Premature Fantasy Hockey: Wild, Wild, West

Premature Fantasy Hockey: Wild, Wild, West

Being from the west, I’m pretty excited about getting the hockey season started. Being able to watch Johnny Hockey wear the flaming C with pride is going to be a pretty awesome sight. Here’s hoping my Calgary Flames can make another playoff push this year; but we’re not here to talk about the Flamers, so I will leave that for another day.

In my Beasts of the East article, we looked at the top 5 fantasy players from each Eastern Conference team, and it wouldn’t be fair unless we gave the same attention to the boys out west. So here we go, welcome to the Wild, Wild West – these are my top 5 fantasy players from each Western conference team. Let’s get right into it.

Western Conference

Boston Bruins v Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks

  1. Kane, RW
  2. Keith, D
  3. Toews, C
  4. Crawford, G
  5. Saad, LW

Honorable mentions: Panik, LW/RW – Seabrook, D – Schmaltz, C

The Hawks will always have the power of Patrick Kane and his addiction to scoring beautiful goals, but let’s be real, this team is on a major decline. Toews isn’t putting up numbers like he used too, although he’s still a decent fantasy player with 58 points last year. All you can do is ride out these stars and hope for the best.

Coyle

Minnesota Wild

  1. Granlund, C/LW/RW
  2. Dubnyk, G
  3. Staal, C
  4. Coyle, C
  5. Suter, D

Honorable mentions: Parise, LW – Koivu, C – Niederreiter, RW/LW

This is a team on the rise! Coyle had a breakout season last year, exploding for 18 goals and 38 apples. I expect him to put up around the same numbers, but with hopefully a bit of a bump in the goals department. Dubnyk should also be looked at in all formats, as he was a top 4 goalie in ESPN leagues last year. Can’t argue with 40 wins and 5 shutouts.

Ducks

Anaheim Ducks

  1. Getzlaf, C
  2. Perry, RW
  3. Kesler, C
  4. Gibson, G
  5. Rakell, C/LW

Honorable mentions: Silfverberg, RW – Fowler, D – Eaves, RW – Vatanen, D

It pains me say it, but Kesler is a damn good player. After registering 22 goals and 36 assists last season, Kesler has proven to be a valuable fantasy forward. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf (51 and 73 points respectively) may be on the decline, but they are both all-stars on a great team. Look for Rickard Rakell to have a breakthrough this upcoming season – After collecting 51 points last year, I expect him to pick up the slack from the old guys on the team and surpass the 60 point total.

McDavid

Edmonton Oilers

  1. McDavid, C
  2. Draisaitl, C/RW
  3. Klefbom, D
  4. Talbot, G
  5. Lucic, LW

Honorable mentions: Maroon, LW – Strome, C/RW – Puljujarvi, RW

This may be the easiest team to pick from the west. McDavid is a god. In only his second season, he did everything – score, assist, take awkward photos – and hit the elusive 100 point mark. Draisaitl is an absolute stud: he put up 77 points and should be only getting better. Now who else has fantasy value here? Literally anyone who plays next to McDavid is worth considering. He makes any linemate that much better. The kid is good.

Tarasanko

St. Louis Blues

  1. Tarasenko, RW
  2. Schenn, C/LW
  3. Schwartz, C/LW
  4. Allen, G
  5. Parayko, D

Honorable mentions: Steen, LW/RW – Fabbri, C/LW – Barbashev, C/LW

For me, this team’s success comes down to how Robby Fabbri performs. He was moved into a top 3 role last year and did absolutely nothing. Many people wasted a top draft pick, myself included, with drafting and were very disappointed. Now that he’s recovered from from knee surgery, hopefully he can pick up his jockstrap and learn how to put the puck in the net again.

Sharks

San Jose Sharks

  1. Burns, D
  2. Pavelski, C/RW
  3. Jones, G
  4. Couture, C
  5. Thornton, C

Honorable mentions: Hertl, C/LW – Vlasic, D

Any team that has Brent Burns is bound for success. The 6’5, 230lbs defenceman is coming off a stellar season where he put up 29 goals and 47 assists. Besides the bearded one though, the Sharks are looking a little thin to me. Couture will need to aim for a 60 point season and put himself back among the elite, but these Sharks will need everything running full tilt to be gold in 2018.

Johnny

Calgary Flames

  1. Gaudreau, LW
  2. Monahan, C
  3. Hamilton, D
  4. Smith, G
  5. Giordano, D

Honorable mentions: Tkachuk, LW – Bennett, C – Lazar, C – Hamonic, D

The Flamers are going to need to push past the barrier and advance to the next step for them to be consider a force in the west. They are still in search of a top line RW to pair with all stars Johnny Hockey and Money Hands. I am most curious about the younger players for the Flames though. After being traded from Ottawa last season, can Lazar do what it takes to get regular playing time? I think he has the stuff to make himself fantasy-relevant, but ultimately he’ll need to show A LOT to get off the waiver wire.

Arvidsson

Nashville Predators

  1. Johanson, C
  2. Forsberg, LW
  3. Josi, D
  4. Subban, D
  5. Arvidsson, LW/RW

Honorable mentions: Rinne, G – Ellis, D – Hartnell, LW

It was a toss up for the 5th overall spot between Viktor Arvidsson and Pekka Rinne. With Vegas stealing Neal, someone is going to need to take their play to the next level, and for me that player is Arvidsson. Viktor was fantastic last year, putting up 61 points, and his relentless play makes him a nightmare on the ice. I think he will fill the void of losing Neal by surpassing his fantastic second season point total in the chel.

Jets

Winnipeg Jets

  1. Laine, LW/RW
  2. Scheifele, C
  3. Byfuglien, D
  4. Wheeler, RW
  5. Ehlers, LW/RW

Honorable mentions: Little, C – Hellebuyck, G – Trouba, D

The Jets are stacked with a bunch of young studs, and we are in the midst of them become a fantastic hockey team. Lead by scoring dynamos Laine and Scheifele, this team is looking to make a big push back into the playoff picture. Scheifele lead the team with 82 points, followed Wheeler (74), then Laine and Ehlers (64 each). These guys all score; pick them up.

Quick

Los Angeles Kings

  1. Quick, G
  2. Carter, C
  3. Kopitar, C
  4. Doughty, D
  5. Toffoli, C/RW

Honorable mentions: Muzzin, D – Pearson, LW

The Kings seem to be on the decline, but still have some decent fantasy value behind their big time goaltender Quick. Although Quick was injured last year, he is still is looked at as one of the best goalies in the league. Beside Quick, Carter (66 points) and Kopitar (52 points) are the other top options on the Kings.

NHL: APR 23 Stanley Cup Playoffs - First Round - Ducks at Stars - Game 4

Dallas Stars

  1. Benn, LW
  2. Seguin, C/RW
  3. Radulov, LW/RW
  4. Spezza, C/RW
  5. Bishop, G

Honorable Mentions: Klingberg, D

Many of us said this team was going to dangerous last year, and were wrong, but it looks to be true this year. With the addition of Radulov (54 points in 76 games last year for Montreal) the big guns for the Stars are gonna be that much more menacing. The biggest addition for the Stars though is their new goaltender Ben Bishop. Dallas has always had problems between the pipes, which has lead to them being a bust of a team for a few years. Bishop will change this and lead this team to a playoff run.

Domi

Arizona Coyotes

  1. Ekman-Larsson, D
  2. Stepan, C
  3. Domi, LW
  4. Keller, C
  5. Raanta, G

Honorable mentions: Strome, C – Duclair, LW

The Coyotes are not that great, but with the additions of Derek Stepan (55 points) and Antti Raanta (.922 SV%) things are looking up in the desert. If the young talent can start to breakout, we may have something exciting brewing in Arizona. My biggest questions is Clayton Keller. This guy has been highly touted for a long time, and we are ready to see what he can do on the big stage.

Horvat

Vancouver Canucks

  1. Horvat, C
  2. D.Sedin, L
  3. H.Sedin, C
  4. Boeser, RW
  5. Baertschi, L

When it comes to the Canucks, there really isn’t much to talk about. What you see is what you get, and personally, we didn’t really see much. The only bright spot in the line up is Mr. Bo Horvat, who had a career high 52 points last season. Another player who might be looking to make a good first impression is 2015 draft pick Brock Boeser. Brock still has a lot to prove, but in his first 9 games in the chel he scored 4 goals and dished out 1 apple. Hopefully he can pick up where he left off for a team that desperately needs some scoring.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames

Colorado Avalanche

  1. MacKinnon, C/RW
  2. Duchene, C/RW
  3. Landeskog, LW
  4. Barrie, D
  5. Rantanen, RW

These guys had one of the worst seasons to date, but let’s not let one season scare us away from some decent fantasy value. Landeskog had his worst season in the past 3 years, posting only 33 points. We look to him to get back to his 50+ point production like he had between 2014-2016. The biggest takeaway from last year is Mikko Rantanen and his rookie 38 points. Look for Mikko to push towards the 45+ point marker, but to do so his team mates will need to  get back into their goal scoring ways.

Knights

Las Vegas Golden Knights

  1. Neal, RW
  2. Shipachyov, C
  3. Marchessault, C/LW
  4. Smith, RW
  5. Theodore, D

Honorable mentions: Fleury, G – Eakin, C – Lindberg, C – Pulkkinen, LW

Finally! I have been waiting this entire article to write about the Las Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL’s newest expansion team. Usually expansions teams are  very bad from the get go, but these guys actually have some pretty great players to build around. Stealing James Neal from Nashville was a great snag. The veteran had a comfortable 41 points last year and will look to contribute around the same numbers for Vegas. My biggest question mark is Vadim Shipachyov, who put up a ridiculous 76 points (26G-50A) in just 50 games. Hopefully he can mesh with Neal right from the get go and not show any rust changing from the KHL to the NHL.

Marchessault (51 points) and R.Smith (37 points) are the other two players I think will have big years for Vegas. These guys are young and clearly know how to score. An expanded role with a new team could lead them to new career highs across the board.

 

And there we have it! My way-too-early fantasy top 5 for each western conference team! I am very excited to see what these guys will do next year. Hockey may be a few months away still, but it’s never to early to start planning that next Fantasy champion!

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