We’ve addressed many players in our Fantasy Focus series over the past six weeks but there are still some important questions to ask. We tackle those to conclude our series for this year with the Habs Fantasy Mailbag.
Who should be the first Hab to go on draft day?
On account of his season for the ages and subsequently high ranking in all leagues, Carey Price will be the first to go. Either someone will reach early for a goalie or if someone doesn’t pre-rank, Price will be an assigned first round pick in pretty much every pool. Case in point, his ADP in Yahoo! leagues is currently 6.5, the top half of the first round in most leagues.
Personally, I’m not a fan of drafting a goalie really early so for me, the Hab that should go first is P.K. Subban. He’s almost certain to be among the highest scoring defencemen in the league and he’s a good stat stuffer in terms of PIMS, hits, blocks, and shots. I never draft defencemen early as a rule but for poolers that want to take a D early, he should be at or near the top of your list and off the board within the first couple of rounds. His current Yahoo! ADP is 19.2, or mid-2nd round which makes a lot of sense.
Carey Price played 66 games last year, the most since 2010-11. Should we expect him to play less this season?
Most of Dustin Tokarski’s starts last year came in back-to-back situations and the Habs have sixteen of those in 2015-16. If he were to get a start in each of those, Price would max out at 66 starts if he got the nod in every other game. I do, however, expect Price to start both ends on a few occasions.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Price came in a bit under the 66 appearances from last season but if he does, it won’t be by much. I have him at 70 appearances (with a couple of those coming in relief) as my expectation is that Montreal will be in more of a dogfight for playoff seeding down the stretch, forcing them to use him a bit more and a mediocre-at-best Tokarski less. Price will be near the top of the GP leaderboard once again.
Montreal’s in-season recalls up front have produced very little in recent years. Will that change this year?
Last season, the Habs’ recalled forwards put up a stat line of 76 GP, 7-3-10 with a -11 rating and 36 PIMS. Shockingly, that was actually an improvement compared to 2013-14’s numbers of 26 pointless contests between seven recalls.
The Canadiens don’t generally put their call-ups in point-producing situations and with the added depth up front this season, I don’t expect that to change for any considerable period of time. Players like Sven Andrighetto, Daniel Carr, and Charles Hudon will likely get their chance at some point but will probably do so in a bottom six role.
Can those players, among the other recalls, trump ten points? Sure, if they get the chance. But if the team stays relatively healthy as they’ve been the last couple of years, it’s far from a given even with the bar being set so low. There are some teams where it’s worth taking a flyer on recalls. Montreal isn’t one of them.
Do the Habs have any breakout candidates for 2015-16?
I don’t think they do, unfortunately. Up front, the top players are all returning and aside from maybe Galchenyuk, I wouldn’t expect a major upswing in points from anyone. Alexander Semin is more of a bounce back candidate than a breakout. Someone like Zack Kassian or Devante Smith-Pelly could break out but no one should be drafting them expecting that to happen as their track records are too volatile.
On defence, there seems to be an expectation that Jeff Petry will have a breakout campaign now that he’s actually on a good team. He’s being drafted on average ahead of players such as Alex Goligoski, Justin Schultz, Travis Hamonic, Kris Russell, and Brian Campbell who all have a better track record of production. I don’t have as high of hopes as I expect Subban and Andrei Markov to still get the lion’s share of the points. Nathan Beaulieu should improve upon his performance from last year but again, the ‘big two’ are going to get most of the points so he can’t be considered a strong candidate either.
Of their top scorers from last year, is there anyone who you might be hesitant to pick this season?
I’m a big Tomas Plekanec fan but I’d be a bit leery about picking him too early. He’s coming off a 60 point season, something I’d peg him as highly unlikely to repeat. He has been in the mid 40’s to 50’s in recent years and I think high 40’s/low 50’s is a more accurate prediction for 2015-16.
If Galchenyuk moves to centre, that may hurt Plekanec offensively as he’ll lose a good winger and may get less PP time to boot. On the right side, it’s hard not to expect a rotation of wingers like Semin, Smith-Pelly, Kassian, and more; that inconsistency doesn’t bode well for chemistry. And if Michel Therrien wants to try to play Lars Eller in more offensive situations, that will come at the expense of Plekanec.
Every year, many find themselves late in the clock and as a last resort, look primarily at last year’s points to make their selection. If/when that happens, Plekanec is probably going to go off the board too early. Personally, I’d be okay taking him as a third centre but I’d be hesitant to pick him in a top two role, even though that’s one he’ll almost assuredly have with the Habs.
Is Alex Galchenyuk worthy of a keeper spot?
If you’re allowed to keep a lot of players each year, then maybe he’s worth keeping. Otherwise, I’d say no. While it’s expected that Galchenyuk will improve upon his 46 points from last year, it’s hard to expect him to make a 15-20 point leap to keep him to 60+ points where he’d be more in the keeper discussion.
Montreal’s offence-stifling system doesn’t bode well for fantasy upside. I can easily see a scenario where Galchenyuk never really ever reaches must-keep status.
That said, I wouldn’t hesitate to draft him this year with the hopes of a 50 point season. But with that level of projection, you probably have better options on your roster to use as keepers for 2015-16.