20 Fantasy Thoughts: Examining buy-low candidates to target

Mitch Marner at a game against the Calgary Flames. (Larry MacDougal/CP)

What do Sergei Bobrovsky, Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture and Kevin Shattenkirk, among others, have in common? They’ve all turned back the clock to start the season.

It’s early but hands up if you saw that coming, especially Bobrovsky. I know I didn’t.

With social media in perpetual uproar over struggling players (see Mitch Marner), it’s easy to miss the feel-good stories. In the early going, there’s been a plethora of players enjoying a bit of a resurgence of sorts. And considering most of their average draft positions, they’re offering tremendous value to fantasy owners right now.

Did I mention we’re in an Olympic year? Don’t underestimate that.

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1. Drew Doughty, another one of those guys off to a hot start, left Friday night’s game in Dallas with a knee injury. At this point, it sounds relatively minor, a huge relief for not only the Kings but Hockey Canada brass, too.

As for short-term injury replacements, Sean Walker will likely assume Doughty’s first power-play quarterback duties. He’s worth maybe a stream, nothing more.

All things being equal, your best option will likely come externally. Bowen Byram, Moritz Seider, and Jaccob Slavin are worth your consideration.

2. I’m buying on Nate Schmidt. After a dreadful season in Vancouver, the puck-moving defender is off to a solid start with Winnipeg. He has six assists over the past three contests, three of which have come via the power play. Take a flier.

3. Even though they erupted for six goals on Saturday night against Detroit, my feeling is that there’s still significant buy-low opportunity in Montreal right now. Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki, Jeff Petry and Mike Hoffman should be on your radar.

4. Over in Toronto, you won’t be acquiring Auston Matthews for less than market value, but you can certainly try on the likes of Mitch Marner, John Tavares and Morgan Rielly. For what it’s worth, there’s no way that Maple Leafs offence is silenced for much longer. Buy now.

5. With Kris Letang in COVID-19 protocol, John Marino stands to gain a considerable boost, even with half the Penguins roster out of action right now. The 24-year-old blueliner has four points in five games to start the year. Have a look.

6. Speaking of Pittsburgh, kudos to Drew O’Connor, who has seized every bit of his opportunity with everyone and their mother out of the lineup. The undrafted 23-year-old forward has quietly tallied three goals and five points in four outings so far. That’s a cheeky DFS play, if I’ve ever seen one.

7. Since Nikita Kucherov went down, Mathieu Joseph and Corey Perry have received the biggest in-house promotions. You can have a look there, or you can venture to some external options: Mats Zuccarello (Minnesota), Andrew Copp (Winnipeg) and Dustin Brown (Los Angeles) tickle my fancy.

8. Drop Evander Kane. The Sharks forward was suspended this past week for 21 games for an “established violation” of the NHL/NHLPA COVID-19 protocol. He’s eligible to return Nov. 30, but at this point, there’s no guarantee that San Jose will welcome him back. Monitor closely.

9. Some Jack Hughes injury replacements: Chandler Stephenson (Vegas), Jared McCann (Seattle) and Trevor Zegras (Anaheim).

10. What year is it? Derick Brassard is seemingly fantasy relevant again. The 34-year-old Flyers centre, who’s been centering a line alongside Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson, has a goal and four helpers in four games out of the gates. Think about it.

11. Memo to irritated Tyler Seguin/Vladimir Tarasenko owners: be patient. They’ll be fine. It’s amazing how many questions I’ve been getting about both players.

12. Cut bait with Sean Monahan. He’s done nothing offensively; you can always circle back down the road.

13. Ditto for Jonathan Toews in Chicago. There’s so much depth up the middle in fantasy hockey, there’s no need to wait around for him.

14. With both MacKenzie Blackwood and Jonathan Bernier out for the Devils, rookie Nico Daws is worth your attention. Making his NHL debut on Saturday night against Buffalo, the 20-year-old made 24 stops for his first career victory.

15. Snatch up Adin Hill. Over three appearances, the 25-year-old has posted a 3-0-0 record with a 2.00 goals-against average and .922 save percentage for the red-hot Sharks. Ride the hot wave.

16. Speaking of hot, Mikko Koskinen is worth an add, at least until Mike Smith (LBI) returns. Koskinen’s 3-0-0 with a 2.03 goals-against and .943 save-percentage in three outings so far this season.

17. Cut Patric Hornqvist. Since starting the year alongside Aleksander Barkov on the top line, the veteran power forward has been relegated to a bottom-six role and secondary power play duties in recent outings. His line deployment is everything.

18. Two players to put on your watch list: Panthers rookie Anton Lundell and Ottawa’s Nick Paul.

The Shane Pinto injury has afforded Paul the opportunity to get some top-six exposure to Tim Stutzle and Connor Brown. Meantime, Lundell, the 2020 12th overall pick, has two goals and five points over a modest three-game point streak. Be mindful.

19. Assuming everything goes off without a hitch, week three (Oct. 25-31) of the NHL season will feature a 49-game docket:

Monday: 7 Games
Tuesday: 7 Games
Wednesday: 5 Games
Thursday: 9 Games
Friday: 6 Games
Saturday: 10 Games
Sunday: 4 Games

Steer clear of depth adds from Edmonton, Nashville, and Ottawa, respectively. Those three squads play just twice this upcoming week.

Meantime, the Islanders are the lone team to play just once. Be cognizant.

20. Here are the four-game teams to target: ANA, ARI, CGY, CAR, FLA, LAK, MTL.

Of those seven squads, I like these three schedules the most:

Anaheim Ducks: Tues (WPG), Thurs (BUF), Fri (@VGK), Sun (MTL)
Waiver Looks: Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale
SN Fantasy Pool: ANA Goalies 2, Kevin Shattenkirk 1

Carolina Hurricanes: Mon (TOR), Thurs (BOS), Fri (CHI), Sun (ARI)
Waiver Looks: Jordan Staal, Nino Niederreiter
SN Fantasy Pool: CAR Goalies 4, Sebastian Aho 3

Los Angeles Kings: Mon (@STL), Thurs (WPG), Sat (MTL), Sun (BUF)
Waiver Looks: Dustin Brown, Sean Walker
SN Fantasy Pool: Anze Kopitar 2, LAK Goalies 2

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