Fantasy Mailbag: Zibanejad, Panarin among this season’s most prolific duos

Watch as Mika Zibanejad scores a whopping five goals in one game as the Rangers beat the Capitals in overtime.

Last night, Mar. 5, 2020, was the night Mika Zibanejad cemented himself as one of the most underrated players in the game today. That five-goal effort was nothing; the 26-year-old has been doing it all season long for the upstart New York Rangers.

When you think of prolific dynamic duos right now in the NHL, automatically, you look to the Boston Bruins (David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand) and the Edmonton Oilers (Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid), respectively.

Well, you better start paying closer attention to Broadway, where newcomer Artemi Panarin and the aforementioned Zibanejad have been as lethal as they come this season. Surely, this one-two punch beats anything the New York Knicks have cooking right now. With 164 total points, they’re currently ranked third amongst the league’s top producing duos.

There’s no debate that the Draisaitl and McDavid combo are in a league of their own. In fact, the Oilers stars are trying to become the first set of teammates since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96 to finish one-two — in a non-shortened season — when it comes to the Art Ross race. Of course, the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos accomplished that feat most recently, but it took place in the lockout shortened 2012/13 campaign.

Total Points SN Fantasy Pool Value
EDM Draisaitl and McDavid 205 4 + 4 = 8
BOS Pastrnak and Marchand 178 4 + 4 = 8
NYR Panarin and Zibanejad 164 4 + 3 = 7
TBL Kucherov and Stamkos* 148 4 + 3 = 7
TOR Matthews and Marner 144 4 + 4 = 8
WPG Scheifele and Connor 141 3 + 3 = 6
WSH Carlson and Ovechkin 14 3 + 3 = 6
FLA Huberdeau and Barkov 139 4 + 3 = 7
CHI Kane and Toews 138 4 + 2 = 6
COL MacKinnon and Makar 135 4 + 2 = 6

The asterisk for Stamkos of course being that he’s sidelined for the next six-to-eight weeks due to a core muscle injury.

Keep this information in mind for the next time you construct a Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool roster. There’s lots of value to be had.

Now to your questions:

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Projected Kailer Yamamoto PPG for remainder of the season?

Believe it or not, I can’t predict the future. Shocker, I know.

What I can do, however, is tell you that I do believe in Yamamoto down the stretch. Since his Dec. 29 recall, all he’s done is produce at a point-per-game clip — 11 goals and 24 points in 24 games. Yeah, that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl and Yamamoto line isn’t breaking up anytime soon, especially the way Draisaitl has been playing.

The Oilers deserve a lot of credit for the way they’ve handled the 21-year-old former first rounder this season. Sometimes, sending a player down to the AHL for more seasoning proves to be the right decision. The confidence is back. A point per game for the rest of the season isn’t too much to ask for, right?

First, do I go with surging Alec Martinez, or returning Oscar Klefbom rejoining the league’s best PP? Secondly, keeper question… I have to keep Victor Hedman or Roman Josi at season’s end. I’m having quite the time picking between a better team or a more efficient individual fantasy player.

Firstly, I’d side with Klefbom. The power play exposure to McDavid and Draisaitl is enough reason, alone, for me to pull the trigger.

Additionally, I think Martinez experienced an initial boost in enthusiasm going from a cellar dweller to a contender. He’s more of a shutdown defender as opposed to a point producer. Shea Theodore and Nate Schmidt are just fine handling that load right now. Martinez should be viewed as no more than a streamer play.

Secondly, the Hedman versus Josi debate pretty much comes down to the long-term personnel around them. Last time I checked, Nikita Kucherov, Stamkos and Brayden Point aren’t going anywhere. Meanwhile in Nashville, the Predators could be in line for core changes in the off-season.

There’s no question both are elite fantasy blueliners, but I prefer Hedman.

Hey Nick… buddy wants Mitch Marner for Andrei Svechnikov, what are your thoughts? We get 1.5 points for goals, one for assists. Marner struggles for goals, Svech doesn’t…thoughts?

Hang onto Marner.

For starters, he’s the better player — my sincerest apologies to my friends in Raleigh who may think otherwise. It’s hard to overlook what’s around Marner in Toronto — that team can score and that won’t change anytime soon.

Ultimately, it comes down to your team needs. Before making a decision, just be cognizant that Marner has a much higher fantasy ceiling. If you really need goal scoring, I’d fetch a greater return. Be patient. Let the deal come to you.

What’s wrong with Jack Eichel? Zero points in last five games (before Thursday’s game). He is costing me my pool.

Nothing’s wrong with Eichel — he’s just cold right now. Let’s hope he catches fire in time for the fantasy playoffs.

Grab Samuel Girard while Cale Makar is out?

Yup, grab him immediately. Girard remains the best in-house replacement for Makar. With Makar currently listed as day-to-day, Girard provides some insurance in case this bleeds into the beginning of the fantasy playoffs next week. Monitor closely.

Rest of the season, wins and shutouts only, can you rank these goalies? Ben Bishop, Darcy Kuemper, Elvis Merzlikins, Robin Lehner, Jaroslav Halak

Kuemper, Lehner, Halak, Bishop and then Merzlikins.

Reasoning: Bishop is currently day-to-day with a lower-body issue; Kuemper is back and healthy; Merzlikins is Joonas Korpisalo’s backup; Lehner is essentially in a timeshare with Marc-Andre Fleury; Boston will rest some guys down the stretch. Pretty straight forward, right?

Drop AA and Kovy after the dust settled with the deadline?

Even though I pumped up Andreas Athanasiou just a few short days ago in my 20 Fantasy Thoughts, I’d say Athanasiou is pretty droppable at the moment. He’s on the second power play unit and five-on-five, he’s not in Edmonton’s top-six. Dump him.

Also, I’d sit tight on Ilya Kovalchuk. The veteran had a goal and an assist last night. Don’t be shocked if the veteran sniper gains a bit of a promotion in hopes of boosting the slumping Capitals. Be mindful.

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