Winnipeg Jets fantasy preview for 2019-20
Wheeler, Scheifele among most valuable forward duos; Laine, Byfuglien bounce-back candidatesby Jonathan Baron / NHL.com Independent Correspondent
As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, the fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from the Winnipeg Jets. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.
[Jets 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the Numbers]
MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Top 250 rankings | Team previews | Cheat sheet
Blake Wheeler, RW (NHL.com rank: 30): He had 91 points (20 goals, 71 assists) last season, making him one of four players with at least 90 points in each of the past two seasons (others: Nikita Kucherov, Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid). Wheeler, who plays on a potent first line with elite center Mark Scheifele and valuable left wing Kyle Connor, remains a top-tier right wing fantasy option and should be targeted in the first three rounds of standard, 12-team drafts.
Video: 31 in 31: Winnipeg Jets 2019-20 season preview
Mark Scheifele, C (37): He had NHL career highs in goals (38), points (84) and power-play points (23) last season while playing all 82 games. Scheifele and Wheeler had at least a point on 52 team goals last season (sixth most productive duo in NHL). Scheifele is also a fixture on the first power-play unit with high-scoring defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. Scheifele has averaged a point per game or better in three straight seasons and has a ceiling of at least 90 points.
Video: Top five plays of 2018-19: Scheifele
Patrik Laine, LW/RW (41): He regressed last season with 30 goals despite an NHL career-high 245 shots on goal after having 44 goals (second in NHL), including an NHL-leading 20 power-play goals, in 2017-18. Laine scored half of his goals last season on the power play and shot 12.2 percent, a significant drop compared to 2017-18 (18.3). Laine is one of the top bounce-back candidates who can reach 40 goals again with better fortunes and shot selection but remains a restricted free agent and does not have a valuable center on the second line.
Video: STL@WPG, Gm1: Laine wires home wrister from slot
Dustin Byfuglien, D (71): He missed nearly half of last season because of multiple injuries but still finished with 31 points (four goals, 27 assists), 115 SOG, 77 hits and was plus-4 in 42 games. Byfuglien, who averages 2.2 hits per game in his NHL career, brings rare category coverage at a scarce position and carries bounce-back appeal with a 60-point ceiling quarterbacking the Jets' lethal PP1. But, if the 34-year-old deals with injuries again, Josh Morrissey (potential 2020 restricted free agent) could be a late-round steal and is worth stacking with Byfuglien.
Video: WPG@SJS: Byfuglien roofs early breakaway after steal
Connor Hellebuyck, G (86): After tying for the NHL lead in wins (44) two seasons ago, Hellebuyck regressed in the category last season (34) and also declined in save percentage (.924 to .913). He faced the most SOG (2,051) in the NHL last season behind a depleted defense, and the Jets have had two departures at the position this offseason in Jacob Trouba (traded to New York Rangers) and Tyler Myers (signed with Vancouver Canucks). Hellebuyck, who's among NHL.com's top 15 fantasy goalies, should have a heavy start volume again (at least 62 in each of past two seasons), but it's worth noting backup Laurent Brossoit had a .925 SV% in 21 games last season and could compete for playing time.
Video: WPG@STL, Gm6: Hellebuyck turns away Fabbri in close
Kyle Connor, LW (107): He had NHL career highs in goals (34), assists (32), points (66), PPP (19) and SOG (227) last season on the top line with Scheifele and Wheeler. Connor, who will turn 23 on Dec. 9, ranks fifth among left wings in goals over the past two seasons (65). Connor has a high ceiling of at least 75 points but, like Laine, is an RFA whose contract status is worth monitoring as the regular season nears.
Video: NSH@WPG: Connor registers first career hat trick
Other players to consider in late rounds or off waiver wire: Nikolaj Ehlers, LW/RW (151); Josh Morrissey, D (159); Jack Roslovic, C/RW; Bryan Little, C; Kristian Vesalainen, LW/RW
Listen: NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast