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Arizona Coyotes fantasy preview for 2019-20

Schmaltz injury bounce-back candidate on potential line with Kessel; Raanta, Kuemper must-own tandem

by James Harding / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, the fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from the Arizona Coyotes. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.

 

[Coyotes 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the Numbers]

 

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Team previews | Top 250 rankings | Cheat sheet

 

Phil Kessel, RW (NHL.com rank: 61) -- The elite right wing had his second consecutive point-per-game season (82 in 82 games) with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. Kessel, who was acquired by the Coyotes on June 29, is expected to skate in their top six, potentially with forward Clayton Keller and/or Nick Schmaltz, and on the first power play. Kessel could regress in fantasy production leaving the Penguins' high-powered offense, but he's likely to score 65-70 points with 20-25 on the power play and have a positive effect on his new teammates.

 

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D (104) -- The defenseman had 44 points (14 goals, 30 assists) and 19 power-play points in 81 games last season, the fifth time in the past six seasons he's reached the 40-point mark with at least that many PPP. With potential exposure to Kessel and a healthy Schmaltz at even strength and on the power play, Ekman-Larsson is a top 25 fantasy defenseman option and could challenge his NHL career highs in points (55) and PPP (27) from 2015-16.

 

Clayton Keller, LW/RW (105) -- The forward saw a drop in production in his second NHL season with inconsistent linemates, scoring 47 points (14 goals, 33 assists) compared to 65 (23 goals, 42 assists) as a rookie. With the potential to skate on an even-strength line with Kessel and/or Schmaltz and bring exposure to Ekman-Larsson on the power play, Keller should return to the 60-point range and set an NHL career high in PPP with at least 25, making him worth targeting around the top 100 overall in fantasy drafts.

Video: 31 in 31: Arizona Coyotes 2019-20 season preview

 

Antti Raanta, G (106) -- Injuries limited Raanta to 12 starts last season; he went 5-6-0 with a .906 save percentage. However, if healthy, Raanta should return similar value to his 2017-18 season, when he was 21-17-6 with a .930 SV% in 47 games. The emergence of Darcy Kuemper could keep Raanta fresher during the season but also limit him to fewer than 50 starts. Still, fantasy owners should target Raanta among the top 20 fantasy goalies and can expect him to bounce back for at least 20 wins with strong peripherals.

 

Darcy Kuemper, G (146) -- He was one of the biggest fantasy surprises of last season, playing an NHL career-high 55 games (all starts; started 29 of Arizona's final 32 games), going 27-20-8 with a .925 SV% and five shutouts. Kuemper could see a drop-off in playing time if Raanta is healthy, but they could form one of the most valuable tandems in the NHL, making Kuemper worth drafting on his own as a sleeper or handcuffing with Raanta. Kuemper should have at least 15-20 wins in 30-35 starts with a SV% in line with his NHL career average (.916).

 

Nick Schmaltz, C/LW (168) -- Schmaltz scored 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 17 games after he was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks before sustaining a season-ending lower-body injury in December. He's expected to center one of Arizona's first two lines and has sneaky fantasy appeal if he ends up playing with Kessel and/or Keller on the top line and first power play. With prime lineup placement for anything close to a full season, Schmaltz could shatter his NHL career highs in points (52) and shots on goal (118) from 2017-18 with a ceiling of 65-70 points.

 

Other players to consider in late rounds or off waiver wire: Derek Stepan, C (250); Conor Garland, LW/RW; Jakob Chychrun, D; Vinnie Hinostroza, C/RW; Barrett Hayton, C

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