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30 IN 30: Blue Jackets fantasy hockey outlook

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets

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: Ryan Johansen

Consistent production is extremely valuable in fantasy hockey and Johansen was one of the most consistent performers in the game last season. Not only did he build off his breakout 63-point season in 2013-14 with 71 points, but he did so without any long droughts. Three games was the longest span he went without a point, doing so twice all season. He recorded at least one point in 52 of 82 games, the fourth most in the NHL. It's scary to think what kind of stats the 22-year-old might put up as he matures. I have him ranked 27th among all players and wouldn't be surprised if he was a late second-round draft pick in many pools.

Undervalued: Scott Hartnell and Brandon Dubinsky

There's a lot to like on this team from a fantasy perspective, especially on offense. Brandon Saad, Cam Atkinson and Boone Jenner could all be considered undervalued players as well, but Hartnell and Dubinsky are two of the most underrated fantasy players in the game. Hartnell, 33, finished his first season with Columbus as the only player with at least 25 goals, 60 points, 100 penalty minutes and 200 shots on goal. His fantasy line (28 G, 32 A, plus-1, 100 PIMs, 16 PPP, 204 SOG) was as well-rounded as you'll find and he finished as the No. 36 overall fantasy player in Yahoo leagues.

As for Dubinsky, he's basically a slightly younger version of Hartnell. The 29-year-old appeared in 47 games last season and finished with an extremely balanced stat line (13 G, 23 A, plus-11, 43 PIMs, 7 PPP, 100 SOG). Extrapolate that over a full 82-game season and he would've had numbers very comparable to Hartnell's (23 goals, 63 points, plus-19, 75 PIMs, 12 PPP, 174 SOG). If you're after a complete fantasy player that can help in every category, Hartnell and Dubinsky are great picks. Dubinsky might come with a little more risk because of his injury issues, but that means you can probably get him at a much cheaper price on draft day.

Overvalued: Nick Foligno

Anyone that owned Foligno last season is going to hate me for putting him in this category. And it's not that I don't like Foligno. I do. But I think he's going to be overvalued in fantasy drafts based on how great he was last season. Prior to his unbelievable breakout season in 2014-15 that included a career-high 31 goals, 73 points, plus-15 rating, 26 power-play points and 182 shots on goal, Foligno had averaged 15 goals and 36 points per 82-game season. While his 2013-14 numbers (18 goals, 39 points and 96 PIMs) are more than serviceable for fantasy owners, they weren't close to what he did last season. His career shooting percentage is 12.4 percent, but last season it soared to 17.0. Look for that number to regress to the norm and for Foligno's offensive totals to diminish as well. Because of his solidified place in the lineup, a 25-goal, 55-point season with strong peripherals isn't out of the question for the 27-year-old, but don't expect Foligno to be a top-20 fantasy player again.

Deep sleeper: Ryan Murray

Murray may only have 78 games under his belt with 24 points, but he was the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft for a reason. Not only is he fantastic defensively, but with James Wisniewski no longer in the picture, I'd look for Murray to step up and emerge as one of the Blue Jackets' leading offensive weapons on the blue line. He appeared in 12 games last season because of injuries and had three points, but he has tremendous potential and is worth drafting to fill out your bench.

Goalie outlook: Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney

Since joining the Blue Jackets and winning the Vezina Trophy in his first season with Columbus in 2012-13, Bobrovsky's .923 save percentage is fourth best in the NHL behind Tuukka Rask, Carey Price and Cory Schneider. His 83 wins over that span rank eighth and his 2.39 goals-against average is 11th best. Bobrovsky falls right outside the elite fantasy goalies and ranks 11th at his position in my offseason top-200 rankings. Assuming he can return to closer to 60 starts (he made 49 last season), Bobrovsky is capable of providing top-10 goalie value on an improved Blue Jackets club. As for McElhinney, he made 28 starts last season and had a respectable .914 save percentage to go along with 12 wins and a 2.88 GAA. He shouldn't be drafted unless you want to handcuff Bobrovsky and have the entire tandem.

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