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31 in 31

Vancouver Canucks fantasy preview for 2017-18

Horvat, Boeser could form promising duo; Hutton, Stecher deep sleepers

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 landscape. Fantasy-relevant players are listed in order of rank in NHL.com's top 250. Today, we look at the Vancouver Canucks.

 

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

 

FORWARDS

Bo Horvat, C -- Times are changing for the Vancouver Canucks; Horvat (52 points last season) became the first player not named Daniel Sedin or Henrik Sedin to lead them in scoring since Markus Naslund (79 points) in 2005-06. He covered goals (20), assists (32), power-play points (10) and shots on goal (158) respectably last season to finish 183rd in Yahoo (undrafted on average). Horvat didn't play often on the first power-play unit, so would need an expanded role to take another step forward. Target him in the 15th round or later in a 12-team league.

Daniel Sedin, LW -- As for the Sedins, each is in a contact year and looks to bounce back from an underachieving season. Daniel, who will turn 37 on Sept. 26, had 44 points in 82 games, his lowest total in a full season since 2002-03 (31 in 79 games). He is bound for a shooting percentage correction (6.9 percent; 11.3 in NHL career), but it will be tough for the seven-time 70-point scorer to have elite assist totals again for the rebuilding Canucks. He still has a strong shot volume (216) year after year, and offers better category coverage than Henrik. Take a final-round flier on Daniel in case he bounces back.

Video: VAN@ARI: D. Sedin nets one-timer from the circle

Brock Boeser, RW -- Although there isn't a Canucks player worth selecting in early rounds, Boeser should be prioritized in the later stages of a standard draft and middle rounds of keeper league. He joined the Canucks late last season for a nine-game trial after his sophomore season at University of North Dakota and made an immediate impact with five points (four goals, one assist), two PPP and 25 SOG. If he plays right wing on a line with Horvat or the Sedins for a full season, he has a chance to score 20-25 goals and enter the Calder Trophy conversation.

Loui Eriksson, LW/RW -- He ranked second on Vancouver in Shot Attempts percentage (50.36; minimum 60 games) behind Markus Granlund (50.64), playing frequently alongside the Sedins. But like Daniel, Eriksson had poor shooting fortunes (8.3 percent; 13.4 in career). He was held to 11 goals after scoring 30 the previous season, and saw sizable dips in assists, plus/minus, PPP and SOG. Eriksson could potentially return value as a late-round pick but comes with risk considering veteran Thomas Vanek and prospects Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin will be pushing for top-line and power-play spots.

Sam Gagner, C/RW -- He's coming off NHL career highs in points (50) and PPP (18) with the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he was the third-line center and a first power-play staple. Gagner, 28, joins the Canucks with a chance to play center or right wing in a top-nine role and boost a power play that ranked 29th last season (14.1 percent). Gagner finished 102nd in Yahoo, but likely will regress compared to his career-best totals, at least in plus/minus (10). Fantasy owners who draft Gagner late should hope he plays on the top power-play unit and the right side of the Sedins at even strength.

Video: 31 in 31: Vancouver Canucks 2017-18 season preview

 

DEFENSEMEN

Alexander Edler -- The Canucks had one of the weakest scoring defenses in the NHL last season, with no defenseman scoring more than Edler's six goals or Troy Stecher's 24 points. Adding Michael Del Zotto should help, but Edler, 31, is probably still their best fantasy option when healthy, especially if your league counts hits (1.6 per game) and blocked shots (2.0). He averaged 24:18 per game last season, nearly four more minutes per game than Vancouver's next-highest defenseman (Ben Hutton; 20:29). Edler is a two-time 40-point scorer and has had double-digit goal totals twice in his NHL career.

Video: EDM@VAN: Edler buries loose puck for 300th NHL point

Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher -- Vancouver has two young defensemen in Hutton, 24, and Stecher, 23, with deep sleeper upside in a standard league, especially after the departures of Philip Larsen and Nikita Tryamkin to the Kontinental Hockey League. Stecher (2:42 per game; eight PPP) and Hutton (2:03; 11 PPP) cut into Edler's power-play minutes (2:03) and production (four PPP in 68 games) last season. Keep in mind, Vancouver's potential fantasy-relevant defenseman is likely to be a plus/minus liability.

 

GOALTENDING

Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson -- Veteran Ryan Miller signed with the Anaheim Ducks, giving Markstrom and Nilsson a chance to compete for starts. Each has been a backup or time-share goaltender for his entire NHL career; neither has played more than 33 games in a single season. Nilsson had a .923 save percentage in 26 games with the Buffalo Sabres last season, an impressive number considering the heavy shot volume he faced (33.0 shots allowed per game). This is one of only a few true time-share situations following the NHL Expansion Draft, but these goaltenders should be considered nothing more than fantasy streaming options entering the season.

Others to consider: Henrik Sedin (C), Thomas Vanek (LW/RW), Sven Baertschi (LW), Michael Del Zotto (D), Jonathan Dahlen (C/LW), Markus Granlund (C/LW)

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