Our fantasy hockey analysis series continues. Below we discuss the fantasy-implications of the recent NHL signings and news from around the league.
Fantasy Hockey Analysis – Forward Signings
It goes without saying that Evgenii Dadonov didn’t mesh with his teammates on the Ottawa Senators. He had only 20 points in 55 games for the Sens while averaging his lowest ice time (15:35) per game. Now he moves to a great team in Vegas. He may not see an increase in ice time, but it’s a chance to have a fresh start and play with new players. Don’t forget, Dadonov is only one season removed from a 47-point season (in 69 games) and two seasons removed from a 70-point season (in 82 games). He will be forgotten in fantasy drafts. Pick him late and drop him if he’s not producing.
Mike Hoffman wasn’t a fit with the St. Louis Blues. He averaged his lowest ice time (15:04) since playing his first full season with the Senators back in 2014-15. That doesn’t absolve Hoffman for his production, though. He’s a streaky player and needs opportunity to bust out of his slumps. St. Louis didn’t afford that to him, but the Montreal Canadiens should be able to. Hoffman instantly becomes the top weapon for a team starving for snipers. Tyler Toffoli scored 28 thanks to an inflated shooting percentage and Cole Caufield; despite looking great in the postseason, is still a largely unknown commodity. Hoffman will have plenty of opportunity and should lead the team in goals next season. Expect around 30 goals and 30 assists with 200+ shots.
Zach Hyman produced at a 63-point pace last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs while playing primarily with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Despite what he was on pace for, the 29-year-old has never had more than 41 points in a season. On the Edmonton Oilers, Hyman is going to have an opportunity to surpass that total. He’s expected to lineup next to the reigning Art Ross trophy winner Connor McDavid and should spend time on a loaded powerplay unit. The risk you take with Hyman is whether he’s going to click with his new team or not. He’s a great asset but will likely be overvalued in drafts this fall. Expect a 50–55-point season with 120+ hits.
Jakub Vrana has quietly been a really good player. Despite being overshadowed by the stars in front of him with the Washington Capitals, Vrana ranks fifth in even-strength goals behind Auston Matthews, Alex Ovechkin, Connor McDavid and Kyle Connor over the last two seasons. Now with the Detroit Red Wings, he will have his chance to shine. In his brief 11-game stint after the deadline last year, he had eight goals and three assists. An inflated shooting percentage and a four-goal game inflated those numbers, but the point is Vrana will have every opportunity to produce. Bet on it happening. Expect around 30 goals and 30 assists for the 25-year-old winger.
Everyone has a bad taste in their mouth from Tomas Tatar based on his lack of postseason playing time. That’s okay because the regular season is what matters most to us. Tatar had a respectable 30 points in 50 games for the Canadiens and is only one season removed from a 61-point (68-game) season. There’s value there. Maybe Tatar gets lost with the New Jersey Devils, but the risk is well worth the reward. He’ll fall in drafts and will give his eventual owner a chance at a 50-point player with decent hits and shots totals.
Fantasy Hockey Analysis – Defencemen Signings
Tyson Barrie led all defencemen in scoring last season with 48 points in 56 games. In three of his last four years (Toronto being the outlier), Barrie has been on pace for 60+ points. Why wouldn’t he do it again? With Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl consistently making magic year to year, it’s a safe bet to happen again. Barrie will continue to benefit by being on the ice with them and being paired with a reliable defensive partner in Darnell Nurse. Just be wary. Because Barrie will pile up the points, he will likely be drafted higher than he should be in bangers leagues.
Fantasy Hockey Analysis – Goalie Signings
If you owned Carter Hart last year, God bless you. It was a miserable season that left fantasy owners dreading every single start. If you hung on to him in your keeper league, Hart is going to make you proud this upcoming season. The past is behind him, and the future is still very bright. Hart has a bolstered defensive core that should insulate him through any struggles he may have. With Martin Jones as his understudy, Hart should be a great pick on a solid Philadelphia Flyers team. Expect a bounce-back.
Igor Shesterkin is one of the more exciting goalie picks in upcoming drafts. As the talent in front of him with the New York Rangers continues to grow, as does he. The Rangers are going to take a major step soon at which point Shesterkin’s value will skyrocket. In only 47 games in the NHL, the 25-year-old Russian has a 26-16-3 record with a 2.59 goals-against-average and a .921 save percentage Pretty great numbers for a goalie on a middle-of-the-pack team. Look for the Rangers to take another step forward, giving Shesterkin the potential to finish as a top-five goalie in the NHL next season.
Petr Mrazek was held to just 12 games last season due to injury and a crowded crease on the Carolina Hurricanes. He won six of those games and had a 2.06 GAA and .923 save percentage. Now on Toronto, Mrazek is part of a tandem with Jack Campbell. At this point, he’d be considered ‘1B’, but based on Campbell’s history and Mrazek’s capabilities as a goaltender, expect him to get a fair share of starts. Both goalies should be drafted together as either can string together wins.
Martin Jones showed promise during his time with the Los Angeles Kings and his first few years with the San Jose Sharks. Over the past three seasons though, his numbers took a substantial hit behind an aging squad in front of him. He’s had a .896 SV% in each year. Now at 31 years old, Jones finds himself as the backup behind a franchise goalie in Carter Hart. The Flyers made enhancements to their D-core but still, Philly isn’t necessarily the easiest market in which play net. Carter Hart likely won’t have another poor season, but if he does, you shouldn’t bank on Jones coming to the rescue.