Fresh off a 128-point season where he led the Tampa Bay Lightning to 128 points as a team and won the Art Ross Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award and Hart Memorial Trophy, Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov enters the 2019-20 NHL season as the consensus top player in Fantasy hockey. He's a scoring machine and even with the possibility that the Lightning as a whole experience regression, the 26-year-old is sure to provide value all season along with fellow studs like Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane. However, it's often the quality that you add in the middle and late rounds as well as avoiding huge potential landmines that define a Fantasy hockey season. These potential 2019 Fantasy hockey sleepers, breakouts and busts are everywhere and a reliable set of Fantasy hockey rankings 2019 is the best way to find them. So be sure to check out the 2019 Fantasy hockey cheat sheets and rankings from SportsLine data engineer Mike McClure before your draft.
He's a predictive data engineer and professional daily Fantasy player with almost $2 million in career winnings. And he's used his NHL prediction model to simulate the entire 2019-20 NHL schedule 10,000 times to identify the top Fantasy hockey sleepers, breakouts and busts.
McClure has used this model to help him win almost $2 million in daily Fantasy sports, and it also powers his season-long NHL rankings. And just last year, his model identified Predators defenseman P.K. Subban as one of its busts to avoid in the 2018-19 season. The results? Subban recorded a career-low 31 points, and anybody who faded him avoided a huge headache in their Fantasy hockey leagues.
McClure's model takes factors such as player history, schedule, injuries and matchups into account to create the most unbiased 2019 Fantasy Hockey rankings possible. Now the model has zeroed in on the 2019-20 NHL season, ranked every player, and found the top sleepers, breakouts and busts.
One of the 2019 Fantasy hockey sleepers the model is extremely high on: Rangers center Mika Zibanejad. The 26-year-old from Sweden enjoyed a breakout season in 2018-19, setting career-highs in goals (30), assists (44) and points (74) despite taking a career-high 54 percent of his draws in the defensive zone.
Now, Zibanejad returns as an established offensive option at center and he should benefit substantially from additional help on the wing as the Rangers spent big money on former Blackhawks and Blue Jackets star Artemi Panarin. The Russian winger has been the rising tide that lifts all vessels and that's why the model projects that Zibanejad is being underdrafted with an ADP of 73. McClure predicts that Zibanejad finishes the season as the No. 48 player in Fantasy hockey and should be a great value pick in the middle rounds.
One of the 2019 Fantasy hockey busts the model has identified: Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. Hedman is still a productive player from the blue line, but his point total tumbled to 54 last season after putting up 72 and 63 points in the two seasons prior with his shooting percentage falling back to near his career average (6.8) at 6.6 after shooting 9.6 and 7.9 percent in the two years prior.
Hedman saw his defensive zone starts climb from 42.6 percent two years ago to 48.1 percent last season and his possession numbers suffered because of it with 51.9 percent in Corsi and Fenwick. And those numbers were all down despite a historic 128-point season from the Lightning where their actual even-strength goal difference was 72 percent higher than their expected goal difference at even strength based on quality of shots. So Hedman and the Lightning could be in line for significant regression in 2019-20, which is why the model ranks him at No. 38 despite an ADP of 29 overall.
The model has also made the call on where Panarin ranks after signing with the New York Rangers this offseason and features a stunner in the top 5 overall that you need to see.
So what's the exact value of every NHL player in the 2019 Fantasy hockey rankings? And what surprising player is in the top 5? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy hockey rankings from a DFS pro who has won almost $2 million in his career and has simulated the entire season 10,000 times, and find out.