On 10 October, the NHL returns after what’s been a relatively quiet offseason by the league’s modern standards. The likes of Ivan Provorov, Taylor Hall, Alex Newhook, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Tyler Toffoli, Alex DeBrincat, Alex Killorn, Ryan O’Reilly, John Klingberg, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson are all getting a change of scenery, which highlights the extent of the moves made so far.
Still, some of the other moves and the opening roster spots look to open up the path for some key breakout candidates this season, particularly among those expected to compete for the Stanley Cup.
Identifying breakout star hotspots
NHL teams that eventually win the Stanley Cup often spend a couple of seasons around the very top of the standings. After a while, they get a bit constricted by the salary cap, but then they pull a rabbit out of the hat via a top prospect or shrewd bit of business.
The leading sportsbooks have made their stance. Of course, regardless of whether it's offseason or games are in full swing, these franchises continue on strong. Bettors are constantly able to wager on the action, or lack thereof, especially with the bonus of perks like free bet credits. If you're looking to capitalize on some hot deals, you should check this site out for more info. This may be the opportune time to strike with the likes of bet365 pricing the Colorado Avalanche at odds of 17/2, the Edmonton Oilers at 9/1 and the New York Rangers at 13/1.
Each of them looks to bank on one, two, or even a few potential breakout stars to pad the stats sheets and take the roster to that next level. Plus, they’re highly-rated teams that should generate a lot of fantasy points for their players. Of course, the Avs are coming into the campaign with many of their stars who won the Stanley Cup only a couple of seasons ago, but are taking a punt on Jonathan Drouin, Miles Wood, and Andrew Cogliano, along with a certain defenseman who we’ll look into shortly. So, these are the top three picks to watch out for in fantasy hockey.
Alexis Lafrenière (New York Rangers)
Just about every hockey analyst thought this winger would swiftly become the face of one of the biggest franchises in the NHL. However, he's failed to ignite just yet. Despite two seasons of over 30 goals and 100 points for the Rimouski Océanic in the QMJHL, his best outing so far was the 16 goals and 39 points in 81 games last season for the Rangers. Now, he’s still only 21 years old, is clearly physically equipped for the league, and looks set to play on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider under new coach Peter Laviolette, so he could finally breakout.
Connor Brown (Edmonton Oilers)
Most of the headlines surrounding the free agent signing of Connor Brown have revolved around rumors that he'll be rejoining Connor McDavid, which you can read more about here. The duo tore it up in the OHL with the Erie Otters in 2013/14, with Brown as captain putting up 45 goals and 128 points to McDavid’s 28 goals and 99 points. Still, even if he doesn’t join the first line, Brown would probably be alongside Leon Draisatil on the second set, and perhaps Evander Kane, too. On a one-year deal, he will need to meet his NHL-best 43 points to stay in Edmonton.
Bowen Byram (Colorado Avalanche)
Second only to Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider for points per game by rookie defensemen two seasons ago, and putting up 24 points in 42 games last season, a decent bridge contract has been signed by Bowen Byram, more details on that deal here, and he’s ready to kick on further. Byram looks set to be on the second pairing again, as well as the second powerplay unit, and last season he put up 82 hits and 65 shots on goal with a 15.38 shooting percentage. If those numbers improve even a little, he’ll be a steal at around 90th off the board in fantasy hockey drafts.
If they happen to drop a bit lower than expected in your fantasy hockey draft, snap up Lafrenière, Brown, or Byram and cross your fingers for their breakout potential to come to fruition.