ESPN’s fantasy hockey experts discuss the top 10 players in the NHL, which teams are the best for 2018-19 and what they’re doing to improve their rosters.
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With the 2021-22 NHL regular season ready to begin on Oct. 12, we asked our experts at ESPN Fantasy Hockey and NHL on ESPN for their thoughts on who are the best under-the-radar goaltender choices to split time in the fantasy crease, as well as which players have the greatest potential to rebound.
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Which goalkeeper do you think will be a sleeper this season?
Calvin Petersen, Los Angeles Kings, Victoria Matiash, fantasy analyst For a reason, the Kings are paying him $5 million per year starting in 2022. Petersen now has the opportunity to show he’s both the present and the future between the pipes in Los Angeles after making more appearances than Jonathan Quick this winter/spring. I’m feeling upbeat. Since 2018-19, the 26-year-old has a decent 2.79 GAA and.916 SV% for a failing, non-playoff club, and he now has the chance to earn an even larger proportion of starts. And, with to the acquisitions of forward Phillip Danault, experienced defender Alexander Edler, and others, the Kings have improved. It also doesn’t hurt to play in a division with the Ducks and Sharks. This season, I like Petersen a lot as a fantasy sleeper option.
Frederik Andersen, G, Carolina Hurricanes, according to Sean Allen, fantasy analyst. There’s a case to be made that goaltenders’ circumstance matters more than their ability at times. When you look at the Hurricanes’ past season as an example, you can see how persuasive that argument is. Last season, Alex Nedeljkovic, Petr Mrazek, and James Reimer – three goaltenders of varied foundation talent – all finished 23rd or better among goaltenders in terms of fantasy points per 60 minutes (12 games minimum). The Hurricanes are an excellent location to grow twine, and Andersen will be the next to reap the rewards. He’s receiving some attention in drafts, but he’s ranked 15th among goaltenders in terms of average draft position (107.1 ADP), so there’s still time to acquire him a little early.
Spencer Knight, G, Florida Panthers, is the host of NHL on ESPN’s Ardacal. The lane in Florida has freed up now that Chris Driedger has gone to Kraken-land. Even after his playoff benching, when he watched Knight play in playoffs games, Sergei Bobrovsky’s employment may still be in jeopardy. Knight, on the other hand, will almost certainly see some action, and in what we’ve seen of him thus far, he’s been solid. He’s fourth in Calder Trophy odds (+1000), and as a rookie, he won’t receive as much fantasy attention as the known stars, particularly from non-hardcore hockey fans.
Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins, Greg Wyshynski, senior NHL reporter Linus Ullmark will get the most attention in drafts, and for good reason. He was given a four-year deal by Boston, and he’s a well-known player from his time with the Buffalo Sabres. Swayman has only played 10 games in the NHL, but he boasts a.945 save percentage. In the past two seasons, the Bruins ranked third in the NHL in anticipated goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 (1.89). They do a good job of defending their goalies. I believe Swayman and Ullmark will wind up sharing the starters. The only snag is if free agent Tuukka Rask returns to the Bruins after recovering from hip surgery, but that won’t happen until early 2022 at the earliest.
Who do you think will have the greatest chance of bouncing back after a poor 2021 season?
F, Winnipeg Jets: Pierre-Luc Dubois. Victoria: Pierre-Luc Dubois. He freely confesses to being physically and emotionally exhausted during a tumultuous, quarantine-plagued, and injury-plagued 2020-21. Who could blame him? However, now that a few months have passed, the 23-year-old claims to be healthy, rested, confident, and eager to completely settle into his position in Winnipeg. Dubois, skating on a scoring line with Nikolaj Ehlers, should be able to improve on his 0.5 point per game performance from last season. If the dynamic forward can score 60 points or more with Columbus, as he did last season, he can surely do so with the Jets.
Sean: Columbus Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine, F. In Laine’s first full season in Columbus, a new coach, a clean slate, and a vast skill set clash. The Blue Jackets must undoubtedly let Laine to be Laine if they are to score enough goals to contend this season. In his five seasons in the NHL, Laine has scored more than 2.0 fantasy points per game three times, and I fully anticipate him to do so again. Coach Brad Larsen, who has recognized the need to stop attempting to transform Laine into a defensive dynamo, has choices for both veterans (Jakub Voracek, Gustav Nyquist) and up-and-comers (Oliver Bjorkstrand, Jack Roslovic) to find the perfect match for Laine to go back to scoring goals in droves.
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Arda: Carolina Hurricanes’ Frederik Andersen, G. To Leafs fans, Freddie Andersen will always be a divisive figure. Was he a mediocre goalkeeper who kept the squad back? Did he not get the necessary assistance at the blue line throughout the years? The problem is, Andersen has always put up excellent fantasy statistics with the Leafs, particularly early in his career when he was receiving the majority of starts and winning games. Now he’ll be a part of a Carolina defense that’s second to none. He needed a new start, and this seems to be it. In these conditions, he may have his greatest season ever.
Travis Konecny of the Philadelphia Flyers, Greg. He was the Flyers’ top scorer in 2019-20, but, like so many other elements of the club, he collapsed last season. GM Chuck Fletcher has discussed how tough the last season was for some of his younger players, and Konecny is likely one of them. He scored 24 goals in three consecutive seasons. I’m sure he’ll go back to that level of output across the board. If not, why not? On the depth chart, Cam Atkinson and Joel Farabee are lurking…
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