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Goalkeeper Depth Chart
With that in mind, here’s one final quick round of fantasy-related news and notes from the league’s training camps:
Although he has jumped the doors to this year’s World Junior Championship, youngster Trevor Zegras will not be making his NHL debut with the Ducks’ opening week. The team chooses instead to send him first in the AHL for some bad weather. As usual, the length of the 19-year-old’s stay with the Seagulls will likely be determined by his good management. As such, for now, the Dynamite Dynasty asset is losing some luster in current overhaul leagues.
Avalanche du Colorado
Philipp Grubauer is the No. 1 Colorado Avalanche goaltender. Coach Jared Bednar said so on Sunday. But fantasy managers should feel ready to pounce on Pavel Francouz – available in 67% of ESPN.com leagues – if Grubauer falls injured, as he did in previous seasons.
Kirill Kaprizov seems to be the real deal. Skating on a wild header line with Zach Parise and Nick Bjugstad, the former KHL star player has already received praise from coach Dean Evason (paraphrasing: oh-so-skillful, tough battles, etc.) Calder’s top favorites on this site, the 23-year-old has point-per-game potential and deserves all kinds of attention in ESPN’s deeper leagues.
San Jose Sharks
As for coach Bob Boughner, Evander Kane will play in 2020-21. The Sharks coach said so on Tuesday. There were concerns that the 29-year-old could make it through the season after filing for bankruptcy. Kane has 26 goals, 21 assists, 18 power-play points, 216 shots and 122 penalty minutes in 64 games in 2019-20.
St. Louis Blues
Forward Mike Hoffman is hired to make his debut for the Blues on a second goal line with young center Robert Thomas and winger Jaden Schwartz. That’s great news for Thomas – registered in just 10% of ESPN.com leagues – who was already on the verge of enjoying a breakout season. This trio should make a lot of productive noise for the Blues in 2020-2021.
Vegas Golden Knights
According to coach Pete DeBoer, playing time will be split between goaltenders Robin Lehner and Marc-André Fleury to start the season. The Knights open with a pair of games against the Ducks, followed by a four-game streak against the Coyotes (neither offensive power). Unless Lehner or Fleury attend the concert early, Vegas could continue to take a tandem approach to the job. Which may come as a surprise to some fantasy managers who considered Lehner – listed in 96% of ESPN.com leagues – the club’s best option.
The odds of Martin Necas breaking out this season have probably improved thanks to his last round on a second goal line with Andrei Svechnikov and Jordan Staal. Add some time with the extra skater, and the 21-year-old could turn heads this campaign after averaging 0.56 points per game his rookie season. He doesn’t get enough attention in the deeper goalie leagues.
Columbus blue jackets
Upon his return to the NHL, camp notes indicate forward Mikhail Grigorenko wins a shot on the Blue Jackets’ top line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Oliver Bjorkstrand. A disappointment on his first league tour, the 12th draft pick (2012) appears to have matured over the past three seasons in the KHL. If he has finally figured it out and can stay in the top six at Columbus – if not with Dubois, then perhaps aside from new center Max Domi – the 26-year-old could indeed evolve into an intriguing fantastical asset.
After being absent from all of training camp – without the Panthers offering much explanation – Sergei Bobrovsky likely won’t play the Blackhawks on Sunday. Tuesday’s second tilt with Chicago doesn’t seem so likely either. Until Bob gets back to business, fantasy managers are advised to put him on a bench without reservation. Hopefully this situation will be resolved soon. Substitute Chris Driedger comes across as a reasonable Daily Fantasy option in the interim, especially against the beaten Blackhawks.
Tampa Bay Lightning
With Nikita Kucherov sidelined throughout 2020-21, the Lightning is putting additional pressure on Anthony Cirelli to contribute more offensively. That’s the message from Coach Jon Cooper himself. After collecting 44 points in 68 games this last campaign, Cirelli enters this season as the club’s second-row center between Alex Killorn and Mathieu Joseph. The 23-year-old is also a member of the Tampa side power play.
Jesse Puljujarvi is restarting his NHL career on a low line with center Kyle Turris – at least for starters. Fantasy managers who optimistically (and not unreasonably) chose Puljujarvi in hopes of seeing him in a higher unit with Connor McDavid might choose to bench the 22-year-old for the time being. But it may only be a matter of time before the fourth selection in the 2016 draft wins this coveted opportunity.
The Canadiens’ most fascinating line, fantastically speaking, remained intact throughout the camp. This is a promising sign. The combo of former Blue Jacket Josh Anderson, Sophomore center Nick Suzuki and winger Jonathan Drouin is one to watch closely from the fantastic stands. All three remain available to varying degrees in the ESPN.com leagues.
WJC sensation Tim Stutzle skated a top six row with Derek Stepan and Evgenii Dadonov on Monday. The German skater is an undeniable gem of the League of Dynasties. But to expect productive fireworks displays from the teenager – celebrating his 19th birthday this week – his debut NHL season might ask a bit much. Much will depend on where Stutzle consistently slips into the Senators roster.
Maple Leafs de Toronto
It is now well recognized that Joe Thornton is having his first glimpse of life as a Maple Leaf on a top line and power play with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. So early on, it’s hard to predict how long the gig will be and what the forward veteran is doing with the occasion. But it should be borne in mind that Thornton remains widely available in ESPN.com leagues. Maybe not for long.
While insisting that one is not initially preferred over the other, Canucks coach Travis Green suggests he’s open to the better goalie who will end up saving more time. , depending on the quality of play. Considering Vancouver’s hectic start in January – 11 games in 18 days – we’re sure to see plenty of Braden Holtby and Thatcher Demko coming out of the gates. After that, it’s in the air. Fantasy managers shouldn’t have a heavy workload either.
The Jets’ new second row – Kyle Connor, Paul Stastny and Patrik Laine – has plenty of scoring potential. Connor scores a lot of goals. Just like Laine. Suggest that Stastny could have a successful season in the assists department. The Veterans Center is available in almost 88% of ESPN.com leagues.
Bruins de Boston
In fact, Brad Marchand shouldn’t be running out of time for the Bruins after all. Getting back on track from the offseason of the shoulder season, the Bruins’ upper left winger must skate on opening night against the Devils. In addition, David Pastrnak may not be far behind, expected in early February after hip surgery at the end of summer. By then, Jack Studnicka could serve as a low-cost Daily Fantasy sleeper replacing Pastrnak alongside Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
The formidable Tage Thompson – not Victor Olofsson, as many projected before camp – skated on the right side of Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall ahead of Thursday’s opener against the Capitals, leaving Olofsson to accompany Eric Staal and Sam Reinhart on the second. line. Fantasy managers might notice that, for now, Jeff Skinner no longer appears to be in the Buffalo top six. Note that this only applies to even-handed play; Olofsson plans to join Eichel and Hall on the Sabers’ power play.
Diables du New Jersey
Forward Jack Hughes is fortunate enough to put last year’s mediocre campaign behind him quickly. While Nico Hischier is still listed as day to day with a leg injury, Hughes kicks off 2021 on the Devils front row with Kyle Palmieri and / or Nikita Gusev. A strong performance by the first pick in the 2019 Draft there could convince coach Lindy Ruff to finally mix Hischier in center elsewhere.
Islanders of New York
Unsurprisingly, Semyon Varlamov was selected as the Islanders’ opening night starter against the Rangers. While replacement Ilya Sorokin will have his chances, there is no sense in unnecessarily overloading the KHL export. The Islanders’ first consecutive set doesn’t fall until the end of January. Depending on how Sorokin handles in his first round in the NHL, Varlamov could find himself one of the busiest goaltenders in the league.
Rangers of New York
Recovering from COVID-19, Mika Zibanejad missed much of the camp and could miss Thursday’s opener against the Islanders. Under the circumstances, a slower-than-usual start is expected from the Rangers star forward. Once ready to go, Zibanejad is again expected to center his linemates Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich.
Forward Jakub Vrana continues to skate on a Capitals scoring unit with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson. Prior to working through the summer playoffs, Vrana enjoyed a strong breakout campaign in 2019-20, scoring 25 goals and 27 assists in 69 games. Competing full-time with Kuznetsov and Wilson, and on Washington’s side power play, the next RFA is expected to take another step forward in its fourth full year.