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.
AVS' FANTASY-RELEVANT PLAYERS
Undervalued: Tyson Barrie
Barrie quietly had a very underrated season for the Avalanche. He finished eighth among all defensemen last season in scoring with 53 points and was the 21st-ranked fantasy defenseman in Yahoo leagues. He led the Avalanche with 2:57 of power-play ice time per game and produced 16 points with the man advantage, despite Colorado finishing with the second-worst power-play percentage in the NHL last season (15.0). In 2013-14, the Avalanche had the fifth-best power play in the League at 19.8 percent, and if we assume they fall somewhere in the middle this season, Barrie's power-play production should actually increase. Don't be surprised if he ends up as a top-15 fantasy defenseman.
Overvalued: Alex Tanguay
The 35-year-old had 22 goals and 55 points last season, his most points since notching 69 with the Flames in 2010-11, but fantasy owners should be hesitant of drafting him this season. Tanguay likely won't help fantasy owners in the penalty minutes, power-play points or shots on goal categories. Last season Tanguay's 104 shots on goal ranked 293rd in the NHL. Let's also not forget he missed 66 games because of injury in 2013-14, and with the additions of Carl Soderberg and Blake Comeau could end up finding himself outside the top six.
Deep sleeper: Nikita Zadorov
Zadorov compiled 15 points and 51 penalty minutes in 60 games as a rookie with the Buffalo Sabres last season. A first-round draft pick in 2013, the 20-year-old has tremendous upside and was one of the key pieces to the Ryan O'Reilly trade. Now, with the news he's expected to play on a pairing with Barrie, we might see some of that potential. Zadorov is 6-foot-5 and plays a physical game. He will chip in with a healthy amount of penalty minutes and could end up scoring 30 points from the blue line.
Goalie outlook: Semyon Varlamov and Reto Berra
Varlamov is the undisputed No. 1 goalie for Colorado, and despite a significant drop in wins from his breakout 2013-14 season (41 wins to 28 last season), his other stats remained solid. In 57 starts, he finished with a 2.56 goals-against average and .921 save percentage, and his shutout total actually increased from two to five. With the Avalanche being a good candidate to bounce back from a disappointing season, expect Varlamov to have a strong campaign, possibly that of a top-10 fantasy goalie.
Berra is a reliable backup goalie and should get approximately 20 starts, but Varlamov should have a stranglehold on the starting goaltending job for the full season.