Last call for the fantasy hockey mailbag.
And what a fantasy season it was. From COVID-19 to injuries to everything in between, there was no shortage of variables for managers to navigate through over the past seven months. It was nuts.
All things being equal though, it turned out to be a tremendous year filled with plenty of captivating performances, exciting storylines and there was even a bit of drama, too. And quite frankly, the Stanley Cup Playoffs should be no different, so buckle up.
But before that, it’s never too early to start talking about next fantasy season. Keeper league managers aren’t messing around.
Now to your questions:
Yup, I’m right there with you, Hughes is the right play here. That said, I do expect Eichel to be much better next season, once he gets a full summer of training under his built. Eichel is coming off a pretty serious injury, not that I’m trying to make excuses or anything. Suffice to say, next year will be a big one for Eichel and the Golden Knights. Woof.
In conclusion, I just think the keeper value with Hughes, especially in this instance, is too hard to pass up. Easy decision.
Another tough one. Believe it or not, I’d probably rank them in that exact order: Thomas, Stützle, Boldy and then Caufield. I love what I’ve seen from Boldy in half a season of work, but Kevin Fiala’s off-season future has me wondering. With the buyout cap hits for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise set to really kick in, I’m not sure the Wild will have the room to keep Fiala.
Meantime, Caufield’s had an up and down start to his NHL career, I rather side with Thomas and Stützle, who are very well established at this point. Make no mistake about it though, all four players have bright futures.
Regardless of where Kane signs, I think he’s a no-brainer to keep in the mix. The dude’s still only 30 and continues to be a category coverage monster. Don’t forget, he did pretty much the same in San Jose. For what it’s worth, I’d love to see the Oilers make it work long-term, and I’m sure Connor McDavid feels the same too.
Meantime, considering the season he just put together, it would be tough for me to pass on Norris as well. For my money, the 22-year-old’s one of the most underrated players in the entire NHL right now. Also, as Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stützle continue to grow, Norris’ fantasy stock will continue to skyrocket. I’d want to have some investment in that entity, that’s for sure.
Lastly, as indicated above, losing Fiala this summer would obviously negatively impact Boldy’s fantasy stock. But then again, Marco Rossi is coming soon, right? As for Power, it’s fair to temper short-term expectations. He’s just 19, and on top of that, he has Rasmus Dahlin to contend with when it comes to prolific playing time.
No kidding, this one’s another difficult one to process. That said, I have to side with the goaltender who has the highest ceiling. And that’s Hart by a landslide, even if the Flyers stink right now.
Let’s break it down this way: Thompson will likely be a backup, Kahkonen and the Sharks are in a rebuild, and Forsberg makes the most sense platooning with someone (we’ll see if it’s Matt Murray). That leaves Hart, who undoubtedly has another level to get to, but Philadelphia needs to support him better. That’s on them. And with a determined ownership group, Chuck Fletcher will be aggressive again this summer.
I don’t see why not. The 25-year-old seized the opportunity and came into his own this season, he was a monster. Moving forward, I’m expecting Kempe to be a big piece in the next wave of Los Angeles’ retooling process. As for other youngsters, the two obvious names are Quinton Byfield and Arthur Kaliyev, who I expect to take another step in their respective developments next season. Watch out.
You have a great roster. Personally, I’d go with Kucherov, Huberdeau, DeBrincat and Ekblad. If you’re curious about the Ekblad choice, it’s difficult to find elite defenders, so why give a stud up if you own one, right? So that leaves Stamkos, Point and Guentzel on the outside looking in unfortunately. You can’t go wrong in this instance, but that’s what I’d do.
To be totally fair, it’s tough to answer this question right now. A lot can change over the course of the next couple of months. For now, just hang tight and see how everything unfolds. As things currently situate though, I think the Blues will have no choice but to let Husso walk. I mean, who’s taking that Binnington contract right now?