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Fantasy bounce-back candidates for 2017-18

Kopitar, Gostisbehere, Smith among those who can rebound after difficult season

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

One of the questions that fantasy owners face each season is whether to drop or hold well-known players who are underperforming. But before the season starts, how high, or if they are even worth drafting, is a more important question to consider, because that can make or break your team.

Here are some bounce-back candidates for the 2017-18 season, listed in order of their Yahoo average draft position.

NOTE: Injury bounce-back candidates (e.g., Bryan Little, Patrick Sharp, Kris Letang, Jonathan Quick) were identified in a different list and have not been included here.


[RELATED: Fantasy Top 250 for 2017-18 | Cheat Sheet | Fantasy breakout candidates]



Claude Giroux, C, PHI

Yahoo average draft position: 68.8

Giroux had 14 goals (fewest in a full season since he was a rookie in 2008-09) and 58 points last season (lowest since 2009-10), and his goals and points have declined in each of the past four seasons. However, he managed to score 31 power-play points for the Philadelphia Flyers and has the fourth most points in the NHL since 2010 (501) trailing Patrick Kane (522), Sidney Crosby (521) and Alex Ovechkin (506). Don't be concerned that Giroux's rating (minus-15) and shooting percent (7.0) were the lowest of his NHL career. Giroux, 29, should be in line for a 20-goal, 75-80 point season.

Video: PIT@PHI: Bellemare intercepts pass, sets up Giroux


Taylor Hall, LW, NJD

ADP: 92.6

In his first season with the New Jersey Devils, Hall led them in assists (33), tied for the lead in points (53), and was second in goals (20). It was the fifth time in seven seasons he scored at least 20 goals, but he hadn't scored fewer than 53 points in a full season since he had 50 in 2012-13 with the Edmonton Oilers when he was limited to 45 games because of an injury. Hall, 25, had 22 power-play points despite an NHL career-low 8.4 shooting percent, but should be boosted this season perhaps playing with center Nico Hischier, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Video: PIT@NJD: Hall roofs wicked shot for power-play goal


Anze Kopitar, C, LAK

ADP: 100.9

Kopitar had 52 points in 76 games, his fewest in a full season since entering the NHL in 2009-10. He finished second on the Los Angeles Kings in points (Jeff Carter, 66) after leading them for each of the past nine seasons. He's been one of the most consistent offensive players and has stayed healthy, missing 18 games in 10 seasons. Kopitar, 29, took over for Dustin Brown as captain last season, which could've been a reason for the dip in offensive production. Expect Los Angeles to fare better than the 2.43 goals-per game (T-24th) of last season, meaning Kopitar should benefit.


Brendan Gallagher, RW, MTL

ADP: 168.1

Gallagher scored 10 goals, the fewest in his NHL career, and his 29 points were one more than his career low from 2012-13. After missing more than a month with a hand injury, Gallagher, 25, had 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 25 games, although four of them came in one game. However, he was struggling before the injury with (six goals, 12 assists) in 39 games. He took a sharp dip in power-play points (four, after having 17 the previous season) and his 5.3 shooting percent was by far the lowest of his career. Assuming he gets more than the 15:06 of ice time per game he had last season with the Montreal Canadiens (which was 1:29 fewer than each of the previous two seasons), Gallagher, with a fully healed wrist, could be a steal in later rounds.


Gustav Nyquist, LW/RW, DET

ADP: 171.2

The Detroit Red Wings failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 26 seasons, but Nyqvist finished second on the team in points (48), despite that being his lowest total in five seasons. Although his goals have gone down in each of the past four seasons, with Nyqvist scoring 12 in 2016-17, his assists have gone up in each of those seasons and he had a NHL career-high 36 last season. Nyqvist is an asset on the power-play (11 points) and the 27-year old could be in for an increased workload and production as one of the Red Wings veterans.

Video: OTT@DET: Nyquist pots redirection from slot for PPG


Loui Eriksson, LW/RW, VAN

ADP: 176.4

After signing a six-year, $36 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks prior to last season, Eriksson had arguably the worst season of his NHL career, scoring 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in 65 games. He didn't score his first goal until his 14th game and never got it going offensively. However, he scored 30 goals in 2015-16 with the Boston Bruins and scored at least 22 goals in six of his past eight seasons. Eriksson's shots on goal also should go up from the 132 he had last season, and it wouldn't be a stretch for the 31-year-old to double his points and hit the 50-point range this season.



Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI

ADP: 77.6

Ekman-Larsson, 25, had 12 goals, 27 assists and 39 points last season and was minus-25 with the Arizona Coyotes. He dipped in power-play goals (eight) and points (19) and took 145 shots on goal compared to 228 in 2015-16. Ekman-Larsson had 12 power-play goals, 27 power-play points and eight game-winning goals in 2015-16 (at least six in each of the past three seasons) before scoring one last season. That likely was an aberration; he had at least 43 points in each of the previous three seasons, including two 20-goal seasons and two with at least 10 power-play goals.


John Klingberg, DAL

ADP: 97.5

Despite scoring the most goals (13) in his NHL career, Klingberg's season was subpar for fantasy owners. He had 49 points in 80 games after having 58 in 76 games in 2015-16. His power-play points went down, as did his shots on goal, and his rating was plus-2 after he was a plus-22 in 2015-16. With a healthy Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin to go along with newly acquired forward Alexander Radulov on the Dallas Stars, Klingberg, 24, should be a borderline top-tier defenseman this season.

Video: DAL@FLA: Klingberg nets a clutch go-ahead tally


Aaron Ekblad, FLA

ADP: 112.6

Ekblad, the 2015 Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year (12 goals, 27 assists, 39 points, plus-12, 19 power-play points) with the Florida Panthers was unable to get going last season. He had 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists), was minus-23, and had 12 power-play points. The good news for fantasy owners is Ekblad had an NHL career-best 225 shots on goal, which tied for 25th in the League and was tied for third among defensemen, despite missing 14 games because of injury. Ekblad, 21, should see an offensive uptick.


Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI

ADP: 118.1

It was hard to believe that the player who was a finalist for the Calder Trophy in 2016 (46 points, 17 goals, 29 assists, 22 power-play points in 64 games) had such a drop last season, which included being a healthy scratch. Gostisbehere had 39 points (seven goals, 32 assists), was minus-21, and had a shooting percent of 3.5. Despite the struggles, he played 19 seconds less per game than the previous season and had one more power-play point. It wouldn't be surprising if Gostisbehere, 21, returns to his rookie form.

Video: PHI@PIT: Gostisbehere cranks home a sweet one-timer



Mike Smith, CGY

ADP: 92.6

Smith jumped more than 100 spots in's top 250 rankings after being traded from the Coyotes to the Calgary Flames, showing how much of a game-changer the move could be for his fantasy value. The Flames are much stronger than the Coyotes at both ends of the ice, and Smith had a .914 save percentage or better in three of his past four seasons in Arizona. Now he has a chance for numbers similar to 2011-12 (38-18-10 with a 2.21 GAA, .930 SV and eight SO) with 30-35 wins, a save percentage between .915-.920 and multiple shutouts as the No. 1 goaltender for a playoff contender. He may be 35, but he's been durable, with at least 55 starts in four of five full seasons with the Coyotes.


Cory Schneider, NJD

ADP: 96.3

Schneider, who had a .908 save percentage last season, the second-worst of his NHL career, ranks third in NHL history (.922), showing how consistent he has been. He was 20-27-11 with a 2.82 GAA, his highest since 2009-10, and had two shutouts. In the three seasons prior with the Devils, Schneider, 31, averaged 23 wins and never had a GAA higher than 2.26 or a save percentage lower than .921. New Jersey finished last in the Eastern Conference last season but added forwards Marcus Johansson, Brian Boyle and Hischier, which should help the offense. Schneider may not be a top 10 goalie anymore, but he could be a steal as a late-round pickup.


Jaroslav Halak, G, NYI

ADP: 122.1

Halak started the season 6-8-5 with a .904 save percentage and a 3.23 GAA in 21 games, including allowing three or more goals 15 times, which prompted the New York Islanders to send him to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League. He spent three months there before returning to the NHL in March, then went 6-1-0 with a .949 save percentage and one shutout, allowing a total of 11 goals in seven games. It's likely that Halak, 32, will be the goalie who starts the season for the Islanders, and if he picks up where he left off, should have a good season.

Video: NYI@NJD: Halak hops up to deny Henrique's backhander


Other bounce-back candidates: Johnny Gaudreau (LW, CGY; 35.8); Henrik Lundqvist (G, NYR; 58.1); Justin Faulk (D, CAR; 97.0); Brian Elliott (G, PHI; 109.8); Tyson Barrie (D, COL; 132.9); Matt Duchene (C/RW, COL; 161.3); Alec Martinez (D, LAK; 165.2); David Krejci (C, BOS, 168.3); Petr Mrazek (G, DET; 183.7)

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