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Winnipeg Jets fantasy preview for 2018-19

Byfuglien ranked first among defensemen; Roslovic sleeper candidate with potential exposure to Laine

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

As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, the fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from each team for 2018-19. Today, we look at Winnipeg Jets players, listed in order of rank in NHL.com's top 250. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.

 

[Jets 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the Numbers | NHL.com/Fantasy]

 

Patrik Laine, RW** (NHL.com rank: 7) -- Since entering the NHL in 2016-17, the 20-year-old ranks second in goals per game (0.52) behind Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (0.54). Laine's career shooting percentage (18.0 percent) is the highest in the NHL among those with at least 400 shots on goal (445) over the past two seasons, and he proved he can maintain such a rate by scoring 70 points (second in NHL with 44 goals) on the second line, away from elite center Mark Scheifele. With the Jets having one of the deepest offenses and power plays in the NHL, this potential 2019 restricted free agent is on the cusp of the fantasy top five overall and should contend for the NHL goal-scoring title.

Video: WPG@MTL: Laine rings in PPG to open the scoring

 

Blake Wheeler, C/RW (14) -- The 32-year-old was the only player in the NHL with at least 90 points (91), 40 power-play points and a plus rating (plus-13) last season. The potential 2019 unrestricted free agent is one of the safest early-round fantasy picks because of his coverage of all six standard categories, including hits (94 last season; 1.2 per game in NHL career). Wheeler brings versatility as well; he played right wing on Scheifele's line last season and also proved he could play center at a high level when Scheifele was injured. Wheeler has finished among the top 12 players in Yahoo each of the past two seasons. 

 

Connor Hellebuyck, G (18) -- The 25-year-old benefited from strong special-teams play during his breakout season, finishing tied with Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the NHL lead in wins (44) and third in save percentage (.924, minimum 50 games). Winnipeg ranked among the top 10 in the NHL on the power play (23.4 percent; fifth) and penalty kill (81.8; tied for seventh), and has its core in place again after reaching the Western Conference Final. Hellebuyck, who signed a six-year, $37 million contract July 12, is ranked second among fantasy goalies by NHL.com behind Vasilevskiy and is worth targeting in the early second round of a standard 12-team draft.

 

Dustin Byfuglien, D (21) -- The 33-year-old is a five-time 50-point producer in the NHL and averages 2.3 hits per game. He leads defensemen in SOG per game since entering the NHL in 2005-06 (3.02) and was plus-15 last season. He quarterbacked the first power-play unit (22 PPP) with Laine, Wheeler, Scheifele and forward Kyle Connor, and finished 64th overall in Yahoo despite missing 13 games. He was nearly a point-per-game player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 17 games, and his rare category coverage makes him likely to finish among the top 25 overall if healthy.

Video: Dustin Byfuglien comes in at No. 11 on the list

 

Mark Scheifele, C (26) -- The 25-year-old is one of 11 players to average at least a point per game or better over the past two seasons (142 points in 139 games). He missed 22 games last season because of injuries but had NHL career highs in plus/minus (plus-19) and PPP (16). Playing with Wheeler at even strength and Laine on the first power play makes Scheifele a must-target player in the late second or early third round. Scheifele became even more appealing in fantasy after a breakout postseason, with 20 points (14 goals, six assists) in 17 games), and finished second in playoff goals behind Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (15) despite playing seven fewer games.

 

Nikolaj Ehlers, LW/RW (79) -- The Denmark-born 22-year-old has at least 60 points in back-to-back seasons but struggled in the 2018 postseason (no goals, seven assists in 15 games). He was a fixture on the second line with Laine before and after the Jets acquired center Paul Stastny in a trade from the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 26. Ehlers had NHL career highs in goals (29), plus/minus (plus-14) and SOG (231), and he still has plenty of room for improvement on the power play (NHL career-best 13 PPP). He retains dual eligibility in Yahoo and is a dynamic secondary scorer for one of the safest fantasy teams.

Video: WPG@WSH: Ehlers capitalizes on turnover

 

Kyle Connor, LW** (110) -- The 21-year-old led NHL rookies in goals at even strength (24) and overall (31) in 76 games with the Jets. It was a seamless transition for Connor, who began the season with Manitoba of the American Hockey League but cemented himself on Winnipeg's top line and first power-play unit with Scheifele and Wheeler. Don't reach for Connor inside the fantasy top 100 in case he loses the power-play spot to Ehlers or Jack Roslovic in his second season, but he's a potential 2019 RFA who could easily jump into the 60-point range if he gets off to a better start on the power play (no PPP in his first 18 games last season).

 

Jack Roslovic, C (192) -- Stastny signing a three-year contract with the Vegas Golden Knights on July 1 opened the door for Roslovic, 21, to compete with Bryan Little for second-line usage. If Roslovic plays with Laine and Ehlers, he should shatter his rookie production (14 points, all at even strength, in 31 games). Roslovic was better than a point-per-game player (35 points in 32 games) for Manitoba of the AHL last season and is a high-upside sleeper in the final round of a standard fantasy draft.

 

Other players with fantasy upside in late rounds or off waiver wire: Tyler Myers, D* (206); Bryan Little, C; Mathieu Perreault, LW; Josh Morrissey, D - RFA; Jacob Trouba, D**

RFA -- Current restricted free agent
*Potential 2019 unrestricted free agent
**Potential 2019 restricted free agent

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