As part of NHL.com's 30 in 30 series, our fantasy hockey staff is breaking down each team's fantasy landscape. From most valuable assets to underrated options, impact prospects and more, this guide should help fantasy owners prioritize players for drafts.
Starting at the top: Johnny Gaudreau, LW
Gaudreau, 22, had 78 points (30 goals, 48 points) in 79 games during his second NHL season, leading the Flames in each category and finishing tied for sixth in scoring in the League. He improved on his totals from 2014-15, when he had 64 points (24 goals, 40 assists) in 80 games. The restricted free agent is without a contract, but that should be settled before the season starts. Gaudreau also was one of five forwards with at least 75 points, 20 power play points and 200 shots on goal (along with Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn, Sidney Crosby and Joe Pavelski), showcasing his extensive category coverage. There's no reason to believe he won't be a point-per-game player again this season.
Undervalued: Troy Brouwer, RW
Brouwer has been consistent, scoring between 17-22 goals and 33-43 points in each of the past seven seasons. Last season with the St. Louis Blues, he had 39 points (18 goals, 21 assists), 10 PPP (seven goals) and four game-winning goals. He doesn't take a lot of shots; the most he's had in a season was 161 in 2013-14, but Brouwer has an NHL career shooting percentage of 14.1, so he tends to make the most of his chances. He likely will start on the second line but could move up to right wing on the top line with Gaudreau at left wing and Sean Monahan at center. If that's the case, expect 20-25 goals and 50-55 points for Brouwer.
Overvalued: TJ Brodie, D
Brodie finished 54th among defencemen in Yahoo's performance-based rankings last season, well behind teammates Mark Giordano (10th) and Dougie Hamilton (25th). His 39 assists were 10th among defenceman, but Brodie is a one-dimensional player and only worth prioritizing in a points-only league (NHL career-high 45 last season). Brodie had six goals, 18 penalty minutes and a plus-4 rating, all down from 2014-15, when he had 11 goals, 30 PIMs and a plus-15 rating. In 70 games last season, he took 79 shots (about one per game) after taking 133 in 81 games the previous season. Brodie's lack of category coverage is a reason to stay away from drafting him until late rounds.
Sleeper: Alex Chiasson, RW
Getting to play on any top line can make a player fantasy-relevant, but getting to do so with Gaudreau and Monahan could be a boon for Chiasson. He has declined in goals, assists and points in each of the past three seasons (13 goals, 22 assists, 35 points in 2013-14; 11 goals, 15 assists, 26 points in 2014-15; eight goals, six assists, 14 points in 2015-16), but that trend should reverse. He signed a one-year contract after being acquired in a trade with the Ottawa Senators on June 27. Chiasson, who turns 26 on Oct. 1, will be playing for a new contract, so expect him to prove himself and break out this season.
Bounce-back: Michael Frolik, C/RW
Frolik had 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) in 64 games last season, missing time because of injury. If those numbers are extrapolated into an 82-game season, he would have had 41 points, putting him on the same pace he had the previous two seasons, when he had 42 points in each. Frolik also had four game-winning goals, 24 PIMs, and four shorthanded points. He likely will start the season on the third line, but a 20-goal, 50-point season isn't out of the question if he stays healthy.
Impact prospect: Hunter Shinkaruk, C
After scoring 51 points (27 goals, 24 assists) in 62 American Hockey League games last season, Shinkaruk could be in line for a full-time role with the Flames. Shinkaruk, who turns 22 on Oct. 13, had two goals and two PPP in seven games for Calgary in the final weeks of the season. It was a small sample size, but all indications are Shinkaruk will make an impact with Calgary this season and is worth a flier in the 15th or 16th round of a standard draft.
Brian Elliott started 38 games and went 23-8-6 with a 2.07 GAA (tied for second among goalies with at least 20 games), a .930 save percentage (first) and four shutouts last season with the St. Louis Blues. The 31-year-old was excellent in his five seasons with the Blues, averaging 20.8 wins, a 2.01 GAA, a .925 save percentage and five shutouts. Granted, the Flames might not be as talented defensively as the Blues (Calgary allowed a League-high 3.13 goals per game last season), but Elliott will get the lion's share of starts instead of splitting duties as he did with Jake Allen in St. Louis. Elliott should top his NHL career high of 51 starts in 2010-11 season with the Senators and should be targeted in the 11-15 range among goalies. Backup Chad Johnson, 30, who was 22-16-4 with a 2.36 GAA and .920 save percentage last season with the Buffalo Sabres, is a good handcuff option in case Elliott gets injured.
Author: David Satriano | NHL.com Staff Writer