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Fantasy bounce-back candidates for 2016-17

Nathan MacKinnon, Pekka Rinne, Duncan Keith can rebound from subpar seasons

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

When drafting your fantasy hockey team, one of the keys is selecting players who aren't ranked as high because of a subpar season. If you are able to identify these players going into the draft or on the waiver wire, you'll be in position to reap the benefits if they exceed expectations.

Some players have changed teams, which can help them return to fantasy prominence; others just had atypical seasons. Some players have new teammates, who can potentially boost their statistical production. It's always a risky strategy drafting players in the hopes of vast improvements, but the reward can be huge.


Here are some bounce-back candidates for the 2016-17 season, along with standard Yahoo category projections. The top 15 have been arranged in order of rank in's top 200. Skaters considered for this list played in at least 67 games; goalies made at least 50 starts.

Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW, Colorado Avalanche ( 46; ADP: 51.2)

MacKinnon won the Calder Trophy in 2013-14 with 63 points (24 goals, 39 assists) and a plus-20 in 82 games, but the past two seasons haven't gone nearly as well. He had 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) in 64 games in 2014-15 and 52 (21 goals, 31 assists) in 72 games last season with negative ratings and time missed with injuries. The good news is he has maintained a high shots-on-goal volume and gets a fresh start under new Avalanche coach Jared Bednar. MacKinnon's linemate, Gabriel Landeskog, finished second on the team in points (53) behind Matt Duchene (59) but also is a bounce-back candidate because his totals dipped in all six standard categories.

Stat projection: 25 goals, 38 assists, minus-8, 30 penalty minutes, 17 power-play points, 263 SOG

Video: DET@COL: MacKinnon unleashes top-shelf goal on rush

Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators ( 51; ADP: 34.7)

Rinne finished 15th among goalies in Yahoo's year-end rankings, making him a big fantasy disappointment. He was 34-21-10 last season, but his goals-against average (2.48) and save percentage (.908) regressed after he was a Vezina Trophy nominee in 2014-15 with 41 wins (tied for second in NHL), a 2.18 GAA (third; minimum 25 games) and .923 SV% (T-7th). Rinne also was a Vezina finalist in 2010-11 and 2011-12. With P.K. Subban expected to boost Nashville's offense, fantasy owners can expect a return to 40 wins for Rinne, with stronger peripherals than last season.

Stat projection: 65 games, 41 wins, 2.35 GAA, .918 SV%, 5 SO

Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks ( 71; ADP: 63.1)

Keith missed time with a knee injury last season and is not participating in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 as he works his way back to full strength. He has a championship pedigree and nearly matched his 2014-15 totals (10 goals, 35 assists in 80 games) in fewer games last season (nine goals, 34 assists in 67 games), but his ADP remains low because of injury concerns. This two-time 60-point producer should get back on track if he plays a full season and could be a bargain who provides strong category coverage.

Stat projection: 10 goals, 48 assists, plus-14, 24 PIMs, 17 PPP, 184 SOG

Keith Yandle, Florida Panthers ( 62; ADP: 79.8)

Yandle didn't necessarily have a bad season with the New York Rangers, but his numbers should improve in a number of categories with the Panthers. His five goals and 47 points were fewer than he had in each of the prior two seasons. He was a power-play specialist on the Rangers' first unit (22 PPP) but could challenge his career highs in points (59 in 2010-11), PPP (31 in 2013-14) and plus-minus rating (plus-16 in 2009-10). The fact Yandle hasn't missed a game in the past seven seasons also helps his cause.

Stat projection: 7 goals, 48 assists, plus-8, 46 PIMs, 25 PPP, 206 SOG

Video: NYR@PIT, Gm2: Yandle buries loose puck, evens game

Tyler Johnson, C, Tampa Bay Lightning ( 93; ADP: 147.0)

Johnson was limited to 69 games last season, but was held to 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists). His points-per-game average dipped from .94 in 2014-15 to .55, and his plus-minus took a huge hit from plus-33 in 2014-15 to plus-4. Johnson's 8.4 shooting percentage was lower than his 12.5 career average, but he turned it on in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 17 points and a plus-9 in 17 games. He likely will start the season with usual running mates Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat, and should vastly outperform his absurdly low ADP.

Stat projection: 24 goals, 35 assists, plus-12, 28 PIMs, 15 PPP, 195 SOG

Jordan Eberle, RW, Edmonton Oilers ( 80; ADP: 89.1)

Eberle had 47 points (25 goals, 22 assists) in 69 games last season and has at least 24 goals in each of the past three seasons, but has not come close to his career-highs in goals (34) and points (76) from 2011-12. Playing a full season alongside Connor McDavid, a threat for 80-90 points, could help Eberle return to 65-70 points. It also helps that the Oilers signed Milan Lucic, who could use his physicality to create protection and space for his linemates. Those positives and a first power-play role makes Eberle a potential steal in the eighth round of a 12-team draft.

Stat projection: 26 goals, 40 assists, minus-10, 18 PIMs, 13 PPP, 187 SOG

Andrew Ladd, LW, New York Islanders ( 87; ADP: 85.8)

Ladd has provided underrated category coverage through the years, and has a chance to see an offensive boost after signing with the Islanders. He scored 25 goals between the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks last season, but took steps back in points (46), rating (minus-13), PIMs (45), PPP (14) and SOG (181) after finishing among the top 30 fantasy assets in 2014-15 (62 points, plus-9, 72 PIMs, 19 PPP, 224 SOG). Playing on the top line with elite center John Tavares and right wing PA Parenteau could mean big numbers across the board again for Ladd.

Stat projection: 24 goals, 34 assists, plus-6, 54 PIMs, 16 PPP, 190 SOG

Video: ARI@CHI: Ladd fires one from slot for second of night

Eric Staal, C, Minnesota Wild ( 179; ADP: 164.0)

Staal played in 83 games last season but had his lowest goals (13) and points total (39) since his rookie season in 2003-04 (11 goals, 31 points). His points have declined in each of the past three full seasons, but he scored at least 21 goals and 54 points in nine straight full seasons prior to last. Staal had 199 SOG last season and has topped 250 SOG seven times. Centering Zach Parise under new Wild coach Bruce Boudreau could revitalize Staal and help him return to 55-60 points.

Stat projection: 22 goals, 36 assists, minus-5, 30 PIMs, 10 PPP, 195 SOG

Scott Hartnell, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets ( 176; ADP: 172.5)

Hartnell's 49 points were his fewest in a full season since 2009-10 (44), but he had his fifth straight full campaign of at least 20 goals (23) and 100 PIMs (112). He was a minus-11 with the Blue Jackets allowing the second-most goals in the League last season (248), but fantasy owners can expect improvement from Columbus with Seth Jones in the fold. Hartnell will be available in the final rounds but is as stable as they come; he covers at least five of the six standard categories and has played all but 15 games over the past eight full seasons.

Stat projection: 25 goals, 30 assists, minus-2, 110 PIMs, 14 PPP, 175 SOG

Gustav Nyquist, LW/RW, Detroit Red Wings ( 183; ADP: 167.6)

Nyquist broke out for 28 goals in 2013-14 (57 games) but dipped to 27 in 2014-15 (82 games) and 17 last season (82 games). His PPP diminished from 24 two seasons ago to 12 last season, but he has buy-low upside after Detroit signed center Frans Nielsen. With Pavel Datsyuk now playing in the Kontinental Hockey League, more will be expected from the Red Wings' second line of likely Nyquist, Nielsen and Tomas Tatar. Nyquist, dual-eligible in Yahoo, is well worth a late-round flier.

Stat projection: 23 goals, 25 assists, plus-2, 30 PIMs, 18 PPP, 180 SOG

Video: TBL@DET, Gm4: Nyquist buries Sheahan's feed

Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers ( 187; ADP: 155.1)

In Talbot's first season with the Oilers, he went 21-27-5 with a 2.55 GAA, .917 SV% and three shutouts in a career-high 56 games; he had the same number of wins in 36 games in 2014-15 with the Rangers. The Oilers finished tied for the fifth-fewest goals scored (199) and allowed the fourth most (242), never a recipe for success. With a healthy Connor McDavid and the additions of forward Jesse Puljujarvi, the No. 4 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, and defenseman Adam Larsson, expect a career year for Talbot with a heavy workload and more goal support.

Stat projection: 60 games, 28 wins, 2.40 GAA, .915 SV%, 3 SO

Trevor Daley, Pittsburgh Penguins ( 189; ADP: 166.7)

Daley didn't fit in with the Chicago Blackhawks, but a trade to the Penguins turned his season around. In 53 games with Pittsburgh, he had 22 points (six goals, 16 assists), a plus-8, seven PPP and 87 SOG. He sustained a broken ankle in the playoffs, but should be ready for this season and could put up numbers similar to his 16 goals, 38 points and 12 PPP of 2014-15 with the Dallas Stars. He should play big minutes at even strength and see second power-play action for the defending champions.

Stat projection: 12 goals, 28 assists, plus-14, 38 PIMs, 9 PPP, 130 SOG

Kevin Hayes, RW, New York Rangers ( N/R; ADP: 160.4)

After scoring 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) as a rookie, Hayes took a step back with 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists). His power-play (six PPP) and SOG (133) totals improved, but not enough to set him apart from his forward teammates. With Derick Brassard traded to the Ottawa Senators, Hayes will get a chance to compete with Derek Stepan and Mika Zibanejad for power-play time. His minutes (13:39, 10th among Rangers forwards last season) would need to increase, but it wouldn't be a shock to see him rebound with 20 goals and 50 points.

Stat projection: 21 goals, 29 assists, plus-10, 34 PIMs, 10 PPP, 146 SOG

Video: DET@NYR: Hayes deflects McIlrath's shot into the net

Jason Pominville, RW, Minnesota Wild ( N/R; ADP: N/R)

Pominville's 11 goals were a career-low for a full season, but his shooting percentage (5.9) is in line for a correction. He got an early start on that bounce-back by leading the Wild in goals (four) and points (seven) in six games last postseason, but is still not being drafted on average in Yahoo this season. Right wing Charlie Coyle stole top-line minutes from Pominville last season, but new coach Bruce Boudreau could change things up and give the veteran a spot alongside either Eric Staal or Mikko Koivu.

Stat projection: 19 goals, 33 assists, plus-9, 10 PIMs, 13 PPP, 187 SOG

Ryan Strome, RW, New York Islanders ( N/R; ADP: N/R)

Strome didn't come close to expectations in his third NHL season; he had 50 points (17 goals, 33 assists) and was a plus-23 in 2014-15, but followed with 28 points (eight goals, 20 assits) and a minus-9. Strome also took fewer shots, had a worse shooting percentage (6.1 compared to 9.5) and was held without a goal in his final 17 regular-season games. Luckily, the Islanders' lack of forward depth gives him a chance to earn second-line minutes alongside Anders Lee and rookie Mathew Barzal, a line with sneaky fantasy upside. Strome is going undrafted in most 12-team leagues, but is worth monitoring on the waiver wire in case he snaps out of his funk.

Stat projection: 18 goals, 31 assists, plus-6, 36 PIMs, 7 PPP, 164 SOG

Additional bounce-back candidates: Chris Kreider (LW, NYR), Tomas Tatar (LW, DET), Dustin Brown (LW/RW, LAK), Andrej Sekera (D, EDM), Ryan Miller (G, VAN)

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