Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Florida Panthers fantasy preview for 2018-19

Aleksander Barkov, C ( rank: 39) -- The No. 1 center had NHL career highs in assists (51), points (78), power-play points (17) and shots on goal (256) last season. Fantasy owners should expect similar or better production this season if Barkov stays healthy; he has missed 79 games since entering the NHL in 2013-14. Barkov, who will turn 23 on Sept. 2, will be available around the top 50 in season-long fantasy drafts and has the potential to finish among the top five centers.
Keith Yandle, D (72) -- The 31-year-old led the Panthers in average ice time per game (24:29) and ranked first among their defensemen with 56 points (eight goals, 48 assists), including 18 power-play points, in 82 games. It was Yandle's third straight season with at least five goals, 18 power-play points and 82 games played. His durability and ability to produce on the power play make Yandle a safe bet to be drafted among the top 20 defensemen.
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW (86) -- The left wing had NHL career highs in goals (27), assists (42), points (69), power-play points (19) and shots on goal (204). Huberdeau formed chemistry with Vincent Trocheck on the second line, making their top six one of the most dynamic in the NHL. Although Huberdeau, 25, likely will fall outside the top 80 in season-long drafts, he has the team security and offensive upside to finish among the top 50 skaters in Yahoo.
Mike Hoffman, LW/RW (98) -- The 28-year-old had his third straight season with at least 22 goals and 30 assists. His 56 points (22 goals, 34 assists) ranked third last season on the Ottawa Senators, who finished with the second-fewest points in the NHL (67). Hoffman had team highs in power-play points (21) and shots on goal (257), which will integrate nicely on the Panthers' second line with center Trocheck and Huberdeau. The likelihood of Hoffman playing on the first power-play unit with Barkov and Yandle also adds to his value.
Vincent Trocheck, C (102) -- The second-line center broke out with 75 points in 82 games. He led Florida in goals (31), power-play goals (13), power-play points (27) and shots on goal (287). Trocheck emerged as one of the best No. 2 centers in the NHL and has an even higher ceiling this season with the likely addition of Hoffman to the second line. Though it's unlikely he'll be drafted in the top 100, Trocheck, 25, could return more value than some No. 1 centers. He also has added value in hits leagues (145, most on the Panthers).
Aaron Ekblad, D (116) -- The 22-year-old led Panthers defensemen with 16 goals, his fourth straight season in double digits. He also led Florida defensemen in plus/minus (plus-9) and power-play goals (five) despite averaging a full minute less per game on the man-advantage than Yandle (3:18 to 2:08). Ekblad may not get top power-play unit exposure but he has added value at even strength with the addition of Hoffman.
Roberto Luongo, G (124) -- The 39-year-old goalie had impressive numbers (.929 save percentage; 2.47 goals-against average) but missed significant time with a groin injury, playing 35 games. Still, Luongo remained fantasy relevant with an 18-11-2 record and three shutouts. Though injury concerns surround Luongo, he's a 30-win candidate if healthy and could have similar peripherals to last season on a deep Panthers team. Fantasy owners that target Luongo in drafts also should consider taking backup goalie James Reimer in one of the later rounds as an insurance policy.
Evgenii Dadonov, LW/RW (143) -- The 29-year-old forward was fantasy-relevant with 65 points (28 goals, 37 assists) in 74 games after spending the previous five seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League. Dadonov formed chemistry with Barkov on the top line, where he ranked second on Florida with 52 even-strength points. Even if Dadonov doesn't play with Barkov this season, he'll likely be on the second line with Trocheck, making him an intriguing middle-round pick with upside.
Other players with fantasy upside in late rounds or off waiver wire: Nick Bjugstad, C/RW (191); Mike Matheson, D (195); James Reimer, G; Henrik Borgstrom, C

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