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30 in 30

Boston Bruins fantasy outlook

David Backes will bounce back with new team; steer clear of Brad Marchand

by Ben Zweiman @BZweimanNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

As part of NHL.com's 30 in 30 series, our fantasy hockey staff is breaking down each team's fantasy landscape. From most valuable assets to underrated options, impact prospects and more, this guide should help fantasy owners prioritize players for drafts.

Starting at the top: Patrice Bergeron, C

Last season, there were two players in the NHL with at least 30 goals, 30 assists, a plus-10, 25 power-play points and 280 shots on goal. One of them was Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks. The other was Bergeron. The 31-year-old center seems to always get overlooked as a top-tier fantasy asset; he was seventh in Yahoo's performance-based rankings last season after being drafted 73rd on average in standard leagues. He has scored 20 goals with at least 50 points in seven of his 11 full NHL seasons. It will be hard for Bergeron to match his numbers from last season, particularly the 282 SOG, but a small regression likely would keep him among the top 20 fantasy forwards. NHL.com's top 200 has Bergeron ranked No. 29, which would make him a very valuable late second-round, early third-round draft pick.

Bruins 30 in 30: Season outlook | Burning questions, reasons for optimism | Top prospects | Fantasy: Top 200

Undervalued: David Pastrnak, LW/RW

The 20-year-old was thrown into the NHL two seasons ago and was able to make an impact, scoring 10 goals with 27 points in 46 games. He followed his rookie season with a similar performance (15 goals, 26 points in 51 games). Pastrnak has had a rough time earning the trust of coach Claude Julien, but after 97 NHL games he should be able to solidify a top-six role this season. The departure of forward Loui Eriksson as a free agent (Vancouver Canucks) opens a spot for Pastrnak to play right wing with either Bergeron on the first line or center David Krejci on the second. In Yahoo standard leagues last season, Pastrnak was drafted No. 175 on average. This season, he has the final spot in NHL.com's top 200. He has the potential to score 20 goals with 200 SOG and should be available toward the end of a 12-team draft.

Video: DET@BOS: Pastrnak opens scoring with breakaway goal

Overvalued: Brad Marchand, LW

The only left wings to score more goals than Marchand (37) last season were Alex Ovechkin (50; Washington Capitals) and Jamie Benn (41, Dallas Stars). Marchand set NHL career highs in goals, points (61) and SOG (250); his previous high in shots was 180 in 2014-15. Marchand had 90 and 95 PIM in back-to-back seasons and will always provide decent category coverage, but the chances of him duplicating last season's totals are slim. He will likely be targeted as early as the fourth round in a 12-team draft after finishing 16th in Yahoo's performance-based rankings last season, but makes more sense as a player who will provide you with PIMs coverage in the sixth or seventh round. It's also worth monitoring Marchand's contract negotiations to see if he signs an extension before the season.

Sleeper: Frank Vatrano, C/LW

The 5-foot-9 forward led the American Hockey League in goals as a rookie with 36 in 36 games. He played 39 games for the Bruins, scored eight goals and had 11 points mostly in a bottom-six role. With Eriksson and forwards Brett Connolly and Lee Stempniak no longer on the roster, and the only addition being veteran David Backes, Vatrano has a realistic shot to play left wing on either the second or third line. He was on pace for 17 goals with more than 200 SOG in a full 82-game season averaging 11:53 of ice time. Vatrano isn't worth drafting in a 12-team league but is worth consideration in deeper formats or for your watch list.

Bounce-back: David Backes, C/RW

It wasn't until the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the St. Louis Blues last season that Backes started to look like the player we're used to watching. After 45 points in 79 regular-season games, his lowest total in a full NHL season since 2007-08, Backes came to life during the playoffs with 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 20 games to help the Blues advance to the Western Conference Final. Despite the lack of point production, Backes was a solid in almost every category: He had a plus-4 rating with 83 PIM and 168 SOG with 13 of his 45 points coming on the power play. He should move from the Blues' third line to the Bruins' top six, a group that helped Boston finish fifth in goals per game (2.88) and seventh in PP percentage (20.5) last season. Playing with either Bergeron or Krejci could boost Backes from the top 100 forwards into the top 60.

Video: 30 in 30: Boston Bruins 2016-17 season preview

Impact prospect: Matt Grzelcyk, D

The Bruins have a glut of young defenseman prospects who will push for an NHL roster spot, including 2015 first-round pick Jakub Zboril, and second-round picks Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Lauzon. But none of them possess the leadership qualities and offensive upside Grzelcyk does coming off four seasons at Boston University, two as captain. In 125 games for the Terriers, the 5-foot-9, 174-pound defenseman had 26 goals, 69 assists and a plus-54 rating. Carlo is more defensive-minded, and though Zboril and Lauzon are gifted offensively, they are 19 years old. Grzelcyk, 22, has a chance to push Colin Miller and John-Michael Liles for a bottom-pair role and would be an injury or two away from landing in the top four with the potential to play on the second PP unit.

Goalie outlook

After going 36-15-6 with a 2.04 goals-against average and .930 save percentage to win the Vezina Trophy in 2013-14, Tuukka Rask has regressed the past two seasons. He had 34 wins with a 2.30 GAA and .922 SV% in 2014-15, and 31 wins with a 2.56 GAA and .915 SV% last season, his worst GAA and SV% since 2010-11. The Bruins are no longer the dominant team from Rask's better seasons, but that's no excuse for him to fall off a cliff. The 29-year-old finished 115th overall and 20th among goalies in Yahoo's rankings after being drafted 30th on average. Chances are Rask will bounce back in GAA and SV%, and he should be good for about 30-34 wins. If you're planning to wait on drafting a goaltender, Rask is the perfect target around the 10th round in a 10-team league.

Behind Rask is Anton Khudobin, who played two seasons with Boston from 2011-13, going 10-4-1 with a 2.22 GAA and .926 SV% in 15 games. But he holds little value outside of being a handcuff. Fantasy owners should keep an eye on 22-year-old Malcolm Subban, who has been considered Boston's goalie of the future and could steal the backup job from Khudobin. Subban may make an impact this season but holds more value as a keeper-league asset.

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