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2014 Fantasy Teams to Target (and Teams to Avoid)

by chewy 28. August 2014 06:19

Ready to shake off the summer slumber and get to work on your draft prep yet?  First step: Figure out which teams to target and which teams to avoid.  Let's get to it then. 

 

Teams to Target in 2014:

 

1.       Colorado

The Avalanche surprised most last season, charging down the mountain from the first puck drop to be a dominant force in the West and a fantasy gold rush.  Nobody should be surprised to see that continue in year 2 of the Roy Regime.  From MacKinnon, Duchene, Landeskog and Iginla up front, to Barrie and Johnson on the back end, and throw in a rising O'Reilly, the goals will flow freely in Denver this year.  Get a piece of this action early and often in your draft.

 

2.       Pittsburgh

It seems redundant to list the Penguins as a team to target in fantasy circles.  It has been that way since about 1984.  The new front office may be reforming the image of this squad for better Spring results, but you still can't go wrong with Crosby, Malkin and a host of adequate complimentary wingers to finish those passes.  The addition of Ehrhoff more than offsets the loss of Niskanen on defense, and a full season from Letang could land him back in the Norris party.

 

3.       Philadelphia

The Flyers took their time getting started last season, but finished among the best in the NHL.  I'll avoid grabbing for the obligatory Giroux jokes and say that he remains a top 3 fantasy option, making Voracek and anyone else that finds their way to his line worth drafting.  The fantasy-worthy options stretch into the third line in Philadelphia.

 

4.       San Jose

Who cares about the playoffs, right?  Just keep picking Sharks for their regular season success and you'll be a happy drafter.

 

5.       Los Angeles

The evil-opposite of the Sharks don't care a lick about the regular season.  Nonetheless, with 3 lines of top end offensive talent, including a slew of first and second year speedsters, you should keep the Kings on your radar.  Look for potentially monster seasons from the likes of Kopitar, Carter and Gaborik.  Doughty is due for a big fantasy campaign as well.

 

6.       Chicago

Like LA - The Hawks like to spread it around and get the wins.  Some of their top names will be overrated and overdrafted as they approach the back end of their career.  Don't overreach for anyone on this squad, but if the value is there come draft time, there should be about 10 Chicago players going off the board in your draft.

 

7.       Dallas

My surprise pick for fantasy explosion this season is coming out of Texas.  The top line may be the best in hockey this season.  The Stars have quickly transformed to a to a resurgent powerhouse over the last several seasons.  Don't expect much from the defense crew.

 

8.       Tampa Bay

With two Calder runners-up last season, and strong Calder favorite in Drouin this season, the Bolts are building a fantasy power from youth.  And then there's potential MVP Stamkos.  Hedman continues his slow ascent to the elite on D.

 

9.       Edmonton

This has to be the year Edmonton finally breaks through, right?  They could have 3 forwards in the top 10 by the end of the year.  And 2 more in the top 50.

 

10.   Minnesota

In any other division, Minnesota would be a clear favorite to finish first.  It won't come easy, but they will give the big 3 a run for their money.  Along the way, look for some very solid fantasy options to emerge, including the obvious (Parise, Suter, Pominville, Vanek), and the not so obvious (Grandlund, Niederreiter, Coyle).  If they could ever get a full year's work out of a goalie, one of them may emerge as a top 5 option in net.  All around, this is a solid, rising Wild squad.

 

 

Teams to Avoid:

 

1.       Nashville

The only coach they've ever known has moved on, leaving the team seeking a new identity.  Perhaps that is reason to hope that this team could finally turn a history of sweet defensive prospects into fantasy meaning.  The roster up front gives little hope for 2014 relevancy.

 

2.       New Jersey

When your only viable fantasy option is 42, you have no viable fantasy options.  Even Schneider will struggle to find wins.

 

3.       Phoenix (I mean, Arizona)

Defense first.  If he has a C or W next to his name, look elsewhere.

 

4.       Buffalo

Nothing to see here.  Move along.

 

5.       Florida

The Panthers seem content to throw silly money at average players, just to meet the salary floor.  Many of these guys could do well if paired with elite talent; however, given their location, they will see their totals dive down.  A handful of promising youngsters give a slight glimmer of hope on the horizon.

 

 

 

 

 

Hold On Jack -- Fantasy Preseason is Almost Upon Us

by chewy 21. August 2014 08:07

We're just a couple weeks out from Labor Day, which marks the unofficial start to fantasy hockey pre-season.  We've been hard at work making our preperations for delivering all the fantasy info you need to dominate your draft.  Here's a rough idea of what you should expect over the coming weeks:

Offseason Recap

Quick hit through the fantasy hockey-relevant headlines you missed while vacuuming your pool this summer.

Power Rankings

To get yourself grounded, it helps to get your mind around which teams will do well this season, and which teams have entererd (or lingered in) the dreaded "rebuild mode".  This is particularly critical when it comes to choosing goalies.

Goalie Rankings

Speaking of goalies, our official goalie rankings will available in about a week.

Defense Rankings

We traditionally follow that up rather quickly with our Defense picks.

Offense Rankings

Do I need an explanation?

Fantasy Breakdown

Armed with our final draftlist, you'll be prepared to configure your own (for free) right here.  We'll follow that up with focused articles on: Breakout Players, Rebound candidates, Sleepers, Gambles, Busts and other clever ways of putting a label on someone who makes more money than you. 

 

To quote the immortal Phil Bourque -- "Buckle up, Baby!"

Avoid These Draft Day Busts

by chewy 20. September 2013 06:27
Everyone likes a big bust.  Until draft day.  On draft day, a big bust can ruin your day.  The guys in this list will get drafted far earlier than they should. Don't get caught up in the hype. Sit back and let the less-informed GM's waste a pick, while you go for value.

Offense

Chris Kunitz             PIT     
Last season was special for Kunitz.
It was fantastic. But it will never happen again. Kunitz finished 2nd overall in fantasy points and was a legitimate challenger for the Art Ross Trophy once it was clear that Crosby wouldn't return. But without Crosby, the production slowed down considerably. He should continue to provide piggy-back value from Crosby and/or Malkin, but a repeat of last year's magic is extremely unlikely.

Daniel Sedin             VAN     
It's been two straight down seasons for Daniel Sedin, following his monster effort in 2010-11. With the culture (and coaching) shift in Vancouver, it's not a warm-fuzzy feeling about the prospects for a Sedin revival. He, and brother Henrik, will probably be drafted too early based on name-recognition. Don't overreach here.

Martin St. Louis             TAM     
Sure it was somewhat cheapened by Crosby's absence, but a scoring title is a scoring title. At age 38, it was one of the great accomplishments in hockey in the last 25 years or more. Just don't bank on a repeat. He will absolutely be drafted too early based on last season's success. As long as he stays paired with Stamkos, you can count on another good season (many assists), but another scoring title has to be out of reach.


Defense

Francois Beauchemin             ANA     
Beauchemin had a surprise breakthrough / comeback season last year, even earning some consideration for the Norris at various points. At 33 years of age, it's hard to envision any amount of upside beyond a 35-point production. The positive buzz last season will likely carry over, causing some poor soul to reach too early. Wait on him as a depth option.

Drew Doughty             LOS     
Each season, expectations are out there that Doughty will be a fantasy beast, the way he was in 2009-10. After three straight mediocre seasons, the shine has started to fade. He's still a solid #1 option, but cannot be considered among the elite at this point (at least in fantasy circles).

Victor Hedman             TAM     
Hedman entered the NHL with enormous fantasy expectations, due mostly to his high draft status. While he has been serviceable for the Lightning in the real world, he has yet to become a significant factor in the fantasy world. His points per game did tick in the positive direction last season, but not enough to get overly excited. If you're satisfied with 8 goals and 32 points, he's your man.


Goalies

Carey Price             MON     
Montreal put together a surprising start, but were somewhat exposed towards the end of the season and into the playoffs. At the same time, Price was steady, but not spectacular. His stats were actually the worst he's posted since 2009. Your view on Price's value will largely be driven by your view on Montreal's direction. I see them moving in the opposite direction this season and missing the playoffs. Likewise, I don't see Price being much more than a mediocre #2 option for your fantasy squad.

Cam Ward             CAR     
With Ward, it's important to know your particular league's point system. If saves are heavily rewarded, he's your man. Ward faces more rubber each night than most, playing behind the pourous Carolina defense. However, if more traditional stats, such as GAA and Wins drive your point system, Ward may be a bit overrated. Through 8 seasons, he has gone below a 2.5 GAA just once. Last season, in limited action, he posted a 2.84. Not exactly "good" by today's NHL standards. His job in Carolina is never in doubt, so he will get his chances. Consider him a serviceable #2 goalie option.

Rebound Players for 2013-14

by chewy 16. September 2013 06:49

 Sometimes you have to just forgive and forget. Last season is in the past and let's move on. Here are some guys who should see a significant rebound in their production this season.

 

Offense

 

Jordan Eberle                     EDM         

Eberle's production slipped a bit in his 3rd NHL season, failing to build on his previous year's success. He was still a decent fantasy winger. Look for a major rebound in his numbers in 2013-14. He should deliver near point-per-game output and is a very good bet for 30 goals. If the stars align, he could join teammate Taylor Hall in the hunt for a scoring title this season.

 

Marian Gaborik                     COB         

Gaborik struggled through a rocky season in 2013 with the Rangers before being dealt to the Jackets at the deadline. He is now the showcase attraction in town once more. It remains to be seen what he will do in a full season with Columbus, but you should figure on a serous rebound from last year's disappointing numbers. Two straight healthy seasons have me willing to take a gamble on him.

 

Milan Lucic                     BOS         

Lucic completely disappeared as the season wore on, to the point where he was a healthy scratch going into the playoffs. That all got sorted out nicely in the postseason, as he returned to his beastly self. Look for a big rebound in 2013-14.

 

Corey Perry                     ANA         

After a dominating 50-goal, MVP season in 2010-11, Perry followed it up with 2 disappointing efforts. With Bobby Ryan out of town, and Selanne fading or retired, all eyes will be on Perry to provide the goal scoring for the Ducks. Expect a nice rebound this season. Even if the goals don't pile up, he contributes enough in every category (especially PIMs), to make him one of the most reliable fantasy wingers in the game.

 

Tyler Seguin                     DAL         

Is he mature enough to be the leader most projected him to be when drafted #2 overall? Who cares, as long as he rebounds from last season's poor fantasy showing. Which I say he will. The fresh start in Dallas should spur him on to fantasy stardom. I'm expecting big things from Seguin in Dallas this season.

 

Jeff Skinner                     CAR         

After winning the Calder Trophy in his rookie season, Skinner has slipped back, due to several bouts with concussions. Should he shake the headaches, Skinner certainly has the potential to reemerge as a fantasy star for the Canes. Look for a big rebound this season.

 

 

Defense

 

Tyler Myers                     BUF         

A dude this big and talented can't continue to plummet like this. Following an enormous fantasy season, his production has dipped steadily with each passing season. It's now or never for Myers to redeem some of that promise that earned him that Calder hardware in 2009-10.

 

Alex Pietrangelo                     STL         

Following two fantastic seasons to kick off his career with St. Louis, Pietrangelo was a slight disappointment last season. He ranked 35th in total fantasy points among defensemen.  Expect a significant rebound from Pietrangelo this season.

 

 

Goalies

 

Roberto Luongo                     VAN         T

he goalie trade finally materialized for the Canucks, but of course, it didn't go according to the plan. Luongo now finds himself as the surprise unchallenged starter for Vancouver. Assuming everyone can kiss and make up, this has the makings of a potentially strong comeback season for Luongo on the fantasy front. On the downside, if Coach Torts has his way, Luongo will see less shots than he has been accustomed to, meaning the saves column will take a hit. Still, the increased volume of play will make him a viable #1 option in net once more. The added incentive to play his way into the #1 job for Team Canada won't hurt much either.

 

Jonathan Quick                     LOS         

Simply put, Quick tanked last season. He showed no signs of the man who dominated the position for the prior two years. That changed in the playoffs, as he returned to form and carried the team for 2 rounds. That run brings hope to fantasy owners looking for a top notch goalie that may be underrated at this year's draft. He didn't even crack the top 20 in fantasy points by the end of last season. Look for a rapid return to the top 5 this year.

 

Pekka Rinne                     NAS         

Rinne, along with the entire Nashville team, took a big step backwards last season. Maybe they missed Suter that much. Despite the slip, Rinne remains the epitome of the word "workhorse". He will continue to own the pipes for 85% of the action in Nashville, which means wins should continue to pile up. Look for a bounce back in other categories, with a Preds team that just has to be better this season.

Breakout Fantasy Players for 2013-14

by chewy 10. September 2013 06:23

If you're in it to win, and not just have a good showing, you need to capitalize on a breakout player or two.  Finding these guys is a challenge.  Here are a few players that seem poised to post huge jumps in a numbers over their previous highs:

 

Offense

 

Jamie Benn                     DAL         

Benn has been on the cusp of breaking out as a fantasy star for several seasons. With the retooling in Dallas, this could finally be the year he wins you a championship. If all pans out and he meshes well with newcomers like Seguin, he should easily set some career highs.

 

Beau Bennett                     PIT         

Bennett should be the one name on everyone's list of potential breakout players in 2013-14. He showed flashes of offensive magic in limited action last season, but couldn't stick on the top 2 stacked lines in Pittsburgh. The Pens made a point of announcing that he will have a much larger role this time around, immediately following the embarrassing playoff sweep.

 

Jonathan Drouin                     TAM         

It's scary to think how productive this rookie could be, should he find his way onto a line with Stamkos and St. Louis. He's my pick for Rookie of the Year and one of the only rookies I would spend a draft pick on this year.

 

Alex Galchenyuk                     MON         

Galchenyuk had a fine rookie season and is poised for a potential breakout campaign in his second year with Montreal. Despite playing 3rd line minutes, he made a strong case for the Calder. He should move up the depth chart for the Habs this season and become a worthy fantasy factor.

 

Evander Kane                     WIN         

Kane had a bit of a breakout in 2011-12 with a 30 goal effort, but with a relatively paltry assist total, he finished with just 57 points. This should be the year that Kane breaks out into clear star status. Another 30 goals should be a given, but expect a better showing in the 2nd column.

 

Nail Yakupov                     EDM         

Yakupov was good enough in his rookie campaign to give fantasy owners something to be excited about this time around. As the season progressed, he started to earn much more ice time. He finished the year with 6 goals in the final 3 games. Take a chance on a monster breakout season.

 

 

Defense

 

Jonas Brodin                     MIN         

While he has yet to display much goal scoring acumen, the rookie performed quite well for the Wild last season. He logged huge minutes for a first year defenseman and moved the puck well. There is much offensive upside. As the Wild improve, so will Brodin's fantasy value. Look for a potential breakout season here.

 

Simon Despres                     PIT         

The Pens intentionally held Despres back last season, despite his enormous potential. Minutes after being bumped from the playoffs, the team made a point of saying that Despres will enjoy a much bigger role with the team in 2013-14. With the amount of goal scoring that goes on in Pittsburgh, that means plenty of potential. This will be the breakout season for Despres.

 

Oliver Ekman-Larsson                     PHO         

Ekman-Larsson continues to progress, heading into his fourth season in the NHL. He has been a bit overshadowed by Yandle in Phoenix, but that shouldn't stop you from snatching him up mid-draft. He should set a career high in points, and may make a go at 50.

 

Dougie Hamilton                     BOS         

Hamilton entered his rookie season with high expectations. At times, he met those, at other times, he faded from view. Ultimately, he had a respectable set of numbers by season's end. Look for the progression to continue this season. He could easily bust out with a big 40-50 point season.

 

Travis Hamonic                     NYI         

As an all-around fantasy contributor, Hamonic has the potential to break out this season. Despite his stature, he piles up the pentalty minutes. The playoffs last season showed what an enormous pest he can be. Too bad there's no fantasy stat for annoying. Sticking to the stats that are counted, his production continues to improve entering his fourth NHL campaign. Definite upside here.

 

Justin Schultz                     EDM         

An ugly number in the plus/minus column scarred an otherwise solid rookie season last year. Given a full slate of games and a more mature team around him, Schultz could become a household fantasy name in 2013-14. He'll be the go-to guy on the backend for an Oilers team prime to score a metric buttload of goals. Don't be surprised if he tops 15 goals himself.

 

Slava Voynov                     LOS         

Voynov has flown somewhat under the radar outside of the LA in his first two NHL seasons. During that time, he put together two very solid seasons, logging big minutes and putting up decent point totals for the Kings. He was rewarded this summer with a big six year deal, so the Kings believe he's their man on the blueline. His numbers in the playoffs were even better, as he contributed 2 goals in each of LA's 3 playoffs series. Look for a potential breakout season for Voynov as he starts to get the fantasy attention he has earned.

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