THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Vancouver Canucks

The Hockey News
The Vancouver Canucks. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

2013-14: 36-35-11

Acquisitions: Dustin Jeffrey, Radim Vrbata, Ryan Miller, Bobby Sanguinetti, Linden Vey, Derek Dorsett, Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino

Departures: David Booth, Jeremy Welsh, Benn Ferriero, Zac Dalpe, Jordan Schroeder, Mike Santorelli, Ryan Kesler, Jason Garrison

Top five fantasy players: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Radim Vrbata, Nick Bonino, Chris Higgins.

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: Ask a critic what “boom” should mean in Vancouver and they’ll tell you that’s the sound that comes after they blow up the Canucks roster. But new GM Jim Benning has no intention of doing that. It’s not rebuild or reload. Best word to use is “refinement.”

The additions of difference-makers Ryan Miller and Radim Vrbata are evidence the Canucks are in it for keeps this season. True, Ryan Kesler is gone, but the return they got in Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa deepens a roster that was looking top-heavy. With the Sedin twins set to rebound from sub-par seasons, Vancouver is expecting to make the playoffs with its new resources. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Philadelphia Flyers

The Hockey News
Philadelphia Flyers.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 42-30-10

Acquisitions: Ryan White, Michael Del Zotto, Nick Schultz, Zack Stortini, Andrew Gordon, Blair Jones, R.J. Umberger

Departures: Adam Hall, Ben Holmstrom, Kris Newbury, Steve Downie, The McGinn, Scott Hartnell

Top five fantasy players: Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Mark Streit, Matt Read

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: Once Claude Giroux got on track last season, the Flyers were mint. He had just seven points in the first 15 games – none of them goals – and the Flyers went 5-9-1. Beginning with his tally in a win over Edmonton, Giroux steered his troops to a 37-21-9 record the rest of the way. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Detroit Red Wings

The Hockey News
(Photo by Dave Reginek/NHL)

2013-14: 39-28-15

Acquisitions: Andy Miele, Kevin Porter

Departures: David Legwand, Cory Emmerton, Daniel Alfredsson

Top five fantasy players: Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Gustav Nyquist, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen.

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: When the Red Wings limped out of the Olympic break last season, coach Mike Babcock vowed his team would get things back on the rails in time to make the playoffs. And that’s exactly what the team did, qualifying for the 23rd consecutive time. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Colorado Avalanche

The Hockey News
Colorado Avalanche. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

2013-14: 52-22-8

Acquisitions: Brad Stuart, Jesse Winchester, Zach Redmond, Jarome Iginla, Bruno Gervais, Daniel Briere

Departures: Andre Benoit, Matt Hunwick, Paul Stastny, P-A Parenteau

Top five fantasy players: Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly, Jarome Iginla

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: Potential is, pardon the pun, mile-high in Denver. The Avalanche went from basement dwellers to Central Division champs in one season and much of what went right remains intact. Reigning Jack Adams Award winner Patrick Roy has the utmost trust of his players and has transformed the career of goalie Semyon Varlamov. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Arizona Coyotes

The Hockey News
Arizona Coyotes. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 37-30-15

Acquisitions: Devan Dubnyk, Alexandre Bolduc, Mike McKenna, Joe Vitale, B.J. Crombeen, Sam Gagner

Departures: Mike Ribeiro, Tim Kennedy, Radim Vrbata, Andy Miele, Thomas Greiss

Top five fantasy players: Keith Yandle, Sam Gagner, Shane Doan, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Mikkel Boedker

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: The Coyotes officially divorced themselves from their checkered past when they rebranded themselves as the Arizona Coyotes for this season. No longer are they an orphan ward of the state with a perilous future. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: New York Islanders

The Hockey News
John Tavares. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 34-37-11

Acquisitions: Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Harry Zolnierczyk, Cory Conacher, Jack Skille, Chad Johnson, T.J. Brennan, Jaroslav Halak.

Departures: Evgeni Nabokov

Top five fantasy players: John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, Mikhail Grabovski, Josh Bailey.

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: John Tavares was having himself yet another tremendous season until he got crunched in an Olympic win over Latvia, wrecking his knee and losing out on the rest of the Islanders’ schedule. Although the team had already begun losing ground before the Olympic break, the loss of its captain was a death knell. But GM Garth Snow fortified several trouble spots in New York’s lineup, and things are looking positive for the last hurrah before the team moves to Brooklyn. Read more

Top 10 players to avoid in 2014-15 fantasy drafts

Matt Larkin
Drew Doughty is all-world in real life, but he's a surprisingly lackluster fantasy hockey performer. (Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

The fascinating thing about creating a bust list: it’s complicated.

It does you no good to simply tell you, “Don’t draft Willie Mitchell in your fantasy league.” Nothing against Willie, as he remains a useful stay-at-home presence, but the tools in his belt aren’t used in hockey pools. Everyone knows that.

A proper fantasy bust list isn’t even a list of players I don’t like for 2014-15. It’s imperative I make that clear. My top 10 guys to avoid are not all guys I expect to have bad years. Factoring in my top 200 versus average draft positions in Yahoo leagues, as I did for the top 10 sleepers, I’m primarily identifying guys being drafted too early. Those who meet my criteria:

(a) Players whose production won’t match their average draft position
(b) Players being drafted ahead of players who will outperform them

Primary influencers: aging, new teams or linemates, and overhype. Hot rookies get drafted before Jason Pominville every year. Why? They labor to 45-point campaigns while Pominville calmly eclipses 60 points in his sleep. The key to avoiding a bust is ensuring you draft guys at the right moment. I’m plenty high on Jonathan Drouin, for example, but he’s going 10 picks before Pominville on average. That’s ludicrous unless it’s in keeper leagues. Everything has to go perfectly for Drouin merely to reach Pominville’s yearly production.

With those red flags in mind, here are my top 10 players to avoid in 2014-15 drafts based on their ADPs.

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10 players who should break out in 2014-15 based on analytics

Matt Larkin
Brandon Saad already looked like a strong breakout candidate for 2014-15, and his great possession numbers make it even more likely. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Just when you thought the advanced stats horse was beaten dead, we bust out the Tommy gun one more time and give it the Sonny Corleone treatment.

It’s common to predict breakout candidates before every season, but the Great Analytics Boom of 2014 lets us do so through a new lens. Will advanced stats change our prognostications? Here’s a look at 10 players who will bust out if the fancy numbers tell us anything. Team stats come from progressivehockey.com. References to individual Corsi Close numbers come from the THN Ultimate Fantasy Guide.

10. Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils

On one hand, advanced statistics, at least the popular ones like Corsi and Fenwick, tell us little about goaltenders. On the other hand, those stats are much better indicators of team success than of individual success. We know (a) Cory Schneider is already great, having posted a 1.97 goals-against average and .921 save percentage last season; (b) he has the No. 1 gig to himself for the first time in his career after the Devils and Martin Brodeur parted ways; and (c) the Devils are the hidden darlings of advanced statistics. They were a top-four Corsi team last season. A great goalie with an expanded role on a team that does a great job limiting scoring chances? Looks like a recipe for eye-popping numbers, especially in wins and GAA.

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