While you may be an avid fan of a particular NHL team — and keep up to date on all the news and rumors regarding that franchise — there are 29 others playing in 2016-17.
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As a fantasy owner, it can be a bit daunting to keep tabs on everything.
That’s where the Fantasy 30 comes in, a rundown of the most fantasy-relevant updates on every team.
As the World Cup of Hockey shuts down and players from the tournament return to their NHL clubs, there is a lot to get to, including the latest on restricted free-agent negotiations, depth chart battles in camp and scads of players returning from injuries. Here we go!
Anaheim Ducks: Negotiations appear to be at loggerheads between the Ducks and RFA defenseman Hampus Lindholm. While the 23-year-old’s agent is reportedly demanding an average annual salary of more than $6 million for the max eight-year span, management is favoring an average annual value number of less than $5.4 million. Given the gulf between the two figures, a trade isn’t out of the question here. And there’s been idle chatter about a potential one-for-one swap with the Winnipeg Jets for an unhappy Jacob Trouba. Ranked 152th in ESPN’s top 250 fantasy hockey rankings, Lindholm — a top-pairing D-man in Anaheim — could see his value fluctuate, depending on where he skates in 2016-17.
Arizona Coyotes: Don’t be surprised if Tobias Rieder spends this season in the KHL. According to his agent, the 23-year-old contract-less forward won’t report to Coyotes camp now that his tenure with Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey has concluded. And while Darren Ferris’ demand of $2.5 million in AAV for his client isn’t other-worldly, the Coyotes are under little pressure to hammer out a new deal. Not with emerging talent up front in the form of Dylan Strome and Christian Dvorak, and with sophomore Jordan Martinook pegged to fill Rieder’s third-line role full time.
Boston Bruins: With the formidable duo of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand contributing regularly on the top line (pegged to accompany former Blue David Backes in 2016-17), the Bruins are subsequently hoping to see an uptick in scoring from their second forward unit. To that end, they’re asking a lot more from David Pastrnak this season. Handed the opportunity to cement his role alongside second-line center David Krejci, the 20-year-old should enjoy a big campaign in what’s laid out to be his first complete NHL season. Fantasy owners should gamble accordingly.
Buffalo Sabres: In a show of “good will,” restricted free-agent defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is opting to work out with the Sabres while his agent and Buffalo management try to carve out a deal. According to head coach Dan Bylsma, the gesture hints at a sense of optimism from the perspective that Ristolainen clearly wants to remain with the team. “It’s great that he wants to. The contract negotiation is between [GM Tim Murray] and the agent and obviously Rasmus is involved, but he wants to be back on the ice with his teammates, and that’s a good thing.” However, prospective fantasy owners should still realize the two sides are considered “not close.” Only 21 years old, the top-pair D-man notched 41 points with the squad in 2015-16.
Calgary Flames: Much to the discomfort of hockey fans in Calgary, star forward Johnny Gaudreau remains an unsigned, offer-sheet-ineligible holdout as camp surges into swing. However, despite the perceived gap between the ask ($8 million in AAV) and the offer ($6.75 million in AAV) — and Brad Marchand’s precedent-setting fresh new deal — there’s little sense of panic from either side. The expectation is Gaudreau, armed with a lengthy and lucrative new contract, will be suited up in time for the season opener — or near to it.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes are hoping a pair of new Finnish forwards supply some needed secondary scoring in 2016-17. While 2015 draft pick Sebastian Aho isn’t a lock to spend the entire season in the NHL — for one, the teen must adjust to skating full time on a smaller North American ice surface — Teuvo Teravainen played 78 regular-season games with the talent-stacked Blackhawks last season. We wouldn’t be surprised to find the two World Cup of Hockey teammates fixed on the same line at some point.
Chicago Blackhawks: At 37 years old, Marian Hossa‘s most productive days are likely behind him, even given his inspiring performance at the World Cup. Moreover, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is mulling over shifting Hossa to a regular third-line role. The veteran winger collected only 34 points in 64 regular-season games in 2015-16.
Colorado Avalanche: Coming off a productive performance for Team North America at the World Cup — including this thrilling beaut — Nathan MacKinnon is back in Colorado, familiarizing himself with new head coach Jared Bednar and a different system. This one that portends to be more run-and-gun than that favored by former bench boss Patrick Roy, which would seem to suit MacKinnon’s game just fine.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Coach John Tortorella — in true Torts fashion — is readying the ring for not two, but three goaltenders to scrap it out for the privilege to back up No. 1 goalie Sergei Bobrovsky: veteran Curtis McElhinney as well as youngsters Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg. So far, the Jackets’ head coach isn’t publicly endorsing a favorite. “I’m not throwing any odds down,” Tortorella said. “Everybody’s in camp. There’s no secret that the two kids played so well last season. I thought [McElhinney] played really well [Monday]. So, he stays in the race and keep on going here.” If Bobrovsky falls injured — after a career-high of 58 starts in 2013-14, he started 49 in 2014-15 and just 37 last season — the eventual winner of this throwdown might have some value, so stay tuned.
Dallas Stars: Stars fans and fantasy owners alike can chill out: Tyler Seguin isn’t expected to miss much meaningful regular-season action — if any — after suffering a fractured heel in the lead-up to the World Cup. While there’s no firm timetable in place, Dallas coach Lindy Ruff recently said Seguin “is close to starting to skate.”
Detroit Red Wings: Adding six pounds of muscle to his already imposing 6-foot-5 frame in the past year, Anthony Mantha is gunning for a roster spot to launch 2015-16. Shining early alongside Dylan Larkin in preseason, the 22-year-old is already cobbling together a solid case for himself. Despite his limited NHL experience last season (10 games), Mantha has dark-horse fantasy potential as a sizable front-of-net presence on the Wings’ power play.
Fantasy hockey rankings for 2016-17
The top 250 players for fantasy hockey for the 2016-17 season, organized by position.
Edmonton Oilers: Rookie Jesse Puljujarvi is in plum position to make the Blue Jackets regret bypassing him with their third selection at the 2016 draft. Supposing (as most are) that megastar Connor McDavid centers a top line flanked by Jordan Eberle and new Oiler Milan Lucic, that leaves second-line centerman Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to forge chemistry with a small handful of wingers, including the 18-year-old Finn. Not a bad gig to start one’s North American career. Fantasy owners should acknowledge Puljujarvi might begin in the AHL this autumn, but there’s considerable upside if he adjusts quickly to the North American game.
Florida Panthers: Aaron Ekblad is OK! After suffering a concussion and/or whiplash at the World Cup, the Panthers defenseman has been medically cleared by team doctors. Entering his third NHL season, the 20-year-old is projected to partner with newly acquired Keith Yandle in the top defensive pairing.
Los Angeles Kings: Veteran winger Marian Gaborik injured a foot at the World Cup and is expected to miss eight weeks, stretching well into November. That loss — coupled with the offseason departure of Milan Lucic — inspires some questions about the Kings’ top-six corps to launch the 2016-17 season. Fantasy owners should note that Tanner Pearson or L.A. newbie Teddy Purcell are considered early candidates to fill a prominent scoring role with the club.
Montreal Canadiens: Resolved to make the most of his (re-) rebooted NHL career, Alexander Radulov wants to demonstrate he has matured since his curfew-eschewing days with the Predators. Four years later — with a wife, young child and a $5.75 million, one-year deal in tow — the 30-year-old KHL export is on a mission to not only earn a top-six forward role with Canadiens, but produce handsomely. A scoring force with CSKA Moscow these past two seasons in particular, the talented Russian could prove a happy surprise for both the gambling Habs and fantasy owners alike.
Minnesota Wild: Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau is leaning toward using Charlie Coyle full time at right wing this season, promisingly in a top-line spot alongside winger Zach Parise and new center Eric Staal. If so, anticipate a considerable uptick in Coyle’s fantasy value. Plugging a variety of holes up front, the 24-year-old registered 21 goals (42 points) for the Wild in 2015-16.
Nashville Predators: Following one of the most jarring trades in recent memory, former beloved Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban is projected to enjoy a career year in his new Tennessee digs. This prognosis is bolstered, in no small part, by the forecast of a top-pairing role for him alongside Roman Josi. ESPN Insider Craig Custance: “Josi is one of the reasons that Europe is still playing in the World Cup, with [Thursday’s] possible elimination game against Canada his last chance to keep those championship hopes alive. He’s done it because he’s given that Europe defense the kind of elite skater necessarily to play with the best countries in the world … Pair him with Subban and it’s a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. It’s the equivalent of having a top pair of Erik Karlsson and Kris Letang. It’s ridiculous.”
New Jersey Devils: Still sour following his earlier expulsion from the Oilers’ organization, Taylor Hall is also expressing some enthusiasm about his new club’s prospects. If anything, the aggrieved top-notch scoring forward will only feel extra motivation to stick it to Edmonton management. That bodes well for Hall’s projected centerman, Adam Henrique, who can be expected to put up career numbers on the Devils’ newly formed top line.
New York Islanders: Two quick notes: Sadly, forward Mikhail Grabovski is out for the foreseeable future with concussion-like symptoms. In lineup news, superstar John Tavares is projected to center fresh acquisitions Andrew Ladd and P.A. Parenteau, thus boosting the fantasy value of the latter two considerably.
New York Rangers: The willingness to cough up Derick Brassard in exchange for Mika Zibanejad hints at the Rangers’ expectations of the 23-year-old former Senator. Slotted in as the club’s new second-line center — flanked by the likes of Chris Kreider and/or Rick Nash — the former first-round draft selection (sixth overall, 2011) is being tasked with kicking his game up a notch. Fantasy owners should also appreciate the extra incentive inspired by playing in a contract year. Zibanejad had 21 goals and 30 assists with the Sens this past season.
Ottawa Senators: Clarke MacArthur‘s NHL playing career may not be over after all. Despite recently suffering his fourth concussion in 18 months — after missing nearly all of last season with a head injury — the 31-year-old is said to be feeling better than expected. He certainly isn’t ready to toss in the towel himself. However the chips eventually fall for MacArthur, this case is to be handled with utmost caution. In other concussion-related news out of Ottawa, Mark Stone has returned to the ice after his recent diagnosis. But whether that means the 24-year-old, top-six forward is on track for competing in the season opener remains to be seen.
Philadelphia Flyers: Once his three-game suspension (stemming from last season’s playoffs) concludes, Brayden Schenn is expected to pick up where he left off as a persistent scoring threat for the Flyers. Alongside top center Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds — as anticipated — the 25-year-old might even better his 2015-16 totals of 26 goals and 33 assists in 80 games.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury is facing a busy schedule this fall. With Matt Murray — who drove the Stanley Cup-winning bus for the Penguins last spring — out hurt three to six weeks, the veteran netminder can be expected to start most (if not all) of Pittsburgh’s matches leading into November. Look for Leland Irving or prospect Tristan Jarry to fill in, should Fleury falter.
San Jose Sharks: Speedster Mikkel Boedker — newly signed this offseason — has a realistic shot at claiming the left-wing gig on the Sharks’ top line with Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton, replacing Tomas Hertl. After collecting 51 points between the Coyotes and Avalanche in 2015-16, the former first-round pick (No. 8 overall, 2008) should pique fantasy owners’ interest with that potentially ripe role. Swiss rookie Timo Meier is also one to watch throughout camp (once he recovers from strep throat), and throughout the first few months of the campaign.
St. Louis Blues: With David Backes Boston-bound, and former St. Louis skater Vladimir Sobotka a no-go for 2016-17 (after rumors of his return from the KHL), Patrik Berglund benefits from shifting to his happy place at center. Scoring only 15 points (10 of them goals, mind you) in an abbreviated 42-game 2015-16, Berglund is hoping to rebound this campaign. Perhaps competing alongside returning winger David Perron will help to that end. Also of note, forward Jaden Schwartz is expected to miss four weeks with an elbow injury. By our math — barring an early return or setback — that amounts to eight regular-season games for the Blues. Look for coach Ken Hitchcock to bump Alexander Steen, Robby Fabbri, or even Perron to the top line with Vladimir Tarasenko in the meanwhile.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Under different circumstances, the absence of a team’s leading scorer in camp would feel unsettling, at minimum. But, despite tangible salary-cap obstacles in play, the case of forward Nikita Kucherov and the Lightning intuitively lacks real drama. Maybe because the general manager involved appears casually and confidently unbothered. “What the (Kucherov) contract ends up at will dictate what we need to do,” Steve Yzerman said this week. “We’ll do what we have to do to get under the cap.” If Stevie Y isn’t worried, then neither are we. Draft Kucherov with confidence.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Anguished Leafs fans who have wholly invested long-rusted dreams of relishing Stanley Cup glory in one young skater from Arizona had better practice some patience. Auston Matthews is penciled in to start his NHL career on Toronto’s third line. Mind you, the teenaged first-overall draft pick isn’t foreseen to remain there long.
Vancouver Canucks: At last check, the plan to skate a freshly signed Loui Eriksson with Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin remains in play. “I’m not locking Loui Eriksson in to play with the twins, though that’s probably where he’ll start,” said Canucks coach Willie Desjardins. But if there’s a lack of secondary scoring out of the gates, don’t be surprised to see the 31-year-old quickly moved to the second line — likely alongside center Brandon Sutter. Eriksson amassed 30 goals and 33 helpers with the Bruins this past season.
Washington Capitals: The Capitals want more from defenseman Dmitri Orlov in 2016-17. Saddled with filling a top-four role alongside either John Carlson or Brooks Orpik, the 25-year-old has 40-point potential following his first complete season in the NHL, particularly with some valuable power-play minutes up for grabs.
Winnipeg Jets: Restricted free agent Jacob Trouba, ranked 226th in ESPN’s top 250, hasn’t been shy about asking for a trade out of Winnipeg. Helpfully, for Trouba and the Jets, there has been plenty of interest in the young defenseman from other teams, including (but not limited to) the Avalanche, Bruins, Coyotes, Rangers, and Red Wings. However, the Jets are also demanding a specific player in return: a defenseman of Trouba’s age, talent, and skill, but with a left-handed shot. So this could take a while.