We’ve reached the NHL preseason, which means that the regular season, and your fantasy hockey season, is only a couple of weeks away.
As you prepare to nail your fantasy hockey draft, don’t just gravitate toward players and situations that are familiar.
Sure, Connor McDavid is going to produce points at an elite pace, and Alex Ovechkin is going to score goals left and right, but there are other attractive options that could help you win your league.
Which players will be better fantasy hockey options with their new teams?
In some cases, you may be able to find players that, now that they’re with new teams, are ready to thrive this year. To get you started, here are three players that could take massive steps forward this season with their new clubs.
MacKenzie Weegar, Calgary Flames
Last year with the Florida Panthers, MacKenzie Weegar enjoyed the best season of his career. In 80 games played with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers, the 28-year-old defenseman tallied eight goals and 36 assists for 44 points and a plus-40 rating, which were all career-highs.
Now, I don’t foresee this year’s Flames team being as offensively gifted as last season’s Panthers, but I expect Weegar to see an individual offensive boost in one key area: the power play.
Whether he is on the top unit or not, I’d find it hard to believe that he doesn’t come away from his first year in Calgary with more than three power play points. It will help that the Flames’ top-ten power play from a year ago has only become more dangerous this offseason.
Evan Rodrigues, Colorado Avalanche
Last year was a tale of two seasons for Evan Rodrigues. With the Pittsburgh Penguins, he compiled 19 goals and 24 assists (43 points) in 82 games. However, he was significantly more effective when in a top-six role.
With the Avs, Rodrigues projects to slot into that role, potentially as part of the group tasked with replacing the departed Nazem Kadri.
After watching Rodrigues thrive in a second-line role last season, the idea of him being there permanently with Colorado is enticing from a fantasy hockey perspective. He feels like a player you could get in the later rounds of your draft that will provide good value.
Vincent Trocheck, New York Rangers
There’s no disputing Vincent Trocheck’s offensive ability, and joining the Rangers should help him improve upon the 51 points (21 goals and 30 assists) that he racked up last season as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
What I like about Trocheck this season is that he’s going to be tasked with replacing three former Rangers that left in free agency. While he won’t be able to replace their combined production, New York is clearly comfortable with him playing big minutes and being a big point producer.
The three key players that departed all played at least 15 minutes per night with the Rangers, so for Trocheck, who has reached 75 points in a single season before, I expect that to mean big minutes and big production as a result.
Grabbing star players is important in fantasy hockey drafts, but getting players in the mid to late rounds that can produce at a high level is how leagues are won.