It’s about that time again.
Nearly three and a half months after the Tampa Bay Lightning hoisted the Stanley Cup, we’ve made it to the eve of the 2020-21 National Hockey League season. And what better way to get ready for puck drop than with the TSN Hockey Fantasy Draft.
Carlo Colaiacovo, Marty Biron, Jeff O’Neill and Dave Poulin make their selections in a snake-style four-team draft (six forwards, three defencemen and two goalies) to give fantasy players a close look at how the top of their drafts might go.
With the first pick, Team Colaiacovo selected… Connor McDavid.
McDavid didn’t lead the league in points or crack the 40-goal plateau last season like in years past, but he did finish a close second in points per game (1.52) to teammate Leon Draisaitl’s 1.55. McDavid, ranked No. 2 on ESPN’s top 300 list, turns 24 Tuesday and it’s very possible he hasn’t hit his ceiling just yet. He is the +550 favourite to win the Hart Memorial Trophy (William Hill) and a +300 favourite to win the Art Ross (BetMGM). Sure, there’s no clear consensus at No. 1 this year, but it’s hard to go wrong taking McDavid.
With the second pick, O’Neill took Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon. The Halifax native enjoyed a 93-point regular season but took things to a whole other level in the playoffs, posting an absurd nine goals and 16 assists in 15 games before the Avs were bounced by the Dallas Stars. Ranked at No. 3 by ESPN, MacKinnon is as safe a bet as any.
At No. 3, Poulin drafted a player some would have taken first overall in Leon Draisaitl. The 25-year-old German led the league with 67 assists last year and is coming off back-to-back 100-point seasons. He’s also been as durable as they come, skating in every regular season game over the past two campaigns. The top-ranked fantasy player by ESPN, Draisaitl should go toe-to-toe with his linemate the entire season in almost every statistical offensive category.
Up next was Biron, who grabbed Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews with the next two picks. Eichel was without star help for much of his Buffalo Sabres career but may finally have some with Taylor Hall’s arrival. Head coach Ralph Krueger told NHL.com he expects Eichel and Hall to be “lethal” together. If Eichel could score 36 goals without Hall last season, what might he do with him? As for Matthews, the 23-year-old is the betting favourite to take home the Rocket Richard Trophy at +450 (BetMGM). With a career-best 47 goals in 50 games, Matthews would have likely hit the 50-goal mark had the season not been suspended in mid-March.
The top blueliner selected was Quinn Hughes at No. 7 by O’Neill and the first netminder off the board was Andrei Vasilevskiy at No. 11 to Poulin. Despite an incredible showing at the World Juniors, Tim Stützle was not the first rookie selected as O’Neill took Alexis Lafreniere at 23. Stützle didn’t have to wait around long, though, as Colaiacovo scooped him up 10 picks later. Lafreniere is second in Calder Memorial Trophy odds at +300, slightly behind teammate Igor Shesterkin (+250, BetMGM). Prognosticators have Stützle fourth at +1,000.
Here is the rest of the 2020-21 Fantasy Hockey Draft and each panelist’s roster:
TSN Hockey Fantasy Draft
Team Marty: F Jack Eichel, F Auston Matthews, F Sidney Crosby, F Mitch Marner, F Mikko Rantanen, F Brad Marchand, D Victor Hedman, D Morgan Rielly, D Miro Heiskanen, G Carter Hart, G Igor Shesterkin
Team Jeff: F Nathan MacKinnon, F Alex Ovechkin, F Sebastian Aho, F Alexis Lafreniere, F Patrick Kane, F Steven Stamkos, D Quinn Hughes, D Zach Werenski, D Shea Theodore, G Connor Hellebuyck, G Carey Price
Team Carlo: F Connor McDavid, F Brayden Point, F Mark Scheifele, F Elias Pettersson, F Mika Zibanejad, F Tim Stützle, D Alex Pietrangelo, D Cale Makar, D Dougie Hamilton, G Frederik Andersen, G Ilya Samsonov
Team Dave: F Leon Draisaitl, F Artemi Panarin, F Kirill Kaprizov, F Kyle Connor, F David Pastrnak, F Jonathan Huberdeau, D John Carlson, D Roman Josi, D Tony DeAngelo, G Andrei Vasilevskiy, G Jordan Binnington
*Poulin uses first of three waiver wire pickups to pick up F Patrik Laine and place F David Pastrnak on injured reserve.