20 Fantasy Thoughts: Players who could shine amid injury crises

Pittsburgh Penguins' Alex Galchenyuk (18) is congratulated by Evgeni Malkin (71) after scoring against the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

Goodbye, October and hello, Movember!

As is the case most seasons, many NHL teams and fantasy owners alike have had to adapt on the fly due to all the marquee injuries around the league. From Calle Jarnkrok to Alex Kerfoot, we’ve seen a variety of different players step up in the absence of star power.

As you see below, some teams have dealt with the losses better than others:

Team & Player Games Missed Team Record
Evgeni Malkin (PIT) 11 7-4-0
John Tavares (TOR) 7 3-2-2
Mikko Rantanen (COL) 5 1-3-1
Vladimir Tarasenko (STL) 5 4-1-0
Filip Forsberg (NSH) 5 3-1-1
Gabriel Landeskog (COL) 3 0-2-1

All things being equal, no team has had it as bad as the Pittsburgh Penguins thus far. Amazingly, they’ve been able to stay afloat and then some. I understand, it sure helps when you have Sidney Crosby.

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1. Evgeni Malkin’s return to the Penguins lineup is fantastic news for Alex Galchenyuk, who I’m sure would love to start producing at an effective pace in his contract year. Owned in just 30 per cent of standard Yahoo! leagues right now, the 25-year-old is very much attainable at the moment. Act accordingly!

2. Speaking of new contracts – holy smokes, Matt Murray is lining himself for a wonderful pay day. The 25-year-old is 7-3-1 with one shutout to go along with a 2.17 goals-against and an .924 save-percentage. That said, buyer beware – the two-time Stanley Cup champion does have extensive injury history early to date in his young career.

3. It stinks to see Vladimir Tarasenko go down for the Blues but sadly, life must go on. Sammy Blais and Robert Thomas are respectable in-house replacements.

Outside of St. Louis, Joel Armia, Nino Niederreiter, Josh Bailey and Josh Anderson are worth a flier.

4. Unsurprisingly, the Avalanche offence hasn’t been as potent without Rantanen and Landeskog. The top-six currently looks a lot different:

Nazem Kadri – Nathan MacKinnon – Joonas Donskoi
Andre Burakovsky – Tyson Jost – JT Compher

Clearly, Kadri and Donskoi should be on your radar because of the added five-on-five exposure to MacKinnon. Stay tuned.

5. As for Landeskog substitutes, Jaden Schwartz, Alex Galchenyuk, Jason Zucker or Jakub Vrana all could fit the bill. Try them out!

6. With Mika Zibanejad sidelined on Broadway, Ryan Strome should be scooped up immediately. He’s filling in centering New York’s top-line alongside Artemi Panarin and Jesper Fast. The former New York Islander is off to one of the best starts of his career operating at a point-per-game clip through 11 contests – four goals and seven assists. Be mindful.

7. As the season progresses, keep close tabs on Chris Kreider. Although he’s had a relatively slow start, the left winger will likely heat up before inevitably being shipped off to a contender by the February 24 trade deadline. Imagine Kreider with McDavid or Draisaitl or both?

8. Fresh start for Brendan Perlini in Detroit. Now on his third NHL team, the 2014 first rounder is starting off skating msotly on the third line with Frans Nielsen and Taro Hirose. The 23-year-old could emerge as a fantasy option if he can somehow regain lost confidence.

9. Looking for blue line help? Alex Goligoski, Filip Hronek and Ryan Pulock are names to contemplate.

10. Considering what he’s been doing offensively in the absence of Victor Hedman, now’s an excellent time to sell high on Kevin Shattenkirk. Hedman isn’t expected to miss much time and will assume full offensive responsibilities upon his return. Fire away!

11. No need to freak out just yet if you own any of Tampa’s big boys. Truthfully, I’d just view this window is a prime opportunity to execute a successful buy-low move. You never know until you try.

12. From a team perspective, I’m not as bullish on San Jose returning to form. That said, I’d take a shot at acquiring Brent Burns and/or Erik Karlsson if you need an upgrade on the back end. They’ll play better eventually.

13. No, you shouldn’t contemplate dropping P.K. Subban. It’s way too early to even think about that. He’ll figure it out.

14. Grab Ryan Getzlaf immediately. As predicted, the veteran pivot is having a bounce back season under new head coach Dallas Eakins.

What’s the difference? Well, I’ve noticed he’s shooting the puck more:

2018/19 – 67 GP – 133 SOG (1.98 shots per game)
2019/20 – 15 GP – 37 SOG (2.46 shots per game)

If this keeps up, Getzlaf could hit the 200 shots on goal plateau for the first time since the 2013/14 campaign.

15. Now that he’s healthy and back in the Golden Knights lineup, Alex Tuch could supply you with legitimate stat coverage. The 23-year-old is looking to build off last year’s 20-goal, 52-point breakout for Vegas.

16. Monitor Denis Gurianov closely. The 22-year-old has four goals over his last five games and should be viewed as a reputable streamer option right now. He’s playing on the second line with Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski and is also seeing an increase in power-play time too.

17. In Boston, the ‘Perfection Line’ has been downright ridiculous through the first month. As teams continue to try and find a way to limit their effectiveness, I wonder what that could mean for the second line. David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk are no slouches and are worth a waiver add. Additionally, both can provide you with superb daily fantasy value too.

18. Don’t wait around for Nikita Gusev. Lately, he’s been getting a healthy dose of the press box popcorn. That’s life if you ask me but I don’t play in the NHL. It’s bizarre how Vadim Shipachyov this is getting.

19. When setting your lineups for the upcoming week, be conscious of the light workloads ahead for Anaheim, Buffalo, Dallas, Tampa and Washington. They play just twice.

20. On the other side of the spectrum, there are 12 teams that deserve your undivided attention due to their four-game dockets (ARI, BOS, CHI, DET, EDM, NJD, NYR, OTT, PHI, TOR, VAN & VGK).

In standard weekly leagues, the following three squads have the most ideal schedules:

Detroit Red Wings: Mon (NSH), Wed (@NYR), Fri (BOS), Sun (VGK)
Waiver Looks: Filip Hronek (23%), Andreas Athanasiou (14%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Dylan Larkin (3), Tyler Bertuzzi (2), Anthony Mantha (2)

Edmonton Oilers: Mon (ARI), Wed (STL), Fri (NJD), Sun (@ANA)
Waiver Looks: Zack Kassian (30%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Connor McDavid (4), Leon Draisaitl (4), James Neal (1)

New York Rangers: Mon (OTT), Wed (DET), Thurs (@CAR), Sun (FLA)
Waiver Looks: Ryan Strome (18%), Filip Chytil (2%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Artemi Panarin (4), Jacob Trouba (2), Ryan Strome (1)

Other SN Fantasy Pool Targets: Alex Goligoski (1), Jack Hughes (2), Travis Konecny (2), J.T. Miller (2)

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