20 Fantasy Thoughts: How to replace Jeff Carter

Watch as Jeff Carter looks to be injured after a body check by Jeff Petry.

Every Sunday this season, we’ll share 20 Fantasy Thoughts from the writers at Dobber Hockey. These thoughts are curated from the past week’s “Daily Ramblings” on DobberHockey.com.

1. Edmonton is going to have a couple of decisions to make. Assuming Leon Draisaitl is back for Tuesday’s game in Pittsburgh, do they leave Kailer Yamamoto on the top line? And do they keep him around longer than the nine-game mark, burning a year of his entry-level contract. All this has huge implications for fantasy owners. If he sticks around the team, and they decide to leave him on the top line while using Leon The Professional to carry a second scoring line, that gives the rookie meaningful fantasy value. There’s no telling what the team will do, but Yamamoto’s ninth game is a week from today. It won’t take long to clear things up.

Just my opinion but they should leave him in the NHL. He has looked very good with McDavid (I know, who can’t, right?), and the team is paper-thin at right-wing if Draisaitl returns to centre. Yes, it burns a year of his ELC, but the issue when they did that with Draisaitl is that he was playing a minimal role on a bad team. Yamamoto could play a prominent role on what should be a Cup contender. Maybe I’m just a greedy fantasy player.

2. Clayton Keller is off to a great start this year with eight points in eight games. He was a somewhat-popular pick for the Calder Trophy (including yours truly) and this is a good start to getting that hardware.

This should go without saying, but it should be said anyway – he won’t be a point-per-game player. A 60-point season should be considered a resounding success. What’s nice to see, though, is that he’s shooting a lot. His shot attempt rate is higher than guys like Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Seguin, and Joe Pavelski. Keller is shooting the puck, playing a lot of minutes, and has not looked out of place at all (in the games I’ve watched, anyway).

3. I like Mikhail Sergachev, but I’d be conservative about estimates for his production this season. Although he has eight points in nine games and has been receiving second-unit power play time, he has been averaging just over 12 minutes per game on a Tampa Bay squad that has been sending out seven defensemen on a regular basis. His long-term upside on a team like the Lightning is tremendous, though.

4. While linemates Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are surely well-guarded in all leagues, Vladislav Namestnikov continues to be a quiet and very productive producer early on this season. The 24-year-old former first-round selection has always had loads of skill, but his versatility has led to limited results.

Regardless of where he has slid into the lineup – first line, fourth line, wing or centre – he’s done what’s asked of him. Now he finds himself firmly entrenched on one of the most lethal top lines in the league and a net-front home on the team’s top power play unit. This level of deployment is so tasty it’s hard not to imagine him pushing to double his 28 points from a season ago.

Now might be a great time to convince an owner that they’re selling high on the career-high 35-point scorer when they may be selling low. Kick the tires and find out the value because you could be looking at a fresh player ready to break into the 60-point zone.

5. James Reimer stopped 41 of 42 shots in earning a win over the Capitals on Saturday. Roberto Luongo has just been placed on IR, so Reimer will see plenty of work next week and possibly beyond. Reimer is only owned in about 20 percent of Yahoo leagues, so he’s worth a grab if you need a goalie right away. Even if you’re a Leafs’ fan who lost faith in him a while ago.

6. One of the best stories of the season thus far has to be the sudden emergence of the New Jersey Devils. They are now 6-2 and Nico Hischier is officially looking like a big leaguer. He’s also available in over half of Yahoo leagues. Hischier’s recent spurt can be attributed to being matched up with Taylor Hall.

7. The latest injury affecting fantasy owners is that of Jeff Carter, who is expected to be out multiple weeks with possible tendon damage. So what should Carter owners in fantasy leagues do?

You shouldn’t expect to replace Carter’s goal total from the waiver wire. The best you can do is look for someone who may come close to his point total, even if that point total is assist-heavy.

But if it’s goals you need and nothing else, you could consider acquiring someone like an Anders Lee, who scored 34 goals last season and is available in over half of Yahoo leagues (assuming you don’t require another centre). Or else look on the bright side: This could be an opportunity to add that player you’ve thought about adding but simply haven’t had the room. You just have to get creative.

8. One of the league’s strongest lines thus far has been centered by Anze Kopitar, who added another two goals, an assist and was plus-5 on Saturday versus Columbus. Kopitar now has six goals and five assists with a plus-11 in just seven games. How disappointing was his 2016-17 season? On March 1, he was still stuck at six goals.

So who are the other two players on this Kopitar line? Try the unknown Alex Iafallo and Dustin Brown, who you might have written off even before the Kings won their second Stanley Cup. Yet with a goal and three assists on Saturday, the former captain has the same point total as the current captain.

Brown actually improved from 28 points to 36 points last season, so a 40-point season at this point is well within reach. A 16.7% shooting accuracy is significantly higher than normal, but Brown is helping his cause by taking over four shots per game. With Carter out for a while, Brown and his line will be leaned on even more for offence. I didn’t think this would happen but Brown might be fantasy relevant again.

9. One mildly interesting Bruins’ player that is flying under the radar is Kenny Agostino. The AHL looks too easy for Agostino, who has seven points in three games there this season and a league-leading 83 points in just 65 games last season. But can he stick in the NHL, even after the Bruins get through their rash of injuries? The 25-year-old Agostino was a free agent signing by the Bruins this past offseason after spending time in the Blues’ and Flames’ organizations.

10. Shayne Gostisbehere continues to put his sophomore slump in the rear-view mirror. The 24-year-old is up to 11 points in eight games and sits tied atop the NHL leaderboard for defensemen (with Alex Pietrangelo) and he’s seeing 21:21 per contest. That 59-point pace he set in 64 games as a rookie in 2015-16 is looking like something he can replicate here in year three.

11. Alex Tuch is making the most of his first foray into the NHL. The 21-year-old former Wild prospect has scored goals in consecutive games to go along with a helper and nine shots while seeing just an average of 12:23 minutes. Expect his role with Vegas to increase at least in the short term.

12. Radim Vrbata has joined the top line in Florida alongside Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, while Evgeni Dadonov was moved down to the second line. Spread the offence around? Who knows…

Anyway, it always kind of made sense to me that Vrbata would be a good fit on the top line for the Panthers. He’s a shooter and the top line hasn’t had a pure shooter on a consistent basis. It’s a small boost for Vrbata, though. Unless he gets those prime top PP minutes along with the even-strength promotion, his upside is still capped.

13. It’s been feast or famine for Logan Couture this season. Couture has been held without a point in four of his seven games. But in two of those other three games, Couture has absolutely exploded. After scoring four points on Tuesday against the Canadiens, Couture fired a hat trick on Saturday against the Islanders. With five goals and seven points this week, Couture is helping many fantasy owners win their head-to-head matchups this week.

14. Mitch Marner to the fourth line in Toronto: It’s worth remembering that coach Mike Babcock did the same thing last year with William Nylander and things turned out just fine. If the coach thinks he’s disengaged or needs less pressure for a few games, fine. I do not anticipate this being a long-term solution. Though I suppose it’s worth putting out feelers to see if Marner can be acquired from a panicking owner. Owners shouldn’t be panicking, but it never hurts to ask.

15. The Sedin twins have been hoovering a significant portion of the power-play minutes in Vancouver. If Bo Horvat owners wanted him to improve on his 52 points from last year, though, he won’t do that getting minimal, or no, power-play minutes.

16. Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau have been looking for a consistent right winger ever since the departure of Jiri Hudler. When Jaromir Jagr was signed, it seemed inevitable that the ageless wonder would eventually make his way to the top line. He’s obviously not adding speed to that duo but his puck possession skills (a.k.a. his huge butt) and his vision should help Calgary’s top producers achieve heights that we’re used to.

Jagr left Saturday’s game in the first period with a lower-body injury. I have a feeling it wasn’t serious, as he was able to complete the After Hours interview after the game and did not look hobbled. But I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV either.

17. Mathieu Perreault is expected to miss about a month and Kyle Connor was called up in his place. In four AHL games this year, Connor has two goals and five points. Through 56 career AHL games, the 2015 first rounder is averaging a goal every two games.

Connor made his debut for the Jets last Tuesday, playing nearly 18 minutes, virtually the same amount as Bryan Little. He managed two shots, one leading to a goal. It is likely prudent to take a wait-and-see approach here. There is no point adding Connor now in head-to-head leagues, and those in roto leagues better be sure they don’t need that bench spot.

18. Nikolaj Ehlers has six goals in seven games, totalling eights points so far this year. What should bring a smile to the faces of fantasy owners is not his point total, but the fact that he as 26 shots on goal in those five contests. Should he remain a volume shooter, it seems like a 30-goal season is on the horizon. The concerning aspect of his season remains the power-play duties. Namely, he’s not getting primary minutes.

19. We don’t know how long Marc-Andre Fleury will be out for, so I imagine Malcolm Subban has the starter’s cage for the near-term. Fantasy owners that are desperate for starting goalies can look in his direction, but understand there is a lot of risk to starting him.

20. Now that Vegas has their lineup rounded out with mostly NHLers, it makes them a deeper team (despite the earlier wins). It’ll be fun to watch Vadim Shipachyov especially, seeing if he can grow into an impact player in his first season.

It’s worth noting that they appear to be easing Ship into the lineup, as he’s played less than 11 minutes in thfree games thus far. If this trend continues, it’s hard to slot him into fantasy lineups – unless it’s a deep league – game in and game out. Just something to keep an eye on for now.


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