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Calgary Flames fantasy hockey outlook

by Pete Jensen / NHL.com

As part of NHL.com's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvalued player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team.

Leading the way: Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau

When healthy, Giordano belongs among the top five fantasy defensemen. During the past two seasons, Giordano has missed 39 games but also has posted .76 points per game, second among defensemen behind Erik Karlsson (.85). He's a possession force who covers rating, penalty minutes and shots on goal. Giordano is coming off a season-ending biceps injury and will share offensive responsibilities with Dougie Hamilton, but Giordano is entering a contract year (Editor's note: Giordano signed a six-year extension Aug. 25) and is an elite-level starting point for your blue line in the fourth or fifth round.

FLAMES' FANTASY-RELEVANT PLAYERS

Below is a list of the fantasy-relevant players in the Calgary Flames organization. These players have been arranged by NHL.com's fantasy staff based on projected value and by position. These players range from top-tier assets to deep sleepers and should be on your radar in standard Yahoo leagues.

FORWARDS

Sean Monahan
Johnny Gaudreau
Jiri Hudler
Sam Bennett
Michael Frolik

DEFENSEMEN

Mark Giordano
Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Wideman
TJ Brodie
Kris Russell

GOALIES

Jonas Hiller
Karri Ramo

* Red indicates newcomer to team

As for "Johnny Hockey," the diminutive yet explosive Gaudreau finished 57th in Yahoo's year-end fantasy rankings with 64 points, the most by a rookie since 2007-08. Gaudreau formed a top-10 point pair with Jiri Hudler (34 team goals with each recording a point; T-7th in NHL) and meshed well with Sean Monahan when he joined their line. He plays on the first-unit power-play and had 21 points with the man advantage in the regular season and five in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games. While there's a possibility for a sophomore setback, the Flames have only gotten stronger defensively and I see Gaudreau being able to continue his nifty work along the boards. He's worth your while around the seventh round if you need a left wing.

Undervalued: Sean Monahan

Monahan scored 22 goals as a rookie and 31 as a sophomore. He's the next big thing at the center position and a breakout candidate for 40-plus with 200-plus shots on goal this season. Monahan, 20, has improved his faceoff efficiency despite a much heavier workload (1,830 faceoffs in 2014-15, 49.3 percent; 1,036 in 2013-14, 45.9). He was also one of 15 players with 20-plus even-strength goals and 20-plus even strength assists, and still has room to improve on the power play. He'll fall outside the top 100 in many drafts, but has a chance to finish among the top 50 as he gets more comfortable. Depending on your league size/format, try not to load up too much at center early so you can keep a spot open for Monahan in the seventh to ninth round.

Overvalued: Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman

While the Flames are equipped at all three positions for another playoff run, there's a strong possibility regression could impact two of last season's fantasy studs. Hudler finished tied for eighth in scoring with 76 points in 78 games after never scoring more than 57 in a season. He had young, talented linemates and a sky-high shooting percentage (19.6, second in NHL) to thank for his breakout season. His career SOG and PIMs totals won't be on his side if his scoring numbers dip, so I would consider him a borderline top 50 forward. Expect at least a small step back.

Wideman took advantage of Giordano's absence with seven multipoint outings in his final 18 games en route to a career-high 15 goals and 56 points, but Calgary's crowded blue line (five among Yahoo's top 40 defensemen last season) will make it tough to replicate those numbers. Wideman, T.J. Brodie and Kris Russell should remain fantasy-relevant, but expect Giordano and Hamilton to be the anchors of that unit. Many fantasy owners sort by League leaders and will draft Wideman, 32, among the top 15 'D', so definitely don't reach for him.

Deep sleeper: Sam Bennett

Bennett, taken fourth in the 2014 NHL Draft, fared well in the 2015 playoffs with three goals, one assist and 20 SOG in 11 games on the second line with Mikael Backlund and Joe Colborne. His performance was an indication that he's cut out for a top-six spot in 2015-16, and he could benefit from the Flames adding Michael Frolik. He'll almost certainly be drafted outside the top 200 in most leagues, but should be targeted with one of the final picks in your draft, especially in keeper formats. Bennett has a chance to earn second-unit power-play time and emerge as a Calder Trophy candidate this season.

Goalie outlook: Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo

With such a stacked defense in front of them, Hiller and Ramo have a chance to form a top-tier timeshare tandem in 2015-16. Hiller played 52 games last season and was among the top 20 in goals-against average (2.36) and save percentage (.918), but also proved inconsistent, opening the door for Ramo and even top prospect Joni Ortio at times. It's a tough competition to read because Hiller was superior at even strength last season, while Ramo was much better at defending opponent power plays. Don't jump the gun and draft Hiller inside the top 20 goalies, because he's more of a value pick the later he falls. If you grab one top-tier goalie in the first 5-7 rounds, pick up Hiller in round 10 or later, and then Ramo further down the line as insurance.

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