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Fantasy impact of coaching changes for 2019-20

Flyers, Panthers can reach ceilings under Vigneault, Quenneville; Eakins familiar with Ducks' young talent

by Fantasy Hockey Staff @NHLFantasy

NHL.com examines how coaching changes for the Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators could impact their team fantasy value for the 2019-20 season. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.

 

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Anaheim Ducks: Hired Dallas Eakins on June 17

Eakins, whose only NHL coaching job was with the Edmonton Oilers from 2013-14 to 2014-15, coached San Diego of the American Hockey League for the past four seasons. Eakins replaces Randy Carlyle for the Ducks, who missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs after qualifying in each of the previous six seasons; general manager Bob Murray had served as interim coach since Feb. 10. Eakins brings familiarity to many of Anaheim's young players, including elite goalie John Gibson, right wings Ondrej Kase, Troy Terry and rookie-eligible forwards Sam Steel and Max Comtois, from their time together in the AHL.

The Ducks, whose roster features Gibson, longtime center Ryan Getzlaf and goal-scoring forward Rickard Rakell, won five of their first seven games last season and also had a separate stretch of 11 wins in 13 games from Nov. 21 to Dec. 17. But Anaheim was derailed by a 12-game losing streak, the longest in its history, after multiple injuries to key players for the second consecutive season. Gibson, a Vezina Trophy candidate prior to the losing streak, finished with 26 wins, a .917 save percentage and two shutouts in 58 games. The Ducks traded defenseman Brandon Montour to the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 24 and extended wing Jakob Silfverberg on March 2; Silfverberg was better than a point per game (19 points in final 17 games) from that point to the end of the regular season.

Anaheim's top six under Eakins should feature Getzlaf, Rakell, Silfverberg and three young players, likely Steel, Comtois and either Kase or Terry. It's worth noting Anaheim saw improved play when Murray replaced Carlyle, especially when it played Rakell and Silfverberg on a line with Steel, a separate unit from Getzlaf. The health of top defenseman Cam Fowler, who has been limited to 126 of a possible 164 games over the past two seasons, is also important to Anaheim's and Gibson's chances of bouncing back.

ANA players in top 250: John Gibson, G; Rickard Rakell, C/LW/RW; Ryan Getzlaf, C; Jakob Silfverberg, RW; Ondrej Kase, RW; Max Comtois, LW; Cam Fowler, D; Sam Steel, C

 

Edmonton Oilers -- Hired Dave Tippett on May 28

Tippett, who was a senior adviser for the expansion Seattle franchise, most recently coached the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes (2009-10 through 2016-17), winning the Jack Adams Award in 2010 and leading the Coyotes to the Western Conference Final in 2012. Tippett, known for his defensive system and maximizing talent, is tasked with improving Edmonton's back end and getting more out of its secondary scoring group.

Edmonton, which has missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons, accounted for two of the six NHL players to score at least 100 points last season in Connor McDavid (116), who has reached the century mark in three straight seasons, and Leon Draisaitl (105), who finished second in goals (50) behind Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (51).

But after McDavid, Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who had an NHL career high in points (69), Edmonton's next highest scoring forward was Alex Chiasson (38 points). The Oilers acquired wing James Neal from the Calgary Flames and could try the bounce-back candidate on a line with one (or more) of its top three forwards to spread out the scoring. If Tippett successfully implements his defensive structure, it could potentially dip the point totals of McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins but improve the Oilers at large.

The Oilers' fantasy-relevant defensemen include Darnell Nurse, who had an NHL career-high in points (41) last season, and Oscar Klefbom, who was limited to 61 games because of injuries. Young players in Edmonton's system that could have higher upside under Tippett include forwards Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi, defensemen Evan Bouchard, Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones. The Oilers hired Ken Holland as general manager May 7 and signed veteran goalie Mike Smith, who played for Tippett with the Coyotes, in free agency; Mikko Koskinen is also under contract for the next three seasons but remains a risky fantasy option until Edmonton makes roster improvements.

EDM players in top 250: Connor McDavid, C; Leon Draisaitl, C/LW/RW; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C/LW; Oscar Klefbom, D; Mike Smith, G; Mikko Koskinen, G; Zack Kassian, RW; Darnell Nurse, D; James Neal, LW/RW

 

Ottawa Senators -- Hired D.J. Smith on May 23

Smith spent the past four seasons as an assistant under Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock. Smith joined Toronto in 2015-16 after leading Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League to the 2015 Memorial Cup title. He is tasked with moving Ottawa forward after its roster overhaul, which included moving elite defenseman Erik Karlsson before the start of the season and valuable forwards Mark Stone and Matt Duchene prior to the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline.

Ottawa's young roster is led by defenseman Thomas Chabot, who broke out for 55 points (14 goals, 41 assists) in 70 games and was consistently ranked among the top 15 at the position when healthy. Left wing Brady Tkachuk was a reliable streaming option for much of the season with 45 points (22 goals, 23 assists) in 71 games and will take on a bigger role. Smith will be tasked with trying to maximize production from Chabot, Tkachuk, Colin White and rookie defenseman Erik Brannstrom (acquired from Vegas Golden Knights for Stone). If the Senators' young players benefit from increased ice time, they could have sneaky fantasy appeal under Smith.

OTT players in top 250: Thomas Chabot, D; Brady Tkachuk, LW; Erik Brannstrom, D; Colin White, C

 

Buffalo Sabres -- Hired Ralph Krueger on May 15

Krueger, who was chairman of the Southampton Football Club in the English Premier League for five years before leaving the position April 12, coached the Oilers during the 2012-13 shortened season and Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

He's taking over the Sabres, who are ripe with young talent in elite center Jack Eichel, defensemen Rasmus Dahlin (Calder Trophy finalist), Rasmus Ristolainen and forwards Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson and Casey Mittelstadt. Left wing Jeff Skinner, who led the Sabres with 40 goals on a line with mostly Eichel, signed an eight-year contract June 7. The addition of defenseman Brandon Montour prior to the NHL Trade Deadline should not be overlooked after he quietly had 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 20 games.

The Sabres also acquired well-rounded defenseman Colin Miller, prospect Henri Jokiharju and signed left wing Marcus Johansson, significantly boosting their depth at each position. After Eichel (82), Reinhart (65) and Skinner (63), the next most points by a Buffalo forward came from Conor Sheary (34). Left wing Jimmy Vesey, acquired from the New York Rangers, is another candidate to provide secondary scoring help.

There's still concern at the goalie position after Carter Hutton (.908 SV% in 50 games) and Linus Ullmark (.905 SV% in 37 games) struggled last season. The Sabres are also striving for more consistency; they had the most points in the NHL through 25 games (36; 17-6-2), including a 10-game winning streak, but the fewest points (40; 16-33-8) over the final 57 games. 

BUF players in top 250: Jack Eichel, C; Rasmus Dahlin, D; Jeff Skinner, C/LW; Rasmus Ristolainen, D; Sam Reinhart, C/RW; Marcus Johansson, LW

 

Los Angeles Kings - Hired Todd McLellan on April 16

McLellan joins the Kings after coaching the Edmonton Oilers over the past four seasons; he was replaced by Ken Hitchcock on Nov. 20. The Kings' core players, defenseman Drew Doughty, center Anze Kopitar and goalie Jonathan Quick, have each won two Stanley Cup titles together but severely underachieved last season as Los Angeles missed the playoffs. Each player has bounce-back appeal in a new system, assuming the Kings stay healthy and integrate some prospects.

In-house players who could benefit from McLellan, who led the San Jose Sharks to the playoffs in six straight seasons (2008-09 to 2013-14), include wings Tyler Toffoli, Ilya Kovalchuk and center Jeff Carter, each of whom saw inconsistent usage under coaches John Stevens and Willie Desjardins last season. The Kings could integrate a forward prospect in Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Carl Grundstrom (acquired from Toronto Maple Leafs in Jake Muzzin trade) and/or Gabriel Vilardi (missed significant time because of injury) this season.

LAK players in top 250: Drew Doughty, D; Anze Kopitar, C; Dustin Brown, RW; Jonathan Quick, G

 

Philadelphia Flyers -- Hired Alain Vigneault on April 15

Vigneault coached the New York Rangers for five seasons (2013-14 to 2017-18), leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014; he also took the Vancouver Canucks to the Cup Final in 2011. He joins the Flyers, who missed the playoffs last season but have a deep fantasy offense with five 20-goal scorers (Sean Couturier, James van Riemsdyk, Travis Konecny, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek).

They have 11 players in NHL.com's top 250, including a young defensive core and goalie Carter Hart, who went 16-13-1 with a .917 SV% as a rookie, and is poised to be the full-time starter. If defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere (37 points) and Ivan Provorov (26 points) can bounce back under Vigneault, the Flyers could be among the top 10 fantasy teams. Defenseman Travis Sanheim had a breakout season with 35 points (nine goals, 26 assists) in 82 games and should bring late-round value in fantasy drafts.

Center Nolan Patrick, the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, has yet to live up to expectations but skated mostly in the top six with Giroux and van Riemsdyk late in the season. Patrick could be a deep fantasy sleeper with the right usage under Vigneault, but the Flyers acquired center Kevin Hayes, who played for Vigneault in the past with the Rangers, from the Winnipeg Jets on June 3. Hayes could center the second line with valuable wings in Voracek and van Riemsdyk. The Flyers' prospect pool features forwards Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost.

PHI players in top 250: Claude Giroux, C/LW/RW; Carter Hart, G; Jakub Voracek, RW; Sean Couturier, C; Shayne Gostisbehere, D; Ivan Provorov, D; James van Riemsdyk, LW; Kevin Hayes, C; Travis Konecny, C/LW/RW; Travis Sanheim, D; Oskar Lindblom, LW

 

Florida Panthers -- Hired Joel Quenneville on April 8

Quenneville coached the Chicago Blackhawks for 11 seasons but was replaced by Jeremy Colliton on Nov. 6. Quenneville led Chicago to three Stanley Cup championships and made the playoffs in nine straight seasons (2008-09 to 2016-17). He will be reunited with Dale Tallon, the general manager who hired Quenneville prior to the 2008-09 season.

The Panthers have addressed their glaring goalie need by signing elite starter Sergei Bobrovsky, who is a top five fantasy player at the position after the move. Center Aleksander Barkov set NHL career-highs in goals (35), assists (61) and points (96) last season and could reach 100 points under Quenneville. Left wing Jonathan Huberdeau also had an NHL career-best 92 points (30 goals, 62 assists) in 82 games skating mostly with Barkov on the top line in the second half. Defenseman Keith Yandle is among the top 15 rankings at the position after an NHL career-high 62 points (nine goals, 53 assists) in 82 games. 

The Panthers' elite fantasy options are worth pursuing in early and middle rounds, and wings Mike Hoffman, Evgenii Dadonov, defenseman Aaron Ekblad and center Vincent Trocheck, an injury bounce-back candidate, have later-round upside after the hiring of Quenneville. With a promising core and prospects who can challenge for NHL roster spots (Aleksi Heponiemi, Serron Noel, Owen Tippett, Grigori Denisenko), the Panthers are among the 15 best fantasy teams and should be in playoff contention under Quenneville.

FLA players affected in top 250: Aleksander Barkov, C; Sergei Bobrovsky, G; Jonathan Huberdeau, LW; Keith Yandle, D; Evgenii Dadonov, LW/RW; Mike Hoffman, LW/RW; Aaron Ekblad, D; Vincent Trocheck, C

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