Draft Guru - Notes

Landshark Hockey breaks down your Fantasy Hockey Draft. Select the category for insight on NHL players to help plan your draft list.


Safe

These guys aren't the superstars, but they're a solid, safe pick. They probably won't compete for the Art Ross, but you know what you're getting with these guys and can sleep at night with them on your roster.

Offense

Nicklas Backstrom     WAS Over the past 5 or so year, Backstrom has been one of the most consistent point producers in the NHL. Paired once again with Ovechkin, the two were dominant through the 2nd half of the season once more. The only downside is that he is extremely assist-heavy. Only twice has he cracked 20 goals.
Jeff Carter     LOS Jeff Carter continues to be one of the most reliable goal scoring options you can draft. He potted 26 in 48 contests last season and is still in his prime. Given a full season, you can start the bidding at around 35 goals.
Ryan Getzlaf     ANA After a major setback in 2011-12, Getzlaf rebounded nicely last season, returning to point-per-game production levels. His overally fantasy production landed him in 8th place among forwards. It may be setting the bar high to expect a repeat of those numbers, but there's no reason to expect a significant decline. He's a steady, safe center pick.
Patrick Kane     CHI Kane struggled a bit in 2011-12, but came roaring back last season, making him one of the premier wingers in fantasy hockey. His playoff performance further enhanced his value. Top winger on one of the top offenses in the game. Kane is a safe pick for another solid fantasy season.
Anze Kopitar     LOS Given his talent, it seems like he should be able to give fantasy owners just a little more than he has to date. He has the potential to challenge the scoring leaders in any given season, but has yet to do so effectively. That said, he has been at or near point-per-game production for many seasons. No reason to doubt he should do the same this time around.
Rick Nash     NYR Nash has fared well since arriving in New York, and I would venture to guess that under the new coaching regime, it should only get better. Another 30 goal campaign is a virtual lock. He should challenge for 40.
James Neal     PIT Neal was snakebitten at times last season and missed some time with a concussion mid-season. Despite that adversity, he delivered a couple of monster weeks and ended up topping 20 goals in the shortened season. He's a key piece to the high powered Pittsburgh offense and should challenge for his 2nd 40 goal season.
Henrik Sedin     VAN While Daniel has struggled a bit over the past 2 seasons, Henrik has been relatively stable. He's not the goal scorer that he brother is (was?), but he continues to pump out assists year after year.
Eric Staal     CAR While the Canes struggled as a team, Captain Eric just kept on doing his thing. He remains one of the most reliable fantasy options in the game. Another 30 goal / 75 points season should easily be within reach.
Henrik Zetterberg     DET Hank has been delivering consistently great fantasy results for so long, it's easy to assume he's getting too old for the job. However, he enters the season at 32 years of age. Still plenty left in the tank. While he's unlikely to get back to 92 points (as he did in '07-08), he's a safe a pick as any to top 70.

Defense

Alexander Edler     VAN Edler piled up fantasy points again last season, thanks to a blend of goals, assists and PIMs. While he had struggled with injuries for several seasons, he has been a picture of good health for the last 2 seasons. The once powerful fantasy back-end in Vancouver has been whittled away over the years, leaving Edler as the go-to guy to carry the puck. Look for another solid fantasy effort in the mid-40 point range.
Duncan Keith     CHI Keith had experienced a slow decline following his monster season in 2010. He rebounded nicely last year, along with the entire Hawks team, posting solid fantasy numbers again. He kept it rolling through the playoffs, giving hope that fantasy owners will be rewarding by adding him to their defense early. Set your points expectations in the mid-40's.
Niklas Kronwall     DET For years, the knock on Kronwall was durability. He now has posted back to back seasons with perfect attendance. Along with that stability, he has upped his offensive production a notch. Though no replacement, he has helped ease the transition out of the Lidstrom era. Kronwall is a safe pick and will remain a solid fantasy contributor. He may challenge his career high of 51 points this time around.
Dion Phaneuf     TOR After a couple of down seasons, Phaneuf has officially re-entered the realm of the fantasy greats on defense. His last two seasons in Toronto have been solid, landing near the top in goal scoring again. Given a full season, he should easily reach double digits in goals and should be a lock for 40 points.
Kevin Shattenkirk     STL Playing in St. Louis, behind Pietrangelo in the offical depth charts, Shattenkirk doesn't get the attention his stats suggest he deserves. Through 3 NHL seasons, he has been extremely reliable as a fantasy option. He balances goals and assists and is as safe as it gets in terms of a #2 defensive fantasy option.
Mark Streit     PHI Poor plus minus has unfortunately held back his fantasy value over the past two seasons, otherwise, he would be considered among the top options at this position. The move to Philly may help that cause a bit. He will be playing with similar talent with his new squad and will be counted on as the team's top powerplay puck carrier. Another 40+ point season seems a safe bet.
Ryan Suter     MIN Suter entered the season with exceedingly high expectations, due to "The Contract". He met and possibly exceeded those standards, both in the fantasy world and in the real world. He made a serious case for a Norris Trophy. Suter has always been a very good, but not great, fantasy option. He entered the "great" conversation with last year's performance.

Goalies

Niklas Backstrom     MIN Over the past few years, it was starting to look like the Wild were ready to hand a share of the starter's work to Harding; however, with Harding's injury last season and the 3 year extension this summer, it appears the #1 job belongs to Backstrom again this season. He put in another respectable effort in 2013, but cannot seem to get back to the elite level he reached four years ago. Minnesota continues to improve, so he may be in line for more wins this season. There is always the possibility for him to reemerge as a top 5 talent, but at a minimum, you can bank on him as a decent #2.
Sergei Bobrovsky     COB After a revelation of a season, all eyes will be on Bobrovsky to see if he can repeat the magic. The Jackets are clearly on rise and will rely on Sergei to keep them moving that way. There is no reason to doubt he will be a solid contributor once again fantasy wise, but expecting another Vezina may be overshooting. He is certainly a safe #1 option in net.
Braden Holtby     WAS Holtby put together a solid fantasy campaign in 2013, finishing 6th in total fantasy points at the goalie position. This, on the heals of a fantastic playoff run in 2012. So why do we project a slight dip in performance in 2013-14? A few reasons: The Caps did nothing to get better over the summer. In fact, they probably lost an edge. They will be playing a tougher schedule than they've become accustomed to under the new landscape. Bottom line: Holtby won't have much help. He's still a potential starting goalie for your squad, but just barely.
Jimmy Howard     DET Howard has been a reliable fantasy option for four years now. He stepped it up a notch last season, arguably carrying them into the playoffs. The Wings have committing to him for the long haul, so he won't have contract issues on his mind. Detroit's young defensive crew is coming together nicely and ought to provide enough support for Howard to make it 5 straight seasons as a solid fantasy keeper.
Antti Niemi     SAN According to my charts, Antti Niemi provided more fantasy points than any other player in the league. (I'll pause while you absorb that thought). (thought you might need more time...) Much of this came in the first 3 weeks of the season when San Jose seemingly couldn't lose a game. He finished the season strong as well, piling up 24 wins in 43 games. While I don't expect the Sharks to be as good this time around, he is the undisputed #1 in net for San Jose. He will again get his fair share of wins and will remain a viable #1 option. Just don't expect a repeat as the top fantasy man.