We are three 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 Toronto Maple Leafs.
|Frederik Andersen – G – (from ANA)||Jonathan Bernier – G – (to ANA)|
|Matt Martin – LW – (from NYI)||P.A. Parenteau – RW – (to NYI)|
|Jhonas Enroth – G – (from LAK)||Michael Grabner – RW – (to NYR)|
|Roman Polak – D – (from SJS)||Scott Harrington – D – (to CBJ)|
|Kerby Rychel – LW – (from CBJ)||Stuart Percy – D – (to PIT)|
In 10 of the last 11 seasons, the Toronto Maple Leafs have missed the playoffs and that will likely be on the outside looking in again in 2016-17. However, the Maple Leafs finally have some reason to be optimistic and a lot of that has to do with landing this summer’s No.1 overall pick Auston Matthews.
Matthews was the unquestioned No.1 overall pick and as soon as they won the draft lottery back in April, they knew their franchise would never be the same. Toronto has been desperately searching for a No.1 centre since Mats Sundin signed in Vancouver back in 2008. Matthews is a great skater for a player of his size (6-foot-2, 210 lbs.) and boasts tremendous offensive upside heading into his rookie season. Matthews joins a group of talented forward prospects in Toronto, led by 2014 eighth overall pick William Nylander and 2015 fourth overall pick Mitch Marner. Both Nylander and Marner are expected to break camp with the Maple Leafs and for good reason. Nylander is coming off of a great 2015-16 season, which saw him post 45 points (18G / 27A) with the Toronto Marlies (AHL) and 13 points (6G / 7A) in 22 games with the Maple Leafs. Marner has drawn a lot of comparisons to Patrick Kane and he comes to the Maple Leafs after posting back-to-back 100-plus point years with the London Knights (OHL). Those three join a group that has been together for a few years. Matthews will start the year behind Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak at centre, but should move up the depth chart as the year moves along. Nylander, a natural centre is expected to shift to the wing and play on Matthews right side with offseason signee and 2016’s NHL leader in hits, Matt Martin. Marner should crack a top-6 that has James van Riemsdyk and Milan Michalek on the left side and Leo Komarov on the same side as the talented Marner. The fourth line is up in the air after the Maple Leafs placed veterans Brooks Laich and Colin Greening on waivers on Sunday.
The Maple Leafs’ blueline certainly doesn’t jump out at you, but they have some great young pieces. Morgan Rielly leads the entire group and is expected to breakout after solidifying himself as a top-pair defenseman last season. Jake Gardiner is also a promising young blueliner, who went from being overrated in his first three years to underrated over the two seasons. He won’t play huge minutes, but he can still be counted on in deep fantasy leagues for 30-plus points. The most interesting name on the back-end is Russian Nikita Zaitsev. The 24-year-old is a seven-year veteran of the KHL and brings a lot of offensive upside to the Leafs’ top-4. The rest of the group will be rounded out by Matt Hunwick, Martin Marincin and hard-hitting Roman Polak. None of the three are expected to have a real fantasy impact, but serve as the defensive-defenseman on their respective pairings.
In goal, the Maple Leafs have had a duo of Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer, but that will not be the case in 2016-17. Reimer was traded last year and Bernier was traded to the Anaheim Ducks this summer. Serving in Toronto’s crease this year will be Frederik Andersen, who was acquired in a deal with the Ducks and Jhonas Enroth, who was signed off of free agency after spending the last two years between the Sabres, Stars and Kings. Andersen has 125 career NHL games under his belt, winning 68 percent of his starts with Anaheim while posting a 2.33 career goals against average and .918 career save percentage. The 27-year-old shot start close to 60 games with Enroth taking the remaining 22-to-27 starts.
Overall, the Maple Leafs are headed in the right direction but their overall lack of experience and talent will have them finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference again. They’re going to be good in the future, but aren’t ready to make a splash this year.
Maple Leafs in the DFO Top 275:
- 92. James van Riemsdyk – LW
- 125. Frederik Andersen -G
- 134. Auston Matthews – C
- 139. Morgan Rielly – D
- 214. Nikita Zaitsev – D
- 221. Jake Gardiner – D
- 222. William Nylander – RW
- 235. Nazem Kadri – C
- 245. Tyler Bozak – C
- 247. Mitch Marner -RW
2016-17 Season Projection:
The Maple Leafs are improving, that goes without saying but they remain towards the bottom of the Atlantic Division. They might able to pass the Ottawa Senators, but they should be in the bottom two.