MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Top 250 for next season | Playoff ranks
Stanley Cup Playoffs fantasy picks | Projected lineups, starting goalies
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 job April 12, coached the Edmonton 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, can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. If Skinner re-signs, the rest of Buffalo's offense could break out next season. 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. If Krueger finds a way to improve Buffalo's goals against, Dahlin, Ristolainen and Montour could gain significant value.
There's still concern at the goalie position after Carter Hutton (.908 save percentage in 50 games) and Linus Ullmark (.905 SV% in 37 games) struggled last season. The Sabres are also striving for 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. The Sabres, who have the No. 7 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, need to address their secondary scoring in trades or free agency; after Eichel (82), Reinhart (65) and Skinner (63), the next most points by a Buffalo forward came from Conor Sheary (34).
BUF players affected in top 250: Jack Eichel, C; Rasmus Dahlin, D; Jeff Skinner, C/LW; Rasmus Ristolainen, D; Sam Reinhart, C/RW; Brandon Montour, D; Victor Olofsson, LW/RW
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. One of the main concerns surrounding the Panthers from a fantasy perspective is their goalie carousel, which features veteran Roberto Luongo, James Reimer and Sam Montembeault. None of Florida's goalies are ranked in NHL.com's top 250 for next season, but Montembeault, who went 4-3-2 with a .894 save percentage in 11 appearances as a rookie, may be worth a late-round flier with a potential boost from Quenneville.
Center Aleksander Barkov set NHL career-highs in goals (35), assists (61) and points (96) this season and could reach 100 points under Quenneville. Left wing Jonathan Huberdeau also had a 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 for next season after a 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. Hoffman, a potential 2020 unrestricted free agent, could be traded this offseason.
With a promising core and prospects who can play in the NHL next season (Aleksi Heponiemi, Serron Noel, Owen Tippett, Grigori Denisenko), the Panthers could be among the 15 best fantasy teams and in playoff contention under Quenneville, especially if they land any notable player(s) in a trade or free agency. They'll likely add another high-end prospect with the 13th pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
FLA players affected in top 250: Aleksander Barkov, C; Jonathan Huberdeau, LW; Keith Yandle, D; Mike Hoffman, LW/RW; Evgenii Dadonov, LW/RW; Aaron Ekblad, D; Vincent Trocheck, C; others: Frank Vatrano, C/LW/RW; Mike Matheson, D; Sam Montembeault, 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 this season but have a deep fantasy offense with five 20-goal scorers (Sean Couturier, James van Riemsdyk, Travis Konecny, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek). They have 10 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% in his rookie season. Goalies Cam Talbot and Brian Elliott can each become an unrestricted free agent July 1, making Hart the likely starter for next season. That said, fantasy owners should monitor this goalie situation closely to gauge whether Hart will be a standalone fantasy asset or part of a timeshare situation.
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 next season. 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 draft, has yet to live up to expectations but skated mostly in the top six with Giroux and van Riemsdyk late in the season. If Patrick earns the right usage under Vigneault, he could be a deep fantasy sleeper. The Flyers, whose prospect pool features forwards Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost, could also add another impact player with the 11th pick in the 2019 draft.
PHI players affected in top 250: Claude Giroux, C/LW/RW; Sean Couturier, C; Jakub Voracek, RW; Carter Hart, G; James van Riemsdyk, LW; Shayne Gostisbehere, D; Ivan Provorov, D; Travis Konecny, C/LW/RW; Oskar Lindblom, LW; Travis Sanheim, D; other: Nolan Patrick, C
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 this season with Los Angeles missing the postseason. Each player has bounce-back appeal in a new system, assuming the Kings stay healthy next season and make offseason improvements in free agency, trades or prospect integration.
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 this season. The Kings have a chance to improve their prospect pool with the fifth pick in the 2019 draft and could also 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) as early as next season.
LAK players affected in top 250: Drew Doughty, D; Anze Kopitar, C; Dustin Brown, RW; Jonathan Quick, G; others: Tyler Toffoli, RW; Ilya Kovalchuk, LW/RW; Jeff Carter, C; Alec Martinez, D; Adrian Kempe, C
NOTE: The Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators have coaching vacancies and will be added to this list once they make new hires.
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