Fantasy: 5 players to target on the Washington Capitals
Ovechkin led the NHL in goals (51) and shots (386) by a decent-sized margin last season; he ranked second in power play points (39), and in a tie for seventh in total points (79). Sure, he wreaked havoc for fantasy owners in the plus/minus category (-35), but even that seems likely to improve under new head coach Barry Trotz.
Some may portend that Ovechkin's offensive numbers will dip in a more defensive system, but the coach is on record as saying, "I don't want to take away from the tremendous offensive gift that he has; I actually want to enhance it."
The Capitals' captain ranked fifth in theScore's forward composite rankings, but is always a threat to be the very best player in fantasy hockey.
While Ovi gets all the love, his running mate quietly piles up the points on a regular basis. Backstrom tied Ovechkin in total points last season, finished third among all players in assists (61) and led the league in power play points (44). He also chipped in 54 penalty minutes and 196 shots, making him a very valuable fantasy asset.
For his career, Backstrom is a point per game player, setting up Ovechkin, racking up the assists, while also averaging 21 goals per 82 games played. He ranks 25th in our forward rankings, but probably deserves more love than that from astute fantasy owners.
Holtby battled with three other goalies for time in net last season, but appears poised to finally claim the number one spot in Washington. That his time to shine happens to coincide with the arrival of Trotz and reinforcements on the blue line should only serve to benefit fantasy owners looking for an off-the-radar elite-level goalie.
Over the past four years, Holtby ranks third among all goalies with an even strength save percentage of .930 (minimum 3,000 minutes played), tied with Sergei Bobrovsky and behind only Tuuka Rask and Henrik Lundqvist. Decent company.
According to the composite rankings, Holtby's the 19th best goalie in fantasy hockey; if you draft him that low, you'll be laughing.
Proceed With Caution
Remember when this Capitals' defenseman was ripping up the league and making fantasy owners squeal with glee? Those days appear to have passed Green by, as his point-per-game average from 2007-08 to 2009-10 (.91) has gone off a cliff over the past four seasons (.51).
In fact, John Carlson passed Green in both even strength and power play production in 2013-14.
Green did score nine goals and added 29 assists in 70 games last season, but as tempting as it might be to capitalize on a potential rebound in a contract year, the grass is likely greener elsewhere.
Take A Flier On
The 22-year-old scored three goals and added six assists in his first 17 NHL games. After a full training camp and in a top six role, Kuznetsov is set to shine while showing off the skills that made him a productive player in the KHL for the last several years.
The beauty here is that Kuznetsov can create on his own, and could be given a boost by lining up with Ovechkin and Backstrom on occasion.
There's Calder potential here, as well as mid- to late-round fantasy gold.