Fantasy Hockey Preview: Best of the Northwest

Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle

(Dustin Bradford/Icon SMI)

This is part 3 of 6:

Part 1: Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks

Part 2: Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers

Part 3: Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers

Part 4: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators

Part 5: St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks

Part 6: New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins

The North West division will have several highly sought after fantasy studs if there is a season this year. With the big ticket free agents Zack Parise and Ryan Suter in Minnesota, to the budding super stars Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Edmonton, there is plenty of fantasy to go around. The days of the lowly Minnesota being a defensive expansion team seem to be history. The Vancouver are the reigning back to back Presidents Trophy winning team and the Edmonton Oilers appear poised to return to the offensive powerhouse they once were back in the 80’s when they were led by Hall of Fame members Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, and Jari Kurri.

 

Yes, there are plenty of very appealing fantasy stars to choose from in the North West, but we will look at the best of the west, using our 10-10-5 system. After reviewing several of the fantasy projections and rankings from several sources such as the Forecaster, Fantasy Hockey Coach, and Dobber Hockey here is the top 10-10-5 from Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Minnesota, and Vancouver.

 

Top Ten Forwards

 

1. Henrik Sedin (VAN): 15-59-84, 30, 2, 19:00 Down

2. Jordan Eberle (EDM): 25-57-82, 16, 12, 17:30 Up

3. Daniel Sedin (VAN): 32-45-77, 29, 8, 19:00 Down

4. Mikko Koivu (MIN): 18-52-70, 22, 8, 21:00 Up

5. Matt Duchene (COL): 27-41-68, 15, 6, 17:00 Up

6. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (EDM): 23-44-67, 23, 4, 17:00, Up

7. Dany Heatley (MIN): 27-39-66, 22, 7, 21:00, Up

8. Paul Stastny (COL): 22-43-65, 21, 6, 18:00 Up

9. Jarome Iginla (CGY): 31-33-64, 18, 8, 21:00, Down

10. Taylor Hall (EDM): 33-31-64, 22, 6, 18:00, Up

*- (The numbers are as follows: Goals, assists, points, PP points, GWG, ATOI, Up/Down)

The Calgary Flames decided not to blow it up and rebuild the roster. Instead they added several offensive weapons such as Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka in hopes of supporting Iginla in goal scoring.

 

Matt Duchene Avalanche

(Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

Matt Duchene was hit hard with injuries last year and ended up losing his first line center role. He is only 21 and should be fully healthy now so expect him to make a serious comeback and reclaim the top pivot role on the Av’s.

 

Also hit hard with injuries were the Oilers, who had Taylor Hall and the Nuge on the IR more than once. Health will be key to their success as their points per game will be close to 1.0+  mark.

 

The Wild are a bit of a “wild card”. How will the team mesh with the additions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and the rookies such as Granlund. Can Mikko Koivu remain healthy and will Dany Heatley stop his offensive decline and at least level out, if not return to his more prolific past offensive ways.

 

Brothers in Arms. Vancouver’s Sedin Twins. Courtesy canada.com

The Canucks will be led by the Sedin twins, who are no longer 100 point producers anymore it would seem, but are still easy money for a point per game.

 

Top Ten Defensemen*

 

1. Alex Edler (VAN): 12-39-51, 19, 3, 24:00, Up

2. Ryan Suter (MIN): 5-39-44, 20, 0, 25:00, Up

3. Mark Giordano (CGY): 9-32-41, 16, 2, 23:00, Down

4. Justin Schultz (EDM): 7-32-39, 12, 1, 18:00, Up

5. Jason Garrison (VAN): 18-21-39, 15, 4, 24:00 Up

6. Dennis Wideman (CGY): 9-28-37, 18, 1, 23:00 Down

7. Eric Johnson (COL): 8-29-37, 23, 2, 20:00 Down

8. Kevin Bieksa (VAN): 6-28-34, 7, 1, 23:00 Down

9. Ryan Whitney (EDM): 4-25-29, 11, 0, 20:00 Down

10. Jared Spurgeon (MIN): 5-24-29, 14, 1, 21:00 UP

*- (The numbers are as follows: Goals, assists, points, PP points, GWG, ATOI, Up/Down)

Finding reliable fantasy defensemen is challenging. Knowing the difference between real value vs fantasy value is key. Jay Bouwmeester may be one of the better defensemen in the North West, but his fantasy value is pretty minimal.

 

Another important factor is opportunity. Some guys relish the opportunity to be “the man”, the undisputed number one and flourish in that role. Brian Campbell and Dion Phaneuf rediscovering their game on new teams is a testament to that. Ryan Suter has long been seeking such opportunity after playing his entire career in the shadow of Shea Weber. Others prefer to be more insulated, and will produce more with less pressure. Alex Edler saw a drop in production after Christian Ehrhoff departed, and now with the addition of Jason Garrison to shoulder some of the responsibility, Edler could have a career year.

 

Alexander Edler Canucks

(Icon SMI)

There is no question the Edmonton Oilers will score lots of goals. The big question is will Ryan Whitney be back to 100% health after some serious ankle injuries and a knee injury? Remember Peter Forsberg had his career derailed by ankle injuries. Another big question on the Oilers blue line is if Justin Schultz can live up to they hype?  Since there is not much other choice for serious offensive contributions on the blue line, expect both to produce.

 

Justin Schultz (David Stluka/Icon SMI)

Eric Johnson was a former first overall draft choice who has yet to live up to his potential. Some times defense can take a little longer to achieve their potential, but just because he was drafted first overall is no guarantee he ever will. Remember Alex Daigle?

 

Top Five Goalies*

 

1. Corey Schneider (VAN): 63 36 26 1 4 2.32 .932 Up

2. Miikka Kiprusoff (CGY): 72 32 31 9 6 2.66 .916 Down

3. Josh Harding (MIN): 56 29 26 1 4 2.84 .912 Up

4. Semyon Varlamov (COL):  60 27 28 5 3 2.46 .915 Up

5. Devan Dubnyk (EDM): 51 25 22 4 1 2.96 .910 Up

 

*= (Our numbers go in order. Games played, wins, losses, OT losses, shutouts, Goals Against Average, save perentage, and up/down)

 

Miikka Kiprusoff (Photo: Scott Mandu – Flickr)

 

Every year Calgary claims they will not rely so heavily on Kiprusoff, and he always plays close to 70 games. Sooner or later he will not be able to sustain such a heavy work load. Fortunately he does not need to worry about playing in the playoffs.

 

Listing Josh Harding over Niklas Backstrom was a risky call because Harding is so injury prone. But then again, so is Backstrom. Given Harding is six years younger than the 34 year old Backstrom, I think the safe bet is for Harding to seize the opportunity and claim the starter’s position.

 

Corey Schneider may lead not only this list, but a rather impressive list of the next generation of super star goalies in the NHL. The old guard of Martin Brodeur, Miikka Kiprusoff, Tim Thomas, Roberto Luongo, Tomas Vokun, Nikolai Khabibulin, and Jose Theodore are now mostly antiquated and making room for a new guard the likes of Tuukka Rask, Jonathan Quick, Carey Price, Pekka Rinne, and Schneider. Having bested Roberto Luongo for the starting job in Vancouver makes the young Schneider a fantasy stud capable of claiming 30-40 wins.

 

The North West has great fantasy options with young stars that will help you win your fantasy hockey pool this year, and if it is a keeper pool, they can keep you a contender for years to come. The next division on tap is the North East, so be sure to check back for Fred Poulins take on who’s the Beast of the East.

Peter Harling
Peter Harling of Harling Fantasy Hockey covers the Ottawa Senators for The Hockey Writers. Peter also writes for fantasy hockey coach contributing to the annual draft guide and author of the Fantasy Hockey in Canada column and Hockey Tracker
Peter Harling

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