Arizona Coyotes 2014-2015 Season Preview: The New York Islanders

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Coyotes vs. Islanders: Fantasy FAQ’s

Dec 12, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Islanders forward Thomas Vanek (26) falls to the ice after colliding with Phoenix Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette (50) in the third period at Jobing.com Arena. The Coyotes defeated the Islanders 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

HH: Word has it that both of you are going head-to-head in NHL Fantasy this year, so let’s throw in a Fantasy draft question here. Obviously, NYI has Tavares… but which team, overall, has a richer pool to draft from? 

MH: Tough question. Up front, I don’t think it’s a debate; the Islanders have a deeper pool of forwards to draft from. Besides JT, Kyle Okposo put up 69 points in 71 games last year, and it wouldn’t be a stretch for him to match the output again playing wing on JT’s line. Frans Nielsen is coming off his best season, putting up 58 points (25 goals, 33 assists) last year and plays in all situations. Additionally, don’t sleep on second-year player Ryan Strome, who finished the season strong with 13 points in his final 20 games, or Brock Nelson, who is the leading candidate to start the year on the top line with Tavares and Okposo. Just ask Matt Moulson how life is riding shotgun with JT.

On defense, the Coyotes have the better high-end quality to offer. Keith Yandle, despite the screams that he isn’t a good defenseman (BS in my opinion), is a lock for 40+ points with tons of power play time. Beyond Yandle, the Coyotes have Oliver Ekman-Larsson, known as “OEL” in the leauge and “my obsession” in my heart, to offer for fantasy hockey. OEL put up 44 points last season, and should find himself in that range from here on out. 

“Up front, I don’t think it’s a debate; the Islanders have a deeper pool of forwards to draft from. Besides JT, Kyle Okposo put up 69 points in 71 games last year, and it wouldn’t be a stretch for him to match the output again playing wing on JT’s line. Frans Nielsen is coming off his best season, putting up 58 points (25 goals, 33 assists) last year and plays in all situations.”

Oct 8, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) attempts to get a shot off in front of Phoenix Coyotes defenseman David Rundblad (2) and Phoenix Coyotes goalie Thomas Greiss (1) during the third period of a game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In net, both teams offer solid fantasy options with Jaroslav Halak and Mike Smith. I’d lean towards Smith for fantasy purposes only because Halak has dealt with more injury issues in the past. However, after the elite tier of goalies (Rask, Lundqvist, Bishop, Quick, etc) both Smith and Halak are appealing options. 

CS: Other than Tavares, neither team really has anyone that you would want to take in the first few rounds- but beyond that, I would agree with Mike. Each team becomes a fountain of mid-round wealth in their own way; the Isles have some good offensive options, while the Coyotes will give you some solid blue line support. I’m going to have to go with the Coyotes, though, as the stronger fantasy team- because in addition to Yandle, OEL, and Smith, the Coyotes have a couple of solid sleeper picks on offense. Mikkel Boedker is someone that HH writer Adam Pierce and I might be fighting over this draft- at 24, he’s been getting better every season. Putting up 28 points in his first NHL season, he remained consistent throughout his time with the club and his two seasons in San Antonio, even bringing in a respectable 26 points during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Last year, he put up 19 goals and 32 assists for a total of 51 points- not someone you’ll want to overlook. They’ve also got Antoine Vermette, whose 45 points last season would make a great later-round addition, and- if you feel like taking a chance on his wildly inconsistent history- Sam Gagner, who has the potential to be a quality addition to the team with some effort.

Have input on whether Catherine and Mike are right about the fantasy picks? Think they’re right- or wildly incorrect- about how the season is going to play out? Let us know, and stay tuned for the next pre-season team matchup!