20 Fantasy Thoughts: Contract-year Taylor Hall is a player to be feared

HC analyst Elliotte Friedman joins Lead Off to discuss why he thinks the Oilers would be interested in a Taylor Hall reunion if the Devils ever made him available via the trade market.

Got that itch for more fantasy hockey content? Well, great – looks like today is your lucky day!

Thanks to our friends at RAM, we’re excited to unveil ‘Fantasy Forecheck’ later today on Sportsnet’s YouTube page. Hosted by Andy McNamara and yours truly, the weekly digital show will be dedicated to wall-to-wall fantasy hockey coverage. Our goal is to provide useful insight and information to help you succeed, all while covering a variety of different fantasy platforms including the Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool.

Needless to say, exciting times ahead. Something tells me we’ll be discussing the Colorado Avalanche quite a bit this season.

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1. Looking for undervalued streamer plays? Almost surprisingly, there are plenty of options in Denver these days.

The most impressive part about this 7-0-1 start for the Avalanche has been their newfound depth scoring. Yes Mikko Rantanen (five goals), Nathan MacKinnnon (four) and Gabriel Landeskog (three) have still combined for 12 of Colorado’s 35 goals, but the depth scoring has been much more prevalent thus far. The early returns on Joe Sakic’s off-season moves have been good: Andre Burakovsky (four), Tyson Jost (four), Joonas Donskoi (three) and Nazem Kadri (three). Have an eye!

2. The Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t skipped a beat without Evgeni Malkin in the lineup. Shocker, Sidney Crosby has been phenomenal. Pittsburgh’s current lineup is filled with plenty of value buys – Dominik Simon, Jared McCann, Patric Hornqvist and Justin Schultz to name a few.

3. Speaking of the Penguins, Alex Galchenyuk is an excellent stash option, despite being out of the lineup right now. The 25-year-old is currently 35 per cent owned in standard Yahoo! leagues. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

4. Initially, Alex Kerfoot and Ilya Mikheyev stand to gain the biggest boost in the absence of captain John Tavares in Toronto. As seen by his gamesmanship Saturday night versus Boston – randomly putting Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews together – you never know what’s next when it comes to Mike Babcock. Stay alert!

5. Crash the waiver wire immediately and pick up Arizona’s Nick Schmaltz. The 23-year-old has picked up where he left off before last year’s season-ending injury, notching three goals and eight points through his first seven games. Finally, a solid start for the Coyotes.

6. Nico Hischier got PAID and good for him but, from a fantasy perspective, I still don’t know what to make of him. The 20-year-old has 37 goals and 101 points in 157 career games, spent mostly centring Taylor Hall’s line. With Jack Hughes’ arrival in New Jersey, that may change sooner rather than later. Hischier is currently sidelined with an upper-body ailment.

7. Do everything in your power to acquire Taylor Hall. Despite the pending contract hoopla, he’s very likely to go off and set himself up for an exorbitant amount of money. Even with his lucrative resume, I still feel like Hall is undervalued in the fantasy world. Contract-year Taylor Hall should be feared.

8. One last note on New Jersey – is MacKenzie Blackwood starting to emerge as the number-one option in goal? Granted it’s a small sample size so far, numbers are trending that way. Cory Schneider has been downright atrocious, only furthering the case for more Blackwood. Be alert.

9. This isn’t a breaking news bulletin or anything, but you should be all over Carter Hutton right now. Something feels different in Buffalo under Ralph Krueger. Then again, how many times have we said that in recent memory? Take the plunge!

10. Meanwhile, as expected, the Rasmus Dahlin breakout is happening. The sophomore blueliner already has nine points in nine contests, clearly on pace to crush last year’s 44-point output. Obtain him!

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11. With Filip Forsberg day-to-day for Nashville with a lower-body issue, give some strong consideration to picking up Calle Jarnkrok. The 28-year-old has five points in eight games, filling in recently on Nashville’s top-line with Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson.

12. The P.K. Subban trade has proven to be a positive development for Ryan Ellis. The 28-year-old is off to a blistering start with 11 points in eight games. The Freelton native should have no problem eclipsing last year’s career high of 41 points. Not bad for a defender once deemed to be ‘too small’ to be a full-time NHL defender.

13. Last one on Nashville. Kyle Turris is worth flagging on your watch list. Coming off a dreadful 23-point season, the 30-year-old pivot has quietly notched three goals and six points to start the season. Think about it.

14. The Adam Henrique/Rickard Rakell combo is generating plenty of offence out in Anaheim these days. That said, I’m inclined to be selling on all things Ducks right now. I just don’t believe in that team from an offensive standpoint over an 82-game slate.

15. Looking for a bargain deal on a goalie? Target Jonathan Quick. After an abysmal first three appearances to kick off the year, the veteran bounced back with a 23-save 4-1 victory against Calgary on Saturday night. Buy!

16. In search of winger depth? L.A.’s Tyler Toffoli is an intriguing file. The Scarborough native potted 31 goals back in 2015/16, a mark he’s failed to even get close to sniffing since. The 27-year-old has had a steady start to a contract year, scoring three goals and adding two assists in eight games played so far.

17. It almost goes without saying but be patient if you own any Dallas Stars. That team is too talented to be playing this poorly. They’ll find their way. That 4-1 win in Philadelphia on Saturday night is a good start.

18. While it’s a risky venture, Jamie Benn can be had for dirt cheap on the fantasy trade market at the moment. If you can find a trade that makes sense, I think it’s worth the gamble. A 30/30 type season is a fair expectation. I’ll take it.

19. Time for a look at the NHL schedule for Oct. 21 to 27:

Monday: 4 Games

Tuesday: 10 Games

Wednesday: 2 Games

Thursday: 10 Games

Friday: 6 Games

Saturday: 9 Games

Sunday: 7 Games

Total: 48 Games

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20. Ten teams will play a week-high four times (ANA, CHI, DET, LAK, OTT, PHI, SJS, STL, TOR & VGK). Here are five of them with the best schedules:

Vegas Golden Knights

Schedule: Mon (@PHI), Tues (@CHI), Fri (COL), Sun (ANA)

Waiver Looks: Paul Stastny (35 per cent), Cody Glass (12 percent)

SN Fantasy Pool: Marc-Andre Fleury (four), Mark Stone (three), Max Pacioretty (two)

Ottawa Senators

Schedule: Mon (@DAL Wed (DET), Fri (NYI), Sun (SJS)

Waiver Looks: Vladislav Namestnikov (six per cent), Connor Brown (one per cent)

SN Fantasy Pool: Thomas Chabot (two), Brady Tkachuk (two), Vladislav Namestnikov (one)

Philadelphia Flyers

Schedule: Mon (VGK), Thurs (@CHI), Sat (CBJ), Sun (@NYI)

Waiver Looks: James van Riemsdyk (34 per cent), Kevin Hayes (16 per cent)

SN Fantasy Pool: Carter Hart (three), Claude Giroux (three), Travis Konecny (two)

St. Louis Blues

Schedule: Mon (COL), Thurs (LAK), Sat (@BOS), Sun (@DET)

Waiver Looks: Jaden Schwartz (28 per cent), Robert Thomas (two per cent)

SN Fantasy Pool: Jordan Binnington (four), Vladimir Tarasenko (three), Brayden Schenn (two)

Toronto Maple Leafs

Schedule: Mon (CBJ), Tues (@BOS), Fri (SJS), Sat (@MTL)

Waiver Looks: Alex Kerfoot (16 per cent), Ilya Mikheyev (13 per cent)

SN Fantasy Pool: Auston Matthews (four), Mitch Marner (tree), Morgan Rielly (three)

Additionally, be cognizant that Carolina, Montreal, Tampa, Vancouver and Winnipeg only place twice. Also, stay completely clear of New Jersey – they have just one game on the docket

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