2023-2024 Metropolitan Division Fantasy Hockey Preview (Part 2)

2023-2024 Metropolitan Division Fantasy Preview Part 2

Table of Contents

Bruce and Devon discuss part two of the Metropolitan Division Fantasy Preview, concluding our divisional previews and projections for the 2023-2024 season.

Also, in case you missed it, the Fantasy Hockey Hacks now have a LIVE show Wednesday nights at 9 PM on Edmonton Sports Talk (EST)! The show will be more of a roundtable format, and will feature a regular rotation of special guests that fantasy hockey fans will be sure to recognize. All ‘Hacks Hangout’ episodes on EST will be uploaded to our regular podcast feed as well.

As we do each off-season, we are going to assess each division (and team) based on results from the previous season; as well as any changes that were made as a result of the NHL Entry Draft and Free Agency. Which teams improved, declined, or remained largely the same? Team statistics, schedule notes, additions/departures, and projections for key fantasy-relevant players in 2023-2024. Our goal is to best prepare our readers and listeners for their fantasy drafts this Fall, and maybe improve their odds of winning a fantasy hockey championship.   

Carolina Hurricanes 

52-21-9 (1st in Metro) | GF/GM: 3.2 (15th) | GA/GM: 2.56 (2nd) | GF%: 57.45 (7th) | CF%: 59.87 (1st) | PP%: 19.8 (20th) | PK%: 84.4 (2nd)

Schedule Notes: The Carolina Hurricanes have 14 back-to-back sets this season; tied for 3rd most with Ottawa. 27 of their games (33%) are played on “light days” (days where fewer than 50% of teams are in action), tied for 8th fewest among all teams in 2023-2024.

Key Additions: Michael Bunting, Tony DeAngelo

Key Departures: Paul Stastny, Shayne Gostisbehere

Top Fantasy Targets

🎯 Sebastion Aho, C
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 43.5 | PTS. PREDICTION: 40 Goals, 83 Points

Sebastian Aho had a bit of a down season with 67 points last season compared to 81 the previous season. Most of this was on the power play, he only had 21 Power play points last season compared to 41 the year before. His SOG/60 is healthy at 8.9 and with 218 total shots last season. We predict those power play points will return and should be a point per game player this season.

🎯 Andrei Svechnikov, RW
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 68.6 | PTS. PREDICTION: 30 Goals, 74 Points

Andrei Svechnikov was producing at a solid pace before an injury sidelined him for the season. With his knee healed he is looking to get back on track. Projections have him on the 2nd line and on PP1, His SOG/60 was 10.1 last season, putting him 31st in the league, Svechnikov should have no problems put up 70+ points this season. 

🎯 Martin Necas, C
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 145.6 | PTS. PREDICTION: 29 Goals, 70 Points

Which version of Martin Necas will we see this season? The 70 point version or the 40 point version? Necas had big jumps in pretty much all metrics last season. The most notable. Shot on goal. Necas took 81 SOG more last season, than 21-22. Another boost was the power play. 35 PP points last season, up from 6 in 21-22. If he can keep this going he should be in for another good season. 

🎯 Seth Jarvis, C
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 164.1 | PTS. PREDICTION: 22 Goals, 59 Points


🎯 Teuvo Teravainen, LW/RW
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 169.9 | PTS. PREDICTION: 19 Goals, 58 Points


🎯 Michael Bunting, LW
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 167.2 | PTS. PREDICTION: 27 Goals, 55 Points


🎯 Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: – | PTS. PREDICTION: 15 Goals, 45 Points


🎯 Brent Burns, D
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 82.5 | PTS. PREDICTION: 15 Goals, 55 Points

With DeAngelo returning we most likely will see less of Brent Burns on PP1 this season. This will hurt Burn’s points total for the season as almost half his point last year came from the power play. We still project a solid season for Burns.

🎯 Tony DeAngelo, D
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 127.0 | PTS. PREDICTION: 12 Goals, 44 Points

The return of Tony DeAngelo to the Hurricanes means one thing, help for the PP. Hurricanes PP ranked 20th last season, down from 13th the year before. They need some help and he should give them the boost they need. Look for a solid season from the PP specialist.

🎯 Jacob Slavin, D
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 172.5 | PTS. PREDICTION: 7 Goals, 42 Points


🎯 Dmitry Orlov, D
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 173.1 | PTS. PREDICTION: 9 Goals, 38 Points


🎯 Frederik Andersen, G
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 77.1 | PREDICTION: 40 Starts (50% Net Share), 25 Wins

Anderson leads the 3 headed monster of goalies for the Canes. Injury shortened his season last year. He still managed a 2.48GAA and a .903 SV%. His PK SV% last season was 0.919📉 so we could see some regression there. 

🎯 Antti Raanta, G
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 173.8 | PREDICTION: 22 Starts (26% Net Share), 12 Wins

The Canes brought back Antti Rannta for one more season. He was a solid option with a record of 19-3 with a GAA of 2.23 and .910 SV%. Rannta’s return likely means we will have to wait one more year for Kochetkov to take over. 

🎯 Pytor Kochetkov, G
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 115.5 | PREDICTION: 20 Starts (24% Net Share), 14 Wins

Pytor Kochetkov will see starts in the NHL this season. We know that both Anderson and Raanta will probably get hurt at some point in the season, he is still waivers eligible so he probably will begin the season in the AHL. If Anderson or Rannta go down he will be a must have goalie option. 

Columbus Blue Jackets

25-48-9 (8th in Metro) | GF/GM: 2.60 (30th) | GA/GM: 4.01 (31st) | GF%: 39.30 (31st) | CF%: 45.60 (28th) | PP%: 18.30 (26th) | PK%: 75.1 (25th)

Schedule Notes: Columbus Blue Jackets have 13 back-to-back sets this season; tied for 4th most with Montreal and Toronto. 28 of their games (34%) are played on “light days” (days where fewer than 50% of teams are in action), the 9th most among all NHL clubs this upcoming season.

Key Additions: Ivan Provorov, Damon Severson, Adam Fantilli

Key Departures: Jakub Voracek 

Top Fantasy Targets

🎯 Johnny Gaudreau, C
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 77.7 | PTS. PREDICTION: 34 Goals, 84 Points

Johnny Hockey’s 1st season with the Jackets was a bit rough, he saw his point total drop to 74 (from 115) and his SH% drop to 9.5% (from 15.5%). We see some improvement this season which should bring him back to a point per game level. 

🎯 Patrik Laine, LW
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 159.7 | PTS. PREDICTION: 38 Goals, 80 Points

Another injury plagued season for Patrik Laine, the good news is when he played he put up points! 52 points in 55 games last season. If he can stay healthy there is no reason why he will not be a point per game producer for the Jackets this season. 

🎯 Boone Jenner, C
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: – | PTS. PREDICTION: 29 Goals, 59 Points

The Jackets captain was well on his way to a career points total last season until injuries derailed his campaign. With 26 goals in 68 games, Boone Jenner was well on his way to surpassing a career-high 30 goals from 2015-2016. Jenner looks to slot in between Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine again this season, so there is still hope to set a new career high in goals.

Averaging just under 2 Hits/GM (1.90), over 1 Block/GM, and nearly 1 PIM/GM, the 30-year old is an underrated fantasy asset for multi-category banger leagues. 

🎯 Adam Fantilli, C
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 158.0 | PTS. PREDICTION: 22 Goals, 56 Points

The rookie is projected to get all kinds of opportunities in his first year with the Jackets. Projected 2nd line center and possible PP1 deployment could have him in a race for the Calder. Is it possible that Adam Fantilli steals the top line center position from Boone Jenner? 

🎯 Jack Roslovic, C
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: – | PTS. PREDICTION: 18 Goals, 48 Points


🎯 Kent Johnson, C
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: – | PTS. PREDICTION: 16 Goals, 46 Points

Johnson enters his 3rd year with the Jackets, he made strides last season with 39 points (16G, 23A). They are hoping he can take another step this season. Projected to play with Fantilli and Marchenko on the 2nd line. The kids are going to be fun to watch this season

🎯 Zach Werenski, D
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 156.5 | PTS. PREDICTION: 16 Goals, 54 Points

Injury derailed what was to be a promising season for Zach. Hopefully we will get to see this year what we did not last. A Powerplay that includes Gaudreau, Laine, Werenski, Fantilli? His metrics looked great before he was injured. SOG/60 was 8.0 4th best of all defenseman. 58% OZ starts and a 66.9% Power play percentage.

🎯 Ivan Provorov, D
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: – | PTS. PREDICTION: 7 Goals, 34 Points


🎯 Damon Severson, D
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 156.2 | PTS. PREDICTION: 7 Goals, 35 Points


🎯 Elvis Merzlikins, G
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: – | PREDICTION: 52 Starts (63% Net Share), 22 Wins

Elvis is in the building, the question is which one? Last year Merzlikins was not so good. 7-18-2 with a 4.23 GAA and an .876 S%. The Jackets upgraded their defense in the off season and a healthy group of forwards to start the season. They are hoping he can return to the form that he showed in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.  

🎯 Daniil Tarasov, G
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: – | PREDICTION: 30 Starts (37% Net Share), 15 Wins

Tarasov starts the season as the backup for Elvis. His numbers were slightly better than Elvis’ last season with a GAA 3.91 and a .892 S%. 

New Jersey Devils

52-22-8 (2nd in Metro) | GF/GM: 3.52 (5th) | GA/GM: 2.71 (8th) | GF%: 56.56 (3rd) | CF%: 53.67 (4th) | PP%: 21.9 (13th) | PK%: 82.6 (4th)

Schedule Notes: The New Jersey Devils have 16 back-to-back sets this season; The most among all NHL clubs in 2023-2024. 34 of their games (41%) are played on “light days” (days where fewer than 50% of teams are in action), the 4th most of all teams for next season.

Key Additions: Tyler Toffolli 

Key Departures: Damon Severson 

Top Fantasy Targets

🎯 Jack Hughes, C
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 13.1 | PTS. PREDICTION: 47 Goals, 103 Points

Jack Hughes played 4 games short of a full season and he did not disappoint! 99 points in 79 games. His shot production is elite, 12.95 SOG/60 was good for 5th best in the league and tied with teammate Timo Meier! 336 shots last season. Hughes is projected for another great season!

🎯 Timo Meier, LW/RW
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 36.0 | PTS. PREDICTION: 37 Goals, 72 Points

This will be Timo Meier’s first full season with the New Jersey Devils; it will be interesting to see if he can build on his impressive stats from last season. 12.9 SOG/60 was tied with Jack Hughes, among the best in the NHL; which contributed to 40 goals and 26 assists across 78 games. For those in banger leagues, Meier offers good category coverage with 154 hits and 37 blocks last season. 

🎯 Nico Hischier, C
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 68.4 | PTS. PREDICTION: 32 Goals, 80 Points

Nico Hischier had a career year last season with 80 points (31G, 49A) in 81 games; and he did so while only starting 45.7% in the OZ! The Devils captain also really turned up his shot rate in 2022-2023, going from an average of 6.88 SOG/60 in the three  previous seasons (2019-2022) to 9.8 SOG/60 last season. The improvement in shot rate equated to an additional 10 goals (20 point improvement overall), despite a slightly depressed shooting percentage relative to recent seasons. Hischier’s performance was not boosted by luck, and given the state of the Devil’s roster, another 80+ point season should be well within reach for the 24-year old. 

🎯 Jesper Bratt, LW
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 86.9 | PTS. PREDICTION: 27 Goals, 76 Points

If early depth charts are to be trusted, Jesper Bratt appears to be in a prime position, lining up with Jack Hughes and Tyler Toffoli on the top line, in addition to a role on the first power play unit.

It is worth noting that Bratt started out 2022-2023 like a house on fire – 26 points and 8 goals in 23 games (a 93-point pace over 82 games); before slowing to a 65-point pace over the final 59 games of the season. The Devils winger also shot a career 22.2 PPSH%, well above his previous career average of 13.7%; though it was on just 22 shots on the power play. 

🎯 Dawson Mercer, C/LW
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 162.0 | PTS. PREDICTION: 28 Goals, 62 Points

I am personally very excited to see what Dawson Mercer can do with a full season next to Nico Hischier and Timo Meier! Power play time will likely still be hard to come by, just 30.1% PP Share (1:19 PPTOI/GM) last season; but that shouldn’t hinder Mercer too much, given that he was a top 100 player (97th) in terms of points per 60 at 5v5 (2.04) last season. 

Also of note, the 21-year old played 18:44 TOI/GM during the final 21 games of the season; and with 164 NHL games played, Mercer is approaching his 200-game breakout threshold. 

🎯 Tyler Toffoli, C/LW
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 73.5 | PTS. PREDICTION: 30 Goals, 62 Points

The Tyler Toffoli-Yegor Sharangovich trade was a win for the New Jersey Devils in my books. Toffoli is a player that is consistently in the hunt for 30 goals, and playing on a line with Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt can only enhance his offensive ability. 

One concern I have for Toffoli this upcoming season is his shot rate; which was a career-best 11.8 SOG/60 in 2022-2023, just behind Alex Ovechkin for top 10 league-wide. Can Toffoli realistically maintain that shot rate playing with a shoot-first player like Jack Hughes? Hughes by the way, finished 6th in the NHL with a shot rate of 12.95 SOG/60! It’s also worth noting that Toffoli’s 12.7 iSH% was the third-highest of his career, and his PP Share (56%, 2:56 PPTOI/GM) was a career-high. 

So while there is plenty to like about Toffoli in the top 6 with the Devils next season, fantasy managers should probably temper expectations a little bit. 

🎯 Dougie Hamilton, D
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 52.0 | PTS. PREDICTION: 17 Goals, 72 Points

Speaking of shots, Dougie Hamilton provides a steady supply of shots, year in and year out. Hamilton was second among defencemen last year with a 9.24 SOG/60, second only to Roman Josi; and over the past three seasons, the Devils PP QB ranks first among defencemen at 8.99 SOG/60. 

The 30-year old posted a career-best 74 points and 22 goals last season; but BUYER BEWARE, Hamilton’s production was certainly influenced by luck. On the power play, Hamilton shot a career-high 16% (on 50 shots), well above his previous career average of 7.7%. That difference in shooting percentage accounts for a difference of 4 or 5 goals based on last year’s shot volume. Hamilton’s individual shooting percentage overall was also inflated (8 iSH%) relative to his career average of 6.4%. Also, Hamilton’s 53.6% IPP was his highest since 2016-2017. 

🎯 Luke Hughes, D
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 119.9 | PTS. PREDICTION: 6 Goals, 40 Points

Realistically, we just don’t have enough information at this point to accurately project point totals for Luke Hughes; but speculating on player production is half the fun in fantasy, right? 

In 2 regular season games and 3 playoff games, the other Hughes brother has posted 4 assists, which is absolutely encouraging; but not enough for me to confidently draft him in the 10th round (currently going at an ADP of 119.9) of season-long redraft leagues. Consider that in the same range, players like Aaron Ekblad (ADP 115.1), Drew Doughty (ADP 117.0), Justin Faulk (119.0), Kris Letang (119.5), Tony DeAngelo (ADP 127.4), Jacob Trouba (ADP 127.5), and Morgan Rielly (ADP 127.7) are available. You could make a strong argument to select any one of those defenseman (except for DeAngelo) ahead of Luke Hughes this season; particularly Doughty, Faulk, Letang, and Trouba for bangers leagues, or if you’re looking to beef up PPPs. 

Hamilton owns the power play for the foreseeable future, and best-case scenario, Hughes gets consistent top 4 minutes in 2023-2024. 

🎯 John Marino, D
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: – | PTS. PREDICTION: 4 Goals, 22 Points


🎯 Vitek Vanecek, G
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 78.2 | PREDICTION: 52 Starts (63% Net Share), 32 Wins

The Devils goaltender projections assume that Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid are the only netminders for the team this season. However, the rumours surrounding the team would suggest they are still in the market for a true workhorse netminder like Connor Hellebuyck. In-season trades with a player of Hellebuyck’s caliber are always tricky when you consider current salary and future salary expectations; but New Jersey could be just a goaltender away from a Stanley Cup…

For his part, Vanecek played quite well at times last season, posting his best individual season to date with a 33-11-4 record to go along with a 2.45 GAA and .911 SV%. 

🎯 Akira Schmid, G
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 159.3 | PREDICTION: 30 Starts (37% Net Share), 18 Wins

Akira Schmid’s record was fine at 9-5-2, but his peripherals were absolutely spectacular with a 2.12 GAA and .922 SV%. The 23-year old was a popular streaming target when called upon last season, and he could be an excellent Zero G option in 2023-2024 if Vanecek falters at any point. 

Unfortunately, those of you looking for real value on a potential starter will be disappointed, as you may need to spend a 12th or 13th round pick to acquire Schmid. 

New York Islanders

42-31-9 (4th in Metro) | GF/GM: 2.95 (22nd) | GA/GM: 2.65 (5th) | GF%: 52.72 (11th) | CF%: 49.60 (20th) | PP%: 15.8 (30th) | PK%: 82.2 (9th)

Schedule Notes: The New York Islanders have 10 back-to-back sets this season; tied for 4th fewest with Edmonton, Detroit and Tampa. 24 of their games (29%) are played on “light days” (days where fewer than 50% of teams are in action), tied for 5th fewest with Dallas.

Key Additions:  

Key Departures: Josh Bailey

Top Fantasy Targets

🎯 Mathew Barzal, C/RW
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 165.8 | PTS. PREDICTION: 23 Goals, 70 Points

Mathew Barzal came flying out of the gates in 2017-2018 with 85 points and 22 goals, a career-high that still stands after 6 NHL regular seasons… Barzal provides no category coverage to speak of, and has only played a full 82 games in his career once, in 2018-2019. Playing at a mid-sixty to low-seventy point pace over 82 games, Barzal only really has value for me in points leagues; and even then, I’m not reaching for him… 

🎯 Bo Horvat, C
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 137.4 | PTS. PREDICTION: 37 Goals, 70 Points

Bo Horvat joined the Islanders at the deadline last season, and at the time  had scored 54 points in 49 games – a 90-point pace over 82 games. After joining the Islanders Horvat’s production dropped off a cliff; scoring 16 points in the last 30 games as his individual shooting percentage dropped from 21.7% to just 8.1%!

Horvat’s production should be less extreme this season, and a 35+ goal, 70-point season should be well within reach given his expected deployment. Interesting note for leagues that include face-off wins, over the past three seasons, only Patrice Bergeron (2,748) had more face-off wins than Bo Horvat (2,447)! The former Canuck was third (958) last season behind Bergeron (1,043) and Sidney Crosby (978).

🎯 Anders Lee, LW
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 164.8 | PTS. PREDICTION: 33 Goals, 52 Points


🎯 Brock Nelson, C
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 149.8 | PTS. PREDICTION:  34 Goals, 67 Points


🎯 Kyle Palmieri, C/RW
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: – | PTS. PREDICTION: 18 Goals, 41 Points


🎯 Oliver Wahlstrom, C/RW
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: – | PTS. PREDICTION: 22 Goals, 49 Points

Will this be Oliver Wahlstom’s year? Projected to be on the top line next to Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal, the 11th overall pick from 2018 has the opportunity to blossom this season. Wahlstrom may not see PP1 time, but could be in a prime position to put up points at even-strength this season. Will surpass the 200-game breakout threshold, and really just needs better deployment to provide some fantasy relevance. Wahstrom has been shooting at an impressive rate over the past three seasons, ranging from 10-10.7 SOG/60!

🎯 Noah Dobson, D
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 111.9 | PTS. PREDICTION: 14 Goals, 55 Points

Noah Dobson has been consistent the past two-seasons, playing at a 52-point pace, producing 190-206 shots, and converting on 6.3-6.8% of those shots. A big contributor to Dobson’s improved production has been the power play, where he has received roughly 70% PP Share in each of the past two seasons. An improved shot rate (7.8 SOG/60, 2.6 SOG/GM) has also helped the Isles Dman reach 13 goals in back-to-back seasons. Dobson also provides a bit of category coverage – close to 1 Hit/GM and 1.5 Blocks/GM. 

Currently being drafted as the 23rd defenceman off the board, Noah Dobson feels like a reasonable option in the 10th round of standard 12-team drafts. 

🎯 Ryan Pulock, D
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: – | PTS. PREDICTION: 6 Goals, 30 Points


🎯 Ilya Sorokin, G
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 16.1 | PREDICTION: 60 Starts (73% Net Share), 33 Wins

Ilya Sorokin is getting plenty of pre-season Vezina love, and rightfully so, as the Isles netminder has been in the top 3 league-wide in save percentage and goals against average over the past 3 seasons. 

The concern with Sorokin initially was the lack of starts, but the Islanders remedied that last year, plopping him in the crease for 62 starts in 2022-2023. Sorokin finished the season with a career-best 31 wins. 

Fantasy managers still seem to consider Igor Shesterkin the best bet in net, and I would tend to agree. Simply because I believe the New York Rangers will win more games this season, and in most leagues that category matters. 

🎯 Semyon Varlamov, G
2023 Yahoo Pre-Season ADP: 16.1 | PREDICTION: 22 Starts (27% Net Share), 10 Wins

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