Yahoo’s Puck Daddy put out a list of the top 50 players this season in fantasy hockey. Not surprisingly to anyone, there’s not a single Golden Knight represented amongst the league’s elite. In fact, NHL.com’s rankings don’t even have a Vegas representative in the top 100, with James Neal checking in at 114.
Having looked at the Golden Knights scoring history, and considering many other factors, we’re projecting Vegas to score between 175-225 goals this season. They’ll probably allow closer to 250. Nonetheless, that’s 200 goals and approximately 350 or so assists that need to find a home here in Vegas. So let’s take a look at where we would rank the Golden Knights in a standard fantasy hockey league.
Vadim Shipachyov: Even if Shippy isn’t quite the scorer he was in the KHL, he still should rack up the assists playing with Neal and his ice time will be plentiful as the likely top line center. The Golden Knights should really ride him to get a feel for what they’ve got as he’s one of the most intriguing pieces for the future of the franchise. 25 goals and 40 assists aren’t outrageous predictions at all for Shipachyov, and if his game translates like it might, he could be a top 20 center that you can draft in the 100-150 range. Plus, if the league has faceoff wins, he’s gonna get a bunch of those.
James Neal: I’ll go with NHL.com here and agree that Neal is the safest pick of all. He’s tallied 50 or more points in eight of his 10 seasons in the league and will certainly be leaned on much more heavily in Vegas to score than he was in Nashville, Pittsburgh, or Dallas. The question is how long he remains with the Golden Knights. If he’s putting up a monster season, expect his name to be all over the trade rumors, and in fantasy, that means you need to unload him before VGK does.
Reilly Smith: Smith might be the player with the most all around value for the Golden Knights in fantasy due to his familiarity with Gerard Gallant. Gallant has mentioned that he likes to use Smith in all situations, and we expect him to be a key cog on the Golden Knights power play. He’ll log a bunch of ice time, will likely take a lot of shots, and could touch 50 points if he returns to his 2015-16 form. He’s not going to show up in the top 200 or even 300 of most sites rankings, so you can be patient in trying to get him, but don’t pass up on the chance when it’s there.
Higher Risk Options
Brayden McNabb: Normally, I’d say stay far far away from Golden Knights defensemen, but I think McNabb is going to be the one exception. First off, PIM are usually good in fantasy hockey, and McNabb is likely to be relied upon to lay some lumber for the Golden Knights at the back. Plus, McNabb’s advanced stats numbers indicate he should have much more success offensively with more ice time than he;s ever had in his career. Shots, goals, assists, points, TOI, and PIM should all be better than league average for a defenseman in 2017-18 for McNabb. The problem is that +/- rating could be a bit of a disaster.
Erik Haula: Probably the most overlooked offensive talent on the Golden Knights roster, Haula is a pretty big boom or bust option in fantasy. He’s shown the ability to score, but playing with a pretty darn good set of linemates while in Minnesota. He’ll probably he on the 2nd or 3rd line in Vegas, but when you dig a bit deeper on his numbers, there’s a pretty strong chance that with more opportunity comes much more success. If there’s a dark horse on this team to score 30 goals, this is it, and he won’t come off the board in fantasy leagues until the late late rounds.
Players to Avoid
Shea Theodore: It’s well documented how much we here at SinBin.vegas love Theodore, but we’ve also made it pretty clear why we don’t think he’s even going to be in Vegas to start the season. NHL.com has Theodore at 188th in their rankings, ahead of players like Ryan Ellis, Patrick Sharp, and Sami Vatanen. If Theodore makes the roster, he’s going to be one of the few point producers from the Golden Knights blue line, but the numbers game indicates he’s headed to Chicago and the AHL to start the year, don’t be the guy who picks an AHLer in the 8th round.
Marc-Andre Fleury: Yes, I know, he’s the face of the franchise and will be the guy who gets the loudest cheers every single night at T-Mobile, but he’s simply not going to be a good fantasy option at all. The only number he’ll likely be excellent at is total saves. But save percentage, wins, goals against, and shutouts are likely to be a bit rough. Plus, he’s not going to be playing consistently as the Golden Knights are going to want to see what Calvin Pickard can do as often as possible. I expect a 50/30 split in games played by the two goalies, and the numbers simply aren’t going to be there to justify having either in fantasy.
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