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Montreal Canadiens fantasy hockey outlook

by Matt Cubeta / NHL.com

As part of NHL.com's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvalued player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team.

Leading the way: Carey Price, Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban

The Montreal Canadiens are well-balanced with an elite player at each fantasy position and are one of two teams to have three players within my top 25 (Pittsburgh Penguins). Price leads the group and has to be the first goalie off the draft board following an outstanding 2014-15 season. I have Price No. 9 in my offseason rankings with Pacioretty at No. 17 and Subban at No. 23. Price had a historic season in 2014-15, becoming the first goalie since save percentage was added as an NHL stat in 1982-83 to have at least 40 wins, a goals-against average below 2.00 and a save percentage higher than .930 (44 wins, 1.96 GAA, .933 SV%). He's the only goalie worth selecting in the first round of fantasy drafts this season.

Pacioretty followed up a 39-goal, 60-point season in 2013-14 with 37 goals and 67 points. His plus-38 rating tied Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay Lightning) for tops in the NHL and he was the ninth-best fantasy player in Yahoo leagues. His 76 goals the past two seasons are tied for third with Corey Perry behind Alex Ovechkin (104) and Joe Pavelski (78). His plus-46 during that time is tied for sixth and his 572 shots on goal are fourth. He's a complete fantasy player and should be drafted somewhere in the second round.

Subban is the clear-cut No. 2 fantasy defenseman in my opinion behind Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators). Since his Norris Trophy-winning season in 2012-13, Subban's 36 goals are sixth among defensemen, his 115 assists are first and his 151 points are second. He's also a reliable source for penalty minutes and shots on goal (averages 84 PIMs and 199 SOG per season since 2012-13). Make sure he's off the table before the end of the third round at your draft.

HABS' FANTASY-RELEVANT PLAYERS

Below is a list of the fantasy-relevant players in the Montreal Canadiens organization. These players have been arranged by NHL.com's fantasy staff based on projected value and by position. These players range from top-tier assets to deep sleepers and should be on your radar in standard Yahoo leagues.

FORWARDS

Max Pacioretty
Tomas Plekanec
Brendan Gallagher
Alex Galchenyuk
David Desharnais
Alexander Semin

DEFENSEMEN

P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov

GOALIES

Carey Price

* Red indicates newcomer to team

Undervalued: Brendan Gallagher

Gallagher finished with career-highs in goals (24), assists (23), plus/minus (plus-18) and shots on goal (254) last season. Though his power-play production hasn't been as prolific as we'd like (a combined 17 PPP the past two seasons), the fact that he averaged 2:26 of PP ice time per game last season could lead to better things this season. Gallagher should play on the Canadiens' most lethal line alongside Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec. If he can stick with them, he could have an even better season. At 23, look for the energetic forward to build off a season in which he finished as the 78th best fantasy player in Yahoo leagues.

Overvalued: David Desharnais

Despite maintaining a top-six role on a top-heavy offensive group, Desharnais saw his production slide from two seasons ago. His goals dropped from 16 to 14 and his assists fell from 36 to 34. Though that's not a big drop-off, most of his value comes from his assist totals and his excellent plus/minus (plus-33 over the past two seasons). The rest of his stats won't help you. In each of Desharnais' three NHL seasons in which has played at least 75 games, he has never reached the 100-shot mark (90 last season). He had 11 power-play points last season and has never exceeded 26 penalty minutes in any season. The Canadiens have a lot of solid offensive players, but Desharnais is someone I would avoid on draft day.

Deep sleeper: Alexander Semin

Always one of the biggest mysteries year to year, Semin has the potential to be a 25-goal scorer with the Canadiens. Semin had six goals and 19 points in 57 games in what would be his final season with the Carolina Hurricanes but he'll be out to prove people wrong and earn a new contract. Semin, 31, should end up among Montreal's top six forwards and that could lead to bright things given his immense talent. Even after last season, the enigmatic Russian averages 31 goals and 66 points over an 82-game season. Is a 25-goal and 55-point season really that far-fetched in Montreal? I don't think so, and that makes Semin worth selecting at some point before your draft concludes.

Goalie outlook: Carey Price and Dustin Tokarski

As mentioned above, Price has to be the first goalie off the board on draft day. Since the 2010-11 season, Price leads the NHL with 298 starts, his 163 wins are tied for second, his .923 save percentage is fourth, his 2.31 goals-against average is sixth and his 30 shutouts are second among active goalies with at least 200 starts. Even before last season, Price was one of the best goalies in the League.

Tokarski, 25, was a bit of a disappointment as Price's backup last season. He finished with six wins, a 2.75 GAA and .910 SV% while allowing three or more goals in 10 of 17 appearances. Tokarski has a firm grip on the backup job, but with Price expected to start his usual 60-70 games, you can leave him undrafted.

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