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Features

Florida Panthers fantasy hockey outlook

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvalued player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team.

Leading the way: Roberto Luongo and Aaron Ekblad

The Florida Panthers sport an impressive nucleus of young forwards to complement Jaromir Jagr, but those players will be on the board well outside the fantasy top 100. When examining Florida's roster in the first 10 rounds of drafts, you should only consider Luongo and/or Ekblad -- anchors at more scarce positions. Luongo missed time in March with a shoulder injury, but still started 60-plus games and remains an elite fantasy goalie. He leads active players in career wins (401) and posted strong peripheral numbers (2.35 goals against average, .921 save percentage) in 2014-15 despite little goal support.

Bruins' Rask ready for heavy workload again if needed

Monday, 08.10.2015 / 2:34 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

MIDDLETON, Mass. -- With about a month remaining before the start of training camp, Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said he isn't any worse for wear after the most taxing season of his NHL career.

Rask played a career-high 70 games last season for the Bruins, who would've needed more from the 2014 Vezina Trophy winner had they not missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in eight years.

Surprisingly, the 28-year-old said it didn't take too long for him to recover from the grind of the 2014-15 season. Rask recently returned to the Boston area and Monday participated in the Putts and Punches for Parkinson's Golf Tournament, hosted by former Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, at Ferncroft Country Club.

"Not crazy," Rask said about his offseason recovery time. "I think obviously it's mentally draining when you're battling for that playoff spot and you play a lot of games in a row and stuff like that. You always feel kind of exhausted afterwards. But then when you do nothing for a week or two, then you're kind of like, 'All right, let's play hockey again.' You're kind of rejuvenated. I didn't feel like I took too much time than usual."

Questions for Avalanche start with state of defense

Monday, 08.10.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

COLORADO -- The Colorado Avalanche will need to tighten their defensive play for a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after falling short last season. Overworked goalies Semyon Varlamov, Reto Berra and Calvin Pickard faced 40 or more shots on goal a combined 16 times, and they permitted four or more non-shootout goals 21 times.

The Avalanche also need to regain their swagger on offense. Their goal production fell from 250 to 219, the power play skidded from the fifth-best percentage in the NHL to 29th, and they were shut out eight times.

Game management and puck possession were other troublesome areas.

Here are three questions facing the Avalanche this season:

Rantanen, Pickard lead Avalanche's top five prospects

Monday, 08.10.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

COLORADO -- The Colorado Avalanche are committed to building through the NHL Draft, using free agents to fill in the gaps while waiting for their prospects to mature.

"This is where we're going to have to focus," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "If we feel that we need to have a free agent to give time to our young guys to develop, we will do that. But we truly believe that the draft will be the key in our success."

The Avalanche have been stockpiling promising defensemen in the system, but right wing Mikko Rantanen, goalie Calvin Pickard and center Joey Hishon have the best chance of playing in the NHL this season.

Here is a look at the Avalanche's top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

Varlamov, young forwards give Avalanche optimism

Monday, 08.10.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

COLORADO -- The Colorado Avalanche learned last season that a successful start is just as important as a good stretch drive. They finished strong but ended last in the Central Division and 11th in the Western Conference with 90 points, seven points out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Avalanche are determined to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"Sometimes the reality is you have to go through it," coach Patrick Roy said. "I truly believe our team will be much better because of it. I'm sure everybody is going to take a deep look at what we did and come in with a totally different mindset."

Here are four reasons the Avalanche should be optimistic:

Roy determined to get Avalanche back in playoffs

Monday, 08.10.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

COLORADO -- Changes were inevitable when the Colorado Avalanche missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, the fourth time in the past five seasons they failed to qualify.

They went from first place in the Central Division in 2013-14 to last with a 39-31-12 record and 90 points, seven short of the playoffs. Patrick Roy coached them to 112 points his first season to win the Jack Adams Award.

"I'm here to win the Stanley Cup," Roy said. "I'm not in Denver to see us missing the playoffs, I'm here to see us winning. I really want to make sure that's the last time we're missing the playoffs. It makes you very humble. First time I missed the playoffs as a coach in junior and the NHL."

Colorado Avalanche fantasy hockey outlook

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvalued player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team.

Leading the way: Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon

The three forwards are ranked within six spots in my offseason rankings (Landeskog at No. 47, Duchene at No. 51 and MacKinnon at No. 52). For two straight seasons, Landeskog has provided extremely consistent production. His average stat line during the two seasons: 25 goals, 38 assists, plus-10, 75 penalty minutes, 14 power-play points and 218 shots on goal. That kind of production makes him a lock as a top-50 fantasy player with an even higher ceiling. Duchene had a disappointing season after posting 70 points in 71 games in 2013-14, but at 24 he obviously can bounce back and is worth drafting around rounds 4-5. Despite Landeskog and Duchene's immense upside, MacKinnon has the greatest potential for stardom. He showed it in his rookie season, with 24 goals and 63 points with excellent peripherals. But he hit a sophomore slump last season and finished with 14 goals, 38 points and a minus-7 in 64 games before suffering a season-ending foot injury. MacKinnon has as much upside as anyone in fantasy hockey, and despite my cautious ranking for him this offseason it would make sense to select him anywhere around round three. Point-per-game production is within reach for the 19-year-old.

Meier, Mueller among Sharks' top five prospects

Sunday, 08.09.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks have been stockpiling draft picks the past few years while trading older veterans such as Douglas Murray, Brad Stuart, Ryane Clowe and Michal Handzus.

General manager Doug Wilson has held on to his high picks and used them to add three first-round and four second-round choices over the past three drafts.

Here's a look at the Sharks' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

Marleau, new system among Sharks questions

Sunday, 08.09.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2003 and replacing longtime coach Todd McLellan with Peter DeBoer, the San Jose Sharks face plenty of uncertainty approaching the 2015-16 season.

The Sharks are coming off a season that was filled with dysfunction on and off the ice, and they hope to make a quick turnaround.

Here are three questions facing the Sharks this season:

New goalie, motivated veterans give Sharks optimism

Sunday, 08.09.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks' streak of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs ended at 10 seasons in 2014-15, but they expect to be back in the postseason under new coach Peter DeBoer.

The Sharks have been in transition the past two seasons, adding young talent to an established core of veterans.

Here are four reasons for the Sharks to be optimistic:

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