Saturday, August 18, 2018

Nashville Predators fantasy preview for 2018-19

Filip Forsberg, LW ( rank: 40) -- The 24-year-old tied an NHL career high with 64 points (26 goals, 38 assists) last season, despite missing 15 games with an upper-body injury. Forsberg still led the Predators in points, power-play goals (13) and a plus-27 rating; his points per game (0.96) was the best of his NHL career and would put him on pace for 78 points for a full season. He also led Nashville with 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games, shaking off the fear of any lingering injury concerns. Forsberg could be available in the second or third round of season-long fantasy drafts with the ability to finish among the top three at the position.
P.K. Subban, D (41) -- The 29-year-old had an NHL career high in goals (16) and shots on goal (207) while playing 82 games for the first time since 2014-15. His durability and strong category coverage (25 power-play points) led to a second-place finish among defensemen in Yahoo behind Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Subban ranks first among Predators defensemen with 41 power-play points during the past two seasons and likely will keep his spot quarterbacking the first unit. Though Nashville has three other fantasy-relevant defensemen, Subban should be the first selected with the likelihood of returning the best category production and the added value he has in hits leagues (111 last season).
Roman Josi, D (53) -- Last season was the 28-year-old's third season in his past four with at least 50 points, and he led the Predators in ice time per game (24:28) and shots on goal (253). His 53 points (14 goals, 39 assists) in 75 games was second among Predators defensemen behind Subban. Josi, who finished 55th in Yahoo, projects to be Nashville's ice time leader again this season and should return value if selected around the top 50 in season-long fantasy drafts.
Pekka Rinne, G (57)* -- The 35-year-old was 42-13-4 last season, including an NHL career-high eight shutouts with a .927 save percentage and a 2.31 goals-against average in 59 games on his way to winning the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender in the NHL. He was the top-ranked goalie in Yahoo and No. 6 among all skaters. He plays in front of arguably the deepest defense in the NHL (204 goals allowed, second-fewest) and has a similarly high ceiling this season. The only concern surrounding Rinne is that backup Juuse Saros (.925 save percentage last season) could get more starts than his 23 in 2017-18. Still, Rinne should have the peripherals to finish among the top five goaltenders. It's worth noting Rinne could become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW (81) -- The 25-year-old had his second-straight 61-point season and led the Predators with 29 goals. He seemingly solidified his role on the top line and first power-play unit with forwards Forsberg and Ryan Johansen and defenseman Subban. Arvidsson can improve upon his eight power-play points last season, and likely will do that if Forsberg stays healthy. Though Arvidsson doesn't gain much value in hits leagues (30 in 2017-18), he has been consistent in scoring the past two seasons and should produce around 60-65 points.
Ryan Johansen, C (97) -- The 26-year-old finished fourth among Nashville skaters with 54 points (15 goals, 39 assists) in 79 games, and had a strong showing with 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 13 playoff games. The No. 1 center's ceiling remains high playing on a line and power-play unit with Forsberg and Arvidsson, but he hasn't reached the 70-point mark since 2014-15 with the Columbus Blue Jackets, when he had 71 (26 goals, 45 assists) in 82 games. Still, the high-end exposure and team security make Johansen an intriguing pick within the top 100.
Ryan Ellis, D (113)* -- The 27-year-old is one of the most fascinating fantasy storylines for the Predators this season. After missing 38 games last season recovering from knee surgery, Ellis had 32 points (nine goals, 23 assists) in 44 games, playing on the top defense pair with Josi. His production in limited time was encouraging and his point per game pace of 0.72 would translate to 59 points for a full season. Ellis likely will be a 50-point defenseman this season and has value right outside the top 100 even with the logjam at the position (Subban, Josi, Mattias Ekholm). Ellis gains additional security after signing an eight-year, $50 million contract extension (average annual value $6.25 million) on Tuesday.
Other players with fantasy upside in late rounds or off waiver wire: Mattias Ekholm, D (182); Kevin Fiala, LW/RW** (194); Craig Smith, RW (203); Juuse Saros, G (210); Kyle Turris, C (214); Eli Tolvanen, RW (221)
*Potential 2019 unrestricted free agent

**Potential 2019 restricted free agent

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