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NOTE: Elite performers who missed time because of injury (e.g. Auston Matthews, Ben Bishop, Erik Karlsson, Taylor Hall, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Murray) but remain among the safe, elite options at their positions have been excluded from this list. … Regular bounce-back candidates have been identified in a separate list.
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P.K. Subban, D, NJD (63 games)
NHL.com rank: 35
The defenseman had 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) in 63 games last season and three points (one goal, two assists) in six Stanley Cup Playoff games. Nashville had the NHL's worst power play (12.9 percent) in the regular season and went 0-for-15 in the playoffs under Subban's watch, but he has renewed upside with the New Jersey Devils on a loaded power play with elite left wing Taylor Hall, valuable centers Jack Hughes (No. 1 pick in 2019 NHL Draft), Nico Hischier, left wing Nikita Gusev, right wings Kyle Palmieri and/or Wayne Simmonds.
Max Pacioretty, LW, (66 games) and Paul Stastny, C, VGK (50 games)
NHL.com rank: 72 (Pacioretty); 132 (Stastny)
The Vegas Golden Knights left wing has missed 34 games over the past two seasons but should return to 30-goal form, a mark he's reached in each of his five full NHL seasons. Considering he has never played with a center of Stastny's caliber for an entire season, Pacioretty could shatter his previous NHL career high (67 twice). Stastny had 42 points (13 goals, 29 assists) in 50 regular-season games and eight points (two goals, six assists) in seven playoff games. Stastny is a potential late-round fantasy steal playing with Pacioretty and elite right wing Mark Stone (acquired prior to 2019 NHL Trade Deadline) at even strength and on the power play. Stone (12 points in seven games) and Pacioretty (11) were the NHL's top two playoff scorers in the first round.
Shea Weber, D, MTL (58 games)
NHL.com rank: 90
Despite missing 24 games, the Montreal Canadiens defenseman finished tied for eighth at the position with 14 goals, which would have translated to 19 over a full season. Weber has scored double-digit goals in five of his past six seasons, including eclipsing the 20-goal mark twice (2013-14, 2015-16). If healthy, Weber could be among the most-valuable players at the position with exposure to fantasy-relevant forwards Max Domi, Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Tatar and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Matt Dumba, D, MIN (32 games)
NHL.com rank: 101
The Minnesota Wild defenseman was injured Dec. 15 and did not return for the rest of the season. Dumba scored 12 goals in 32 games (led NHL defensemen at the time of injury), and ranks 12th at the position in the category since 2015-16 (47). Dumba (ruptured pectoralis muscle) is healthy for training camp and covered all six standard fantasy categories last season, including hits (60) and power-play points (12) on mostly the first unit. Dumba could be in line for a full-fledged breakout, especially after the Wild signed valuable right wing Mats Zuccarello.
Antti Raanta, G, ARI (12 games)
NHL.com rank: 103
The Coyotes goalie was limited by injury for the second straight season, playing 12 games and not returning after Nov. 27. Raanta, who excelled down the stretch of the 2017-18 season (15-5-1, .942 save percentage, three shutouts in final 22 games), was replaced by Darcy Kuemper, who had 27 wins, a .925 SV% and five SO to keep the Coyotes in postseason contention until the final week. Raanta will have to compete with Kuemper for starts but has a higher fantasy ceiling given his career SV% (.920) and flashes of brilliance over the years. The Coyotes' acquisition of elite right wing Phil Kessel should provide Raanta and/or Kuemper with more goal support than previous seasons.
Corey Crawford, G, CHI (39 games)
NHL.com rank: 163
The Chicago Blackhawks goalie is 34 years old and was limited to 39 games last season because of two concussions. His track record in wins (six seasons with at least 30), SV% (.918) and SO (25) speaks for itself, but Chicago's defense is weaker than its championship years. The bright side is that the Blackhawks offense and power play ignited after they replaced coach Joel Quenneville with Jeremy Colliton and acquired center Dylan Strome from the Coyotes. Crawford, who could form an effective timeshare tandem with Robin Lehner (signed with Blackhawks in free agency), went 8-4-3 with a .919 SV% and one SO over his final 16 games last season and is a potential 2020 unrestricted free agent.
Vincent Trocheck, C, FLA (55 games)
NHL.com rank: 141
The Florida Panthers center had an underwhelming 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) in 55 games after an NHL career-high 75 points (31 goals, 44 assists) in 2017-18. Trocheck's injury shook up Florida's top six; elite center Aleksander Barkov skated mostly with wings Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgenii Dadovov, and Trocheck played with an assortment of wings upon his return. Trocheck has sneaky upside in mid-to-late rounds with category coverage of hits (1.9 per game in career), SOG (2.67) and goals (31 in 2017-18) for an improved roster after the signing of elite goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and hiring of Quenneville as coach.
Nikolaj Ehlers, LW/RW, WPG (62 games)
NHL.com rank: 151
The Winnipeg Jets wing had his third straight 20-goal season (21) but the lowest point total of his NHL career (37). Ehlers had no points in six playoff games but played the final game of the postseason with a fractured leg. Ehlers brings renewed upside this season, assuming elite wing and frequent linemate Patrik Laine (50 points in 82 games) bounces back, and could feasibly match or even exceed his NHL career high in points (64 in 2016-17).
Jonathan Quick, G, LAK (46 games)
NHL.com rank: 184
The Los Angeles Kings goalie played 46 games but was injured on opening night and limited to five games in October and November combined. The Kings were the most disappointing fantasy team last season with the second fewest points after making the playoffs in 2017-18. Quick paid huge dividends as an injury bounce-back player two seasons ago (33 wins, .921 SV%, five SO) after being limited to 17 games in 2016-17. With new coach Todd McLellan, a clean slate for elite skaters Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty and potential bounce-backs from Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter and/or Ilya Kovalchuk, Quick can be a fantasy steal late in drafts.
Other injury bounce-back candidates (with NHL.com rank and games played last season): Nick Schmaltz, C/LW, ARI (170; 40 games); Oscar Klefbom, D, EDM (171; 61 games); Ondrej Kase, RW (203; 30 games) and Cam Fowler, D (226; 59 games); Ondrej Palat, LW, TBL (234; 64 games); Justin Schultz, D, PIT (237; 29 games); James Neal, LW/RW, EDM (238; 63 games)
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