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Nashville Predators 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: Pekka Rinne

After a bit of a disappointing and injury-plagued season in 2013-14 (24 games, 10 wins, 2.77 goals-against average, .902 save percentage), Rinne bounced back last season and finished second in the Vezina Trophy voting behind Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. He ranked as the fifth best fantasy goalie in Yahoo leagues and 33rd best player overall. The Finnish goalie got off to a tremendous start last season and ended up with 41 wins, four shutouts, a 2.18 GAA and .923 save percentage. Since 2008 when Rinne became Nashville's starting goalie, he ranks sixth in the NHL wins (203), sixth in GAA (2.35), sixth in save percentage (.919) and third in shutouts (36) among goalies with at least 250 games played. With Nashville possessing one of the League's strongest groups of defensemen, I think it's safe to put him among the game's elite netminders, which is why I have him ranked 24th overall and third at his position in my offseason rankings.

PREDS' FANTASY-RELEVANT PLAYERS

Below is a list of the fantasy-relevant players in the Nashville Predators 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

Filip Forsberg
James Neal
Mike Ribeiro
Craig Smith
Colin Wilson
Mike Fisher

DEFENSEMEN

Shea Weber
Roman Josi
Ryan Ellis
Seth Jones

GOALIES

Pekka Rinne

* Red indicates newcomer to team

Undervalued: Roman Josi

Josi continues to get better and better each year in the NHL. After scoring 13 goals and 40 points in 72 games during the 2013-14 season, Josi went on to finish with career-highs in every fantasy category last season (15 goals, 40 assists, plus-15, 26 PIMs, 15 power-play points, 201 shots on goal). His 55 points were tied for fifth most among defensemen and his 15 goals were tied for sixth most. Josi finished as the ninth best fantasy defenseman and there's reason to believe he can do it again this season: Playing alongside Shea Weber and averaging more than three minutes of power play ice time per game certainly helps. Look to grab Josi as a No. 2 defenseman on your roster.

Overvalued: Mike Ribeiro

In his first season with the Predators, Ribeiro didn't disappoint. He had his first 60-plus point season since 2011-12 when he was on the Dallas Stars and was the 104th best fantasy player in Yahoo leagues. However, a lot of that production came early on in the season when he had 43 points and a plus-15 rating in his first 48 games. He then closed out the season with 19 points in his final 34 games and had a minus-4 rating. At 35, there's reason to expect Ribeiro may wear down even more in 2015-16. Still a strong playmaker, Ribeiro's extremely low shooting totals hurt his overall fantasy value. He had 96 shots on goal in 82 games last season (1.17 SOG/game), his worst rate since 2002-03. He's also only center eligible in fantasy leagues and with so much depth at that position, it likely means Ribeiro would be relegated to a bench role on most rosters. Draft accordingly.

Deep sleeper: Seth Jones and Ryan Ellis

I'm not sure either of these guys are "deep" sleepers anymore, but they are both great value picks late in a draft. While Nashville already has two stud defensemen ahead of them on the depth charts (Weber and Josi), Jones and Ellis each should still carry solid fantasy value. Each finished last season with 27 points (nine goals for Ellis and eight goals for Jones) and had 2:11 of power play ice time per game. The difference however, is that Ellis put up his numbers in 58 games, while Jones played in 82 games. Jones is more of the shutdown type defenseman, while Ellis is a bit more offensive-minded. Either way, I expect them to build off their 27-point seasons from a year ago and each should be considered safe No. 5 defensemen on any fantasy roster.

Goalie outlook: Pekka Rinne and Carter Hutton

Rinne is among the elite NHL goalies and should be taken before the third round ends. As long as he can stay healthy, he should be good for his usual 60-70 starts. As for Hutton, he stepped up in 2013-14 when Rinne was injured and posted a respectable 2.62 goals against average and .910 save percentage with 20 wins in 40 games. Last season, he made 17 starts and regressed a bit, finishing with six wins, a 2.61 GAA and .902 save percentage. Because of Rinne's stranglehold on the No.1 job, Hutton should be avoided on draft day, unless you're in a deep league and want to handcuff him with Rinne in case he were to sustain an injury.

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