Everybody has different thoughts on what to make about the pre-season in the NHL. It either makes a big difference in your player selection, or you take it with a grain of salt and push it off to the side. Whichever way you look at it, these pre-season standouts will be looking to continue their hot start into the regular season.
Ty Rattie: Right Wing, Edmonton Oilers
Ty Rattie shared the lead in pre-season points. Rattie scored seven goals and picked up four assists for a total of 11 points in only four games played. This scoring surge started late last year when Rattie began playing alongside Connor McDavid. It looks like these two will continue to play on the same line to start the regular season.
If this does happen, look for Rattie to continue to score goals playing with a playmaker like McDavid. With McDavid’s vision on the ice, Rattie will have a lot of opportunities to score. And if he can capitalize, you will see him smash his previous season’s goal total. If Rattie plays a full season with McDavid, a 55 point season is not out of the question.
Andreas Athanasiou: Centre, Left Wing, Detroit Red Wings
Andreas Athanasiou has yet to have a breakout season in the NHL, but his pre-season performance suggests that this could be the year. With four goals and six points in four games this pre-season, Athanasiou looks like he’s ready to take the next step in the NHL.
Athanasiou will start in the middle on the second line behind Dylan Larkin. He will play in between two power forwards in Thomas Vanek and rookie Michael Rasmussen. This bodes well for a small, speedy player like Athanasiou.
Athanasiou loves to fly down the wing and drive the net. His two line-mates will be able to use their big bodies to crash the net and slide in the rebound if he misses. Both his wingers have showed goal-scoring ability in the past and Athanasiou should be able to use his speed and vision to create chances for himself and his line-mates. Athanasiou is poised to finally have his breakout season with the Red Wings.
Pavel Buchnevich: Right Wing, New York Rangers
Pavel Buchnevich has showed progression in his first two NHL seasons. In his rookie year, Buchnevich finished with a total of 20 points in 41 games played. He followed that up by scoring 43 points in 74 games his next season.
This pre-season, Buchnevich scored three goals and four assists for seven points in four games. With three rookies penciled in to the Rangers forward core, Buchnevich will play on the first power play and on right side of New York’s first line. Buchnevich will have more opportunity than ever to continue his positive progression season by season.
Also, getting regular first line and power-play minutes will give him extra incentive to show he belongs and be the producing forward the Rangers believe he can be. Buchnevich will be expected to play a bigger role this year among the Rangers young forward core and produce in the Big Apple.
Mark Giordano: Defense, Calgary Flames
Mark Giordano led all defensemen in scoring this pre-season with seven points in five games. Giordano has established himself as on of the best two-way defensemen in the NHL. He is always a safe pick in fantasy hockey.
You can count on him for goals, assists, blocked shots and hits — he is an all around solid defensemen. These defensemen are extremely hard to find. Giordano is ranked at 128 on Yahoo, if he is available around this position, do not hesitate to draft him. Giordano’s pre-season performance should give you assurance and make you feel comfortable drafting him to be one of your top two defensemen.
Dennis Cholowski: Defense, Detroit Red Wings
Dennis Cholowski impressed many people this pre-season with the Red Wings. He scored two goals and four assists for a total of six points in as many games. This performance earned Cholowski a spot on the Red Wings defense.
He impressed the Red Wings so much that he is expected to start the season on Detroit’s first power play unit while Mike Green is out injured. Although Cholowski may not quite be ready to be a starting defenseman on your team yet, consider picking him up until Green returns from injury.
Cholowski has showed some offensive ability in his junior career scoring 66 points in 69 games in the WHL last season. If Cholowski can translate this into the NHL, look for his success to carry over from the pre-season. He will have plenty of opportunities to prove why he belongs on the power play even when Green returns. Keep an eye out for Cholowski throughout the season, as he could fly under the radar and maybe earn a full-time spot on your team later in the year.
These five pre-season standouts impressed their respective teams to start the hockey season. You can take these performances whichever way you want. However, the players above look like they are ready for the regular season to finally get started.
Main Image Credit: VANCOUVER, BC – MARCH 29: Ty Rattie #8 of the Edmonton Oilers in NHL action against the Vancouver Canucks on March, 29, 2018 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)