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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. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.

 

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Top 250 rankings | Cheat sheet

 

SKATERS

Jeff Skinner, LW, BUF (Yahoo ADP: 96.1)

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). Skinner, a potential 2019 unrestricted free agent, has a chance to make Buffalo one of the most-improved teams in the NHL with defenseman Rasmus Dahlin and goalie Carter Hutton.

 

Mike Hoffman, LW/RW, FLA (ADP: 99.2)

Perhaps a change of scenery will benefit Hoffman after a difficult season for the Ottawa Senators, 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 with the Florida Panthers, who acquired him June 19. He could form an elite second line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck and boost one of their two strong power-play units.

 

Rasmus Ristolainen, D, BUF (ADP: 111.0)

Ristolainen is poised for a bounce-back season after the Sabres upgraded at the position by selecting Rasmus Dahlin with the No. 1 pick 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 enormous pressure off of the 23-year-old defenseman.

 

Nick Leddy, D, NYI (ADP: 136.9)

If you can look past the NHL-worst minus-42, Leddy was a valuable point producer for the New York Islanders. They gave up 293 goals, the only team to allow more than three goals per game (3.18), and things can only go up this season under new coach Barry Trotz. Leddy had 10 goals and 42 points (he had 11 goals and 46 points in 2016-17) and his 14 PPP 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 reigning Calder Trophy winner Mathew Barzal.

 

Jonathan Toews, C, CHI (ADP: 142.5)

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 Chicago Blackhawks had a forgettable year, missing the Stanley Cup 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.

 

Corey Perry, RW, ANA (ADP: 147.4)

It was just three seasons ago that Perry had 34 goals, 62 points and 24 power-play points for the Anaheim Ducks. 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, should remain on the top line with forward Rickard Rakell and center Ryan Getzlaf, whom he's had great success with in the past. Even if Perry 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 PPP with a decent hits total.

 

James Neal, RW, CGY (ADP: 157.4)

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) 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'll likely get a shot on the top line with left wing Johnny Gaudreau and center Sean Monahan, making him worth a late-round flier.

 

Alex Galchenyuk, C/LW, ARI (ADP: 165.0)

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 much less pressure in Arizona, Galchenyuk, who will see time on the power play, could be poised for a bounce-back season. That said, Galchenyuk is dealing with a lower-body injury this preseason.

 

GOALIES

Cam Talbot, EDM (ADP: 74.7)

Talbot was the fifth-highest goalie selected on average last season after he led the NHL in games played (73) and wins (42) in 2016-17 and helped the Edmonton Oilers make the 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 by going 31-31-3 with a 3.02 GAA, .908 SV% 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), leaving plenty of room for improvement.

 

Jake Allen, STL (ADP: 79.7)

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 SV% 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 SV% 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.

 

Other bounce-back candidates: Leon Draisaitl (C/RW, EDM); Kris Letang (D, PIT); Wayne Simmonds (RW, PHI); Henrik Lundqvist (G, NYR); Ryan Johansen (C, NSH); Matt Duchene (C, OTT); Tyler Toffoli (RW, LAK); Duncan Keith (D, CHI); Jason Spezza (C, DAL)

NOTE: Injury bounce-back candidates (e.g., Max Pacioretty, Carey Price, Joe Thornton, Kevin Shattenkirk) have been identified in a separate list. Skaters and goalies are listed in order of Yahoo average draft position.

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