Are you ready? We’re back to the 82-game regular-season format, which means more joy and also more pain. It’s a roller coaster of emotions every season because there are always surprises, and the good ones can make us feel like geniuses while the bad ones feel like we have our stomachs collapsing in an empty pool. .
But we’re all hungry for punishment, so you might as well stay as informed as possible to explain later why the gods of fantasy hockey hate you. Yes, they specifically hate you.
Here is your fantastic outlook for the 32 teams. The annual pool guide is available now, and also check out Matt Larkin’s top 250 players for the upcoming season.
2021-22 Fantasy Outlook: New Jersey Devils
Last season: It was the first year under new general manager Tom Fitzgerald, and he wasted no time auctioning off veterans and handing over the reins to the young core of the team. Things got off to a good start with a 4-3-2 start in January, but they were forced to suspend their season for 14 days due to COVID-19, and on their return they lost all of their home games in February and could never quite come back. on the right track.
There were a few other bright spots: Former sixth overall pick Pavel Zacha had a career season, Jack Hughes looked like a legitimate superstar, Mackenzie Blackwood looked like he could be a legitimate starter and a number of their young players from support have had very good seasons. The end result – 29th in the league and the league’s 0-5 worst in shootout – wasn’t surprising, but there was definitely some optimism at the end of the season and in the draft, where they picked a first-rate defender in Luc Hugues.
Best Option: Dougie Hamilton, D
He’s known as a power play specialist, but he really isn’t; Over the past five seasons, Hamilton is just one of 17 defensemen who have scored more than 200 points, but ranks only 21st with 63 points on the power play. Hamilton alone won’t turn the table for the Devils, who probably won’t make the playoffs, but they will certainly rely heavily on him and he will likely average more playing time – especially evenly matched – than he does. he never did it in Carolina. .
It will be difficult for Hamilton to make the top five in fantasy defensemen because his team is still very young and green, and the Devils’ power play is unlikely to go from mediocre to the top of the league. THN’s Pool Guide predicts that Hamilton will lead the team in points with 55 points, which seems a bit conservative because…
Hidden Gem: Jack Hughes, C
… There are a lot of people who think Hughes is going to have a big season. He made significant progress in his second season, and some nights he could just take over games, and he did so with teammates whose names were barely spoken. He looked like an elite offensive player, far better than the 51 points the Pool Guide planned him to score. His 55.10 5v5 CF% (min. 500 TOI), according to naturalstattrick.com, ranked number one on the team and that’s a very good result considering the Devils were, on average, outscored every time. match.
Having Nico Hischier in the roster for the entire season will also take some pressure off Hughes and help him get more favorable clashes, and if Alexander Holtz is in the squad that will give him a goalscorer as well. with elite talent to play with. Hughes is a fantastic pick who will be available in the intermediate rounds and is expected to be in high demand in the goalie leagues as well. A 60-point season isn’t out of the question, and it would represent a big step in Hughes’ development, but anything beyond that would also require a better and more experienced supporting cast.
Guardians: Jonathan Bernier should be a great mentor for Mackenzie Blackwood, whose game faded mid-season despite a strong start. It should also be an easy start to the season ahead with five straight home games, none of which are consecutive, but it will end up becoming a timeshare with Blackwood likely getting a small majority of starts. You don’t expect the Devils to win many games and there are better tandems out there, but Blackwood and Bernier’s advantage is their ability to steal games from time to time. There are some hidden advantages based on the clashes and the continuous improvement of their young players, and their blue line has improved dramatically with Hamilton, Ryan Graves and 6-foot-6 rookie Kevin Bahl, which shouldn’t be expected. help as Blackwood and Bernier.
Outlook: It seems much more likely that the Devils are surprisingly good than surprisingly bad. They have a lot of the parts needed to compete, and they brought in a # 1 defender that they had been missing for years. Hamilton, Hischier and Hughes will be fantastic valuable assets, but beyond that and the goalies, there isn’t much else; Ty Smith would have been a sneaky choice if they hadn’t signed Hamilton, and Yegor Sharangovich, Jesper Bratt, Pavel Zacha and Janne Kuokkanen are players you only pick when they’re on hot streaks.