UFHL Season Preview: Plenty of Contenders, Parity for 2021 Campaign

With the puck dropping on the NHL season tonight, it’s also go-time for the Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League.

The shortened 56-game schedule ensures more of a sprint than the typical marathon and UFHL franchises will also want to avoid a slow start in terms of fantasy points. The evaluation process — also known as the feeling-out timeframe — may not last long before franchises begin making major moves for the present or the future.

Roster activity has been steady throughout the offseason, with franchises positioning themselves for opening night. For 10 franchises — essentially one-third of the league — this will be their debut for fantasy gameplay, and that isn’t counting several other owners who are also new to the UFHL following 11 franchise sales since the inaugural Klein Cup was awarded in October.

Only 10 of the original franchise owners remain from a year ago — from the initial UFHL Draft last January — and six of those franchises have since hired general managers as the stakes continue to get higher, with a progressive prize pool sure to surpass $50K USD before being capped at the April 12 trade deadline.

That’s serious money for serious players, and all 31 franchises will earn a payout on a sliding scale — with a significant drop-off beyond the top-16 playoff seeds — so this season promises to provide the most competitive and realistic fantasy experience available. Especially with the expansion draft looming in July — both for the NHL and for the UFHL, which will be welcoming its 32nd franchise on March 1, with the culmination of that ongoing expansion franchise auction.

As for opening night, here is a look at how the 31 franchises are stacking up on paper heading into the 2020-21 season:

NOTE: The UFHL recently underwent a divisional realignment, while opting to rename its divisions after NHL Hall-of-Famers. A handful of franchises also unveiled new franchise names and logos, adding to the excitement on the eve of the season. Listed in parenthesis is the franchise’s rank from the Preseason Power Rankings that were published on Dec. 1, though some rosters have changed substantially over the past 44 days.

Allan Conference

Gretzky Division

Grizzlies (1)

Red Army (3)

Monarchs (10)

Generals (23)

Battlehawks (26)

Stallions (27)

Godfathers (28)

Norse Stars (29)

Lemieux Division

Yetis (2)

Ice Vikings (6)

Blades of Steel (11)

Warriors (13)

Stingrays (14)

Blizzard (20)

Crypto Knights (22)

Eliminators (25)

Legends Conference

Orr Division

Strong Island (4)

Titans (5)

Rock Republic (7)

Brutes (15)

Elite Assassins (18)

Kamikaze (19)

Snipers (23)

Duckman’s Domination (30)

Howe Division

Outlaws (8)

Gators (9)

West Coast Express (12)

Royals (16)

Tornadoes (17)

Mystics (21)

Dynasty (31)

* Expansion Franchise *

Opening Day Rosters

Allan Conference

Gretzky Division

Grizzlies

Forwards

Dominik Kahun-Leon Draisaitl-Kailer Yamamoto

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-William Karlsson-Teuvo Teravainen

Jaden Schwartz-Nazem Kadri-J.T. Compher

Warren Foegele-Jared McCann-Jesper Fast

Defenders

Mikhail Sergachev-Ethan Bear

Marcus Pettersson-Justin Schultz

Ryan Graves-Matt Roy

Goaltenders

Connor Hellebuyck

Alexandar Georgiev

Extra Skaters: Noel Acciari (F), Sean Kuraly (F), Nikita Nesterov (D)

IR/LTIR: Bryan Little (F)

Red Army

Forwards

Kirill Kaprizov-Evgeni Malkin-Patrick Kane

Alexis Lafreniere-Nick Suzuki-Trevor Zegras

Nick Robertson-Jack Hughes-Jesse Puljujarvi   

Sam Steel-Gabriel Vilardi-Filip Zadina

Defenders

Quinn Hughes-John Carlson

Miro Heiskanen-Charlie McAvoy

Tony DeAngelo-Adam Fox

Goaltenders

Carter Hart

Brian Elliott

Extra Skaters: Morgan Geekie (F), Brendan Lemieux (F), Drew Doughty (D)

IR/LTIR: Kirby Dach (F)

Monarchs

Forwards

Miles Wood-Pierre-Luc Dubois-Eric Robinson

Alex Killorn-Anthony Cirelli-Yanni Gourde

Lawson Crouse-Colton Sissons-Christian Fischer

Kyle Clifford-Devin Shore-Ross Johnston

Defenders

Victor Hedman-Nikita Zadorov

Nathan Beaulieu-Jake McCabe

Jarred Tinordi-Nick Holden

Goaltenders

Tristan Jarry

Ben Bishop

Extra Skaters: Carter Verhaeghe (F), Yakov Trenin (F)

IR/LTIR: Nikita Kucherov (F), Zack Smith (F)

Generals

Forwards

Patrik Laine-Clayton Keller-Troy Terry

Austin Wagner-Barrett Hayton-Joel Farabee

Nick Cousins-Artem Anisimov-Cedric Paquette

Conor Sheary-Jay Beagle-Stefan Noesen

Defenders

Thomas Chabot-Mattias Ekholm

Ryan McDonagh-Nikita Zaitsev

Carl Gunnarsson-Braydon Coburn

Goaltenders

Thatcher Demko

Pavel Francouz

Extra Skaters: Dryden Hunt (F), Lane Pederson (F), Kyle Capobianco (D)

IR/LTIR: Tyler Seguin (F), Vladimir Tarasenko (F), Brandon Dubinsky (F), Julius Honka (D), Brendan Guhle (D)

Battlehawks

Forwards

Jesper Bratt-Mark Scheifele-Alex Tuch

Michael Dal Colle-John Tavares-Alex Galchenyuk

Mattias Janmark-Ryan O’Reilly-Blake Comeau

Jacob de la Rose-Nick Bonino-Luke Glendening

Defenders

John Klingberg-Brandon Carlo

David Savard-Zach Bogosian

Cody Ceci-Greg Pateryn

Goaltenders

Semyon Varlamov

Jaroslav Halak

Extra Skaters: Lawrence Pilut (D), Derrick Pouliot (D), Vinni Lettieri (F)

IR/LTIR: Zemgus Girgensons (F)

Stallions

Forwards

Matthew Tkachuk-Anze Kopitar-Zack Kassian

Christian Dvorak-Bo Horvat-Nick Schmaltz

Brandon Saad-Kyle Turris-Dylan Cozens

Mikhail Grigorenko-Tyler Bozak-Alex Chiasson

Defenders

Nate Schmidt-Brett Pesce

Adam Pelech-Kevin Shattenkirk

Andy Greene-Matt Benning

Goaltenders

Elvis Merzlikins

Chris Driedger

Extra Skaters: Tage Thompson (F), Joe Hicketts (D)

Godfathers

Forwards

Conor Garland-Adrian Kempe-Mikko Rantanen

James Neal-Colin White-Jakob Silfverberg

Robby Fabbri-Nick Bjugstad-Joonas Donskoi

Alexander Volkov-Jordan Martinook-Evan Rodrigues

Defenders

Matt Grzelcyk-Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Radim Simek-Sami Niku

Scott Harrington-Max Lajoie

Goaltenders

Carey Price

Jonathan Quick

Extra Skaters: Rudolfs Balcers (F)

Norse Stars

Forwards

Joel Kiviranta-Matt Duchene-Ryan Johansen

Richard Panik-Kevin Hayes-Nick Merkley

Derek Grant-Jean-Gabriel Pageau-Curtis Lazar

Mackenzie MacEachern-Gaetan Haas-Colin Blackwell

Defenders

Ryan Suter-Erik Karlsson

Esa Lindell-Zach Whitecloud

Jeremy Lauzon-Connor Clifton

Goaltenders

Collin Delia

Casey DeSmith

Extra Skaters: Janne Kuokkanen (F), Dakota Mermis (D)

Lemieux Division

Yetis

Forwards

Artemi Panarin-Connor McDavid-Mitch Marner

Anthony Mantha-Nic Roy-Brock Boeser

Patrick Marleau-Barclay Goodrow-Drake Batherson

Matt Calvert-Cody Eakin-Bryan Rust

Defenders

Zach Werenski-Neal Pionk

Ryan Lindgren-Conor Timmins

Mikey Anderson-Jakob Zboril

Goaltenders

Joonas Korpisalo

Mackenzie Blackwood

Extra Skaters: Jayce Hawryluk (F), Carter Rowney (F), Trevor van Riemsdyk (D)

Ice Vikings

Forwards

Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Oliver Bjorkstrand

Brady Tkachuk-Robert Thomas-Tom Wilson

Evander Kane-Sean Monahan-Kasperi Kapanen

Adam Gaudette-Joel Eriksson Ek-Boone Jenner

Defenders

Josh Morrissey-Jake Muzzin

Alex Edler-Jamie Oleksiak

Brenden Dillon-Radko Gudas

Goaltenders

John Gibson

Aaron Dell

Extra Skaters: Brett Howden (F), Tyler Pitlick (F), Luca Sbisa (D)

Blades of Steel

Forwards

Gabriel Landeskog-Auston Matthews-Jakub Vrana

Brayden Schenn-Mathew Barzal-Nikolaj Ehlers

Jake DeBrusk-Mikael Backlund-Josh Anderson

Ilya Mikheyev-David Kampf-Connor Brown

Defenders

Ian Cole-John Marino

Haydn Fleury-Sean Walker

Jon Merrill-Jonas Siegenthaler

Goaltenders

Ilya Samsonov

Darcy Kuemper

Extra Skaters: Sammy Blais (F), Juuso Riikola (D)

Warriors

Forwards

Owen Tippett-Elias Pettersson-Alexander Radulov

Zach Parise-Anders Lee-Blake Wheeler

Filip Chytil-Jordan Staal-Derek Ryan

Dylan Sikura-Antti Suomela-Sam Lafferty

Defenders

Ivan Provorov-Jared Spurgeon

Brady Skjei-Devon Toews

Calvin de Haan-Christian Wolanin

Goaltenders

Petr Mrazek

Anton Khudobin

Extra Skaters: Sebastian Aho (D), Brogan Rafferty (D)

Stingrays

Forwards

Jake Guentzel-Sean Couturier-Cam Atkinson

Alex DeBrincat-Elias Lindholm-Viktor Arvidsson

Zach Sanford-Josh Bailey-Ryan Hartman

Jimmy Vesey-Dylan Gambrell-Drake Caggiula

Defenders

Cam Fowler-Brent Burns

Michael Matheson-Tyson Barrie

Brayden McNabb-Troy Stecher

Goaltenders

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Extra Skaters: Matt Martin (F), Adam Erne (F), Matt Irwin (D)

IR/LTIR: Oscar Klefbom (D)

Blizzard

Forwards

Travis Konecny-Patrice Bergeron-Kaapo Kakko

Blake Coleman-Max Domi-Rickard Rakell

Tyler Ennis-Casey Cizikas-Ryan Strome

Carl Soderberg-Radek Faksa-Ryan Carpenter

Defenders

Hampus Lindholm-Robert Hagg

Alex Goligoski-Colin Miller

Anthony Bitetto-Kevan Miller

Goaltenders

Thomas Greiss

Jonathan Bernier

Extra Skaters: Nic Deslauriers (F), Jacob Middleton (D)

IR/LTIR: Gustav Nyquist (F)

Crypto Knights

Forwards

Taylor Hall-Scott Laughton-Mark Stone

David Perron-Brock Nelson-Ondrej Kase

Antoine Roussel-Sonny Milano-Andrew Mangiapane

Michael Raffl-Austin Czarnik-Dominik Simon

Defenders

Mark Giordano-Roman Josi

Jordan Oesterle-Dmitry Orlov

Dennis Cholowski-Luke Schenn

Goaltenders

Martin Jones

Devan Dubnyk

Extra Skaters: Mason Appleton (F), Tomas Jurco (F), Fredrik Claesson (D)

IR/LTIR: Zach Aston-Reese (F)

Eliminators

Forwards

Jakub Voracek-Steven Stamkos-Martin Necas

Dillon Dube-Dylan Strome-Sam Reinhart

Josh Leivo-Cody Glass-Alexandre Texier

Lucas Wallmark-Vinnie Hinostroza-Cal Clutterbuck

Defenders

Alex Pietrangelo-Kris Russell

Ryan Murray-Dmitry Kulikov

Andrej Sekera-Markus Nutivaara

Goaltenders

Tuukka Rask

David Rittich

Extra Skaters: Slater Koekkoek (D), Steven Santini (D)

Legends Conference

Orr Division

Strong Island

Forwards

Andrei Svechnikov-Aleksander Barkov-Alex Iafallo

Danton Heinen-Brayden Point-Filip Forsberg

Ryan Dzingel-Adam Henrique-Marcus Sorensen

Zion Nybeck-Jason Dickinson-John Hayden

Defenders

Rasmus Dahlin-Dougie Hamilton

Darnell Nurse-Matt Dumba

Christian Djoos-Tucker Poolman

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby

Adin Hill

Extra Skaters: Jack Johnson (D)

IR/LTIR: Alex Stalock (G)

Titans

Forwards

Andreas Johnsson-William Nylander-Victor Olofsson

Andre Burakovsky-Ivan Barbashev-Pavel Buchnevich

Bobby Ryan-Oskar Lindblom-Jordan Eberle

Nick Ritchie-Nicolas Aube-Kubel-Marcus Foligno

Defenders

Morgan Rielly-Cale Makar

Travis Dermott-Brandon Montour

Philippe Myers-MacKenzie Weegar

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Linus Ullmark

Extra Skaters: Rasmus Sandin (D), Cal Foote (D), Eeli Tolvanen (F)

IR/LTIR: David Pastrnak (F)

Rock Republic

Forwards

Timo Meier-Jack Eichel-Luke Kunin

Jesperi Kotkaniemi-Sebastian Aho-Jake Virtanen

Tanner Pearson-Sam Bennett-Garrett Hathaway

William Carrier-Nick Paul-Austin Watson

Defenders

Noah Hanifin-Rasmus Andersson

Joel Edmundson-Connor Murphy

Mark Boroweicki-Mario Ferraro

Goaltenders

Jordan Binnington

Marc-Andre Fleury

Extra Skaters: Max Jones (F), Morgan Frost (F), Henri Jokiharju (D)

IR/LTIR: Kurtis MacDermid (D)

Brutes

Forwards

Zach Hyman-Sidney Crosby-Logan Couture

David Krejci-Eric Staal-Chris Tierney

Trevor Moore-Alex Kerfoot-Emil Bemstrom

Michael Amadio-Jason Spezza-Travis Boyd

Defenders

Shea Weber-Duncan Keith

Damon Severson-Samuel Girard

Will Butcher-Vince Dunn

Goaltenders

Phillip Grubauer

James Reimer

Extra Skaters: Brad Hunt (D), Mikko Lehtonen (D), Adam Brooks (F)

IR/LTIR: Alex Nylander (F)

Elite Assassins

Forwards

Kyle Connor-Jamie Benn-Tyler Toffoli

Grigori Denisenko-Nico Hischier-Evgenii Dadonov

Patric Hornqvist-Nick Foligno-Nils Hoglander

Adam Lowry-Oskar Sundqvist-Jordan Greenway

Defenders

Dylan DeMelo-Jacob Trouba

Scott Mayfield-Adam Larsson

Urho Vaakanainen-Scott Perunovich

Goaltenders

Mikko Koskinen

Cal Petersen

Extra Skaters: Oliver Wahlstrom (F), Joakim Nygard (F), Oliver Kylington (D)

Kamikaze

Forwards

Milan Lucic-Andrew Shaw-Michael Frolik

Matt Nieto-Andrew Cogliano-Mathieu Perreault

Teddy Blueger-Riley Sheahan-Colton Sceviour

Joakim Nordstrom-Frederik Gauthier-Kevin Rooney

Defenders

Justin Braun-P.K. Subban

Erik Gudbranson-Josh Manson

Brett Kulak-John Moore

Goaltenders

Jacob Markstrom

Marcus Hogberg

Extra Skaters: Connor Carrick (D), Noah Juulsen (D), Nic Petan (F)

IR/LTIR: Henrik Lundqvist (G), Anders Nilsson (G)

Snipers

Forwards

Jonathan Drouin-Nicklas Backstrom-Reilly Smith

Erik Haula-Roope Hintz-Joel Armia

Paul Byron-Lars Eller-Derick Brassard

Martin Frk-Alex Turcotte-Julien Gauthier

Defenders

Justin Faulk-Ryan Ellis

Alexander Romanov-Jeff Petry

Juuso Valimaki-Sami Vatanen

Goaltenders

Matt Murray

Ville Husso

Extra Skaters: Marco Scandella (D), Robert Bortuzzo (D), Leo Komarov (F)

IR/LTIR: Stephen Johns (D)

Duckman’s Domination

Forwards

Brett Connolly-Nolan Patrick-Phil Kessel

Loui Eriksson-Travis Zajac-Mikael Granlund

Mark Jankowski-Casey Mittelstadt-Brandon Pirri

Riley Nash-Nate Thompson-Jordan Weal

Defenders

Jake Gardiner-T.J. Brodie

Marc Staal-Dante Fabbro

Brendan Smith-Patrik Nemeth

Goaltenders

Antii Raanta

Scott Wedgewood

Extra Skaters: Charles Hudon (F), Jason Demers (D), William Lagesson (D)

Howe Division

Outlaws

Forwards

Max Pacioretty-Dylan Larkin-Jonathan Marchessault

Nino Niederreiter-Tomas Hertl-T.J. Oshie

Andrew Copp-Vincent Trocheck-Kyle Palmieri

Johan Larsson-Mikko Koivu-Ryan Reaves

Defenders

Torey Krug-Colton Parayko

Caleb Jones-Rasmus Ristolainen

Derek Forbort-Filip Hronek

Goaltenders

Juuse Saros

Pekka Rinne

Extra Skaters: Nic Dowd (F), Noah Gregor (F), Ilya Lyubushkin (D)

Gators

Forwards

Valeri Nichushkin-Nathan MacKinnon-James van Riemsdyk

Wayne Simmonds-J.T. Miller-Frank Vatrano

Josh Archibald-Calle Jarnkrok-Craig Smith

Evan Barratt-Philip Tomasino-Anders Bjork

Defenders

Jaccob Slavin-Kris Letang

Alec Martinez-Keith Yandle

Zdeno Chara-Travis Hamonic

Goaltenders

Fredrik Andersen

Craig Anderson

Extra Skaters: Mark Pysyk (D/F), Mike Reilly (D)

West Coast Express

Forwards

Johnny Gaudreau-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Nikita Gusev

Brad Marchand-Pius Suter-Jason Zucker

Tyler Bertuzzi-Marcus Johansson-Brendan Gallagher

Corey Perry-Tyler Motte-Jordan Kyrou

Defenders

Shea Theodore-Aaron Ekblad

Vladislav Gavrikov-Shayne Gostisbehere

Erik Gustafsson-Noah Dobson

Goaltenders

Robin Lehner

Curtis McElhinney

Extra Skaters: Rocco Grimaldi (F), Brad Richardson (F), Olli Juolevi (D)

Royals

Forwards

Alex Ovechkin-Kevin Fiala-Jonathan Huberdeau

Denis Gurianov-Tomas Tatar-Mike Hoffman

Ondrej Palat-Joe Thornton-Dominik Kubalik

Brandon Tanev-Jack Studnicka-Daniel Sprong

Defenders

Jakob Chychrun-Ryan Pulock

Ben Chiarot-Tyler Myers

Olli Maatta-Carson Soucy

Goaltenders

Ilya Sorokin

Jake Allen

Extra Skaters: Blake Lizotte (F), Jake Evans (F), Ville Heinola (D)

Tornadoes

Forwards

Ryan Donato-Tyson Jost-Kevin Labanc

Carl Hagelin-Derek Stepan-Alexander Wennberg

Tomas Nosek-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Victor Rask

Carl Grundstrom-Matthew Highmore-Matt Luff

Defenders

Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Nick Leddy

Danny DeKeyser-Chris Tanev

Josh Mahura-Andrew Peeke

Goaltenders

Jack Campbell

Eric Comrie

Extra Skaters: Zach Senyshyn (F), Jeremy Bracco (F)

IR/LTIR: Jonathan Toews (F), Micheal Ferland (F)

Mystics

Forwards

Anthony Beauvillier-Claude Giroux-Charlie Coyle

Pavel Zacha-Paul Stastny-Joe Pavelski

Chandler Stephenson-Mitchell Stephens-Mathieu Joseph

Brock McGinn-Jansen Harkins-Jack Roslovic

Defenders

Travis Sanheim-Seth Jones

Erik Johnson-Erik Cernak

Josh Brown-Anton Stralman

Goaltenders

Mike Smith

Carter Hutton

Extra Skaters: Chris Wagner (F), Justin Abdelkader (F), Jan Rutta (D)

IR/LTIR: Mats Zuccarello (F)

Dynasty

Forwards

Anthony Duclair-Phillip Danault-Dustin Brown

Jeff Carter-Ryan Getzlaf-Andreas Anthanasiou

Jeff Skinner-Tyler Johnson-Vladislav Namestnikov

Artturi Lehkonen-Sam Gagner-Pat Maroon

Defenders

Brian Dumoulin-Justin Holl

Kale Clague-Jonas Brodin

Ben Hutton-Jacob Larsson

Goaltenders

Malcolm Subban

Vitek Vanecek

Extra Skaters: Victor Mete (D), Brinson Pasichnuk (D), Tobias Rieder (F)

IR/LTIR: Sergei Bobrovsky (G), Michal Kempny (D)


Fantrax Projections

Based on these opening-night rosters, this is how the overall standings would play out according to Fantrax’s projected point totals:

1) Red Army — 2971.05

2) Grizzlies — 2870.30

3) Ice Vikings — 2822.55

4) Titans — 2699.10

5) Outlaws — 2617.30

6) Blades of Steel — 2562.20

7) Royals — 2545.30

8) Yetis — 2537.40

9) West Coast Express — 2491.85

10) Rock Republic — 2481.40

11) Stingrays — 2460.95

12) Blizzard — 2361.25

13) Strong Island — 2328.30

14) Snipers — 2221.80

15) Gators — 2220.65

16) Brutes — 2220.20

17) Generals — 2206.75

18) Stallions — 2199.00

19) Crypto Knights — 2197.95

20) Monarchs — 2186.10

21) Elite Assassins — 2118.20

22) Warriors — 2114. 10

23) Dynasty — 2072.90

24) Mystics — 2057.05

25) Battlehawks — 2027.20

26) Eliminators — 2013.30

27) Godfathers — 1863.20

28) Norse Stars — 1672.65

29) Kamikaze — 1475.65

30) Duckman’s Domination — 1378.30

31) Tornadoes — 1369.50

Here are the division standings, according to Fantrax’s projections, with the top four from each division qualifying for the Klein Cup playoffs:

Allan Conference

Gretzky Division

1) Red Army — 2971.05

2) Grizzlies — 2870.30

17) Generals — 2206.75

18) Stallions — 2199.00

20) Monarchs — 2186.10

25) Battlehawks — 2027.20

27) Godfathers — 1863.20

28) Norse Stars — 1672.65

Lemieux Division

3) Ice Vikings — 2822.55

6) Blades of Steel — 2562.20

8) Yetis — 2537.40

11) Stingrays — 2460.95

12) Blizzard — 2361.25

19) Crypto Knights — 2197.95

22) Warriors — 2114. 10

26) Eliminators — 2013.30

Legends Conference

Orr Division

4) Titans — 2699.10

10) Rock Republic — 2481.40

13) Strong Island — 2328.30

14) Snipers — 2221.80

16) Brutes — 2220.20

21) Elite Assassins — 2118.20

29) Kamikaze — 1475.65

30) Duckman’s Domination — 1378.30

Howe Division

5) Outlaws — 2617.30

7) Royals — 2545.30

9) West Coast Express — 2491.85

15) Gators — 2220.65

23) Dynasty — 2072.90

24) Mystics — 2057.05

31) Tornadoes — 1369.50

The actual UFHL standings can be viewed on Fantrax.

To view the franchises’ protected lists and scout-owned prospects, check out the UFHL Sheets.

Follow the UFHL on Twitter: @ufhleague