To truly be considered a contender for a rebounding season, a player must have a profile to bounce off of.
While expectations are one thing, I wanted to quantify exactly what we’re looking for here. Taking the fantasy production put in place by all NHL players over the past three years, I took the average fantasy points per game (FPPG) and per 60 minutes (FP60) from the first two years and j looked at the difference from last year.
Simple? Yes. But effective.
The players who jumped the most are included below, although I’ve passed most goaltenders as they topped this list and are in a different category when it comes to rebounding. Goalkeepers are largely a product of their environment. There was a tandem I wanted to include, however, so I made an exception. Players are divided into impact and periphery below.
Jakob Chychrun, D Arizona Coyotes (2.07 FPPG 2019-21; 1.72 FPPG 2021-22): We start this list with the player who has both the greatest potential impact and the greatest potential to fall flat. The Coyotes are in a race to the bottom and still have Chychrun on a good contract this season and the next two. They absolutely do not have to exchange it. But if they do and Chychrun gets back into position to do damage, watch out. Before the wheels really started to take off for the Coyotes last season, Chychrun was the second-best fantasy defenseman in the 2020-21 season, finishing seventh among all skaters in total fantasy points. He did it all: goals, assists, modest power play production, high volume of shots and even some decent hits and blocked shots. Injuries didn’t help last season with his totals, but it’s worth noting that his rates also dropped. A trade would surely trigger the rebound, but there’s a world where he manages to come back to form within the Coyotes club.
Verdict: Rebound based on a rally.
Travis Konecny, F, Philadelphia Flyers (1.78 FPPG 2019-21; 1.52 FPPG 2021-22): Chalk this one down to Sean Couturier missing most of the season. But with Couturier healed and a slightly rosier outlook for the Flyers, Konecny should return to form in spades. For now, he remains the Flyers’ best winger and will occupy one of the spots on the first line and the best power play with Couturier. The duo have a 58.6% Corsi five-to-five over the past three seasons, which is solid enough to show their dominance together (Elias Lindholm doesn’t have such a high Corsi percentage over the past three seasons with Matthew Tkachuk or Johnny Gaudreau, for example).
Verdict: excellent rebound candidate.
Mika Zibanejad, A, New York Rangers (2.76 FPPG 2019-21; 2.20 FPPG 2021-22): I mean, if he doesn’t bounce back to his showy heights, you’re not going to complain about another 2.20 FPPG season from Zibanejad. But there’s another level lurking here that we saw in 2019-20 when Zibanejad posted a McDavid-esque 3.20 FPPG over 57 games. A leap forward from Alexis Lafrenière could help bring Zibanejad back to those high rates.
Verdict: Not that he needs to, but bounce back a bit.
David Pastrnak, F, Boston Bruins (2.61 FPPG 2019-21; 2.42 FPPG 2021-22): After a slow start with longtime mates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, Pastrnak enjoyed more success last season with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula . But that wasn’t enough to regain his superior gears from previous seasons. Pastrnak has had his explosive campaigns alongside Bergeron and Marchand, but that no longer seems to be an option on the table. We will probably have to settle for 2.40 FPPG, the window on Pastrnak pushing for 3.00 FPPG seems to be closed.
Verdict: No rebound. It’s the new normal.
Mark Stone, F, Vegas Golden Knights (2.18 FPPG 2019-21; 1.72 FPPG 2021-22): Injuries may be a big part of the blame for Stone’s 2020-21 pedestrian campaign. And the prospects are much better despite the departure of Max Pacioretty. With a healthy Jack Eichel ready to center the front line, this could be Stone’s most productive season yet. A consistent producer of over 2.00 FPPG, having Eichel at his disposal should easily bring Stone back to the 30-goal mark and push him to his first season 80 points.
Verdict: Eichel-induced rebound.
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Dougie Hamilton, D, New Jersey Devils (2.26 FPPG 2019-21; 1.89 FPPG 2021-22): Was last year a season of adjustment? Not just for Hamilton, but for the Devils as a whole? It’s a fair mindset as the team looks balanced enough to be an outside contender for a playoff spot with the development of its young stars and the addition of some veterans. Currently 27th among defenders in the average draft position, Hamilton is only a year away from finishing sixth among defenders in fantasy points.
Verdict: Even a small rebound makes him a high-value pick. A big bounce can help win leagues.
Tyler Seguin, A, Dallas Stars (1.80 FPPG 2019-21; 1.57 FPPG 2021-22): I will admit that I was heavily invested in the story of Seguin coming back from a season-long injury absence and surgery to regain his form as one of the NHL’s elite scorers. Again. I don’t see that future anymore, but I can see one where it goes back to a solid, decent fantasy production. If Seguin just needed a mulligan campaign to get his legs back, we might be surprised. Seguin handed over 2.37 FPPG and 2.33 FPPG seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19 before knee and hip issues started. I wouldn’t be so bold to predict this kind of production again, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it exceeded 1.80 FPPG. Count me in for a rebound season, but not as high as I expected last year.
Verdict: Will regain its form and be worthy of your roster.
Mathew Barzal, F, New York Islanders (1.74 FPPG 2019-21; 1.54 FPPG 2021-22): It’s wise to remember that Barzal is still only 25 years old and has yet to reach his ultimate potential. Nor has he been constantly surrounded by traditional scoring wingers. That doesn’t seem to be changing this season, so betting on a Barzal rebound is like doing the same thing over and expecting a different result.
Verdict: No. Not until we find a wingman for this man.
Ryan Strome, F, Anaheim Ducks (1.74 FPPG 2019-21; 1.52 FPPG 2021-22): It’s unclear what kind of line and role Strome awaits with the Ducks. Did they sign him to be the No. 1 center and protect Trevor Zegras for another season? Or is he there to be the second-line pivot in support? Is Zegras playing wing so they can be together? Where do we put Adam Henrique, Troy Terry and Mason McTavish?
Can I ask more questions about the Ducks top six?
Strome has plenty of talent and can be a power-play contributor. He could be the best forward on the Ducks roster here and now, so the team should find a way to introduce him. But the team is also building to be more competitive in the 2024-25 campaign than the current one, so that’s not a guarantee. But if you see Strome as the team’s No. 1 center on opening night and featured prominently on the power play, you can bet he’ll be relevant from the start.
Verdict: Probably, but it’s hard to imagine the formation of the Ducks.
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Alec Martinez, D, Vegas Golden Knights (2.25 FPPG 2019-21; 1.95 FPPG 2021-22): Martinez never revved his engine before a skid to the face and over 50 points cut his season significantly short. He would return to a Golden Knights team that limped to the finish and missed the playoffs. Remember how Chychrun was the second-best defender in 2020-21? It’s because Martinez was the best. His fantastic production was off the beaten track thanks to astronomical blocked shots. The question here: does a 35-year-old defenseman who paid the price for his physical game with a skate blade in his face still want to lie down in front of 200 pucks in a season? His shot blocking at the end of last season suggests so. With 21 defensemen ranking ahead of him in average draft position (ADP) at the start of September, he looks like a value pick.
Verdict: should have another solid year in him.
Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov, G, Toronto Maple Leafs (Murray: 3.52 FPP60 2018-19; 1.07 FPP60 2021-22 — Samsonov: 3.18 FPP60 2019-20; 1.86 FPP60 2021-22): This goaltending tandem is highlighted because that they were added by the Maple Leads specifically for the purpose of rebounding. back to their old self/potential. A clean slate and a rock-solid squad in front of them should be enough to ensure that one, if not both, of these goalkeepers can find their form. Their ADP is 20th and 25th respectively among goaltenders, so securing services from them to your bench will be an option.
Verdict: Both bounce back and Toronto have some decisions to make at the end of the season.
Ondrej Palat, F, New Jersey Devils (1.87 FPPG 2019-21; 1.53 FPPG 2021-22): Essentially guaranteed a plum spot at even strength, the big question here is whether Palat gets a taste of power-play life with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. If he does, bet on the rebound.
Verdict: rebound based on power play time.
Phil Kessel, F, Vegas Golden Knights (1.37 FPPG 2019-21; 1.17 FPPG 2021-22): After being stuck virtually alone in the desert for two years, Kessel has a very big opportunity to start producing again with the Golden Knights.
Verdict: Sure, it bounces back. Thirty goals and 40 assists alongside Eichel and Stone.
Jonathan Toews, F, Chicago Blackhawks (1.75 FPPG 2019-21; 1.11 FPPG 2021-22): Refreshed but not necessarily invigorated by the dismantling around him, Toews last year needed to reacclimate to the NHL after taking a year off. Whether he’s returned to a contender by the deconstructing Blackhawks or not, he should once again push to fantasy relevance.
Verdict: For Toews sake, let’s hope he bounces back and can find a landing spot by the deadline.
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