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: Erik Karlsson
My top ranked fantasy defenseman comes in at No. 13 among all players in my offseason rankings, 10 spots ahead of the next defenseman (P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens). Karlsson was one of two defensemen to lead his team in scoring last season (Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Arizona Coyotes) and it marked the second straight season he did so on the Senators. His 21 goals and 292 shots on goal last season were career-highs. Since his breakout season in 2011-12 (19 goals and 78 points), Karlsson leads all defensemen with 232 points, 166 assists and 889 shots on goal, and his 66 goals are tied for first with Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators. More remarkable is that Karlsson accomplished all of this despite missing 31 games in 2012-13 because of injury. Simply put, there is no better defenseman in fantasy hockey than Karlsson, and it's not even close. A return to the 70-point mark seems likely for the 25-year-old.
Undervalued: Kyle Turris
SENS' FANTASY-RELEVANT PLAYERS
Below is a list of the fantasy-relevant players in the Ottawa Senators 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.
* Red indicates newcomer to team
Turris followed up his breakthrough 2013-14 season with an almost identical statistical season last season. Have a look:
2013-14: 26 G, 32 A, plus-22, 39 PIMs, 14 PPP, 215 SOG
2014-15: 24 G, 40 A, plus-5, 36 PIMs, 16 PPP, 215 SOG
That's definitely not a bad thing considering he finished as the 50th best fantasy player in Yahoo leagues last season. Turris actually got off to a rough start last season with nine goals, 29 points and a minus-8 rating in 46 games prior to the All-Star break. But after the festivities, Turris was a dominant force with 15 goals, 35 points and a plus-13 rating in 36 games. If he can build off his strong finish, he should be a safe bet for 60-70 points with sound peripheral stats this season.
Overvalued: Mike Hoffman
After scoring three goals and three assists in his first 29 NHL games from 2011 through 2013-14, Hoffman erupted for 27 goals, 21 assists and a plus-16 rating last season. Who saw that coming? Much like teammate Mark Stone, Hoffman provided plenty of unexpected value for fantasy owners. But can we expect that again this season? I tend to think Stone has a better chance of replicating his success for three reasons:
1. He skated on the top line alongside Turris for most of the season.
2. He received more power play ice time per game than Hoffman (2:23 vs. 1:44).
3. He contributed 17 more assists than Hoffman.
Both players are candidates to regress this season, but I like Stone's chances of providing more overall fantasy value. Hoffman skated primarily on a line with Bobby Ryan and Mika Zibanejad, which isn't a bad thing, but scoring more than 25 goals next season might be a stretch. I'd be a little hesitant to draft him.
Deep sleeper: Alex Chiasson
Though Curtis Lazar could be an ideal sleeper candidate for fantasy owners, I like Chiasson's chances of being a better fantasy contributor. Lazar has more upside in the long term, but for this season alone, Chiasson has more value. In limited ice time (13:22 per game), Chiasson had 11 goals, 26 points and 67 penalty minutes in 76 games. Though Chiasson had six power play points, it is a good sign that he received 1:54 of power play ice time per game. Chiasson's lineup placement might be that of a third-line role, but he'll get the bump up on occasion and his ability to record PIMs gives him an old-school, Chris Stewart-type fantasy tag. I'd sign up for that with one of my final picks on draft day.
Goalie outlook: Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond
This is one of the trickiest goaltending situations in the League. Hammond had a historic season by many accounts. In 23 starts for the Senators, the 27-year-old went 20-1-2 with a 1.79 goals-against average, .941 save percentage and three shutouts. However, in his two Stanley Cup Playoff starts in Games 1 and 2 against the Canadiens, Hammond struggled, allowing seven goals against on 81 shots (3.44 GAA and .914 SV%). Of course, it's a small playoff sample size, but his regular season wasn't exactly the largest sample size either.
In 35 games, Anderson had a 2.49 GAA and .923 save percentage that was seventh best in the League. In the playoffs, Anderson appeared in four games and stopped 138 of 142 shots (0.97 GAA and .972 SV%). In my offseason rankings I have Anderson at No. 153 and Hammond behind him at No. 164. Both goalies deserve to be owned, but Anderson is the one I'm selecting first in fantasy drafts. The ideal scenario would be to make sure you get each goalie on your team, but this could certainly end up in a true 50-50 split this season with the organization riding the hot hand throughout.