Every Sunday during the NHL regular season, I’ll share my 20 Fantasy Thoughts. They’re based on the latest news, findings, trends and themes in the fantasy hockey world.
Remember that Patrik Laine “slump”? Yeah, neither do I. Mercy.
It’s hard to believe we’ve already passed the quarter mark of the NHL season. By now, you should have a fair assessment of your fantasy squad. Now, it’s time to go out there and make necessary changes.
When it comes to goaltending, I’d wait a bit longer to make integral decisions. It’s such a volatile and fluid position, one misstep and you could bury your team for the season.
1. Two more coaching casualties to make note of – Mike Yeo and Todd McLellan. The Blues slapped Craig Berube with the interim tag; The Oilers brought 66-year-old Ken Hitchcock out of retirement.
In terms of fantasy implications, I look specifically at the goaltending. Can the introduction of a stronger defensive brand help Jake Allen and Cam Talbot return to fantasy relevancy? Only time will tell. Be alert.
2. Jeremy Colliton’s arrival in Chicago has proven to be a positive development for Brandon Saad (LW). The 26-year-old now has three goals and three assists since Joel Quenneville was canned. Considering his current line-one assignment with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, Saad is a solid streamer option right now.
3. Don’t be shocked if the Penguins elect to split time between Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry going forward with Matt Murray once again injured. Rest assured, both goalies will be busy over the next little while as the Penguins try to get back in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Pittsburgh was on the outside looking in on American Thanksgiving. I prefer Jarry over DeSmith.
4. If you own Roberto Luongo, it may be time to consider other options. Over the last couple of seasons, time has certainly caught up with the 39-year-old. He suffered another injury Friday night and is considered day-to-day right now.
Also, stay far away from James Reimer as a potential replacement.
5. Staying in Florida, I’m curious to see what route they decide to go with regards to filling the massive void left by the injured Vincent Trocheck (C) up the middle.
Short-term, Jared McCann (C) will get a legitimate shot. If that doesn’t work, I wonder if Florida calls up 2016 first-round pick Henrik Borgstrom (C). The 21-year-old is off to a strong start with Springfield in the AHL, averaging over a point per game through his first 15 games (four goals, 12 assists). Sneaky value if it happens.
6. Dallas’ Ben Bishop has landed on injured reserve with a lower-body issue. It’s not thought to be long-term, but keep back-up Anton Khudobin in mind if you’re searching for a goalie start.
7. Suddenly, David Krejci (C) and Joakim Nordstrom (C/LW) have become players of interest in the fantasy world. That’s because Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy has elected to split up Brad Marchand (LW) and David Pastrnak (RW) in lieu of the Patrice Bergeron (C) injury. Don’t sleep on rookie Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (C) either. There’s value to be had here.
8. It sounds like Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is close to returning from his torn meniscus. L.A. can’t score goals, but I still consider Quick one of the best goaltenders in the world and you can acquire him for cheap right now. With the season all but crushed, expect the Kings to be a massive spoiler in the second half.
9. Another goalie situation to keep close tabs on is in San Jose. There’s no way around it, Aaron Dell (three wins, two shutouts, 2.60 goals against average, .914 save percentage) has outplayed Martin Jones (nine wins, 3.01 goals against average, .891 save percentage) so far. Short-term, I can see Dell stealing some starts, but long-term I still think Jones is the play here. He’s another slow starter.
10. Your opportunity to buy-low on Max Pacioretty (LW) is dwindling by the second. Make that a tidy four-game point streak (six goals, one assist) and nine points over the last seven games. Pacioretty is a four-time 30-goal scorer. Suffice it to say, I’d act quickly here.
11. Meantime, if you’re in need of help at the wing, go out and pick up Alex Tuch immediately. Pacioretty’s linemate is having a very impressive November (13 games played: five goals, nine assists, 14 points, plus-four, four power play points). I think the Golden Knights are just starting to find their stride. BUY.
12. Put your hand up if you knew Minnesota’s Matt Dumba currently led all NHL defenseman in scoring with 10 goals. You’re not alone. Quietly, the 24-year-old is on pace for 36 goals. Similar to my advice earlier in the year to sell-high on John Carlson, you should do the same with Dumba. Take advantage of someone else’s hunger and need for help on the back-end.
13. Speaking of Minnesota, now’s a good time to go out and buy Eric Staal (C). He has four goals – two of which were game winners – over the past five games. Despite his recent surge, I still think fantasy owners devalue Staal. All he’s done since signing with the Wild is produce, which included 43-tallies last season. Contract year!
14. Once Shea Weber returns, Jeff Petry will have minimal fantasy value. Time to get what you can for Petry and move on. Weber is expected to make his season debut on Tuesday, which will provide a big boost to Montreal’s special teams. I hope you stashed him when I told you to.
15. With all the fantasy focus on Colorado’s top-line, J.T. Compher (C/LW/RW) could provide you with some numbers. After missing 16 games due to a concussion, the 23-year-old has three goals in two games. That brings his season total to six goals and one assist; seven points in seven games. Small sample size, but there’s reason for intrigue.
16. New York Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier (C/LW) should be in your crosshairs. Coming off a 21-goal campaign, the 21-year-old got off to a dismal start but has shown signs lately of waking up. He has five goals and two assists over the past five games.
The recent hot play has caught the eye of head coach Barry Trotz. Beauvillier was recently elevated to top-line duties with Mathew Barzal (C) and Josh Bailey (RW). Additionally, he’s seeing some power play time too. It’s a contract year. Scoop him.
17. Whatever Andreas Athanasiou (C/LW) has been eating lately, I want some of that. The Red Wings’ speedster has six goals, three assists and nine points over the last eight games. He’s currently only 29 per cent owned in Yahoo! Leagues. Act accordingly.
18. Pay close attention to the Philadelphia Flyers. After a 6-0 drubbing on Saturday night in Toronto, general manager Ron Hextall’s patience must be wearing thin. Any changes are sure to have bearing on the fantasy landscape.
19. One way or another, there’ll be a resolution regarding William Nylander (C/RW) in the next week. The deadline for him to sign a contract – if he wants to play in the NHL this season – is Saturday, Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. Eastern. You’ve come too far with him on your roster to cut bait now.
20. It’ll be another busy week of NHL action with 51 total games. Stocking your Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool roster with players from Anaheim, Chicago, Colorado, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, New York Rangers, Ottawa, San Jose and Winnipeg would be extremely beneficial. Those 10 teams lead the way with four games.
Other side of the spectrum, it would be wise to steer clear of the lowly Flyers. They’re the lone organization with just two games on the docket. They could use the practice, anyways.