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 New York Rangers players, listed in order of rank in NHL.com's top 250. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.
[Rangers 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the Numbers | NHL.com/Fantasy]
Chris Kreider, LW (NHL.com rank: 128) -- The 27-year-old was limited to 58 games last season after missing time with a blood clot in his right arm. When healthy, Kreider was fantasy-relevant with 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists), including 12 on the power play, and 137 shots on goal. After returning from injury Feb. 23, Kreider had 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in the final 20 games of the season. His strong finish and an expected first-line left wing role make Kreider the top Rangers player to be selected in fantasy. He gains additional value in hits leagues with 2.0 hits per game in his NHL career.
Video: CBJ@NYR: Kreider earns PPG on impeccable tip in
Mika Zibanejad, C (130) -- The 25-year-old had NHL career highs in goals (27), power-play goals (14) and SOG (212) in 72 games last season. He emerged as New York's No. 1 center and solidified his spot on the first power-play unit. Despite the steps forward in scoring and usage, Zibanejad had a minus-23 rating, lowest among Rangers forwards. New York is expected to utilize forwards Lias Andersson, 19, and Filip Chytil, 18, this season, and that should help alleviate pressure off Zibanejad at even strength. With a clear-cut role and consistent linemates, Zibanejad could have a breakout season and should be a bargain outside the top 130 in drafts.
Henrik Lundqvist, G - INJ. (148) -- The 36-year-old was 26-26-7 with a 2.98 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage and two shutouts in 63 games last season. It was the first time in Lundqvist's NHL career he didn't have at least 30 wins when playing more than 60 games. The decline in wins can be explained by team regression; New York failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009-10. Lundqvist's career peripherals (2.37 GAA, .919 SV%) make him worthy of a middle-round pick, even with potential team concerns.
Pavel Buchnevich, RW** (155) -- The 23-year-old emerged on the fantasy landscape with 43 points (14 goals, 29 assists) in 74 games last season. He finished fourth among New York forwards in points despite playing 15:01 per game (ninth among Rangers forwards) and bouncing around different lines. It's realistic to project Buchnevich starting on the top line with Zibanejad and potentially forming a high-end duo. With breakout appeal, fantasy owners should target Buchnevich in later rounds with potential to finish among the top 100 forwards.
Video: BUF@NYR: Buchnevich nets Zibanejad's great pass
Kevin Shattenkirk, D - INJ. (176) -- In his first season with the Rangers, Shattenkirk missed 36 games with a knee injury. He finished with 23 points (five goals, 18 assists), including 12 on the power play, and had 94 SOG and a minus-14 rating in 46 games. Since 2010-11, Shattenkirk ranks fourth among NHL defensemen with 158 PPP in 536 games behind Erik Karlsson (185), P.K. Subban (167) and Keith Yandle (165). Potential fantasy owners should view the 29-year-old as a specialist for power-play points and wait to see if he's available in later rounds.
Mats Zuccarello, RW* (211) -- The 30-year-old led the Rangers with 53 points (16 goals, 37 assists) in 80 games last season. He played an NHL career-high 18:55 per game, the sixth straight season his ice time increased. Though Zuccarello likely will go undrafted in standard 12-team leagues, his usage indicates he should be fantasy-relevant this season and could be an attractive waiver-wire add if New York performs well. Zuccarello potentially can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2019, and could have extra motivation in a contract year.
Video: CAR@NYR: Zuccarello scores from near the goal line
Other players with fantasy upside in late rounds or off waiver wire: Lias Andersson, C; Filip Chytil, C; Vladislav Namestnikov, C/LW; Brady Skjei, D
*Potential 2019 unrestricted free agent
**Potential 2019 restricted free agent
INJ. - Injury concern entering 2018-19