Spencer’s Fantasy Breakout Players
Dylan Strome (C) – Arizona Coyotes
Stromer spent just seven games with the Coyotes to start the 2016-17 season, in which he notched a mere assist. He was sent back to the OHL’s Erie Otters and never again got a whiff of the pros. After that, he recorded a 2.14 PPG in Pennsylvania, an improvement on his 1.98 and 1.68 from years prior. Strome also had a 1.55 PPG in the playoffs, tied atop the Memorial Cup points total (11 points, 5 games) and had 10 points in 7 WJC games. Think he’s hungry for another shot in the desert? The young gun is a serious piece in the budding Coyotes plan, and is dying to hit the ground running
Brayden Schenn (C) – St. Louis Blues
We all know his name but may have forgotten Schenn is now a Blue. Over the last four years on the perennial playoff fringe Flyers, Schenn played at least 79 games and averaged 50.5 points. Could Schenn record career highs on a line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz? Count on it.
Andrew’s Fantasy Breakout Players
Sebastian Aho – Carolina Hurricanes
Sebastian Aho (not be confused with Sebastian Aho) didn’t exactly go unnoticed last season, finishing 8th in Calder voting. He bounced around Carolina’s top 9 last year before earning a full time spot on the top line for the second half of the season. Aho managed to put up 49 points and 214 shots in 82 games, especially impressive for a 19-year old in the NHL. Unfortunately for Aho, his rookie season was overshadowed by amazing showings from Laine, Werenski and the Leafs’ trio, but don’t sleep on him this year. Aho is currently going 93rd in Yahoo mock drafts, and is primed to put up great numbers in his sophomore year.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (G) – Tampa Bay Lightning
Vasilevskiy earned 50 games with the Lightning last year after Ben Bishop went down with an injury. With Bishop being traded this offseason, the 23-year old is set to take the reins for the Lightning. While he put up average numbers as a starter last season (0.917, 23-17-7), Vasilevskiy has put up excellent numbers in the KHL, AHL and should emerge this season as a top-10 goalie in the NHL. Playing behind a strong Tampa Bay team that just barely missed the playoffs last season, Vasilevskiy is an incredibly valuable asset ready to breakout this season.
Trevor’s Fantasy Breakout Players
Anthony Mantha (C)– Detroit Red Wings
Mantha has always had high expectations since being drafted 20th overall in the 2013 entry draft. He is a skilled player with size and was just started getting hot towards the end of last year. Although this is undoubtedly a rebuilding season for the Red Wings, there is a lot to be excited about with Mantha. For a team with one of the league’s worst plus/minus ratings last year, Mantha appeared to be doing something right with the second best plus/minus on the team. If he stays healthy and is given some more time on the top line and powerplay learning under the guidance of veteran Zetterberg, perhaps Mantha could emerge as their top point scorer. He is the ideal power forward with a big body and exceptional skills to be a threat in the corners and in front of the net. It is easy to think a new arena to play in as well might add some kind of motivation to his drive.
Nikolaj Ehlers – Winnipeg Jets
Of course Ehlers is a top line player and has proven to be a force to be reckoned with, everyone seems to focus on his linemates instead. Sheiffele and Laine seem to snag all the attention when talking about Winnipeg’s offence but Ehlers has quietly always been contributing. With both of his linemates taking some of that attention, it opens things right up for Ehlers and his skillset is enough to bang home enough points to make him the talk of the town as well. If there is a sophomore slump for Laine, it really adds emphasis to the load Sheiffele and Ehlers need to carry on their shoulders and Ehlers is ready for the challenge. With two years under his belt and all 82 games played last year, Ehlers is ready for the next step to be a bonafide top line forward. There is a big push for the playoffs this year in Winnipeg and everyone is relying on that top line to blossom into the three-headed monster they were expected to be. A new goalie in town might just give that extra confidence to press a little harder and make a name for himself.
Brendan’s Fantasy Breakout Players
Jake Guentzel (LW) – Pittsburgh Penguins
A key lesson learned after a few years of playing fantasy hockey, is that whatever Sidney Crosby touches turns to gold. Hell, Sid even got Chris Kunitz on the Olympic team. After a red hot playoff performance, posting 21 points in 25 games on the way to the Stanley Cup. If Guentzel gets the honour of playing with Sid, count him in for a dominant year.
William Nylander (RW) – Toronto Maple Leafs
Last year’s 61 points were merely a stepping stone for Willy. I wholeheartedly believe he will be a top 25 fantasy producer this year. If Toronto can continue to click on the powerplay, Nylander has a chance to post some elite totals. His 26 power play points last year were good for 12th in the NHL, and I can see him posting even more impressive totals in 2017-2018. We also saw some glimpses last year of an improved wrist shot, don’t be surprised if he cracks the 30 goal mark. If Auston Matthews and the rest of the Leafs core is able to take another step forward in their development, the sky’s the limit for the young playmaker. Nylander and Matthews look primed to dominate this season.
Nick’s Fantasy Breakout Players
Mitch Marner (RW) – Toronto Maple Leafs
First, let me declare that I think William Nylander is a slightly more effective player than Marner. HOWEVER, I think that Marner is going to an absolute point producer. He is the type of guy that may not have a great night, but somehow ends up with a couple assists. Anyways, I expect him to be a 60 assist guy in the upcoming season.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (G) – Tampa Bay Lightning
With the departure of Ben Bishop, the door has officially fully opened for the young goalie. A combination of overall solid play, a bounce back season for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the opportunity to play 60+ games makes him a high value pick