NHL.com examines how Matt Duchene's decision to sign with the Nashville Predators impacts the overall fantasy hockey landscape and projects his statistics for 2019-20. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.
Center Matt Duchene signed a seven-year contract with the Nashville Predators, strengthening their depth at the position and improving their power play and overall fantasy outlook for this season and beyond. Duchene should now be considered a top 60 overall fantasy player and Nashville's most valuable center.
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The 28-year-old had 58 points (27 goals, 31 assists) in 50 games for the Ottawa Senators, who moved him to the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to the NHL Trade Deadline. His production dropped with the Blue Jackets at first (12 points in 23 regular-season games), but he bounced back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 10 games. Duchene, who combined for an NHL career-high 31 goals last season, has a ceiling of being a point-per-game player and should boost the Predators power play, which finished last in the NHL (12.9 percent).
Duchene's offense should also help offset the loss of the defenseman P.K. Subban, who was traded to the New Jersey Devils on June 22. Duchene will be a fixture in Nashville's top six with potential exposure to valuable left wing Filip Forsberg and/or right wing Viktor Arvidsson. Forsberg, a perennial top 50 overall player in fantasy drafts, could exceed his NHL career highs in goals (33) and points (64 twice) if he plays with Duchene for a full season.
Forward Mikael Granlund, who struggled after being acquired from the Minnesota Wild with five points (one goal, four assists) in 16 regular-season games and two points (one goal, one assist) in six postseason games, is another player who can skate on Duchene's wing. Granlund is a more attractive bounce-back candidate if taken in the 12th round or later. Forward Eeli Tolvanen, who's still rookie-eligible, is another wing who can potentially gain value from the Duchene signing.
Video: Matt Duchene inks seven-year, $56M deal with Preds
Center Ryan Johansen, who led the Predators with 64 points (14 goals, 50 assists) last season, will likely keep a top power-play role but would lose fantasy value if Duchene takes over on the top line with Forsberg and/or Arvidsson. Duchene is likely to be drafted ahead of Johansen, a fringe top 100 overall player, in fantasy. Center Kyle Turris will likely be bumped out of the top six and lose his limited value.
Duchene should also positively impact valuable defensemen Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm, safe fantasy options who can all finish among the top 30 at the position. Nashville's power play should be much-improved with Duchene and the hiring of Dan Lambert as an assistant coach (previously coached Spokane of Western Hockey League). Veteran goalie Pekka Rinne remains among the top 10 fantasy options at the position, and backup Juuse Saros should continue his efficient play when called upon after Nashville's center upgrade.
Projection for Duchene with Predators in 2019-20: 77 games, 30 goals, 43 assists, 73 points, plus-10, 22 PPP, 195 SOG, 50 hits
Draft range in 12-team fantasy league: Round 5 or 6 (picks 49-72)
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