As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, the fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from the Colorado Avalanche. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.
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Nathan MacKinnon, C (NHL.com rank: 4) -- He had an NHL career-high 99 points (41 goals, 58 assists) in 82 games last season, finishing in the top 10 in scoring for the second straight year. Playing alongside fellow top 50 forwards Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog on the top line and power play, MacKinnon scored more than 40 goals for the first time. That total could increase due to his high shot volume (led NHL with 365 shots on goal last season) and a potential spike in shooting percentage (11.2 percent; 9.8 in career). MacKinnon, who will turn 24 on Sept. 1, should be a top-five pick in all fantasy drafts.
Mikko Rantanen, RW (14) -- He set NHL career highs in goals (31), assists (56) and points (87) in 74 games last season, and his continued development and chemistry with MacKinnon doesn't suggest any decline in the short term. His 68 PPP over the past two seasons also rank sixth in NHL. Rantanen doesn't attempt many SOG (193), but his efficiency (16.1 percent last season, 15.6 in career) suggests his goal total could improve with a higher volume. Look to select Rantanen in the late first or early second round and potentially stack him with MacKinnon.
Gabriel Landeskog, C/LW (45) -- Like his linemates, Landeskog set NHL career highs in all offensive categories (75 points; 34 goals, 41 assists) in 73 games last season. However, his production this season could be reliant on whether he stays on the top line; coach Jared Bednar rotated the lines late last season and could split the trio up in order to provide depth scoring. Regardless, Landeskog is a fixture on the first power play (27 PPP last season) and provides full category coverage (120 hits, 64 blocks, 694 face-off attempts).
Video: 31 in 31: Colorado Avalanche 2019-20 season preview
Philipp Grubauer, G (77) -- Although his numbers looked good last season (2.64 goals-against average, .917 save percentage), that was thanks to a strong finish - he went 9-2-2 with a 1.44 GAA, .956 SV% and all three of his shutouts in his final 14 games. However, he ranked last in the NHL in save percentage (.890; minimum 20 games from start of season to Feb. 15) and third to last in GAA (3.42) over his first 23 games. He was the full-time starter in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and continued his strong play against the Calgary Flames (1.90 GAA, .939 SV%) before regressing against the San Jose Sharks (2.60 GAA, .914 SV%). Grubauer is among the top 15 fantasy rankings at his position and will be the clear No. 1 goalie for the first time in the NHL but carries risk playing behind a young defense.
Cale Makar, D (94) -- If this past postseason is any indication, Makar could be a valuable fantasy defenseman for a long time to come. After his sophomore season with the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Hobey Baker Award winner joined the Avalanche in the Western Conference First Round, scoring a goal in his NHL debut in Game 3 against the Flames and finishing with six points (one goal, five assists) in 10 playoff games. Makar gains fantasy appeal from the Avalanche trading Tyson Barrie to the Toronto Maple Leafs; Makar could play on the first power play with Colorado's elite forwards and produce at least 40-45 points.
Nazem Kadri, C (157) -- After consecutive 32-goal seasons, Kadri regressed last season (44 points; 16 goals, 28 assists) with Toronto. With the arrival of elite center John Tavares, Kadri found himself playing in a third-line role behind Tavares and Auston Matthews. But after being traded to the Avalanche for Barrie, Kadri is primed for a top-six, power-play role for a team that lacked secondary scoring last season. Kadri can feasibly score at least 25 goals with at least 100 hits and 200 SOG, making him a potential steal in late rounds.
Other players to consider in late rounds or off waiver wire: Samuel Girard, D (201); Andre Burakovsky, LW/RW (233); Bowen Byram, D (248); J.T. Compher, C/RW; Nikita Zadorov, D
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