Hey guys! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2019-20 fantasy hockey season. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to streamers, deeper league holds, even to rookie-eligible 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.
Last year my previews went alphabetically, but this year we’re going to go division-by-division, starting with the top team. On our 14th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we visit the Windy City – Chicago baby! There weren’t huge expectations for this Hawks squad heading into 2018-19, but their young offensive weapons helped them fight till the bitter end, ending up just six points out of the playoffs. With an interesting free agent pickup and some moves to stabilize their D core, what will the Hawks do this season?
Yesterday, I wrote about the winners of the NHL Offseason, so I think you can see where this is going. For those that missed yesterday's post, you can check that out here. Now let's go to the other side of the spectrum and get some Beck in here, or Three Doors Down if you're into that kind of thing. Here's a breakdown of the biggest losers!
One of my favorite late round gambles on the blue line this season was Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson played 35 games last season and has 16 points and two shots per game. That doesn't sound great, but that was with zero power play time and limited minutes. Keith and Seabrook were falling off a cliff giving Gustafsson prime opportunity. He took advantage of it and then some. Gustafsson dished three assists on Monday night while putting a shot on goal and adding 4 PIM. That brings Gustafsson up to a whopping 17+42 with 34 PIM and almost exactly two shots per game. That's with 18 STP, a number which could be higher if he played on PP1 all year. So what do we make of Gustafsson for next season? Well, it's early to say. I think these numbers are mostly sustainable as long as Chicago doesn't add a PP specialist in the offseason. I don't expect them to with the young guys they have coming, especially Jokiharju, but there's always a chance. Gustafsson looks like he'll be a solid #3 next season, possibly a bottom end #2. The goals will probably come down a bit, but 40+ assists should be a near lock with Chicago's style and strong PP, and he's average in PIM and shot rate. If he's going to be better, it's because he takes a few more shots. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
Ben Bishop didn’t give up a goal for three straight games and the first period in Thursday’s game. Then, something sadly familiar happened: he was injured. Bishop left Thursday’s game against the Wild with Anton Khudobin playing in relief. Please, blog, may I have some more?
We are at the point in the season where it's more important to lead my posts off with the things that have the biggest impact going forward and not the best performances. Robin Lehner is currently day-to-day with what Barry Trotz called an upper-body injury. When asked if it was a concussion, Trotz wouldn't give an answer. Best wishes to Lehner to a speedy recovery no matter what the issue is, but he does have concussion history. Thomas Greiss started on Thursday and made 35 saves on 37 shots in the 4-2 win over the Senators. I wouldn't expect anything else against the Senators. I have been saying Greiss is must-own for a few months now, but for some reason he's still only 27% owned! If Lehner does miss time, Greiss has a legitimate chance to not only be a #1 goalie the rest of the way, but a top 5 goalie overall. Pick him up immediately if he's still available in your league. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two days:
Three years ago, Ben Bishop was the #1 player in fantasy hockey. The following year, he struggled in Tampa, then they moved him to Dallas. Last season, Bishop was solid, but he's been at his best this season. Bishop posted a shutout on Tuesday, stopping all 28 shots he faced in the 1-0 win over the Rangers. Injuries have hurt his volume, but Bishop is approaching a 2.20/.930 stat line. That is pushing towards being the #1 goalie in the league again. He won't end up there because of the lack of starts, but with the Stars battling for the playoffs, Bishop has the ability to win people fantasy titles this season. The Stars play 14 games in the fantasy playoffs (more details on their schedule here) which is the most of anyone in the league. Look for Bishop to be a massive difference maker down the stretch. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Well if I had to guess who would have the second four goal game of the season, I'm not sure Brad Richardson would have been in the first 500 guesses. Richardson single-handedly carried the Coyotes to victory on Thursday with those four goals on six shots, adding two PIM with a +4 rating. Richardson has 16 goals in 48 games now, a career high in his 14th season. For those of you in deep leagues, I would grab Richardson for the faceoff boost too. In standard leagues, I'm probably passing still despite playing at a 27 goal pace. Everything about it screams unsustainable, but we have to give props to him burying four in one game. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It feels like forever ago that Tomas Hertl took the league by storm as a rookie. He's shown signs of promise since, but never really put it together. Until. Hertl had a hat trick on Tuesday to lead the Sharks over the Penguins. That brings him up to 19+22 in 43 games, both numbers rapidly approaching career highs in mid-January. He is providing no penalty minutes and a below average shot rate which caps his long term ceiling, but he looks to be a guy who is a fringe top 100 player for the next few seasons. I would say if I had to say where I rank him next year, my guess is just outside the top 100 just because the downside is much higher for a guy whose sole value is coming from points and not the side categories. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
Cory Schneider has been atrocious all season and Keith Kinkaid has had a brutal December. Enter Mackenzie Blackwood into the crease for the Devils, and the former second round pick has immediately caught fire. Please, blog, may I have some more?
It was quite the weekend for last season's Calder Trophy winner. Mathew Barzal entered Friday's game against the Senators with five goals on the season, and he matched that in two games. Barzal scored two goals and an assist against the Senators before scoring a hat trick against the Maple Leafs on Saturday. That brings Barzal up to 10+25 in 37 games with solid PIM and an improved shot rate. He's still only 21 years old so clearly the best is to come. For the rest of this season, I think he's just inside the top 50 now that his shot rate isn't far from average. If he can eventually get that up towards three a game, it's game over. Barzal has top 20 player upside down the line; hopefully the Isles get some more talent around him. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: