It’s that time of year again. Hockey is starting back up, and you know what that means. It’s time for some fantasy hockey! Of course, each year on every team there are fantasy studs and fantasy duds. Here is a breakdown of what to expect this year from the 2014-2015 Colorado Avalanche:
Fantasy Studs and Duds
Let’s start with what everyone wants to hear – the studs. We’ll break this down into two categories: 1. The Obvious and 2. The Hidden Gems.:
1. The Obvious:
A. Nathan MacKinnon: MacKinnon is poised for a huge year on the offensive side of the puck, which is great for fantasy owners. He has been given the reigns to one of the top two center positions with the Avs deciding not to re-sign Paul Stastny, so he is going to get big time offensive minutes. Thirty-plus goals is not a stretch for the 19-year-old. Expect 70-plus points. Look to draft him somewhere in the second or third round.
B. Matt Duchene: There is no reason to expect anything less than a repeat of his point-per-game pace from last year (70 points in 71 games). Duchene is still going to get lots of power play time and is slated to play with quality line mates in O’Reilly and Iginla/Tanguay. Look to draft him somewhere in the second or third round as well.
C. Gabriel Landeskog: Landeskog is another player primed for a huge year in terms of fantasy hockey stats. The guy can give you the all-around stats you need to succeed in fantasy hockey. He can score, 65 points (26 Goals) in 2013-14, plus he can give you solid plus-minus (+21 last year). He can also give you some penalty minutes as well (71 PIMs last season). Basically, this guy is a fantasy hockey champion. Look to draft him in the second or third round.
2. Hidden Gems:
A. Nick Holden: Holden came out of nowhere last year. Literally nowhere. He only played seven NHL games by the age of 26, but suited up in 54 games for the Avalanche. In those 54 games played, he was able to post 25 points (10 goals) as a defenseman. Look for Holden to build on those numbers as he will most likely be given top-four minutes and plenty of power play time. Look to draft Holden in the late rounds of your draft or even as a UFA pickup when injuries hit your team.
B. Tyson Barrie: Alright, I can already hear the critics saying, ‘Barrie isn’t a hidden gem, everyone knows about him, etc,’ but hear me out. Barrie will be a steal for someone in your fantasy draft. He could very well end up posting mid-40s in points or higher, and he is known around Avs country as ‘Mr. Clutch,’ meaning he gets lots of GWGs, five to be exact last season. That means bonus points for fantasy owners. Look to pick him up around the seventh or eighth round, but expect him to have equal value of a third-round pick.
Now for the not-so-fun part of fantasy hockey – the players you should avoid, A.K.A. the duds. These are not necessarily bad players to select, but more so players that tend to get a bit overrated and picked a few rounds too early.
A. Erik Johnson: Johnson will give you a solid amount of points, most likely around 40 or so (39 points last season with nine goals), but he is going to be expected to go head-to-head against top skaters every night, which can lead to some tough match ups and inevitably a lot of negatives in the plus-minus category. Johnson won’t get very much power play time either, as it’s looking more like Barrie, Holden, Redmond, and Tanguay are getting more time on the power play at the point positions. Don’t draft Johnson before the seventh round. After that, he could be a solid value pick.
B. Alex Tanguay: He is coming off a major hip surgery that limited him to 16 games last year. Though he did score at a decent rate (11 points in those 16 games), more potential injuries are a major concern. Tanguay has missed more than 10 games in six of his 14 years in the NHL. Age is also a factor here. He’s only 34, but coming off a major injury could possibly lead to a slower than expected start. Don’t look to draft Tanguay until at least the eighth or ninth round.
C. Jarome Iginla: I know what you’re thinking. What am I doing putting Iginla on the duds list, the guy has 560 goals throughout his Hall of Fame-worthy career. My reasoning is very simple. Though I do expect him to produce somewhere in the 25-33 goal range because he’ll get power play time and is expected to be centered by Nathan MacKinnon to start the year, I also expect a very slow start due to him readjusting to a much tougher Western Conference. I also expect to see decreases in other categories such PIMs and plus-minus as well. This is why I wouldn’t look for Iginla prior to the sixth round.
D. Daniel Briere: This one I think is pretty straightforward. Briere is not expected to play in the top-six unless there is an injury, so he’ll mainly be seeing third-line time. He will get some power play time mainly on the second unit. He is yet another player where age is becoming a factor. It does appear that he may have lost a step or two, so don’t expect anymore 60-point years from Briere. If he gets super lucky, he might put up 15 goals. Don’t look to draft him until very late rounds, if at all. If injuries hit and you’re desperate, he might be worth a shot as I expect him to be a UFA in most leagues.
There you have it, your 2014-15 Colorado Avalanche fantasy hockey breakdown. Happy drafting!
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