be him, Grzelcyk or Kaprizov, and I’m not sure you can afford to drop a D for a F (I assume you’re starting 4D and you only are carrying 4?) If you start less than 4D, then I’d dump Grzelcyk. I would keep Grzelcyk over those two D, he’s close with Shattenkirk though. I really like Rust too, I can’t believe that he’s going so late in drafts this year, but I don’t see how you make room for him too.

          As for how much to bid, are you allowed $0 bids or is the min bid $1? It changes things a decent amount, but if it’s min $1 bids, I’d go something like $25 maybe? I’d go pretty strong here, maybe even low 30’s, to cover yourself since you can use the hits. I can’t imagine someone better than Kane hits the waiver wire this year, especially in a hits league. I know it’s pretty aggressive before the season starts, but I think this would be a big move for your roster.

  5. Woody says:
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    Viz – second time commenter, long time reader. Just wanted to state again that your work is really appreciated by MANY who read this site and don’t regularly comment. Thank you so much for doing this for us again this year.

    I am very intrigued by Rasmus Andersson, especially how early so many D men went in my draft this year. I was really caught off guard! I drafted my 5th D man Filip Hronek in the 18th round, but am now considering dropping him for Rasmus. Bangers league that uses both hits and blocks as categories, in addition to PPP. Which would you rather have to start the season?

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Thanks Woody, really appreciate it! It’s always good to hear from someone who mostly lurks but doesn’t comment much so thank you for that.

      I really like Andersson as a player but I’m still unsure of what Calgary’s power play plan is. On the other hand, we know Hronek will be running the first power play unit for Detroit and he’ll give you a lot of hits (similar blocks to Andersson). As long as you’re willing to stomach a potentially bad +/-, I marginally prefer Hronek because his role is a bit more secure. If you don’t want to deal with the plus-minus, I think Andersson is a solid alternative. At the least, even if you keep Hronek, I would keep an eye on him to see how many minutes he’s getting, especially on the power play, as I talked about above.

  6. Nightpandas says:
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    Hey Viz,

    I ended up keeping Big Nate, thanks for the advice. Now I am looking at how to improve my goaltending as I had no picks in the first 100 so not much was left

    15 Team Roto League (keep 5)
    G/A/P/+-/PIM/PPP/SHP/SOG
    W/L/GAA/SV%/SHO/GS
    Max 130 Games for each position except 195 for Def
    45 moves for the season

    start 2 C: Mackinnon, Pettersson
    start 2 LW: Huberdeau, Kaprisov
    start 2 RW: JTMiller (RW), Rust
    start 3 D: Nurse, Slavin, Hronek
    start 2 G: Markstrom, Peterson
    start 2 Util:Saad, Kapanen
    BN: Dellia, Oettinger, Hornqvist, Gusev, Hintz, TThompson

    I was offered Rantanen and Khudobin for my Pettersson and Miller. Was thinking of going Rust or Hornqvisr plus a pick instead of Miller. What do you think?

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      You’ll have to make a trade, but I agree that I think that offer is a bit too much. I wouldn’t be giving up a quality pick plus Rust in his place, but that’s because I’m a big fan of Rust. I might try Rust straight in Miller’s place and if he says no, send a late pick. Hornqvist and a pick I would definitely do, not sure he’d be interested in that though without hits being included, but can’t hurt to try.

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