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31 in 31

Chicago Blackhawks fantasy preview for 2017-18

Loss of Panarin shouldn't affect Kane; familiarity could aid Saad's return

by Ben Zweiman @BZweimanNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

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 Chicago Blackhawks.

 

[BLACKHAWKS 31 IN 31: Season preview3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the numbers]

 

FORWARDS

Patrick Kane, RW -- All Kane did after winning the Hart Trophy in 2015-16 was follow that up with his second-best statistical output in the NHL. He had 89 points (34 goals, 55 assists), and was plus-11 with 32 penalty minutes, 23 power-play points and 292 shots on goal, good for 6th overall in Yahoo last season. Losing Artemi Panarin in a trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets hurts, but Kane has proven over the years he can play with just about anyone. He's a sure-fire top 5 pick in almost all formats. 

Jonathan Toews, C -- Like Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks captain can pretty much play with anyone. This is particularly important considering wing Marian Hossa will not play this season because of a skin condition. Toews has more value to Chicago than he will to you in fantasy, but is still as consistent a center as any in Yahoo. He'll always have upside playing on one of the top offenses in the League and can be found easily past the sixth round in your draft. 

Brandon Saad, LW/RW -- The 24-year-old returns to the Blackhawks after two seasons in Columbus. He had 53 points in each, scoring an NHL career-high 31 goals in 2015-16. Saad doesn't provide much category coverage; he's never had more than 10 PPP or 20 PIM in a season. But being back in Chicago could help his production with the man-advantage and he's still a threat to reach 60 points with 200-plus SOG. 

Richard Panik, LW/RW -- An opportunity was all Panik needed to prove he could be a viable top-six wing. Playing mostly with Toews last season, Panik set NHL career highs in goals (22), assists (22), plus/minus (plus-14), PIM (58), PPP (nine) and SOG (155) in 82 games. It was nearly enough for Panik to finish among the top 100 assets. He should remain in the top six and has the potential to be a late-round steal. 

Nick Schmaltz, C/RW -- The 21-year-old started last season as the Blackhawks' top prospect and finished it as a top-nine forward. He spent time rotating in the bottom six at center, and seemed to play his best hockey at right wing next to Toews. With Hossa out, Schmaltz has a realistic shot at starting the season on the top line. He's known more as a distributor, but Schmaltz's goal totals could increase and he's a decent last pick in a standard draft.

Video: CHI@TBL: Kane cranks a wrister past Vasilevskiy

 

DEFENSEMEN

Duncan Keith -- Another season, another top 10 finish at his position for Keith. The 34-year-old doesn't seem to age, producing his eighth straight full season with at least 40 points. Outside of PIM, you'll be hard-pressed to find another defenseman who covers categories as well as Keith. Draft accordingly. 

Brent Seabrook -- Think of Seabrook as Duncan Keith lite. Seabrook had a bit of a down season thanks to a low shooting percentage (three goals on 131 shots; 2.3%). If that number improves back to his NHL career average (5.3%), Seabrook could provide nice value as a fourth or bench defenseman. 

Video: CHI@WPG: Keith blasts long-range slapper to pad lead

 

GOALTENDING

Corey Crawford -- Since the 2010-11 season, Crawford ranks in the top 10 in wins (213; 3rd), goals-against average (2.37; T-8th) and save percentage (.918; T-8th) among goalies with a minimum of 300 appearances. It helps starting for the Blackhawks all those years. Crawford is usually among the top 15 goalies each fantasy season and is worth considering as your No. 1.

Others to consider: Artem Anisimov (C), Patrick Sharp (LW/RW), Ryan Hartman (RW)

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