As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, the fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from the New York Rangers. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.
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Artemi Panarin, LW (NHL.com rank: 19) -- The elite left wing had an NHL career-high 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 79 games last season, an impressive total considering he only had 18 power-play points. Panarin, who signed with the Rangers on July 1, is expected to play on the top line with center Mika Zibanejad and could set new career highs in goals (31 in 2016-17) and PPP (24 in 2015-16) with a heavier shot volume (191 last season; 228 in 2017-18). He is among the top five fantasy left wings and top 20 overall fantasy rankings.
Video: Panarin lands at No. 8 on the Top 20 Wings list
Mika Zibanejad, C (66) -- The center had a breakout season with NHL career highs in points (74), goals (30), assists (44), PPP (23) and shots on goal (236). Zibanejad has an even higher ceiling after the additions of Panarin and rookie Kaapo Kakko and is worth targeting among the top 75 overall and stackable with either of those potential linemates.
Video: 31 in 31: New York Rangers 2019-20 season preview
Kaapo Kakko, RW (100) -- The No. 2 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft will likely make an immediate impact after scoring 22 goals in 45 games last season for HC TPS in Liiga, breaking Aleksander Barkov's record (21 in 2012-13) for under-18 players in Finland's top men's professional league. Kakko could have the highest upside among all NHL rookies if he skates on the top line and first power-play unit with Panarin and Zibanejad and is worth reaching for inside the top 100 overall in standard fantasy leagues.
Henrik Lundqvist, G (110) -- The veteran goalie has bounce-back appeal after the lowest win total (18) and save percentage (.907) of his 14 NHL seasons. The additions of defensemen Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox should help Lundqvist, and the offensive improvements could provide additional goal support for the 37-year-old. Despite his age and declining statistics in recent seasons, Lundqvist is worth drafting inside the top 125 but should be handcuffed with backup Alexandar Georgiev (.914 SV%, two shutouts in 33 games last season) for insurance.
Video: Top 10 saves of 2018-19: Lundqvist
Jacob Trouba, D (125) -- The defenseman finished 13th among NHL defensemen in scoring (50 points) last season with the Winnipeg Jets and also had his best totals in assists (42), power-play points (18) and SOG (162). Trouba, acquired by the Rangers on June 17, had 19 points (four goals, 15 assists) in the final 22 games last season in an expanded role and will likely capture a first power-play role with New York. He is ranked among the top 30 fantasy defensemen.
Video: Jacob Trouba agrees to deal with Rangers
Chris Kreider, LW (155) -- The left wing tied his NHL career high in goals (28) last season and nearly matched his best point total (52; 53 in 2016-17). Kreider has quietly been a valuable fantasy asset over the past three seasons with at least 0.64 points per game and 12 PPP in each and an NHL career-high 201 SOG last season. Kreider, despite contract uncertainty (potential 2020 unrestricted free agent) and a likely move to the second line behind Panarin, is worth drafting in later rounds with strong hits coverage (2.0 per game in NHL career).
Pavel Buchnevich, RW (207) -- The right wing has been a deep sleeper candidate for three consecutive seasons but could finally break through after New York's offseason improvements. The 24-year-old will likely compete with Kakko and potentially rookie Vitali Kravtsov for top-line exposure to Panarin and Zibanejad and also with Kreider for first power-play usage but brings late-round upside in deep and/or keeper leagues.
Other players to consider in late rounds or off waiver wire: Vitali Kravtsov, RW; Alexandar Georgiev, G; Adam Fox, D; Filip Chytil or Ryan Strome, C/RW
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