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Fantasy: Potentially overlooked teams in 2018-19

Coyotes, Hurricanes, Red Wings flying under radar

by Brett Amadon / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com identifies three potentially overlooked teams for the 2018-19 season. These teams missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2017-18 and remain under the fantasy radar despite any offseason improvements or other factors that may be in their favor (notable fantasy players, prospects, lineup/injury trends, etc.).

 

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Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes have finished with the third worst record in the NHL in consecutive seasons, but have the talent to be a surprise team this season. Perhaps the biggest moves Arizona made this offseason were re-signing defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (27th among defensemen) to an eight-year contract extension on July 1 and goaltender Antti Raanta (19th among goaltenders) to a three-year contract on April 6. Last season, Raanta went 21-17-6 and tied for second in the NHL with a 2.24 GAA and finished second .930 save percentage.

Along with re-signing two of their best players from last season, the Coyotes also acquired forward Alex Galchenyuk from the Montreal Canadiens for Max Domi on June 15. Galchenyuk had 51 points (19 goals, 32 assists) last season, and has increased value on the power play. He led the Canadiens in power-play goals (nine) and points (24) and will help out a Coyotes power-play unit which finished 26th in the NHL last season (16.9 percent).

Arizona also will rely on the continued development of its young core to help its rebuilding phase. Forward Clayton Keller, a Calder Trophy finalist, finished second in the NHL last season among rookies in points with 65 (23 goals, 42 assists) and developed chemistry alongside Richard Panik and Derek Stepan down the stretch. Dylan Strome , selected with the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, had nine points (four goals, five assists) in 21 games and is expected to take the next step this season.

Video: STL@ARI: Ekman-Larsson one-times Panik's dish for PPG

 

Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes haven't made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2008-09, but could be a surprise team in the Eastern Conference. They had one of the busiest offseasons in the NHL, hiring Rod Brind'Amour as coach May 8 and acquiring defenseman Dougie Hamilton (12th among defensemen; 78th overall, according to NHL.com) and forward Micheal Ferland in a trade with the Calgary Flames for defenseman Noah Hanifin and forward Elias Lindholm on June 23. Carolina also signed goalie Petr Mrazek and defenseman Calvin de Haan in free agency.

Last season, Hamilton tied for the NHL lead in goals among defensemen (17) with Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Ivan Provorov (Philadelphia Flyers). He ranks seventh among defensemen in even-strength points over the past three seasons (94), and instantly becomes Carolina's best offensive defenseman and could cut into Justin Faulk's minutes on the first power-play unit. Ferland had NHL career highs in goals (21), assists (20) and points (41) and led the Flames with 171 hits.

Along with Hamilton, the Hurricanes have two other top 100 fantasy players in forwards Sebastian Aho (64th) and Teuvo Teravainen (90th). They developed chemistry on the first line last season, finishing first and second respectively on the Hurricanes in scoring, but it remains unclear who the third forward on that line will be.

If the Hurricanes can get decent goaltending out of Mrazek and Scott Darling, who went 13-21-7 with a 3.18 goals-against average and .888 save percentage in his first season in Carolina, and young players such as forwards Andrei Svechnikov (No. 2 pick, 2018 NHL Draft), Valentin Zykov (seven points in 10 games on a line with Aho, Teravainen) and/or Martin Necas step up, they could finally break through.

Video: CAR@PHI: Aho beats Elliot with nifty backhand

 

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season in 2017-18, the first time they have done so since missing five straight from 1978-83, but have some pieces in place that make for intriguing late-round selections.

Forward Dylan Larkin bounced back last season after a difficult second year in 2016-17 and had 63 points (16 goals, 47 assists) in 82 games. Larkin's speed is his biggest asset and he should be a 20-25 goal-scorer despite a shooting percentage that has dipped in each of his three seasons, down to 6.9 percent last season. He led the Red Wings in shots on goal (232) and should score more than the one power-play goal he had last season.

Video: MTL@DET: Larkin carves through defense for sweet goal

Other players worth keeping an eye on include forward Anthony Mantha, a multicategory player (goals, hits, power-play points) who could benefit from the signing of Thomas Vanek on July 1, and defenseman Mike Green, who Detroit re-signed on July 1. Green missed the final nine games of the season but still led Red Wings defensemen in assists (25) and points (33). Provided he's healthy, his consistent production and usage on the power play makes him worth a look.

General manager Ken Holland said two or three young players would make the team this season, and forwards Michael Rasmussen (No. 9 pick, 2017 NHL Draft) and Filip Zadina (No. 6 pick, 2018 draft) are two who could crack the lineup on opening night.

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