Top 5 Fantasy Break-out Candidates for the Leafs


Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

#1 – Morgan Reilly

The consensus pick to
establish himself as an elite player, Morgan Reilly is the only Leaf that can
be depended on to have a strong season. 
After posting 27 points in a solid rookie campaign, Reilly followed-up
with a 29 point performance in his sophomore year – on a team that lost 40 of
the last 51 games.

This year, expect Reilly to put up bigger
offensive numbers, challenging the 40 point mark as the Leafs most talented defenceman.

#2 – Dion Phaneuf

As Morgan Reilly moves up
the ranks, it seems odd to predict a break-out year from the Leafs captain and
perennial number one defenceman. However, new coach Mike Babcock has been singing
Dion Phaneuf’s praises from day one. The former 60 point defenceman likely
isn’t going to find himself in the Top 10 for defensive scoring again but his
resume clearly says he has the ability to put up strong offensive numbers.

Phaneuf is not a sure-bet, but under Mike
Babcock’s new systems it wouldn’t be a far-stretch to see him break 40 points
for the sixth time in his career.

#3 – James Van Riemsdyk

The departure of
Phil Kessel has left James van Riemsdyk as the undisputed number one forward.
Having scored 30 goals just one year ago, ‘JVR’ is a good bet to have a respectable
season. How can ‘JVR’ be considered a break-out candidate? Well, with Kessel
and his 300 shots per year leaving town, expect van Riemsdyk to be the go-to
guy for his line-mates on the power play.

A lot of people will expect ‘JVR’s
production to dip this season but the former 2nd overall pick may
just benefit from being the number one scorer in town.

#4 – Nazem Kadri

Nazem Kadri is expected to
finally make the leap to Toronto’s first line this year but the promotion is
anything but assured. Kadri had a rocky year last year, failing to match his
production from the year before while simultaneously finding himself publicly
reprimanded by the team for off-ice issues. There is no doubt Kadri has the raw
skill to put-up big numbers but he hasn’t shown the consistency to do it year
after year, or the resilience to salvage a tumultuous season.

Kadri is the biggest question mark on the
Leafs core. If you like to swing for the fences, he’s worth a crack at your
Fantasy Hockey Team but don’t be surprised if he finds himself as a second line
centre putting up mediocre numbers again this season.

#5 – Michael Grabner

The newly acquired
Michael Grabner is a wild card. After a notching 34 goals in his first full
season, Grabner has suffered numerous injury problems which have drastically
limited his play over the past two seasons. Known as one of the fastest players
in the NHL, there is no doubt he can create scoring chances for himself and his
line-mates but with a patchy health record you can’t go all-in on the speedy

Grabner is a Fantasy pick for the betting
man – one with a hunger for even greater risk than Nazem Kadri can offer. If he
can play a full season, 25-30 goals isn’t out of the picture for the newest

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  • magesticRAGE

    ummmm jake gardiner? he’s playing with a real nhl coach and will probably be paired with rielly. i’d even put parenteau up there since he may play with kadri on the top line and he’s free from therrien.

  • magesticRAGE

    Now that War on Ice tracked D who can prevent high scoring chances (box) and medium scoring chances (slot). Some one should build a fantasy league with D defending and Goalies save % for high chance shots (HCS)(52% of even goals) and med chance shots (MCS) (32% of even goals).

    When you look at defending the box. there are 233D with 60 game of minutes. 14.90 HSCA/60 is the median.

    Phanuef #223 of 223 21.07 HSCA/60

    Reilly #221 of 223 19.72 HSCA/60

    Polak #220 of 223 19.49 HSCA/60

    Marincin #213 of 223 18.82 HSCA/60

    Robidas #195 of 223 17.41 HSCA/60

    Gardiner #187 of 223 17.07 HSCA/60

    Hunwick #71 of 223 13.81 HSCA/60

    War on ice gives HCS save% for goalies. the Median save% is .8330. you golaies that are consistent.

    Goalies with .8600+ HCS save% each of last 2 seasons. (1) Talbot.

    Goalies with .8500+ HCS save% each of the last 2 seasons. (0) None.

    Goalies with .8400+ HCS save% each of the last 2 seasons.(3) Price; Crawford; Halak

    Goalies with .8330+ HCS save% (better than league median) each of the last 2 seasons.(5) Holtby; Varlamov; Hiller; Bernier; Reimer.

    TOR has 2 of the 9 Elite High chance shot goalies in the game. They just have the worst HSCA/60 d in the league in front of them.

    Calgary was the 6th worst team at protecting the Med & High chance areas but had an elite goalie who was one of the 6 goalies in the top 15 in MCS and HCS save%: Talbot; Price; Schnieder; Anderson; Hiller; Mason.

    82% of all even goals ae scored from Med and High chance shots. Only 4 were top 10 in both: Price; Anderson; Schnieder Talbot.

    Breaking out with that kind of slot and Box protection D is a Fantasy. Luckily you signed one of the 9 coaches with repetitive development of strong Box/slot protection D.
    Babcock; Sutter; Tipett; Vigneult; Tmac; Laviolette; …..

  • magesticRAGE

    With Lupul most likely playing with Kadri again, I would put Lupul for a breakout season over Phenuef. Kadri will finally get the minutes he needs, and he’ll feed Lupul (his trigger man) all season, as long as he can stay healthy. Kadri will get first power-play minutes as well, and his success will pour over on Lupul and JVR as well.
    Phenuef will not not see the power-play minutes he’s used to. With the move to a 4 forward power-play, Babcock will move to Rielly and Gardiner as the d-men, not Phenuef. He will have a better season defensively, but not a breakout season.