Q&A: Matt Larkin answers your fantasy hockey questions

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Note: This is a transcript from Thursday’s Twitter Q&A. For more fantasy hockey tips, purchase the Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide here or subscribe to our Gold Membership for less than $4.17 per month. For a full list of benefits of the Gold Membership, click here.


@TayTadge: Does Zadina crack the Red Wings lineup this year and in what capacity do you think he’ll play?

Matt Larkin: In theory, he should based on talent, but my sense is Wings want him to earn his way onto roster, not get a spot by default. If he makes team, you’ll want him in a top-six role. Otherwise, he may be better off playing a ton in the AHL for half a season.


@KarrJosef: My D’s thin. PP points are worth a ton and the only top pp D i have is Letang. Trying to acquire Klingberg atm. Who should I give up between Tarasenko and Tkachuk (for Klingberg)?

Matt Larkin: Tarasenko for sure. We know who he is now: a safe vet who gets 35-35-70, give or take. Meanwhile, Tkachuk (I assume you mean Matthew) had 77 points as a 21-year-old. Tarasenko’s career-high is 75.


@MattSchneider99: will Trouba score 50+ points this year?

Matt Larkin: Great question. On one hand, he’ll have far less top-end talent around him. On the other, his role will be bigger, so I could see those two factors cancelling each other out. Maybe he doesn’t get 50, but I could see 45.


@Jakee_n_Josh: How much of Mat Barzal’s season last year was because of adjusting to a new defensive system and can we expect another 80+ point season out of him this year.

Matt Larkin: Another reason for a down year was lack of insulation with Tavares gone. Barzal had tougher matchups. I was fading him last year in drafts. Now I think he’s a value. Just based on the “bet on talent” principle, I could see him climbing back to 80 points this season.


@CMBollin: Which goalie in Chicago do you think will end up playing more games?

Matt Larkin: Robin Lehner. Crawford’s age and health a concern, and Hawks will want to “audition” Lehner to see if he can be their new long-term No. 1 next season and beyond. I’ll say Lehner gets 45 starts.


@nogoalsports: Thoughts on Kyle Connor goals for 2019-20?

Matt Larkin: Nice, safe 30-goal floor. I wouldn’t be shocked if he flirts with 40. I’ll predict….37.


@RFuks: Biggest sleeper on the rangers this year?

Matt Larkin: How about Alexandar Georgiev? He’s been very good in relief of Hank and might get an increase in starts to keep hank Fresh.


@D_Nasty02: Expect Guentzel to be more productive with more PP time in the absence of Kessel?

Matt Larkin: Maybe, but keep in mind he’s already a 40-goal scorer, so he has to be close to, or at, his ceiling by now, which is excellent.


@JannyUski: Top 3 Goalies next year?

Matt Larkin: Goalies so fickle year to year, but Vasilevskiy the safe top goalie pick. Behind him I have Bobrovsky and Andersen. Both play a TON on top of posting good rate stats. Ideal in fantasy.


@JannyUski: Dahlin break 45 pts this year?

Matt Larkin: Easily. He should reach the 50s this season. He is every bit the phenom he was hyped to be.


@JannyUski: Will Skinner repeat 40 Gs?

Matt Larkin: He does have a pattern of alternating good and bad years, but I say he breaks it this season and has another good year. Maybe not 40, but 35 or more, as the chemistry with Eichel is established.


@Jarmy01: Better year… Kuznetsov or Backstrom?

Matt Larkin: Seems like they are always pretty close, but have to lean Kuznetsov, as he’s in his prime and more commonly Ovie’s center, whereas Backstrom is nearing his early-decline years (as great as he is).


@TMLCentral: Will Gostisbehere bounce back? I feel like there’s some competition now with Provorov and Sanheim, and the trade rumors are unsettling.

Matt Larkin: Tough one. A matter of how he jives with coach Vigneault. At least Flyers’ offense overall should be better and Ghost Bear’s power play time should be pretty safe.


@GongshowGear: Hughes or Kakko?

Matt Larkin: Big fan of both – I truly believe each will be a star – but in fantasy leagues this year I lean Hughes. Better chance at quality linemates whether it’s line 1 or 2, whereas with Kakko you’re crossing fingers he beats out Buchnevich for Line 1 RW job.


@walerwale: Barkov or Malkin?

Matt Larkin: Barkov. He’s smack in his prime, almost scored 100 points last season, and Malkin is a safe bet to miss 10+ games a year, as much as we love him.


@Andrew_TFP: Have you ever won a fantasy league?

Matt Larkin: Oui oui. In fact, we used to have a Hockey News office pool. It stopped after I won it two years straight. COINCIDENCE?


@Havingagaudreau: Gaudreau or Marner?

Matt Larkin: Gaudreau. Left wing scarcer than right in fantasy, plus the RFA negotiation headache makes Marner a bit riskier than he should be.


@SIickRick23: When is the earliest you should be drafting a goaltender?

Matt Larkin: In a two-goalie league or one that weights goalie stats heavily, you can go for one in the top 10. Otherwise, I’d wait until closer to top 20. Goalie position far too fickle and starters are tending to play less too.


@JaFy__: How many goals does DeBrincat score this season?

Matt Larkin: 50 not out of the question, but I’ll play it safe and say 40-45. His shooting percentage was very high, though it was high in his rookie year too, suggesting he’s just an accurate shooter. Overall, I love DeBrincat as a fantasy pick


@AlexFrecon: How many bardownskis is Dumba good for in 2019-2020?

Matt Larkin: I truly believe he can get 20. If he stays healthy he’s a serious threat to lead all defensemen in goals. And he should come at a discount since injury suppressed his stats.


@VeilleuxMaxime: Bounce-back candidate?

Matt Larkin: Too obvious to say Patrik Laine? The fact his “bad” year was still 30 goals as a 20-year old tells us he has a high floor and extremely high ceiling.


@Crump12: How can I stop sucking at fantasy hockey?

Matt Larkin: Use your late-round picks for upside. The boring-vet types you can always pick up on the waiver wire. Try to draft young breakout candidates with the late picks. Worst case, you can drop them a couple weeks into season.


@009wingnut: Forsberg or O’Reilly for keeper league?

Matt Larkin: Forsberg. Three years younger, more of a goal-scorer, more prime years left, qualifies at LW. O’Reilly more valuable in real life, Forsberg in fantasy. (I know in my current rankings I have O’Reilly four slots higher, but that’s for redraft. This question is for keeper leagues).


@BayernSenators: Chabot as first defenseman?

Matt Larkin: I assume you don’t mean first-overall defenseman but your No. 1 defenseman on your squad? He produced like one last year, but keep in mind his numbers dipped after Ottawa traded vets away. I still love him but 50 points in a full season may be a realistic goal. Great as your D2.


@lebby1074: Who are some underrated defensemen I can get in late rounds?

Matt Larkin: Depends on league size of course. In a shallow league, you can go for the exciting kids — Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes. Other underrated D: Vince Dunn, Josh Morrissey, Travis Sanheim, Filip Hronek, Samuel Girard and…gasp… Kevin Shattenkirk!


@JeremyMaron: Which young player(s) do you see taking it to the next level this season? Last year there was an overflow of young stars blossoming into elite fantasy producers (Marner, Point, Aho to name a few).

Matt Larkin: I am all-in on Timo Meier. Carter Hart too. I’m expecting big leaps in production from Andrei Svechnikov and Andreas Johnsson, too.


@KrisCherewyk: Think Lucic has a bounce-back year or is he forever relegated to being the fourth line enforcer?

Matt Larkin: Could be third line, but yes, just a crash-and-bang guy now. On the other side of the trade, James Neal has a better chance at a career resurgence.


@RonnieYurick: Burakovsky a dark horse for a big breakout season being on the Avs 2nd line+PP time?

Matt Larkin: Burakovsky a popular sleeper pick for sure, but I’m actually more bearish than most. How many chances did he get in Washington with Backstrom, Kuznetsov etc? I feel like the breakout would’ve happened by now.


@Carter_hockey14: Thoughts on the Brassard signing for the Islanders?

Matt Larkin: A solid depth addition for the real-life Isles but does not move the needle in fantasy pools. He’s likely their No. 3 center.

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