This is the best time of the year in my fantasy calendar with football in full swing with the drafts and pre-season, and then the cherry on my ice-cream, Fantasy Hockey. So, this week we can round out the Top 50 and then take a look at some other fantasy angles in future weeks.
41) John Klingberg (D, Dallas Stars): The Stars defenseman jumped 18 points from his first year to his second, but the young Swede has also missed 20 games over his first two campaigns. Regardless, I’m still very high on Klingberg and his prospects of climbing even higher in point production. Projection: 12g, 51a, 63pts.
42) Mark Stone (RW, Ottawa Senators): Yes, the Sens do have other good players besides Erik Karlsson, and Mark Stone as well as Mike Hoffman are must-own players in any draft format. Stone is the prototypical sized winger that GM’s get all boned up for, at 6’3” and 205 pounds, so what more could you want from a young winger? Stone is in a unique place to take the lead of this young offense and run with it. Projection: 25g, 38a, 63pts.
43) Nathan MacKinnon (C/RW, Colorado Avalanche): Going into his fourth full season, Mac will be looking for a fresh start along with the entire Avs team after former Head Coach Patrick Roy resigned. The Avs have some superior young forwards and MacKinnon is the best among them, hence I’m looking for a return to the 60-70 point range for the young Halifax Moosehead center. Top line minutes at even strength and the power play all bode well for a MacKinnon revival in Denver. Projection: 29g, 34a, 63pts.
44) Jack Eichel (C, Buffalo Sabres): There will be no sophomore slump for Eichel this year. He’s simply too good for that. Add in the fact that Buffalo management is building a skilled young team with Jack as the centerpiece and you can see the upside. The former Boston Terrier is ready to continue his climb into the NHL elite. Equally effective at even strength and the power play, Eichel is worth the reach, and in dynasty leagues even higher. Projection: 30g, 33a, 63pts.
45) Matt Duchene (C, Colorado Avalanche): It’s hard for me to believe the former Brampton standout is already going into his eighth campaign, but that Duchene is, and after last year’s goal breakout, I’m expecting even more. Averaging 53 points over those seven years, Duchene, like MacKinnon, is set to jump back into the 70 point range if all things go right in the Mile High City. Projection: 31g, 32a, 63pts.
46) Dustin Byfuglien (D, Winnipeg Jets): Big Buff is one of my favorite players to watch in today’s game, as the Defenseman has size, power, and a humongous shot from the point. Dustin leads a very promising defensive corps in Winnipeg while providing the intangibles that 90% of today’s players lack. If you’re playing in a league that rewards penalty minutes and shots, Buff is your man. The Jets are a young team on the rise, and Dustin’s Stanley Cup and playoff experience will help guide the Jets into the playoffs. Projection: 21g, 41a, 62pts.
47) Jordan Eberle (RW, Edmonton Oilers): This pick may just be my love and hope that the Oilers finally start playing like a team with “Born to Lose” tattooed on their arms. When healthy, Eberle fits right into this scoring range of player rankings, and with Taylor Hall now taking up residence on the Hudson River, there is more scoring potential in Edmonton. The elder statesman on this young team, at the age of 26 no less, Eberle will again see top end minutes in all situations for my Oilers. Let’s hope good health is with Jordan, and that he’s not traded for another young stud defenseman. Projection: 29g, 33a, 62pts.
48) Brad Marchand (LW, Boston Bruins): When asked to score more by the Bruins management, Marchand did so, increasing his overall point production by 19 points, also adding 15 more goals than the season prior. With 27 goals at even strength, six on the power-play and four shorties, this Bruin was extremely valuable last season in fantasy and real life. With Loui Ericsson plying his trade in Vancouver this year, expect plenty more from Marchand. Projection: 36g, 25a, 61pts.
49) Wayne Simmonds (RW, Philadelphia Flyers): Averaging 29 goals a season over the last three, Simmonds plays on Philly’s top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek and is a key piece on the Flyers power play. Draft him knowing Wayne will continue to fill your stat sheet and keep you in contention. Projection: 30g, 30a, 60pts.
50) Victor Hedman (D, Tampa Bay Lightning): My favorite player in the NHL is also the best defenseman to be, and Tampa’s most important player. Hedman is the straw stirring the drink in Tampa no matter how many young dynamic forwards GM Steve Yzerman has in his stable. If Tampa wants to make the jump to the Cup Finals after two consecutive conference finals losses, they will need Hedman to carry even more of the load than he does right now, and a 65 point season isn’t out of the question for the future Norris Trophy winner. Projection: 17g, 43a, 60pts.