2021-2022 Fantasy Hockey: Metropolitan Division preview
With the Atlantic Division preview in the books, we are now aiming for the preview of the other Eastern Conference division, the Metropolitan. Our preview will include an expected order of arrival for each team, snapshots of your top Fantasy League players as well as a potential player from each team. The Metro is arguably the deepest division in the league with at least six of the eight teams seemingly having a shot at making the playoffs.
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Overview of the metropolitan division
New York Islanders
It took me a while to join the Islanders and accept them as one of the best teams in the league, but now I’m convinced Barry Trotz is a magician and I believe in him. Islands can deploy 4 lines and 3 pairs of defense that really have no holes. They then back him up on one of the best goaltending tandems in the league.
While the Islands do not have elite or must-have fantasy players, Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, and JG Pageau are all players who can provide good value to fantasy managers. Don’t fear the new Kyle Palmeri, either. He’s had a tough year in 2020-21, but Palmeri is a consistent 25-plus goalscorer and I would expect that form to return with the Islands.
Escape player – Oliver Wahlstrom, AD (19% drafted, 59% registered)
Wahlstrom was a much-vaunted goalscorer when he was drafted No. 11 in 2018. It has been a bit slow to become a regular on the Islanders’ roster. After scoring 12 goals in 44 games last season, a 25G and 50PTS are a feasible projection for Wahlstrom in 2021-22
New York Rangers
The Rangers have rebuilt themselves on the fly and I believe they will make the jump this season to become a serious contender, finishing 2nd in the metro. The Blueshirts have accumulated exciting young talents to accompany their superstars. Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox are all must-have fantasy players. Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov and K’Andre Miller are all young players that fantasy managers need to keep an eye on.
Escape player – Alexis Lafrenière, AG (79% drafted, 92% registered)
There was a lot of pressure on the first pick in last year’s draft and Lafrenière has had an irregular rookie season. He still managed to score 12 goals despite his difficulties. Look for Lafrenière to burst this season as he has way too much talent not to become an impact player.
The Canes embraced “hockey is fun” by appropriating the group of asshole comments of former hockey analyst Don Cherry. Rods are fun! They have a powerful attack led by Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Vincent Trocheck. Although the loss of Dougie Hamilton in defense hurts, they have a strong body led by Jaccob Slavin. You might want to consider newcomers Tony DeAngelo on D and Fredrik Andersen for your fantastic squads as they both have excellent chances of being valuable sleeper picks this season.
Escape player – Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C (23% drafted, 54% registered)
I think Montreal will regret not hanging on to this former No. 3 draft pick. Kotkaniemi already has 3 years of NHL experience under his belt, and at 21, he’s only scratching the surface of his potential. His elite playing skills will undoubtedly suit high-flying Canes.
The Caps are a veteran team who continue to be in a win-now situation. With longtime stars Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom as well as their player of heart and soul, TJOshie all nearing the end of their careers, the Caps are still ready to race for the Cup. John Carlson is still a go-to attacking threat in defense and they have a strong tandem in front of goals with Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek. Tom Wilson offers great value in fantasy league play with his multi-faceted game.
Escape player – Anthony Mantha, AG, AD (82% drafted, 87% registered)
Mantha might not be a traditional breakout candidate, but since he’s fallen a bit off the map with a few below-par seasons in Detroit, I’m looking for him to regain his 30-goal form and provide a lot of attack both 5v5 and on PP
The Flyers have a team capable of competing for a playoff berth and if all goes well, they can sneak around. There are question marks as they will need Carter Hart to rebound in goal after a disastrous season in 2020-21. Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny are counted on to lead the offense, but there are questions as to whether there is enough scoring depth in the lineup. Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen were new additions to the defense this offseason. Both have question marks, but are traditionally good fantasy league players.
Escape player – Joel Farabee, LW (66% drafted, 87% registered)
Farabee had a great second season, finishing with 20G and a shade below 40PTS. He will get consistent minutes in the top 6 and PP this year. Seek that its production continues to grow.
New Jersey Devils
The safe bet is to slip the Devils into slot # 7 in the subway, but I love the makeup of this young team and with the signing of Dougie Hamilton and the trade for Ryan Graves, they have stabilized their D. Jonathan Bernier was brought in to save Mackenzie Blackwood and you might find these two splitting the net. The Devils’ strength is in the middle as they will be deploying Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Pavel Zacha. All three are capable of posting good numbers this season. I think the Devils will surprise a lot of teams this year and might even push for a playoff spot.
Escape player – Yegor Sharangovich, LW, C (23% drafted, 60% registered)
Sharangovich is perhaps one of the league’s best-kept secrets. He quietly put 16G and 14A in place during his rookie year, and hardly anyone noticed. He’s a goalscorer, and with hopes he skates alongside Hughes this season, he probably won’t go under the radar any longer.
It’s weird to drop the Penguins that low, but when I look at their roster and take note of the injury issues that Evgeny Malkin and Sidney Crosby have and continue to deal with, I don’t see enough on the roster. of the Pens to overcome the force of the division in which they find themselves. Jeff Carter appears to be starting his season as # 1C, which should raise eyebrows. They have great scoring wingers like Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust, but the drop is pretty big after that. In D, they still rely on 34-year-old Kris Letang to lead the way. Goalkeepers were a problem last season and with Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith. The Pens will need a 180-degree turnaround from this pair to stand a chance of making the top 4 and making the playoffs.
Escape player – Radim Zohorna, LW (0% drafted, 8% registered)
Who? I guess only die-hard Pens fans know about Zohorna. That said, there are some openings in this list and with a lack of A-level outlook on the horizon, Zohorna will have a great chance of finding a niche in the Pens lineup. My suggestion is to keep an eye on the waiver thread in case it gets hot as there is no need to invest in it too early.
Columbus blue jackets
The Jackets have changed a lot of players over the past two years. There are some solid NHL players on this list, but they lack depth and skill and seem destined to make the bottom 5 overall in the league. Patrick Laine and Jakub Voracek will lead the offensive. Look for Jack Roslovic to improve on his decent numbers from last season, where he amassed 34 points in 48 games for Columbus. Zachary Werenski will be recording some big minutes this year and I expect him to return to the top 10 fantastic defenders.
Escape player – Alexandre Texier, C (1% drafted, 25% registered)
Texier had been waiting for his chance over the past two seasons to make an impact in the Jackets lineup. It looks like he’ll be propelled into the top 6 this season, perhaps even in the middle of a line with Laine and Voracek. He has excellent speed and excellent playing ability. With that kind of opportunity he is definitely a player you will need to keep an eye on as this season starts.
This completes our ranking of the Eastern Conference. Next, the Pacific and Central Divisions of the Western Conference.
For more rankings and analysis, check out the FantraxHQ Fantasy Hockey 2021-2022 Draft Kit!
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