Welcome to another season of Fantasy Hockey! If season-long is not your thing, maybe Best Puck over on Underdog Fantasy is more for you. The rules are simple: draft a team and just sit back and watch your players go off. There are no waiver wire adds or trades to worry about. If that’s more your cup of tea, let’s look at some players you need to keep an eye out at the draft table.
Brady Tkachuk - Ottawa Senators - Winger
Is there anything Brady Tkachuk can’t do? He may not be at the level that his brother Matthew is, but he is not far. He can rack up points, dish out hits, shoot the puck and be effective on the power play. Those are all categories that you need to worry about because Underdog gives you points for that. In leagues like these, you need a Swiss army knife that can do a little bit of everything. Brady is a great first-round pick.
Igor Shesterkin - New York Rangers - Goalie
Wins are critical here and no goalie is expected to have more than Igor Shesterkin. He played 58-games last season and we could see him top 60 this year. Jonathan Quick is way past his prime, so giving him too many starts can only hurt the Rangers. Shesterkin is elite and is hoping to crack the 40-win total this season. If you have the chance to add an elite goalie with your first-round pick, go ahead and grab the best players available.
Alex Ovechkin - Washington Capitals - Winger
The future greatest goalscorer in NHL history is 37-years-old, but father time has still not caught up to him. We know exactly what he’s capable of doing and that’s unlikely to change this year. He did deal with some injuries last season, but for most of his career, he’s been able to play over 75 games. He continues to produce over a point-per-game and is always a threat to score 50-goals. The best part about Ovi: he can also throw his weight around. The only players to have more hits and points than the Russian sniper were Brady Tkachuk and J.T. Miller (who you should also be drafting). That is pretty elite. He’s going to slow down at some point, but it may not be this season.
Devon Levi - Buffalo Sabres - Goalie
There is always a risk when drafting a rookie goalie, but Devon Levi could be the exception to the rule. He played a few games at the end of last season, and while his numbers weren’t elite, he showed that he was more than capable of stopping pucks in the NHL. The Sabres don’t have any good goalies on their roster, so Levi is going to get a shot to take over the starting job. The hope is that it will happen right out of camp, but even if it doesn’t, he’s too good to be in the minors. There’s a good chance you can snag the kid later on in your draft.
Nazem Kadri - Calgary Flames - Centre
The Calgary Flames have moved on from Darryl Sutter and are hoping a couple of players can have a bounce-back season. Nazem Kadri wasn’t terrible last season, but his 56-points were just not good enough for fantasy owners. He’s capable of much more and he could return to form this upcoming season. He loves to shoot the puck and can throw around his weight. He’s probably going to be hanging around the draft queue for a while because many people got burned by him, but don’t let what happened last year hold you back from what he could do this season. He’s getting a “fresh start” with a new coach, so the sky is once again the limit here.
Miro Heiskanen - Dallas Stars - Defence
Imagine putting up 73-points in a season and not being drafted in the top-50! It was definitely a breakout season for Miro Heiskanen, but why is no one thinking that he can duplicate what he did last season this year? The Stars didn’t overhaul their offense and Heiskanen will continue to see a healthy amount of minutes. His shoot percentage was at his career average, but his 62 assists were definitely a career-high. He did have 34-points on the power play, but even if those numbers dip slightly, he could still finish with close to 60-points, which is elite for any defenseman. There’s too much to like from this kid to just ignore him.