E-Kane is a tremendous skater with strong mental fitness. He should be a consistent 75-point option with 90-point upside and will be one of the top multi-category options in the league in the very near future. In multi-cat keeper leagues, he is a must add even if a modest over-payment is necessary. In one-year settings, he is a great breakout candidate for next season when targeting guys in the middle to later rounds.
I wrote about him recently in the St. Louis/Colorado trade article along with Patrik Berglund, but he is a great buy low after struggling from a hand injury. He should contend with the likes of E. Kane, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler in coming seasons for the top multi-category options in the league. There is no better time to buy on them now, and you’ll definitely want to reach on him in one-year settings next year. Expect 35 goals, 75 points, and great peripheral stats from a forward who is typically a bit undervalued, even in keeper settings.
St. Louis’s future is looking very bright, even more so after the recent trade with Colorado. Berglund is going to be one of the prime beneficiaries with an elite talented goal-heavy power forward like Stewart in the mix and the highly talented Vladamir Tarasenko a season or two away. Berglund is 22 years of age, possesses a 6’4” frame, and has both a tremendous all-around skill set and high end skating ability on top of it. He has already been scoring at point-per-game pace recently even before Stewart entered the equation (18 points in last 17 games), and will only build on that moving forward. Expect a 65-70 point range next season, 75+ points consistently, and 85-90 point upside from him in his prime. He is a great guy to buy on right now in keeper settings and not a bad piece to acquire cheaply for a late season playoff run in a one-year setting. He is also a solid breakout candidate next year, even in a points-only setting.
Benn is another multi-cat horse with both the talent and grit to become a serious impact player in the NHL. Benn is a natural centerman who can also play the wing, which could bode well for his numbers should Dallas choose to resign Brad Richards in the off-season (a potential option for them now after freeing up some cap space by moving James Neal to Pittsburgh). This season alone he’s shown what he’s capable of both physically with a number of huge hits (see Joe Thornton), big fights (see Jarome Iginla), and highlight-reel caliber goals. In addition, he also plays in power play, even strength, and short-handed situations for the Stars. I rank him below Perry, Stewart, E.Kane, and Kesler, but I can see him as a consistent goal-heavy 70-point option with 80-point upside, especially should he make some chemistry with Loui Eriksson or Richards. One thing to watch with Benn, however, is that he missed time with a concussion this season. Should this become a trend, particularly when coupled with his abrasive style of play, it could potentially become an issue for him. Regardless, he is a definite buy candidate for next season in one-year settings and would try and buy below his actual value in keeper settings.
The grittiest of the bunch, Pacioretty has a 6’2” 210lb frame, is a strong skater with good speed especially for his size, and a great finisher down low. Pacioretty tore up the AHL this season with 17 goals and 32 points in 27 games. He has recently been asserting that same hard-nosed power forward game at the NHL level and translating it into success with 10 goals, 19 points, and 36 penalty minutes in his first 28 games. As an added bonus, six of those ten goals also came on the power play with him playing a similar role down low on the Montreal power play as Kesler has done the last two seasons for the Canucks. I see his potential upside as a goal-heavy 70 points with solid penalty minutes. Pacioretty is extremely undervalued presently, so look for him to take a big step forward next season for Montreal. He’s a great later round steal in one year multi-cat settings and can be had relatively cheaply right now in many keeper leagues as well.
While he may not go by “Karp”, “Conway”, or “Averman”, you can still easily tell just by looking at his last name that this kid was born to be a Duck. Fowler is among the brightest talents as far as young defenseman in the NHL go and is also in the best position moving forward to produce quarterbacking an Anaheim power play which consists of 25-year-old Ryan Getzlaf, 25-year-old Corey Perry, and 23-year-old Bobby Ryan all entering their primes. Fowler will make everyone who passed on him in last year’s draft look foolish moving forward, as he has the size, high end skill-set , and the offensive firepower in front of him to emerge as a top five defenseman in the league. Definitely reach on him in one year settings for next season’s draft in the mid-rounds. Other than Drew Doughty and Keith Yandle, Fowler is one of the best defense options to own moving forward in keeper settings. So when looking for the next “Yandle” of the bunch, Anaheim’s Cam Fowler is only about two seasons away from elite level production.
Honorable Mentions: Kyle Okposo, James van Riemsdyk, Colin Wilson
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