Familiar faces lead the Vancouver Canucks' fantasy parade, but a team that has been consistently strong has plenty of quality options.
Top Picks: Since 2008-2009, C Henrik Sedin has scored 414 points, ranking second only to Alex Ovechkin. At the same time, last season's 0.94 points per game represented his lowest per-game scoring rate since 2007-2008 and he will be 33 by the time the puck drops to start the season so decline, while not necessarily immediate, is coming.
Not so coincidentally, LW Daniel Sedin ranks fifth in scoring since 2008-2009, falling behind largely because he has played 30 fewer games than his brother (largely due to a broken foot and concussion). Daniel actually holds more fantasy value because he's an elite point producer at a position that lacks top-end production. If we consider that Ovechkin has shifted to right wing, and Ilya Kovalchuk has returned to Russia, the next highest-scoring left winger since 2005-2006 is Henrik Zetterberg, who is 95 points behind Daniel Sedin.
Working the power play with the twins has its benefits and D Alexander Edler has scored 99 of his 206 career points with the man advantage. Since 2009-2010, Edler has 146 points, ranking 15th among defencemen and he's a low-end No. 1 or high-end No. 2 fantasy blueliner.
After the Canucks surprisingly traded Cory Schneider to New Jersey, G Roberto Luongo is once again the number one option for Vancouver, even though he's coming off a season in which his .907 save percentage was his lowest since his 24-game rookie campaign in 1990-2000. If 34-year-old Luongo can return to form and stop about 92% of the shots he faces (his career save percentage is .919) while starting 60-65 games, then he's, once again, a valuable fantasy goaltender.
Value Plays: A tremdendous two-way player who missed 31 games due to shoulder and foot injuries, C Ryan Kesler is a five-time 20-goal scorer and two-time 70-point scorer who ranks 13th with 47 power play goals since 2008-2009, despite scoring just two power play goals last season.
RW Alex Burrows has been a productive player who is at his best when skating with the Sedins. Since 2008-2009, he's one of four players with at least 100 goals and 400 penalty minutes, but his value is tied to the Sedins because of how much more offence he produces when he's playing with them compared to Kesler.
RW Jannik Hansen has steadily progressed, with last season's 0.57 points per game a career best. There's some question about how high his offensive ceiling is, particularly without significant power play time, but he's been a double-digit plus in each of the last three seasons, making him viable as a No. 4 right winger.
D Dan Hamhuis has contributed more offensively in his last couple seasons with the Canucks, and over the last three years, he ranks second among defencemen with a plus-67 rating. While D Kevin Bieksa isn't as consistent as Hamhuis, he is a three-time 40-point scorer who is always good for PIMs (698 PIM in 491 career GP). Both fit as number three fantasy defencemen.
Sleepers/Breakthrough: Meagre assist totals have limited the appeal of D Jason Garrison, but his 24 goals over the last two seasons ranks third among defencemen.
A boom or bust pick, RW Zack Kassian has 21 points in 83 career games, but could have a chance to skate on the Sedins' wing and that would give him a shot at a breakthrough season. He's big, tough and talented, but has yet to provide consistent results. As a late-round flier, though, you'd be hoping he starts to reach his potential this season.
Rookies: The Canucks do have room for rookies, particularly at centre, where the Sedins are followed by Kesler and perhaps Jordan Schroeder. Brendan Gaunce and Bo Horvat, first-round pick in each of the last two seasons could have an opportunity to start the season in the NHL, though it may be too soon to have any expectations for their production.
Gaunce has been a point-per-game player in Belleville (OHL) for the last two seasons and Horvat has 61 points in 67 games with London (OHL) last season before scoring 16 goals and 23 points in 21 playoff games.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.