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30 in 30

Nashville Predators fantasy outlook

P.K. Subban, Roman Josi can be dynamic defensemen pair; James Neal provides rare coverage

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com's 30 in 30 series, our fantasy hockey staff is breaking down each team's fantasy landscape. From most valuable assets to underrated options, impact prospects and more, this guide should help fantasy owners prioritize players for drafts.

Starting at the top: P.K. Subban, D; Filip Forsberg, LW

The NHL's biggest move of the offseason came when the Nashville Predators acquired Subban from the Montreal Canadiens in a straight-up trade for captain Shea Weber. Subban has the most power-play points (94) of any defenseman since 2012-13, and joins another elite fantasy defenseman, Roman Josi (61 points, 24 PPP, 198 shots on goal), on Nashville's first power-play unit. The Predators were already in the upper third of the League in power-play conversion percentage (19.7, 10th) and now have a quintet of Subban, Josi, Ryan Johansen, James Neal and Filip Forsberg (each among NHL.com's fantasy top 50). Subban, a consistent 50-point, 20-PPP force, could cover all six standard categories for Nashville and is worth reaching for late in the first round. Subban and Josi each has a chance to score 60 points, so it's not crazy to make them two of your first five selections.

Predators 30 in 30: Season outlook | Top prospects | Burning questions, reasons for optimism | Fantasy: Top 200

Forsberg, tri-eligible in Yahoo last season, is one of the top 22-or-under fantasy players in the game. He was held in check by the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Second Round (one point in seven games), but improved in goals (33), points (64), PPP (23) and SOG (247) compared to his rookie season (26 goals, 63 points, 19 PPP, 237 SOG). Given his category coverage, position flexibility and Nashville's loaded offense, Forsberg should be targeted in the mid-to-late third round of a standard, 12-team draft and higher in a keeper league.

Undervalued: James Neal, RW

Neal is no stranger to finishing among the top 15 overall fantasy assets, having done so in 2011-12 (40 goals, 41 assists, 30 PPP) playing alongside Evgeni Malkin with the Pittsburgh Penguins and last season with Nashville (14th in Yahoo's performance-based rankings). He even has a chance to improve on his lone category of weakness; he had 14 PPP (fifth among Predators) but now has two strong puck-moving defensemen to set his table in those situations. He was one of three players (Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals; Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins) with at least 30 goals, 50 PIMs and 250 SOG, and could be one of the biggest fantasy bargains in the League if he's available in the third or fourth round of a 12-team draft.

Overvalued: Mike Ribeiro, C

Ribeiro had 50 points (15 PPP) and finished 128th in Yahoo's rankings, another season of fantasy relevance. But the 36-year-old fell out of favor with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013-14 and again with the Predators last postseason, when he was a healthy scratch twice against the Sharks. His coverage of assists, PIMs and PPP is usually reliable, but his SOG volume has been low ever since he left the Dallas Stars (1.2 per game since 2012-13), and his plus-minus has been strong with Nashville but up-and-down in his career. He also hasn't scored 20 goals in a season since 2008-09. Ribeiro is no longer a lock for a top-six role with the Predators and, thus, should not be drafted until later rounds.

Video: 30 in 30: Nashville Predators 2016-17 season preview

Sleeper: Colin Wilson, LW

When Ribeiro was scratched in the playoffs, Wilson and center Mike Fisher joined a line with Neal and had success against San Jose. Wilson was a depth-line wing early in the postseason and thrived after entering the top six, scoring at least one point in 11 of 14 playoff games. He also had a strong postseason in 2015 but failed to translate it to the regular season, so his fantasy value remains questionable. Given the Predators' crowded power-play picture, Wilson would need to stick with Neal, Forsberg or Johansen at even strength to sniff fantasy relevance. If Nashville deals with injuries and Wilson earns a top-six spot for most of this season, a 50-point, 200-SOG campaign is not out of the question.

Bounce-back: Pekka Rinne, G

The Predators qualified for the postseason despite a big step back from their starting goalie. Rinne's wins (34), goals-against average (2.48) and save percentage (.908) declined significantly compared to 2014-15 (41, 2.18, .923), and his Yahoo finish (15th among goalies) left much to be desired by the fantasy owners who drafted him high (ADP: 21.5 overall, fourth at position). He's ranked ninth among goalies by NHL.com based on his bounce-back potential, and has an outside shot at 40 wins for the second time in three seasons if he stays healthy.

Video: NSH@SJS, Gm2: Rinne denies Couture and Donskoi

Impact prospect: Kevin Fiala, LW

This 20-year-old wing played five NHL games last season, scoring one goal on 11 SOG. He is rookie-eligible for this season and worth consideration as a sleeper in a keeper league or off the waiver wire in a standard format. He's expected to make the opening night roster but is probably looking at a third-line role to start. If Nashville loses one of its top forwards to injury at any point, or if Wilson and/or Craig Smith struggle out of the gate, Fiala could enter the top six and make an immediate impact. He led Milwaukee of the American Hockey League with 50 points (18 goals, 32 assists) in 66 games last season with a strong SOG total (170).

Goalie outlook

Backup goalie Carter Hutton signed with the St. Louis Blues, so Rinne will likely be asked to shoulder at least 80 percent of the starts. From a fantasy standpoint, a guaranteed high workload (barring injury) is music to any owner's ears. Marek Mazanec and prospect Juuse Saros will compete for the No. 2 job, with Mazanec having the clear edge based on past NHL experience. He went 8-10-4 with a 2.80 GAA, .902 SV% and two shutouts in 2013-14 but has appeared in two NHL games since (in 2014-15). In the event Rinne, 33, deals with injury, Mazanec could be worth owning, but fantasy owners should cross that bridge only if necessary. Rinne should be targeted beginning in the fifth round of a 12-team draft. If there's the dreaded "run on goalies," you may have to spend a fourth-round pick on Rinne, which could be worth it if he finishes among the top five goalies.

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