Each year, there are plenty of fantasy takeaways from the NHL preseason. The forward landscape can especially be shaken up by fresh line combinations and roster decisions.
This preseason was different in that many players who participated in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 either did not play or saw limited usage for their NHL teams following the tournament. Even still, there were plenty of new lines and individual standouts showcasing their fantasy potential.
Some new lines came into the preseason with high expectations and lived up to their billing. These include top lines for the Edmonton Oilers (Milan Lucic, Connor McDavid, Jordan Eberle), Vancouver Canucks (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Loui Eriksson), New Jersey Devils (Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Devante Smith-Pelly) and the second line of the San Jose Sharks (Mikkel Boedker, Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi).
MORE PRESEASON TAKEAWAYS: D-MAN | GOALIE
Plenty of lesser-known lines also came alive in the preseason, and their components now warrant greater fantasy consideration as a result. Below are five underrated line formations and individual standouts from the preseason.
NEW LINE COMBINATIONS
Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Pavel Buchnevich (New York Rangers)
This line, packed with skill and hard-hitting ability, came together early in the preseason and yielded excellent offensive results. Kreider, who underachieved fantasy-wise last season, had five points, nine shots on goal and was plus-4 in four preseason games, with Rangers newcomers Zibanejad (six points, plus-5, 16 SOG) and Buchnevich (three points, plus-5, 13 SOG) giving Kreider fresh, high-upside linemates. Zibanejad and Kreider are middle-round commodities, and Buchnevich (LW, 3 percent owned) is a deep sleeper worth drafting.
Video: PHI@NYR: Kreider beats Neuvirth top-shelf
Travis Konecny - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek (Philadelphia Flyers)
Konecny (C, 5 percent owned) has earned the chance to stick in Philadelphia for the long haul. Voracek, who was moved off Claude Giroux's line last season but remains on the first power-play unit, appears to have found a silver lining in Couturier and Konecny, who was tied for fourth in preseason points (six in six games). Voracek, dual eligible in Yahoo, had three goals (two on power play), five points and 15 SOG in four preseason games.
Patrick Sharp - Jason Spezza - Jiri Hudler (Dallas Stars)
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin played with Patrick Eaves on the Stars' top line, making their second line one of the most lethal in the entire League. Sharp, Spezza and new addition Hudler (C/RW, 27 percent) combined for 13 points in four preseason games and are each candidates to top 60 points this season. After a season of constant line juggling in Dallas, potential stability is music to the ears of fantasy owners.
Teuvo Teravainen - Elias Lindholm - Sebastian Aho (Carolina Hurricanes)
Teravainen (LW/RW, 31 percent owned) and Aho (RW, 23 percent owned) were teammates on Team Finland in the World Cup and have been linemates in their early action with the Hurricanes. Each was limited to one assist in three preseason games, but they have developed chemistry and could emerge as a productive point pair in the regular season. Each should see power-play time and is worth selecting in the late rounds of any fantasy draft.
Matthew Tkachuk - Sam Bennett - Troy Brouwer (Calgary Flames)
In addition to forward Johnny Gaudreau signing a six-year contract Monday, the Flames have to be happy with their secondary scoring this preseason. With center Sean Monahan limited because of a back injury, Bennett was tied for the Flames lead in points (three in four games), adding 16 SOG. Tkachuk (LW, 14 percent owned), the No. 6 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, and Brouwer (RW, 17 percent owned) had two points apiece and provide Calgary with the offensive depth it sorely lacked last season. Bennett (C, 17 percent owned) could break out offensively with such high-caliber linemates.
Video: VAN@CGY: Tkachuk jams home rebound for PPG
Dylan Strome, Arizona Coyotes (C, 28 percent owned): This touted rookie earned a top-six spot, as expected, in the preseason playing mostly with Jamie McGinn and Anthony Duclair. He had four points, was plus-1 and had 18 SOG in seven preseason games. Don't hesitate to reach for him anytime outside the top 150 overall.
Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets (LW, 7 percent owned): Connor, the lesser-hyped NCAA standout compared to Jimmy Vesey of the Rangers, had three goals (one on power play), one assist and was plus-2 with four penalty minutes and 12 SOG in five preseason games. He could be a major steal if he ends up on the left side of Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.
Andreas Athanasiou, Detroit Red Wings (C, 1 percent owned): Athanasiou had a strong preseason with four points, a plus-2 and 11 SOG in five games, and had a trial on a young, high-upside line with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha. If Athanasiou plays among the Red Wings' top six, he has a chance to become a fantasy commodity off the waiver wire; he's going undrafted on average in Yahoo.
Jonathan Marchessault, Florida Panthers (C, 1 percent owned): Left wing Jonathan Huberdeau is out 3-4 months because of a leg injury, and the Panthers have a deep forward group to tap into for a replacement. Marchessault, the early favorite to land a top-line spot next to Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr, led the Panthers with three points in four preseason games and was a plus-3 with a power-play goal. He had seven power-play points in 45 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, so he could assume first power-play usage as well.
Video: NJD@FLA: Marchessault utilizes screen to bury PPG
Scott Wilson, Pittsburgh Penguins (C/LW, 1 percent owned): Wilson emerged from one of the deepest forward groups in the League to latch onto Evgeni Malkin's wing this preseason; he scored five points and was plus-1 with four PIMs and eight SOG in five games. Sidney Crosby's status is in question after he was diagnosed with a concussion Monday, so Wilson could skate with Malkin and Patric Hornqvist if the Penguins captain misses any time. Even if Crosby doesn't miss time, Wilson was with Malkin and Chris Kunitz in the preseason.
Joshua Ho-Sang, New York Islanders (C/RW, less than 1 percent owned): The Islanders have waived PA Parenteau, leaving a lineup void at right wing. If they don't shift Ryan Strome back to wing, Ho-Sang could be their top player at the position. He was assigned to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League last week, but could soon be recalled to flank John Tavares and Andrew Ladd in an always favorable fantasy spot. Ho-Sang was tied for the Islanders lead in preseason points with four in five games.
Other preseason standouts worth watching: Mitchell Marner (C, TOR), Mathew Barzal (C, NYI), Tyler Motte (C, CHI), Kevin Fiala (LW, NSH), Nick Schmaltz (C, CHI)