Fantasy hockey | Breakout candidates

Fantasy hockey advice, if you’re into that sort of thing

If you’re in the superior minority that plays fantasy hockey, then I have just what you’re looking for. Hockey is one of the most difficult sports to project. Highly skilled players can have bad seasons due to bad luck. When picking players, you’re betting on the cookie crumbling exactly the way you want it. These are the players I’m betting on to have breakout campaigns this season.

C – Nick Schmaltz

Schmaltz was traded from Chicago to Arizona last season. In his 17 games with the ‘Yotes, he scored 14 points, with seven of them coming on the power play. Coming off an injury and entering his second year with the team, he has an opportunity to shine. Arizona is an up and coming team with plenty of talent. They recently acquired Phil Kessel from Pittsburgh as a veteran presence on the team. If Schmaltz can work his way to the top line alongside him, he could eclipse 60 or even 70 points.

RW – Anthony Mantha

If being bad at hockey was being good at hockey, then Detroit would be one of the best teams in the NHL. There are only a few select players on that squad that are interesting to fantasy owners, and Mantha is one of them. He ended the year hot last year, scoring eight goals and seven assists in the final eight games. This year, he should be a valuable asset assuming he can stay healthy. A hand injury limited him to 67 games in 2019. 200 shots on goal, 70 points and a hit per game are realistic outcomes for the 25-year old.

LW – Brady Tkachuk

Son of NHL legend Keith Tkachuk and brother of the Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk, Brady looks like he’s just as gifted after his rookie season. Unfortunately, much like Mantha, he plays for a rebuilding team. Ottawa is going to struggle mightily this season, but Tkachuk will at least get his fair share of shots. He took 214 shots in 2019 on just 16 minutes of ice. Tkachuk is a great value to fantasy teams, not only because of his opportunity but also because of his aggressive style. He racked up 174 hits last year as a 19-year old. Look for him to take a big step forward in 2020.

D – Cale Makar

At just 20 years old, Cale Makar is on the first line in Colorado. There’s been practically no competition for Makar to get his spot. Tyson Barrie, the Avalanche’s highest point-scoring defenseman last season, was traded to Toronto. Makar scored a goal and five assists in Colorado’s postseason run last year, which earned him some brownie points with management. The Calgary native has also earned himself a spot on one of the most lethal power-play units in the NHL. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog combined for nearly 100 power-play points last season. Barrie scored 25 power-play points in the same unit last season. Makar is a defenseman with superstar potential.

G – Carter Hart

This one might be low-hanging fruit, but Hart has a great opportunity to succeed this season. Hart led the Flyers in nearly every category last season as a rookie. He maintained a 91.7 save percentage over 30 starts. With a year under his belt, he should establish himself as Philadelphia’s clear top net protector. His backup is 34-year old Brian Elliott, who is playing on just a one-year contract. Based on that alone, it’s clear that the Flyers want to develop Hart moving forward.

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