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Fantasy bounce-back players from 2019-20

Hellebuyck, Pacioretty, Nylander rebound after underachieving last regular season

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer has identified the biggest fantasy hockey bounce-back players from the 2019-20 season. For more fantasy coverage, visit and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.


MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Top 250 rankings | Best rookies | Breakouts



NOTES: The below players are listed in order of current top 250 rank. Value has been quantified based on production in standard leagues (goals, assists, plus/minus, power-play points, shots on goal, hits for skaters; wins, goals-against average, save percentage, shutouts for goalies).


Max Pacioretty, LW, VGK rank: 19

Pacioretty has had a monster fantasy season for the Vegas Golden Knights with 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists) in 71 games, the best points-per-game average of his NHL career (0.93) and a significant improvement from last regular season (0.61; 40 points in 66 games). His elite category coverage of shots on goal (307), plus/minus (plus-18), power-play points (19) and hits (90) has had him ranked among the top 10 overall in standard leagues after being drafted on average outside the top 100 (116.5).


Connor Hellebuyck, G, WPG rank: 49

After being a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2017-18 (44-11-9, 2.36 goals-against average, .924 save percentage, six shutouts), Hellebuyck had the worst GAA of his NHL career (2.90) last season and a big dip in SV% (.913). But the Winnipeg Jets goalie has bounced back in a big way this season; he's 31-21-5, leads the NHL in shutouts (six), ranks second in wins and seventh in SV% (.922; minimum 20 games).


Anze Kopitar, C, LAK rank: 59

The Los Angeles Kings captain was a Hart Trophy finalist in 2017-18 with an NHL career-high 92 points, a total that slipped to 60 in 81 games last season. But Kopitar has 62 points, including 21 goals (one more than last season) and 41 assists (three more) in 11 fewer games this season. He has seven power-play goals after having just one last season and is plus-6 compared to minus-20 last season, which is impressive considering the Los Angeles Kings have had another down season.


William Nylander, C/LW/RW, TOR rank: 63

After holding out for a new contract and missing the first 28 games of last season, Nylander struggled with 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) in 54 games. He's made up for it this season with an NHL career-high 31 goals (second on the Toronto Maple Leafs behind Auston Matthews' 47) and 67 points. Nylander has 17 PPP (nine PPG) and is tied for fifth in the League in game-winning goals (seven). With 31 goals on 197 SOG, Nylander's shooting percentage (15.7) nearly tripled compared to last season (5.4).


Nikolaj Ehlers, LW/RW, WPG rank: 93

After consecutive seasons of at least 60 points, Ehlers dealt with injury and had 37 in 62 games. Ehlers, who has played in all 71 of Winnipeg's games this season, had 25 goals and 58 points and was on pace for career highs in each category prior to the NHL season being paused on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. It's worth noting Ehlers does not play on the first power play (three PPG, five PPP), but he still provided strong category coverage of SOG (203) and plus/minus (plus-14).


Ivan Provorov, D, PHI rank: 98

He leads the Philadelphia Flyers in average ice time (24:51) by nearly three minutes per game (defenseman Matt Niskanen is second at 21:54). Provorov had 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) and was minus-16 in 82 games last season but has rebounded with 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists), a plus-11 and NHL career highs in PPP (16) and PPG (seven). Provorov has earned a first power-play role and is as durable as they come having not missed a game over his four NHL seasons.


Tyler Toffoli, LW/RW, VAN rank: 114

Toffoli had 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) in 82 games with the Los Angeles Kings last season but matched that total (18 goals, 16 assists) in 58 games with them this season before he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 17. Since joining the Canucks, Toffoli has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 10 games playing mostly on the top line with elite forwards Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller.


Semyon Varlamov, G, NYI rank: 132

Varlamov was limited to 49 games (20-19-9, 2.87 GAA, .909 SV%) with the Colorado Avalanche last season because of injury and lost the starting job to Philipp Grubauer late in the season and did not play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But after signing with the New York Islanders, Varlamov has gone 19-14-6 with a 2.62 GAA, .914 SV% and two shutouts in coach Barry Trotz' defensive system. Varlamov has allowed two goals or fewer in 20 of his 45 appearances this season, rewarding fantasy owners who selected him late in drafts.


Ryan Strome, C/RW, NYR rank: 136

After going undrafted in most fantasy leagues, Strome has found great chemistry with elite left wing Artemi Panarin, who's tied for third in the NHL with 95 points. Strome has set NHL career highs in assists (41), points (59) and PPP (17) and is plus-21 in 70 games this season after not being fantasy relevant for most of last season (33 points, seven PPP, minus-2) with the Rangers and Edmonton Oilers. Strome's previous high in points was 50 with the New York Islanders in 2014-15.


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