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 Detroit Red Wings.
[RED WINGS 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the numbers]
Henrik Zetterberg, C/LW -- The veteran forward was a pleasant surprise last season, jumping from a low average draft position (145.9) to 55th in Yahoo. He was an elite distributor (51 assists, 7th in NHL; 35 primary assists, 4th), and scored 68 points even with a low shooting percentage (8.7) and the lowest power-play point output (13 PPP) in a full season since his rookie year (10 in 2002-03). Zetterberg, 36, remains a fringe top 100 asset but would become an even greater bargain if he slips again in drafts.
Anthony Mantha, LW/RW -- He's a clear breakout candidate ahead of his second full NHL season and deserves more first-unit power-play usage for the Detroit Red Wings after stellar even-strength production as a rookie. Mantha, who turns 23 on Sept. 16, scored 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 60 games with 33 at even strength (sixth among rookies). Mantha should play alongside Zetterberg in all situations and is worth reaching for any time after the first 12 rounds of a 12-team draft.
Gustav Nyquist, LW/RW - He's coming off his worst goal total in a full NHL season (12 on 165 shots on goal; 7.3 percent) but still finished 191st in Yahoo because of his NHL career-high 36 assists and a strong finish. He was a valuable fantasy waiver-wire addition with 30 points (eight goals, 22 assists), a plus-7 and 77 SOG over his final 35 games, and has the potential to be a sneaky late-round pick if his shooting fortunes improve.
Tomas Tatar, LW/RW -- He was the only Red Wings player to reach 20 goals last season (25 on 166 SOG; 15.1 percent). That said, Tatar's overall fantasy value took a hit from Detroit's struggles on the power play (15.1 percent; 27th in League); he was held to eight PPP in 82 games after scoring 19 PPP in 2014-15 and 15 in 2015-16. He finished outside the top 200 in Yahoo (216th) but has the potential to bounce back if he gets his category coverage in order.
Dylan Larkin, C/RW -- He had a 13-point and 43-shot dip in his sophomore season, and failed to seize Pavel Datsyuk's top-line or first-power-play role after the veteran left to play in his native Russia last offseason. Larkin's minus-28 was the biggest reason he finished so low in Yahoo (359th) but he's 21-years-old and a dark horse fantasy forward entering the final year of his entry-level contract.
Andreas Athanasiou, C/LW (RFA) -- The Red Wings are no longer a lock to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs but a shift into rebuilding mode could benefit young forwards like Mantha and Athanasiou. The 23-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance when given top-six opportunities, and scored 18 goals (second on Red Wings) averaging 13:27 per game in 64 games last season. With game-breaking speed and skill, Athanasiou has a chance to pay enormous fantasy dividends if he's finally given an expanded role.
Video: DET@MTL: Mantha toe drags, fires top shelf for OT win
Mike Green -- The veteran defenseman, who turns 32 on Oct. 12, remains a respectable point producer at his position, but declined in peripheral categories last season. He's scored at least 35 points in each of the past four seasons but dipped from 20 PPP in 2015-16 to 10 last season and had the worst plus/minus of his NHL career (minus-20). His best fantasy days are likely behind him and no one should be surprised if newcomer Trevor Daley cuts into Green's minutes on the first power-play unit.
Video: TOR@DET: Green rips late goal off iron and in
Jimmy Howard -- Howard was one of the League's most efficient goaltenders when healthy last season with a 2.10 goals-against average (third in NHL; min. 25 games) and .927 save percentage (second) in 26 games. He will likely again be locked into a time-share situation with Petr Mrazek and plays in the much-improved Atlantic Division, limiting his fantasy ceiling. Still, he's ranked among NHL.com's top 200 (189th) and a viable third or fourth fantasy goalie.
Petr Mrazek -- The 25-year-old had the worst GAA (3.04) and SV% (.901) of his NHL career in 50 games last season, but the Red Wings' offense was among the League's bottom five in goals per game and power-play efficiency. The addition of Daley and any sort of offensive rebound would give Detroit's goalies more support. Mrazek, in a contract year, finished 13th among fantasy goalies two seasons ago and has a chance to return value if drafted outside the top 150.
Others to consider: Trevor Daley (D), Frans Nielsen (C), Xavier Ouellet (D), Jared Coreau (G)