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Fantasy bounce-back candidates for 2018-19

Hoffman, Ristolainen, Allen among those who can rebound after difficult seasons

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com identifies 10 bounce-back candidates for the 2018-19 season: players who failed to live up to expectations last season but have factors in their favor for a return to previous levels of production.

 

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Top 250  | 100 'F' | 50 'D' | 25 'G'

Breakout candidates | Sleepers | Deep sleepers | Top 10 rookies | Power Rankings

 

NOTES: Players are listed in order of NHL.com rank. ... Injury bounce-back candidates (e.g., Max Pacioretty, Carey Price, Joe Thornton, Kevin Shattenkirk) will be identified in a separate list.

 

FORWARDS

Mike Hoffman, LW/RW, Florida Panthers

NHL.com rank: 97

Perhaps a change of scenery will benefit Hoffman after a difficult season in Ottawa on and off the ice. Hoffman's 22 goals were his fewest in four full NHL seasons and his minus-20 was his worst. He had 257 SOG and 21 power-play points (eight goals), which were respectable, but could flourish in Florida, where he was traded to June 19. He could form an elite second line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck, and should see an uptick in most of his numbers.

 

Jonathan Toews, C, Chicago Blackhawks

NHL.com rank: 124

It took until the third-to-last day of the regular season for Toews to score his 20th goal, the 11th straight season he's hit that number but his 52 points were his lowest total in a full NHL season. Toews was also minus-1, the first time in his career he wasn't a plus player. His PPP also took a hit; the 12 tied for the third-lowest of his career and the two power-play goals tied for his worst. The Blackhawks had a forgettable year, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008, but could be more competitive this season. Toews will remain in the top six, whether its centering the first or second line and could be rejuvenated playing with rookie forward Dylan Sikura.

Video: CHI@BUF: Toews shows off hand-eye for rebound goal

 

Alex Galchenyuk, C/LW, Arizona Coyotes

NHL.com rank: 145

The forward bounced between positions for the Montreal Canadiens last season but could be used as a center with the Coyotes after he was acquired for forward Max Domi on June 15. Galchenyuk had 19 goals, down from 30 in 2015-16 and was a minus-31. However, he led the Canadiens with 24 PPP and had an NHL career-high 213 SOG. With less pressure on him in Arizona, Galchenyuk, who will see time on the power play, is poised for a bounce-back season.

 

Corey Perry, RW, Anaheim Ducks

NHL.com rank: 147

It was just three seasons ago that Perry scored 34 goals, had 62 points, 68 penalty minutes and 24 power-play points. Since then, his points, goals, power-play output and plus/minus have all gone down. Perry had 17 goals and 49 points last season, his worst totals since 2006-07. Perry, 33, will likely be on the top line with forward Rickard Rakell and center Ryan Getzlaf, who he's had great success with in the past. Even if he doesn't start the season on the first line, he likely will find himself there at some point, meaning he could be in line for 25-plus goals and 55-plus points. It also wouldn't be a surprise if he scored at least 15 power-play points.

 

James Neal, LW/RW, Calgary Flames

NHL.com: 164

Neal scored 25 goals and 44 points in 71 games last season, but six of his goals came in the first four games of the season and 12 came in the first 21 games. Over the final 50 games of the regular season, he had 35 points (13 goals, 12 assists) including only three on the power play, and was minus-16. The good news is, he's scored at least 20 goals in each of his 10 NHL seasons, providing insurance for potential fantasy owners. After signing a five-year contract with the Calgary Flames on July 2, he likely will start on the top line alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, making him worth a late-round flier.

Video: James Neal on signing a five-year deal with Calgary

 

Jeff Skinner, LW, Buffalo Sabres

NHL.com rank: 165

Skinner is a proven goal-scorer, scoring at least 31 goals three times, although his 24 goals last season were 13 fewer than his NHL career high of 37 in 2016-17. The trade to the Buffalo Sabres on Aug. 2 likely means he will play with Jack Eichel. Although he only had nine PPP last season, Skinner should boost the Sabres power play, which ranked 20th in the League last season (19.1 percent). He was minus-27 last season, and it's hard to see that improving much in Buffalo, given their offensive and defensive struggles.

 

DEFENSEMEN

Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres

NHL.com rank: 120

Ristolainen is poised for a bounce-back season after the Sabres upgraded at the position by selecting Rasmus Dahlin No. 1 in the 2018 NHL Draft. Ristolainen had 41 points (six goals, 35 assists), including 23 on the power play, which tied for the team lead. The lone drawback was he was minus-25, which will happen when your team scores the fewest goals in the League and allowed the third most. However, the addition of Dahlin will take pressure off of the 23-year-old defenseman.

 

Nick Leddy, New York Islanders

NHL.com rank: 153

If you can look past the League-worst minus-42, Leddy had an okay season with the Islanders. The Islanders gave up 293 goals, the only team to allow more than three goals per game (3.18), so it likely can't be worse this season. Leddy had 10 goals and 42 points (he had 11 goals and 46 points in 2016-17) and his 14 power-play points ranked first among Islanders defensemen. He had an NHL-career high 153 shots on goal last season and could top 50 points if he plays on the first power-play unit with exposure to Calder Trophy winner Mathew Barzal.

 

GOALTENDERS

Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues

NHL.com rank: 102

Expectations were high after Allen had 33 wins and goalie Brian Elliott signed with the Calgary Flames following the 2016-17 season. However, Allen ended last season with a record of 27-25-3 and the highest GAA of his NHL career (2.75). His .906 save percentage and one shutout were tied for the fewest in any of his five NHL seasons. After goaltender Carter Hutton signed with the Sabres, Allen's backup will now be Chad Johnson, who had a 3.55 GAA and .891 save percentage last season. Allen will likely see 60-plus starts in front of an upgraded Blues team featuring new forwards Ryan O'Reilly, David Perron and Tyler Bozak.

 

Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers

NHL.com rank: 117

Talbot was the fifth-highest goalie selected on average last season after he led the League in games played (73) and wins (42) in 2016-17 leading the Edmonton Oilers to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006. He followed up a season in which he was 42-22-8 with a 2.39 GAA, .919 save percentage and had seven shutouts, going 31-31-3 with a 3.02 GAA, .908 save percentage and one shutout in 67 games. He's a workhorse, good for 65 starts if healthy and likely will have a better season. The Oilers finished last in power-play percentage (14.8) and 25th in penalty-killing percentage (76.7 percent); even a slight improvement on special teams could help Talbot significantly.


  
Other bounce-back candidates: Erik Karlsson (D, OTT; 34th); Leon Draisaitl (C/RW, EDM; 43rd); Kris Letang (D, PIT; 80th); Wayne Simmonds (RW, PHI; 89th); Ryan Johansen (C, NSH; 96th); Henrik Lundqvist (G, NYR; 139th); Matt Duchene (C/RW, OTT; 151st); Tyler Toffoli (C/RW, LAK; 156th); Duncan Keith (D, CHI; 186th); Jason Spezza (C, DAL; N/A)

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