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31 in 31

Colorado Avalanche fantasy preview for 2017-18

Retaining top players can help Jost make smooth transition in first NHL season

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, our fantasy hockey staff is breaking down each team's fantasy landscape. Fantasy-relevant players are listed in order of rank in NHL.com's top 250. Today, we look at the Colorado Avalanche.

 

[AVALANCHE 31 in 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the numbers | More team fantasy previews]

 

FORWARDS

Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW -- The Colorado Avalanche had the fewest points (48) in the NHL last season, but MacKinnon was able to salvage his fantasy season with 53 points (16 goals, 37 assists), 14 power-play points and 251 shots on goal to finish 132nd in Yahoo. MacKinnon, who will turn 22 on Sept. 1, won't be drafted nearly as high as last season (average draft position: 51.8), but is a preseason top 100 player, and a high-end playmaker on Colorado's top line and first power-play unit. His low shooting percentage (6.4 percent last season) supports his bounce-back candidacy.

Video: COL@DAL: MacKinnon pots a redirect for PPG

Matt Duchene, C/RW -- There's nowhere to go but up for Duchene. He remains with the Avalanche after finishing tied for the worst plus/minus (minus-34) League-wide and having his lowest points-per-game average in a full NHL season (0.53). Duchene, who has scored at least 55 points in five of his six full NHL seasons, could benefit from exposure to top prospect Tyson Jost this season and score at least 50 points with 15 on the power play.

Gabriel Landeskog, LW -- Each of the Avalanche's top fantasy options underachieved based on Yahoo ADP last season, but Landeskog's regression could be linked to the lower-body injury that sidelined him for 10 games. The four-time 50-point producer is still worth a late-round flier considering his shots on goal (169 in 72 games; 2.3 per game), penalty minutes (62) and hits (143; 2.0 per game) coverage remained strong.

Tyson Jost, C -- The Avalanche's minor offseason changes indicate they are banking on their core players to stay healthy and Jost to make a smooth transition in his first NHL season. He had one goal and was minus-5 with nine shots on goal in six NHL games last season, but had impressive production as a freshman for the University of North Dakota with 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) and a plus-17 in 33 NCAA games. Colorado retaining its top players should help the short-term productivity of young players like Jost.

Video: MIN@COL: Jost scores first NHL goal, grandpa tears up

Mikko Rantanen, LW/RW -- The 20-year-old had a poor plus/minus (minus-25) as a rookie, but showed flashes of fantasy potential by covering goals (20), points (38), power-play points (10) and shots on goal (133) in 75 games. He finished strong on the top line with MacKinnon and Sven Andrighetto, scoring eight points (six goals, two assists) in his final 10 games. Like Jost, Rantanen is a keeper-league asset worth grabbing in late rounds.

 

DEFENSEMEN

Tyson Barrie -- He finished tied with Duchene for the worst plus/minus in the League and ranked 372nd in Yahoo after being drafted with the 93rd pick on average. That said, he was tied for third on the Avalanche with 38 points and tied for second in power-play points (10) in 74 games -- respectable totals for a defenseman. He has greater value in points-only leagues, but would be worth owning in all formats if he rebounds for 45-50 points.

Video: CAR@COL: Barrie, Andrighetto combine for pretty goal

Erik Johnson -- He led Avalanche defensemen in Shot Attempts relative percentage (2.6) and was productive when healthy (17 points, six power-play points in 46 games), but missed a large part of the season because of a leg injury. His rates of production in shots on goal (2.1 per game), hits (1.9 per game) and blocked shots (2.1 per game) were also impressive, making him valuable in leagues that count those categories.

 

GOALTENDING

Semyon Varlamov -- He went 6-17-0 with poor peripherals before having season-ending hip surgery Jan. 26. But it's hard to completely rule out a turnaround after Varlamov was a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2013-14 and had decent win totals in his next two seasons (28 in 2014-15, 27 in 2015-16). The Avalanche signed reliable backup Jonathan Bernier, but he's likely a fantasy streaming option at best. Don't reach for Varlamov, but he's still a projected starting goaltender and an intriguing buy-low option in late rounds.

Others to consider: Sven Andrighetto (LW/RW), Cale Makar (D), Jonathan Bernier (G), Nail Yakupov (RW), Colin Wilson (LW)

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