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Fantasy: World Cup of Hockey 2016 impact

Resurgent Jaroslav Halak, Canucks' potent top line among tournament takeaways

by Ben Zweiman @BZweimanNHL / Staff Writer

This NHL season will be unique in that it almost immediately follows the World Cup of Hockey 2016, when fantasy-relevant players competed for international glory in September.

For some players, the World Cup served as a way to get a jump-start on training so they already would be in game shape when returning to their NHL team. For others, the tournament caused a setback because of an injury.

It's important to carry as much knowledge as possible into your fantasy draft, and the World Cup provided a twist on expectations surrounding many players. Here are some key takeaways from the tournament that you should keep in mind as you prepare.

Penguins' goalie situation

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray broke his hand playing for Team North America at the World Cup. The injury will sideline him past the start of the NHL season. After helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup, many believed Murray was in for an even split of the starts with veteran Marc-Andre Fleury, who was a top five fantasy goalie last season. Now, Fleury will get a chance to grab the reins early on this season and could run away with the starting job, leaving Murray as an overvalued backup. Right now, Murray (Yahoo average draft position: 71.4) is being taken much higher than Fleury (99.6), but the latter possesses much more upside as a bargain -- at least until Murray is healthy.

Veteran goalies shine

Jaroslav Halak of the New York Islanders and Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets each had a very good showing at the tournament. Halak beat out Islanders teammate Thomas Greiss for Team Europe's starting job and had a 2.15 goals-against average, a .941 save percentage, and one shutout in six games. Bobrovsky, outside of allowing five goals on 47 shots against eventual World Cup champion Team Canada in the semifinal, was solid in four starts for Team Russia; he had a 2.53 GAA and a .930 save percentage. Halak (125.4 ADP) is being selected 22nd among goalies in Yahoo leagues, and Bobrovsky (134.0) is being taken 24th. If either can carry his strong play into the NHL season, he would provide nice value if you're thinking of waiting to draft your goaltenders.

Video: CAN@EUR, Gm2: Halak sticks out the pad to rob Crosby

Rookie showcase

The top two picks of the 2016 NHL Draft, forwards Auston Matthews (No. 1, Toronto Maple Leafs) and Patrik Laine (No. 2, Winnipeg Jets) each performed well in the tournament. Matthews had three points (two goals, one assist), tied for third on Team North America, in three games at his eventual home arena, Air Canada Centre. Laine didn't score but led Team Finland with 10 shots on goal in three games. Matthews (ADP: 122.0) and Laine (138.9) are being selected among the top 150 players in Yahoo leagues; each performed well enough at the World Cup to help erase any doubts that he is worth a middle-round fantasy pick.
Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron locked in

Boston Bruins teammates Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron were a big part of Team Canada's dominating performance at the World Cup. Playing with Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Marchand (eight points) and Bergeron (seven) finished second and third in scoring in the tournament behind Crosby (10) in six games. You could credit Crosby with making Bergeron and Marchand perform on another level, but the two have played together for a while in Boston and look to be in midseason form. Marchand (ADP: 55.2) and Bergeron (36.8) are being drafted right where they should be, but keep an eye on who the third player on the Bruins' top line ends up being. If David Backes or David Pastrnak ends up at right wing next to Marchand and Bergeron, their fantasy value could skyrocket.

Video: CAN@EUR, Gm2: Marchand nets Toews' feed for late lead

Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Loui Eriksson overlooked

Team Sweden's top line is exactly what the Vancouver Canucks will roll out on opening night: Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin with Loui Eriksson at right wing. The line combined for one goal and five assists in three World Cup games. The Sedins have started to show their age (each turned 36 on Sept. 26), but the signing of Eriksson could revitalize the former Art Ross Trophy winners. Each is being selected past the sixth round in 10-team drafts (Daniel: 70.1 ADP; Eriksson: 130.3, Henrik: 151.2). Despite what you may think of the Canucks heading into the season, this line could be incredibly potent, with each player having a chance to outplay his ADP.

Other key injuries

-- Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene separated his shoulder during a Team Canada practice prior to the World Cup and played through the injury. His four points (two goals, two assists) in six games were tied for fifth on Team Canada, and he seemed relatively unaffected by the injury. Duchene said Monday that he's 100 percent and that his shoulder won't hold him back this season, but it's a red flag and perhaps you should consider looking at another player instead of Duchene (ADP: 99.7) to be safe.

-- Los Angeles Kings forward Marian Gaborik was ruled out of the World Cup final for Team Europe because of a foot injury. Gaborik may have been off the fantasy radar even before the injury, but his absence opens up a spot in the Kings' top six for a young forward to move up. Tanner Pearson could see a spike in fantasy value if he starts the season alongside Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli. If coach Darryl Sutter instead goes with "That 70s Line" of Pearson and Toffoli centered by Jeff Carter, it could open the door for veterans Dustin Brown and/or Teddy Purcell to flank Kopitar. Another interesting name in this situation could be Devin Setoguchi, who scored 31 goals with the San Jose Sharks in 2008-09 but didn't play in the NHL last season. Setoguchi, 29, has played well this preseason on a professional tryout contract and could potentially fill Gaborik's spot at right wing. Also keep an eye on prospects Michael Mersch and Adrian Kempe.

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