Next weekend, I'll be attending and presenting at The Fantasy Sports Show taking place at The International Centre Hall in Mississauga. Please, if you're in the area, stop by and say hello. It has the makings of an excellent event, and it would be awesome to see some Dobberheads. I'll be doing a number of fantasy hockey shows with Chris Meaney of the FNTSY Network.
For our fantasy purposes, this probably isn't earth-shattering news. In the majority of settings, the Red Wings only have five relevant forwards, and Larkin dropping down the depth chart at even strength only means he faces softer five-on-five matchups. There's always the potential that he's stuck with inept wingers, and Detroit has plenty, but it's more likely that Larkin is flanked by youngsters -- Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha, etc. etc. In that case, it's probably a better virtual setup for Larkin to be slotted in down the depth chart.
Regardless, he has just 22 goals and 39 points through his past 108 NHL games, so expectations should remain in check. The upside is obvious, but he shouldn't be confused with a universal asset, either. Because of Larkin's fast start in a major hockey market he's likely to be overvalued in the majority of circles.
Travis Zajac is set to miss four to six months following offseason surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle. The timeline will keep the pivot out for the first two months of the season at least and potentially through the entire first half of the season.
The 32-year-old pivot is hardly a go-to fantasy commodity, but he has carved out a significant role with the Devils, and he's logged significant minutes each of the past five seasons. While he won't be missed in the majority of virtual setups, New Jersey isn't as good without him in the lineup. He posted a 3.6 Relative Corsi For percentage last year, after all.
What's important is the ice time he opens up out of the gate. The obviously beneficiary is Nico Hischier. However, the No. 1 pick is going to crack the lineup and log minutes regardless, so it's more likely that Pavel Zacha's top-six role is more firmly entrenched, and Joseph Blandisi, Miles Wood and Stefan Noesen have a better shot at playing meaningful minutes to start the season. John Quenneville and Michael McLeod also loom.
There's a legitimate possibility that this absence costs Zajac his top-six role for good, and the veteran settles into a supporting role once healthy.
Here's another round of dipper dives on fantasy relevant players.
There aren't many unknowns with Stepan at this stage of the game. What he lacks in flash, he makes up for in reliability, as the 27-year-old center has registered at least 50 points in each of the past five full NHL seasons. The relocation to Arizona shouldn't scare, either. He's now the clear-cut No. 1 center, and there are a number of encouraging young talents on the wings to complement Stepan's intelligent game. After posting a career-low 8.9 shooting percentage, Stepan is also in line to take a run at another 20-goal showing through statistical correction alone. His offensive ceiling is capped, but he's a strong bet for another 50-point campaign.
Did Schwartz just post the quietest 55-point campaign in years? And more importantly, he followed it up with four goals and nine points through 11 postseason games. The 25-year-old winger dropped to 19 goals and just nine power-play points last season, so with room for growth in each category, Schwartz's path back to the 60-point mark is clear in 2017-18. The Blues have a new-look forward group, but Schwartz's is locked into a top-six role as a go-to scorer, and his long-standing chemistry with Vladimir Taranseko shouldn't be ignored. After all, the duo combined for an impressive 3.26 goals per 60 minutes last year. Schwartz is also underappreciated in most fantasy circles, so he's a ripe candidate to outperform his draft position.
It was a breakout showing for Klefbom last year, but staying healthy was as important as anything. He registered 12 goals and 38 points while logging a hefty 22:22 of ice time per game. And while the 24-year-old defenseman could solidify himself as the power-play quarterback with the No. 1 unit last season, he will have every opportunity to do so this year with Andrej Sekera (knee) out for a prolonged stretch to start the season. It's also encouraging that Klebom was the defenseman on the ice most frequently with Connor McDavid. Klefbom's high shot volume (2.45 per game) shouldn't be ignored, either .
Capping off the season with six goals, 14 points and 53 shots over the final 19 games was an impressive conclusion to an excellent debut campaign for Aho. He finished with 24 goals, 49 points and 214 shots while suiting up for all 82 games, and considering his playmaking ability and willingness to shoot the puck, the production only projects to climb moving forward. Additionally, Aho logged just 2:13 of power-play time per game but still managed to post 17 points with the man advantage. As a key piece in Carolina's impressive stable of young talents, Aho's long-term outlook remains high, too.
Thanks for stopping by Dobberheads.
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