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Fantasy: Notable line combinations from preseason

Vrana, Schmaltz, Point get boost in value playing in top six

by Ben Zweiman @BZweimanNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

With fantasy hockey draft season officially underway, it's important to know the linemates of the players you're looking to target. There's always roster turnover during the offseason that will thrust players into new and important roles. Whether it's a free agent acquisition, or a rookie or veteran being moved up into a particular team's top six, each situation is worth monitoring. 

One of the more compelling offseason moves was the Dallas Stars signing right wing Alexander Radulov. In his first NHL season since 2012, the 31-year-old proved he can still produce with 54 points (18 goals, 36 assists) in 76 games for the Montreal Canadiens last season. He joined the Stars and is currently playing with left wing Jamie Benn and center Tyler Seguin. It wasn't long ago that the Stars were the top offense in the League, and Radulov, Benn and Seguin have the potential to finish as the highest scoring line this season.

Video: Rosen talks Stars outlook after signing UFA Radulov

In 2016-17, Radulov was 73rd in Yahoo standard-based rankings, but is being drafted 87.3 on average so far. It's odd he's being selected lower than where he finished last season considering he arguably joined the best possible situation he could. For that reason, and the immense upside Radulov possesses playing with Benn and Seguin, he's worth reaching for in most formats. 

Here are other significant lines that have emerged this preseason that have boosted the stock of certain players. Names in bold indicate players who have gained added fantasy value.

 

Edmonton Oilers

Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Ryan Strome

Milan Lucic -- Leon Draisaitl -- Drake Caggiula

Before we dive into the Oilers' top two lines, remember that these aren't set in stone. Things can change during the season, which will impact fantasy production. But all signs point to Strome (C/RW; Yahoo average draft position: 163.8) and Caggiula (C/LW; ADP: N/A) starting with McDavid and Draisaitl. Strome is worth a last pick in a 10- or 12-team draft. Caggiula is more of a deep sleeper who should be added to your watch list. Each has the potential to be fantasy relevant; Strome's ceiling is in the 50-55 point range and Caggiula has 20-goal upside. 

Coach Todd McLellan has switched his lines up during training camp, making forwards Kailer Yamamoto (RW; ADP: N/A) and Jesse Puljujarvi (RW; ADP: 165.8) other potential candidates to start the season with McDavid and Draisaitl, respectively. 

Video: Connor McDavid takes the No. 1 spot

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander 

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner 

Patrick Marleau -- Nazem Kadri -- Leo Komarov

The Maple Leafs may have the deepest forward group in the NHL. Hyman (C/LW; ADP: N/A), played much of last season with Matthews and all of his 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) came at even strength. Though he isn't expected to get increased power-play time this season, his shot coverage is solid (156 in 82 games, 1.9 per game).

Bozak (C; ADP: N/A) may be the most surprising player not being drafted in Yahoo. He's playing with familiar faces in van Riemsdyk and Marner, who helped the veteran center set an NHL career-high of 55 points (18 goals, 37 assists) in 78 games last season. Bozak was among the top 30 centers with 18 power-play points (seven goals, 11 assists), and Toronto's man-advantage only got better. 

One of the main reasons the Maple Leafs power play should be more lethal is the addition of Marleau (C/LW; ADP: 149.8). The 38-year-old has at least 16 PPP in each of his past 13 full NHL seasons. Age shouldn't scare you away from drafting Marleau either; he hasn't missed a regular-season game since 2008-09. Kadri and Komarov are serviceable linemates and Marleau should play with Matthews on the first power play. 

Video: Can the Maple Leafs be a Stanley Cup contender?

 

Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Jakub Vrana

Andre Burakovsky -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

It appears the Capitals will enter the season with Ovechkin and Backstrom separated, which should help distribute the scoring a bit. It should also put Vrana (LW/RW; ADP: N/A) and Burakovsky (LW/RW; ADP: 135.6) on your radar late in drafts. 

Vrana, the No. 13 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, is Washington's top prospect and has a high ceiling to produce at even strength, but is risky given his lack of experience (21 NHL games). 

Many pegged Burakovsky as a breakout candidate heading into last season, but injuries and a lesser role limited him to 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists) in 64 games. He isn't going to put together an Ovechkin-esque season playing with Backstrom, but 50 points doesn't seem out of the question. 

Video: WSH@LAK: Shattenkirk, Vrana connect for PPG

 

Buffalo Sabres 

Evander Kane -- Jack Eichel -- Jason Pominville  

Kane (LW; ADP: 118.0) scored 28 goals last season without Eichel as his center. If the two can build chemistry, 30-35 goals are well within reach. 

Pominville (RW; ADP: 163.9) is past his prime, but managed to finish just outside the top 200 in Yahoo last season (47 points, 176 SOG). He's best to leave undrafted, though, given forward Sam Reinhart could be moved up to play with Eichel if Pominville doesn't mesh.

Video: Jack Eichel is named No. 37 on the list

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

Brayden Point -- Steven Stamkos -- Nikita Kucherov 

The Lightning have used Vladislav Namestnikov on the top line, but Point (C/RW; ADP: 168.6) impressed playing with Stamkos and Kucherov against the Nashville Predators on Sept. 22. His pace last season would have had him finish with around 48 points and 147 SOG, so consider that a baseline for what could happen this season.

Video: NYI@TBL: Stamkos finishes snap shot for PPG

 

Chicago Blackhawks

Alex DeBrincat -- Nick Schmaltz -- Patrick Kane

DeBrincat (RW; ADP: N/A) remains a longshot to make the Blackhawks given his size (5-foot-7, 165 pounds) and inexperience. But he has a goal and 12 shots in three preseason games, and we've seen what Kane's impact has had on his linemates in fantasy (i.e. Artemi Panarin). 

Kane helped center Artem Anisimov set an NHL career-high of 45 points (22 goals, 23 assists) in 64 games last season. Schmaltz (C/LW; ADP: 176.4) is younger (21) and more talented than Anisimov (29), and he's had an impressive preseason with four points (one goal, three assists) in three games. 

DeBrincat is only worth drafting in a deep keeper league, otherwise toss him on your watch list. Schmaltz is a high-upside sleeper pick and it wouldn't be a bad idea to reach a round or two to secure him. 

Other preseason line combinations to keep an eye on include: 

 

Nashville Predators

Filip Forsberg -- Vladislav Kamenev -- Kevin Fiala

 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Artemi Panarin -- Alexander Wennberg -- Cam Atkinson

 
New Jersey Devils 

Taylor Hall -- Pavel Zacha -- Kyle Palmieri

 

New York Islanders

Anders Lee -- John Tavares -- Jordan Eberle  

 

Philadelphia Flyers

Oskar Lindblom -- Claude Giroux -- Jakub Voracek 

 

Winnipeg Jets

Patrik Laine -- Mark Scheifele -- Blake Wheeler 

Mathieu Perreault -- Bryan Little -- Nikolaj Ehlers 

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