We are six days away from the start of the NHL season. The scheduling of your Fantasy Hockey drafts have begun. The DraftKit is on sale and it is time to start previewing the 2016-17 NHL season.
I will be previewing two teams every day and each preview will consist of: Projected Line Combinations, a breakdown of each team’s top Fantasy assets, a look at their goaltending situation and 2016-17 NHL Standings projection.
If you don’t want to wait for the previews, buy our 2016-17 DraftKit—which has previews for every team as well as projections for over 300 players and goalies. You will get rankings and projections on here over the next few weeks, but why wait, when you can get it all right now for just $4.95?
Let’s take a look at the Pittsburgh Penguins.
|Stuart Percy – D – (from TOR)||Beau Bennett – RW – (to NJD)|
|Jeff Zatkoff – G – (to NJD)|
|Ben Lovejoy – D – (to NJD)|
The Pittsburgh Penguins come into 2016-17 with a huge target on their back after winning the Stanley Cup last year. They have qualified for the playoffs for 10 consecutive seasons and have made the Stanley Cup Finals three times, winning twice.
Last year was interesting because Mike Johnston started as the Penguins’ head coach, but took them to a 15-10-3 start before being let go. After Mike Sullivan took over as the coach, the Penguins went 33-16-5 en route to a second place finish in the Metropolitan Division. The big thing the Penguins have going for them heading into 2016-17, is that their team is basically the same as it was last year. They didn’t have the cap space to make any significant moves this summer, but the team was obviously good enough.
Up front, the Penguins are obviously still led by arguably the NHL’s best player, Sidney Crosby. In the last three months the 29-year old has a Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe Trophy, World Cup Championship and World Cup MVP. Impressive. He is the favourite to lead the NHL in points on any given year and shouldn’t drop out of the top three in fantasy drafts. During his NHL career, Crosby has become used to playing with lesser linemates and making them better, but he has found some nice chemistry with net-front disrupter Patric Hornqvist. You can’t forget about Evgeni Malkin either. Malkin struggles to stay healthy year-in and year-out but has posted more than a point-per-game in five straight seasons. He remains as one of the best forwards in the NHL, but his durability concerns limit his fantasy value. The Penguins have no shortage of talent up front, as evidenced by the “H.B.K Line.” By all accounts they are their third line, but Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel played like a top line during Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup run. When Kessel came over from Toronto, nearly everyone expected him to play with Crosby and score 50 goals. That never materialized and Kessel had an ultimately disappointing regular season, but definitely made up for it in the postseason. This team is loaded with offensive ability, speed and grit. They have enough talent up front to challenge the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
On the blueline, the Penguins continue to be carried by the oft-injured Kris Letang. The 29-year-old is easily one of the best offensive-defenseman in the league and should be one of the top three blueliners off of the board, but like Malkin, his injury concerns hurt his overall value and always make him a risk in the early rounds. After Letang, the Penguins don’t have a blueline that jumps out at you, but it is solid. Olli Maatta still remains one of the better unproven defensemen in the NHL while you know exactly what you’re getting with Brian Dumoulin, Trevor Daley and Ian Cole. The one real wildcard is Justin Schultz. He battled inconsistency and poor play in Edmonton before being dealt to Pittsburgh at last year’s trade deadline. Schultz had eight points (1G / 7A) in 18 games with Pittsburgh and he can be successful in a third-pairing, power-play specialist role this year.
In goal, the Penguins have the most confusing duo in the NHL. Marc-Andre Fleury has been the No.1 starter for 11 years, but Matt Murray took over in the playoffs. Fleury was nothing short of spectacular during the regular season, winning 35 games with a 2.29 goals against average and .921 save percentage, but Murray was the postseason hero. After going 9-2-1 in the regular season, Murray blew everyone away with a 15-6 record, 2.08 GAA and .923 SV% in 21 playoff starts. Entering this year, Fleury will get the first crack at the crease because Matt Murray is out with broken hand, but once the 22-year-old is back, it’s anyone’s guess who will get the most starts.
Overall, this is basically the same team that is coming off of a Stanley Cup Championship, so how can you not expect big things from them this year?
Penguins in the DFO Top 275:
- 1. Sidney Crosby – C
- 21. Kris Letang – D
- 25. Evgeni Malkin – C
- 35. Phil Kessel – RW
- 115. Marc-Andre Fleury – G
- 154. Patric Hornqvist – RW
- 168. Matt Murray – G
- 224. Carl Hagelin – LW
- 237. Nick Bonino – C
- 267. Trevor Daley – D
- 273. Chris Kunitz – LW
2016-17 Season Projection:
The Metropolitan Division is tough, but the Penguins are one of the best teams in the NHL. The Washington Capitals seem to be the better regular season team, so they might be the second best team in the Division at this time of the year, but come playoff time, that edge goes back to Pittsburgh.