Top Fantasy Picks from the NHL Eastern Atlantic Division
The fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from each team for 2018-19. Today, we look at the Eastern Atlantic division franchise players.
Top Tampa Bay Lightning Players
Nikita Kucherov, RW — The 25-year-old finished third in the NHL with 100 points (39 goals, 61 assists) in 80 games. He also finished top 10 in shots on goal (279), power-play points (36) and even-strength goals (31). He’s a near lock to finish top 10 in fantasy points this season based on his 100-point potential.
Steven Stamkos, C — The 28-year-old had his highest point total since 2011-12. His 86 points (27 goals, 59 assists) were second on the Lightning behind Kucherov and 12th in the NHL. He finished tied for third in the NHL with 15 power-play goals, a trend he carried over to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he scored six (T-1st). The Lightning had the third-ranked power play in the NHL (23.9 percent) and should have the opportunity to be among the best in the NHL for a second straight season. Given the chemistry formed with Kucherov and Tampa Bay’s overall team security, Stamkos should a top center in fantasy drafts.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, G — The No. 1 goalie had a breakout season with 44 wins (T-1st in NHL), including eight shutouts (T-1st), a 2.62 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. He has the potential to finish as the best goaltender in the NHL.
Top Boston Bruins Players
David Pastrnak, RW — The 22-year-old has increased his point total in each of the past two seasons, including an NHL career high 80 points (35 goals, 45 assists) last season. He was plus-10, led the Boston Bruins in power-play points (26) and finished tied for 10th in the NHL with 13 power-play goals. Pastrnak, who finished among Stanley Cup Playoff leaders with 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 12 games, forms the NHL’s most potent line with left wing Brad Marchand and center Patrice Bergeron.
Brad Marchand, LW — The left wing had 85 points, tying his NHL career high from the previous season, despite being limited to 68 games. He scored 34 goals and had 51 assists, his third straight season with at least 34 goals. Marchand has been plus-21 or better in six of his past eight seasons, and factors in on the power play (23 PPP) and penalty kill (four shorthanded points). He’s also had at least 63 penalty minutes in each of the past five seasons and has greater value in PIMs leagues compared to ones with hits (37 last season; 0.9 per game in NHL career).
Top Toronto Maple Leafs Players
Auston Matthews, C — Matthews, who turns 21 on Sept. 17, leads the NHL in even-strength goals per game (0.42; minimum 100 games) since entering the League in 2016-17. He was better than a point-per-game player (63 points in 62 games) last season despite missing 20 games because of multiple injuries. The potential 2019 restricted free agent has room for improvement in power-play points (13 last season) and could exceed 90 points with a plus/minus (plus-25 last season) among the NHL leaders on a line with wings Patrick Marleau and William Nylander.
John Tavares, C — Leaving the New York Islanders to sign a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Maple Leafs (average annual value $11 million) has catapulted Tavares back into the top 10 overall fantasy rankings, right behind fellow elite center and new teammate Matthews. Coach Mike Babcock said he plans to start Tavares on a line with right wing Mitchell Marner (led Maple Leafs with 69 points last season) and left wing Zach Hyman (38 even-strength points; tied for fourth on Toronto). Tavares, who had three seasons with at least 81 points and two with at least 30 PPP for the Islanders (often with ordinary linemates) joins a power play that ranked second in the NHL last season (25.0 percent) behind the Pittsburgh Penguins (26.2).