20 Fantasy Thoughts: Jets’ Ehlers is a holiday bargain


Winnipeg Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers (27) celebrates his hat trick against the Chicago Blackhawks during third period NHL action in Winnipeg on Thursday, November 29, 2018. (John Woods/CP)

It’s difficult to remember life without the William Nylander contract stalemate. Alas, we’re here as the 22-year-old and the Toronto Maple Leafs finally agreed to terms on a new contract on Saturday night. It’ll be interesting to see how things unfold league-wide next summer.

Honestly, what to talk about now?

1. The important thing to note when it comes to Nylander (C/RW): Leafs head coach Mike Babcock is a big fan. So, when it comes to utilization, I fully expect the slippery Swede to continue receiving meaningful exposure. That means tons of Matthews five-on-five and the rest of the cast on Toronto’s first power play unit too.

Nylander’s return is bad news for fantasy owners of Nazem Kadri (C) and Kasperi Kapanen (RW).

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2. While the hunt is on for a new general manager in Philadelphia, you should be scouring the market in hopes of landing a struggling Flyers player right now. Jakub Voracek, Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere are all really solid buy-low options right now. Inquire away!

3. On the surface, new Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz (C/LW) is the most fantasy relevant player involved in the recent 2-for-1 deal between Arizona and Chicago. Playing with Alex Galchenyuk (C/LW) and Clayton Keller (C/LW/RW), Schmaltz has a goal and three helpers in three consecutive victories to start his time off in the desert. Pick him up!

Don’t sleep on Dylan Strome (C) either. The recent deal reunited the former third overall pick with best friend Alex DeBrincat (LW/RW) in the Windy City. The 21-year-old has one goal and one assist in three games thus far.

Additionally, I’d take a long-term approach when it comes to Brendan Perlini (LW/RW). Not much fantasy relevancy to report right now.

4. Did the Oilers strike gold with the Valentin Zykov (LW/RW) waiver claim? I’m as skeptical as the next person but Sportsnet’s own Rory Boylen seems to be a big-time fan of the move.

When reached for comment, the co-host of the Tape-to-Tape Podcast had the following to say:

“Averaged 2:27 on Carolina’s power play but couldn’t get a spot on any of the top three lines at even strength. Ken Hitchcock talked about Zykov’s strong analytics and how he likes to get high quality chances. We know the Oilers are searching for cheap, productive talent on their wings which is why Zykov, who scored 33 goals in 63 AHL games last season, is at least worth a flyer. You’ll be happy you did it if he ever gets a sniff of Connor McDavid’s line.”


Senior Writer Ryan Dixon and NHL Editor Rory Boylen always give it 110%, but never rely on clichés when it comes to podcasting. Instead, they use a mix of facts, fun and a varied group of hockey voices to cover Canada’s most beloved game.

5. Searching for a holiday bargain? Go out there and acquire Nikolaj Ehlers (LW, RW). The Jets forward has six points over his last five outings finally showing signs of breaking out. It’s a been a difficult start but the consistent production is coming. Trust me.

6. Across the board, you can find some tremendous buy-low value in Los Angeles right now. This team is way better than their start and I fully expect them to be much more competitive for the balance of the season. Think Anze Kopitar (C), Jonathan Quick, Jeff Carter (C), Dustin Brown (RW) and Drew Doughty. Make some offers.

7. When it comes to Ilya Kovalchuk (LW/RW), there’s not much you can do. I’d wait it out for a couple more weeks. If considerable improvements aren’t seen, cut bait. He’s far too talented to be playing in a secondary role. Monitor.

8. One more on LA: John Hoven of the Mayor’s Manor suggests 2017 first rounder Gabriel Vilardi (C) will be headed to Canada’s World Junior selection camp. The 19-year-old was recently sent to the AHL on a conditioning assignment as he recovers from a back injury. Contingent on a variety of factors, don’t be surprised to see Vilardi potentially make his NHL debut sometime in January. I wouldn’t rule out a return to the CHL either. This is a long-term fantasy look.

9. While almost unbelievable – at this point in his career – Curtis McElhinney has won the Carolina number-one job in the crease. Scott Darling was tossed on waivers and now will try to get his game back on track in the AHL. Full steam ahead with McElhinney and Petr Mrazek!

10. Ryan Donato (C/LW/RW) has surfaced back in Boston after an early-season demotion to the AHL. In 10 games with Providence, he notched five goals and nine points. There’s no question Donato is a top-six talent. Grab him!

11. Before he completely catches fire, I’d make one last ditch effort to obtain Boston’s Tuukka Rask. The 31-year-old has surrendered 14 goals over his past seven outings. Similar to last year around this time, he’s rounding into form and could be a big-time contributor for your squad in the second half. Act quickly.

12. Updating the goalie infirmary:

Arizona Coyotes – With both Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper sidelined right now, the Coyotes claimed Calvin Pickard off waivers from Philadelphia. It’ll be Pickard and Adin Hill in the short-term for the Coyotes. Hill is playing very well right now.

Dallas Stars – Ben Bishop is back; Drop Anton Khudobin.

Florida Panthers – Roberto Luongo is still considered day-to-day; I wouldn’t touch James Reimer. He’s been putrid this season.

LA Kings – Jonathan Quick has returned; Dump Cal Petersen.

13. Small sample size but Mike Smith has won back-to-back starts surrendering just one goal in each of those contests. I’m not ruling out this veteran just yet. I’d advise you to keep him handy on your roster.

14. No need to panic when it comes to Connor Hellebuyck in Winnipeg. The American goaltender has plenty of time to right the ship. Hellebuyck has surrendered at least three goals in each of his last five outings and is 10-7-1 on the season with a 3.09 goals-against-average and a .904 save percentage. Maintain patience.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

15. With Dustin Byfuglien back on injured reserve due to a concussion, Josh Morrissey is a must-own defender. The 23-year-old is once again primed for considerable exposure and importantly, he’s beloved by his head Paul Maurice. Morrissey is on pace for a career-high 36 points. I still think he’s just scratching the surface of how truly good he can be.

16. Looking for a defenceman on the waiver wire? Grab Shea Theodore. He’s currently 50 per cent owned in Yahoo! Leagues. The 23-year-old blue liner has two goals, nine points and a plus-8 rating over the last 10 games. The Golden Knights have won six of the last eight games.

17. Consider Samuel Girard a must-own as long as Tyson Barrie remains out of the Avalanche lineup with his lower back issue. The pedigree and skill are there. Girard has a really bright future.

18. There’s significant streamer and DFS value to be found on Anaheim’s second line right now. The trio of Nick Ritchie, Adam Henrique and Ondrej Kase has combined for eight goals and 19 points over the past eight games.

Nick Ritchie (LW) – 8 GP: 4 G, 4 A, 8 P, +6

Adam Henrique (C) – 8 GP: 2 G, 5 A, +2, 2 PPP

Ondrej Kase (RW) – 8 GP: 2 G, 2 A, +4, 2 PPP

19. Eeli Tolvanen (RW) deserves your undivided attention right now. Nashville’s top prospect scored his first NHL goal and added his first helper as well in Saturday night’s 5-2 win against lowly Chicago. Due to injuries, Tolvanen skated with Ryan Johansen (C) and Kevin Fiala (LW/RW) on the top-line. It’ll be intriguing to see where he fits when the Predators return to health. ADD.

20. When it comes to the Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool, you’ll want to bulk up on Boston, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Tampa and Vegas this upcoming week. Each squad has four contests.

Be conscious: Carolina plays twice while the Rangers only make a solo appearance.

Plan accordingly.

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