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Winnipeg Jets fantasy hockey outlook

by Pete Jensen / NHL.com

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: Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd

The Winnipeg Jets were one of seven teams with three skaters among Yahoo's top 50 players last season. Wheeler, Ladd and Byfuglien cover many bases and also are assets in hits leagues. Wheeler, a top-10 fantasy right wing, proved again that he's a game-changer whether playing alongside Bryan Little and Ladd or Mark Scheifele and Drew Stafford. He saw an eight-point dip, but made up for it with a plus-26 (T-9th) to go along with career-highs in penalty minutes (73) and shots on goal (244).

JETS' FANTASY-RELEVANT PLAYERS

Below is a list of the fantasy-relevant players in the Winnipeg Jets 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.

FORWARDS

Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd
Bryan Little
Mark Scheifele
Mathieu Perreault
Drew Stafford
Nikolaj Ehlers

DEFENSEMEN

Dustin Byfuglien
Jacob Trouba
Tyler Myers
Tobias Enstrom

GOALIES

Ondrej Pavelec
Michael Hutchinson

* Red indicates newcomer to team

Byfuglien is one of two defensemen with right-wing eligibility in Yahoo (Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks being the other), and was one of two players (Scott Hartnell, Columbus Blue Jackets) with 40-plus points, 100-plus PIMs and 200-plus SOG in 2014-15. He's worth drafting as early as the fourth round in hits formats after having more than 200 for the third time of his career.

Ladd, like Wheeler, is underrated and could fall as far as the fourth or fifth round in some drafts, so take a wait-and-see approach when targeting those two. Ladd was below his career average in shooting percentage last season, but still topped 60 points for the first time with top-notch category coverage (72 PIMs, 224 SOG, 212 hits). He also led the Jets in power-play points (19). Having category coverage wins leagues, so I highly recommend landing one of these three Winnipeg skaters.

Undervalued: Tyler Myers

The Jets have a deep defense with Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba and Tobias Enstrom, but fantasy owners should not forget about Myers, who was outstanding after changing locations last season. After 13 points, a minus-15 and 72 SOG in 47 games with the Buffalo Sabres, he had 15 points, a plus-9 rating and 52 SOG in 24 games with Winnipeg. He hadn't seen that level of offensive productivity since winning the Calder Trophy in 2009-10 (48 points, plus-13 in 82 games) and is a dark horse to finish among the top 30 fantasy defensemen in 2015-16. He has added value in leagues that count blocked shots and even saw power-play time (2:55 per game, two PPP with Winnipeg). There's a good chance Myers will fall outside the top 200 overall in fantasy, so have him on your radar as a potential steal.

Overvalued: Mark Scheifele

Scheifele, 22, is a well-known youngster who has yet to meet high fantasy expectations through two NHL seasons. He doesn't cover SOG or PPP well compared to other top-six centers or touch on PIMs, and scored 15 goals last season in 82 games after 13 in 63 games as a rookie. He struggled on the road and in the faceoff circle (42.8 percent) last season, and doesn't have a top-line spot set in stone. He played well alongside Wheeler in the second half, but isn't a lock to stay there given Wheeler's past success with Ladd and Little. Scheifele will go among the top 150 players in many drafts, but likely will only have single position eligibility. He's worth waiting for instead of reaching for. He still has a lot to prove at this level, but is no longer a sleeper and a bit overvalued.

Deep sleeper: Nikolaj Ehlers

This 19-year-old Denmark native has a chance to crack the top-nine forward group for Winnipeg, who lost Michael Frolik this offseason. With the way injuries mounted for the Jets last season, the door is open for even higher ground if Ehlers makes the roster out of training camp. He's a dynamic forward who thrived over the past two seasons with Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League scoring 205 points in 114 games, which included a 33-game point streak. Ehlers is a top-notch prospect that you should take a flyer on in the 18th round or later. He might be the next rookie game-breaker.

Goalie outlook: Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson

This is as tight of a goalie competition as you're going to find entering the season, but I have a pretty clear strategy for attacking the Winnipeg goalies in fantasy. Pavelec (56 percent of starts) edged Hutchinson (44 percent) last season in workload and peripheral numbers, but not by much. Hutchinson, 25, is younger with a higher ceiling, so I would advise to let your competition draft Pavelec (who will be 28 when the season begins) first. After he's off the board, evaluate your goalie needs and promptly consider Hutchinson if you need a third goalie. Hutchinson (21 wins) finished second among rookies behind Jake Allen, but had the best even-strength save percentage by a rookie goalie with 30-plus games since 2010-11.

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