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31 in 31

New Jersey Devils fantasy preview for 2017-18

Expect Hall, Schneider to bounce back with improved roster

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 New Jersey Devils.

 

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

 

FORWARDS

Taylor Hall, LW -- A trade to the New Jersey Devils from the Edmonton Oilers on June 29, 2016, was supposed to do wonders for Hall's fantasy prospects. That didn't exactly happen in his first season with the Devils. With an average draft position (ADP) of 48.1 in Yahoo, Hall finished just outside the top 100 (104) after he had 53 points (20 goals, 33 assists) with 15 power-play points and 238 shots on goal in 72 games. His poor numbers could be linked to New Jersey's struggles on offense (2.20 goals per game, 28th in NHL), but the Devils had a busy offseason and has a deeper forward group with the additions of Marcus Johansson and Nico Hischier. Hall likely will surpass most of his totals from 2016-17, making him a solid mid-round value pick.

Video: PIT@NJD: Hall roofs wicked shot for power-play goal

Kyle Palmieri, RW -- New Jersey's primary goal-scorer, Palmieri had NHL career highs in goals (30), points (57), PPP (23) and SOG (222) in 2015-16. Like many Devils, Palmieri regressed last season but managed to score 26 goals with 19 PPP and decent SOG coverage (192). He outperformed his 109 ADP to finish 69th in Yahoo. He'll continue to be a staple on the first power play and likely will be overlooked in most drafts given he's on the Devils. Chances are Palmieri will be a steal.

Adam Henrique, C -- Like Palmieri, Henrique had his best season in the NHL in 2015-16, thanks in large part to some puck luck. The 27-year-old shot an NHL career-high 20.1 percent (30 goals on 149 SOG) two seasons ago. When that number regressed back to the mean last season, Henrique scored 20 goals on 142 SOG (14.1 percent). It would be shocking if his NHL career-worst minus-20 doesn't improve, and while a shift to wing could help his stock, that seems unlikely with top-line center Travis Zajac expected to miss the first four months of the season because of a torn pectoral muscle. Henrique will likely be New Jersey's first- or second-line center, and should play big minutes in place of Zajac. 

Video: Adam Henrique discusses his career in the NHL

Marcus Johansson, LW -- The Devils acquired Johansson from the Washington Capitals on July 2 for next to nothing (two NHL Draft picks) after he had his best season in the League in 2016-17. Most of his breakout can be credited to playing in the Capitals' high-powered offense, but he should be able to translate some of that production considering his skill set. He had 58 points (24 goals, 34 assists) in 82 games, including 19 PPP, though his secondary category coverage left much to be desired. With low penalty minutes (62 in seven seasons) and SOG totals (105.4 per season), Johansson is reliant on points in fantasy.

Nico Hischier, C -- Assuming the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft makes the Devils roster, Hischier has a chance to be fantasy-relevant as a rookie. The skilled center put up gaudy numbers for Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season (86 points in 57 games), but that's to be expected. Where Hischier stood out was for Switzerland at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, finishing with seven points (four goals, three assists) in five games against top competition in his age group. His transition to the NHL shouldn't take long, and he could begin the season as the Devils first-line center with Zajac sidelined until at least the middle of December. Hischier isn't going to duplicate the production of rookies Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine from last season, but he could finish with around 40-50 points.

Video: 31 in 31: New Jersey Devils 2017-18 season preview

 

DEFENSEMEN

Damon Severson -- The 23-year-old has improved his point total in each of his first three NHL seasons; he had 17 points in 51 games as a rookie in 2014-15, 21 points in 72 games in 2015-16, and 31 points in 80 games last season. Severson's one glaring flaw is plus/minus (minus-31 last season), but that likely will even out given New Jersey's improved roster. After the Devils signed Will Butcher, who won the Hobey Baker Award last season, there could be a competition between the two defensemen for first-unit power-play usage. Either defenseman could return value as a deep sleeper, so keep them on your fantasy queue.

 

GOALTENDING

Cory Schneider -- Once regarded as not only one of the top goalies in the League, but in fantasy as well, Schneider had his worst season in 2016-17. A career high in goals-against average (2.82) and a career low in save percentage (.908) made Schneider arguably the biggest bust in Yahoo last season; he finished 357th after he had an ADP of 28. But as is the theme with most Devils this season, Schneider will more than likely bounce back and be a top 10 goalie again. If anything, his poor season will make him a prime late-round value pick.

Video: BOS@NJD: Schneider robs Marchand with diving stop

Others to consider: Will Butcher (D), Pavel Zacha (C/LW), Miles Wood (LW), Travis Zajac (C; INJ.)

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