Prepare for the NHL season with our fantasy hockey preview of the Central Division.
I’m going to go team by team and break down the players I love and hate for daily fantasy this season in my fantasy hockey preview. I’ll be pointing out the dandies and donkeys from each team along the way.
We’re starting off with the biggest surprise team in the league last year. Going from worst to first was a great accomplishment and I am excited to see if they can keep making progress this season. The loss of Paul Stastny is really going to hurt though.
Dandies: Gabriel Landeskog is an absolute stud when healthy. He should be on the top line and top power play unit alongside Matt Duchene and Jarome Iginla which is a recipe for success. Look for his production to increase greatly this year.
How can I not mention Nathan Mackinnon in this spot. The departure of Stastny should provide more opportunities for the up and coming superstar. Coming off a rookie campaign that earned him the Calder trophy including 24 goals, 39 assists, and a +/- rating of 20 in limited chances as the center on the team’s third skating line is incredible.
Donkeys: I’m going way out on the limb here and am going to name the goalie that lead the entire league in SV% at a whopping .927. Call me crazy, but I think this number will decline immensely due to the lack of puck possession this team overcame all last season. That being said, Varlamov may have turned a corner under the coaching of Patrick Roy. I just see regression coming in a big way.
St. Louis Blues
Dandies: The entire blue line of Kevin Shattenkirk, Alex Pietrangelo, and Jay Bouwmeester are always on my radar for fantasy purposes. Head coach Ken Hitchcock always seems to find a way to get them involved in odd man rushes and all three have powerful shots.
Donkeys: Alex Steen started off the year on fire last season. Many bought into the hype early and often and he was rostered entirely too much by DFS players. He simply is not that type of scoring threat. He was leading the league in goals the first two months of the season but barely netted 30 when it was all said and done. The opportunity is there playing with explosive linemates, but I am not sold.
Wildcard: Dmitri Jaskin and Jori Lehtera will be given big chances this year. I really like Jaskin as a player after watching him at the end of last season. He has great hands and an excellent shot from the slot. Lehtera I honestly don’t know about but I have heard good things. The team was thrilled to get him away from Russia and into the league. I will have a close eye on him the first few weeks of the season.
Disclaimer, I will be recommending every player from their top six a lot of nights in my daily plays column. Lets face it, they can light up the scoreboard any night they take the ice and it is hard to predict exactly where it will come from.
Dandies: Brad Richards is coming off a quiet season with the Rangers. 51 points for Richards is a good season for many but does not live up to the standards I set for him. Chicago has been waiting years for a quality center on their second line. Richards is just what the doctor ordered. With Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp flanking Richards he should be an assist monster. This gives a bump to Kane (as if he needed one) as well.
Duncan Keith is considered the best Defenseman in the league by some. He is never a bad play in fantasy. Plug him in anytime you can make the salary work.
I am having great trouble trying to figure out how this team will look this season. I honestly did not watch many of their games last season as they are usually low scoring affairs.
Dandies: Thomas Vanek has the ability to find the back of the net every shift he’s out there. Reuniting with Jason Pomminville can only help his cause. It is tough to picture the skating lines for this team though. It would be crazy to let Vanek skate with the top line and move Parise down just to have the chemistry between Pomminville and Vanek. I think there will be different lines used from shift to shift on this team which I hate for fantasy. This is another team to keep a very close eye on early in the season.
Donkeys: Just about everyone on the team except Vanek and Parise. The team is good but the pace of play is very slow which leads to low scoring games. Good team but not much fantasy value here.
Dandies: Valeri Nichuskin has the talent to become a Star in this league. The skillset is certainly there with this young kid. His rookie campaign had its fair share of ups and downs, but this year he should get time on the top power play unit to compliment his ice time with Seguin/Benn.
Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn were unstoppable at home last season. Hockey is the only sport where the home team has an in-play advantage, and the Stars exploit this advantage better than any team in the league.
The Stars second line has immensely improved with the additions of Jason Spezza and Alex Hemsky. I will be rostering a lot of Dallas Stars this season in DFS.
I can’t write about this team without mentioning Kari Lehtonen too. Based on skill alone he is my favorite goalie in the league. Call me crazy, but this won’t be the last when bring this up. Extremely underrated in my eyes.
Dandies: The list starts and ends with Shae Weber and Roman Josi. The offense has improved greatly, but I still can’t picture myself rostering any forwards from this team on a consistent basis.
I love Pekka Rinne to have a huge bounceback season, but with the WIN for goalies being worth so many points he is tough to trust with the lack of talent in front of him.
Dandies: Mark Scheifele was everyone’s favorite play the last few weeks of the season last year, and for good reason. He remained dirt cheap on multiple sites while on a tear. I’ll be looking for this to roll over into this season.
Evander Kane is always a solid play. (especially for cash games) Even without finding the back of the net he can contribute to your fantasy score by his willingness to shoot from anywhere. Never surprised to see Kane end up with 7-8 shots on net any given night.
The second line is very stackable for tournaments in the right matchup. Ladd, Little, and Byfuglien should make up a second line with huge upside.