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30 in 30

Philadelphia Flyers fantasy outlook

Shayne Gostisbehere has high ceiling; Michal Neuvirth can narrow starts gap

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com's 30 in 30 series, our fantasy hockey staff is breaking down each team's fantasy landscape. From most valuable assets to underrated options, impact prospects and more, this guide should help fantasy owners prioritize players for drafts.

Starting at the top: Claude Giroux, C/RW, Wayne Simmonds, LW/RW

Giroux has the most points in the NHL since 2010-11 (443 in 448 games) and consistently finishes among the top 25 overall fantasy players. He was among the leaders in assists (45, T-19th), power-play points (27, T-7th) and shots on goal (241, 28th) last season, and had a solid goal output (22) to help the Flyers rebound from a slow start and qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After thriving on a line with Jakub Voracek two seasons ago, Giroux centered mostly Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds after Voracek's prolonged slump. Giroux also has a strong supporting cast on the first power-play unit, so he's a stable option for the second round of a 12-team draft.

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Simmonds has been an underrated fantasy player with elite category coverage for years, and his top 10 finish in Yahoo's performance-based rankings solidifies his status. He was the lone player with at least 60 points, 100 penalty minutes and 20 PPP, and scored 32 goals (T-14th) on 229 SOG. If you can draft Simmonds in the third round of a multicategory league, you'll be in great shape whether your league counts PIMs or hits (192 last season, 33rd in NHL).

Undervalued: Shayne Gostisbehere, D

Gostisbehere was exceptional in 64 games after being recalled by the Flyers; he had the highest points-per-game average (0.72) by a rookie defenseman since Vladimir Malakhov of the New York Islanders (0.81) in 1992-93. Gostisbehere sparked the Flyers' first power-play unit with 22 PPP and had 46 overall. That rate of production over 82 games would have amounted to 22 goals, 37 assists, a plus-10, 28 PPP and 195 SOG, coverage that two forwards (Patrick Kane, Joe Pavelski) and no defensemen provided last season. The 23-year-old's scoring ceiling is as high as any of the elite defenseman around the League. Therefore, Gostisbehere would be a draft bargain if available in the fourth or fifth round of a 12-team draft.

Video: PHI@NYI: Gostisbehere buries wrister from the point

Overvalued: Jakub Voracek, LW/RW

Voracek went from a fantasy breakout in 2014-15 (81 points, 33 PPP, 221 SOG in 82 games) to one of the biggest underachievers last season (Yahoo average draft position: 19.3; finish: 74th). His shooting percentage was nearly halved (10 percent to 5.2), and his goal total was halved (22 to 11). But even with the dip in goals, Voracek's assist total fell by 15, a result of not playing a full season alongside Giroux at even strength. Fantasy owners should avoid taking Voracek (105th in NHL.com's rankings) until the eighth or ninth round of a 12-team draft. He has bounce-back potential if he sees a shooting percentage correction but won't be a top 50 asset again unless he reunites with Giroux on the top line.

Sleeper: Sean Couturier, C

Couturier, 23, tied his NHL career high in points (39) despite being limited to 63 games because of injury. He had a stretch from Dec. 15 to April 7 when he had 31 points (seven PPP) and was plus-13 in 38 games. It will be a challenge for Couturier to see first-unit power-play action with Giroux, Schenn, Simmonds and Voracek in the mix, but he made major strides at even strength as Philadelphia's No. 2 center. He has a chance to play alongside either Voracek, Simmonds or Schenn at even strength and boost his plus-minus (plus-8 in 2015-16; plus-23 in career) if taken with one of the final picks of a 12-team draft.

Bounce-back: Steve Mason, G

Mason took a step back in goals-against average and save percentage but won 23 of his 54 games after winning 18 of 51 in 2014-15 with better peripherals. Two seasons ago, Mason had a 2.25 goals-against average and .928 save percentage but did not get adequate goal support. Even though Mason is expected to be in a time-share with Michal Neuvirth, fantasy owners should view him as a buy-low goalie with potential. The Flyers offense, which has ranked outside the top 20 each of the past two seasons, should benefit from having Gostisbehere for a full season, especially on the power play. With added goal support and better overtime fortunes (10 OT losses; tied for most), Mason could regain the starting job and finish among the top 15 fantasy goalies.

Video: 30 in 30: Philadelphia Flyers 2016-17 season preview

Impact prospect: Travis Konecny, C/RW

The Flyers have seven defensemen on their active roster, not including any of their touted prospects at the position (Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin). Given Gostisbehere's breakout, the Flyers have little reason to rush any of their developing defensemen, which caps their short-term fantasy potential. Konecny, a dynamic forward who was well over a point per game (101 points in 60 games) last season with Ottawa and Sarnia in the Ontario Hockey League, has a realistic chance to crack the top nine for Philadelphia. If the Flyers deal with injuries, the 19-year-old could be given an expanded role.

Goalie outlook

Neuvirth was stellar in the postseason, starting the Flyers' final three games and allowing two goals on 105 shots (.981 SV%). That individual effort and his quality regular-season numbers give fantasy owners a reason to draft him ahead of Mason. The Flyers have 18 sets of back-to-back games (tied for third-most in NHL), so it should be a more even start split than last season (Mason: 53; Neuvirth: 29). Neuvirth had strong peripherals (2.27 GAA, .924 SV%) with 18 wins and three shutouts but has not started 40 games in a season since 2010-11. Neuvirth and Mason should be available after the 10th round in all formats and cover GAA, SV% and shutouts respectably, making them an underrated tandem to target.

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