Hello everybody and welcome in for the ninth installment in this series. Over on my Twitter feed I’ve been spamming everyone with arbitrary lists, just quick hitting lists to get my thoughts on several fantasy hockey related topics (and several non-fantasy hockey related topics) out and on the record. In these posts I’ll dig a little deeper into those lists and give you a bit of the “why” behind them. Without further ado, let’s get into it:
I’ve talked about Beauvillier before, but if anyone is going to take a step for the Islanders this year it’s going to be him. Beauvillier dropped an 18.23 individual chances for per 60 mark in the playoffs over solid 22 game sprint. That’s 0.01 below Auston Matthews did in five games for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He should get 17+ minutes comfortably with upside to 18 or even 19 minutes in a best case scenario. I also think Beauvillier cements himself on the Islanders’ (admittedly anemic) top power play unit and makes it better. Add it all up and Beauvillier is a last-round dart throw I’m willing to make in my drafts this year.
Kappo Kakko has been getting a look with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome in the early going of Rangers’ camp, and I don’t need to tell you what playing with Panarin did for Strome’s value last year. Kakko had a miserable year last year, but he’s still the same guy that was the consensus #2 overall pick behind Jack Hughes a year ago, and we can forgive him for not tearing up the NHL in limited minutes as a teenager. I’m not predicting a breakout, but if you’re going to place a bet, place a bet on a talented sophomore getting prime deployment alongside one of the top 10 point scorers in the league.
Josh Norris is one of a bunch of young Ottawa Senators prospects that have a chance to play significant minutes this season. All eyes will be on 2020 3rd overall pick Tim Stuetzle after an incredible performance at the World Juniors, but the Senators are desperate for one of their true center prospects to step up and facilitate their two best forwards in Brady Tkachuk and Evgenii Dadonov. Norris has had a look there already and Logan Brown is currently seeing time there, but whoever gets the job will immediately be the third most fantasy relevant Ottawa forward. In Norris’s case, I actually have some faith that the talent could break through and become a sneaky startable player. Norris scored 31 goals and 61 points in 56 games in the AHL last year and might just be the right piece to complement Tkachuk and Dadonov.
Oskar Lindblom is a potential sleeper pick for me. He has improved his individual chance for rates in each of his first three seasons, and appears to opening the season alongside Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny, which was his typical line last season before missing time with his cancer diagnosis. With 17 and a half minutes of ice time a night he could turn that opportunity a solid 50-55 point pace, and he hits a fair bit to boot. Currently it doesn’t look like he’ll get PP1 minutes, but a hot start alongside Couturier and Konecny could sway coach Alain Vigneault to give him a look. Going undrafted in a lot of places, Lindblom has the earmarks of a potential breakout and I’ll be watching his early games with plenty of interest.
Kasperi Kapanen has not had a great start to his Pittsburgh Penguins career – he has been hung up in international limbo and has yet to make it to camp. This will undoubtedly set back his date with Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby, but the Penguins made it very clear that it was in fact the plan to drop Kapanen in alongside those two studs. I have reservations about Kapanen’s hockey sense and finishing ability, but Crosby has made a lot of no-name wingers look better than anyone thought possible before and Kapanen would be the crowning accomplishment in that group. At worst Kapanen is worth a speculative add to see if he can strike gold.
Ryan Donato is a player that flew under my radar until I started digging deep on him for my projections. Minnesota inexplicably played him just 10 and a half minutes a game in 2019/20, but Donato is a chance generating machine who could break out if given a chance. Donato opened training camp alongside Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl but has since been dropped down to a third line with Noah Gregor and Matthew Nieto. I firmly believe that Donato is head and shoulders above his replacement on the second line John Leonard; I would be truly shocked if Donato doesn’t play in the top 6 for the majority of the 2021 season. Given 16 minutes a night, Donato could drop a 40-45 point pace and help you in the hits department.
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