NHL Fantasy Mailbag: Finding a replacement for John Tavares

Maple Leafs captain John Tavares heads to the bench after Morgan Rielly's point shot caught him on the hand, which we later discovered most likely was the cause of his broken finger.

Since Wednesday night, I’ve been unable to stop smiling. Trust me, it’s not what you think.

The story starts back on Monday morning where I logged onto Sportsnet.ca to set my Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool roster. As identified in my Sunday musings, the Edmonton Oilers were a team to target this week because of their juicy four-game schedule. Well, enter Connor McDavid and his five-point night and bang, Nick Alberga is one happy dude. Just for good measure, I powered up and made the Oilers captain my Ram Capable pick for the week to earn double the points.

What’s the moral of the story, you ask? Always take advantage of a busy McDavid slate because he’s really good at hockey. Suffice it to say, he’s four fantasy points well spent, especially with a 30-point cap system in place.

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Now, to your questions:

Jason Bartow – @ThatJayBartow

With John Tavares shelved for at least the next two weeks, who are some fantasy replacement options?

Luckily, the news could’ve been much worse. For now, however, it’s time to push forward without Tavares’s contributions to your squad.

As per usual, we’re all curious to see what Mike Babcock does in this situation. That said, there are a variety of routes he can go: promote Alex Kerfoot, move William Nylander to centre or less likely, plug in Jason Spezza, among other ideas. To me, option two makes the most sense but again, you never know with Babcock. Even despite his up-and-down start, any player seeing an increased exposure to Mitch Marner should receive a fantasy boost.

Externally, Arizona’s Nick Schmaltz, Buffalo’s Marcus Johansson and Anaheim’s Adam Henrique could all help out for now.

Dan – @LTDan30628175

I’m in search of the next Jordan Binnington. Tough act to follow but who are some young goalies to monitor this season?

Sadly, Jordan Binnington’s don’t grow on trees. It would be nice if they did, especially in the fantasy world.

As seen with the emergence of Carter Hart and MacKenzie Blackwood, among others last season, it’s great to see the goalie pendulum starting to swing. Teams seem to be less resistant to calling guys up, regardless of age.

League-wide in terms of development, the NHL is in a good place when it comes to the goalie position. Here are some young netmidners to monitor over the next couple of months:

Juuse Saros — Nashville – 24 – 2013, 4th Rounder

Eric Comrie — Arizona – 24 – 2013, 2nd Rounder

Alex Nedeljkovic — Carolina – 23 – 2014, 2nd Rounder

Alexandar Georgiev — New York Rangers – 23 – Undrafted

Thatcher Demko — Vancouver – 23 – 2013, 2nd Rounder

Samuel Montembeault — Florida – 22 – 2015, 3rd Rounder

As you can see, all five are at different stages in their development. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. Also, before you berate me on social media that your favourite goalie isn’t listed, I left out the obvious guys for the purpose of this exercise.

Brandon – @OffBrandBrando

Why am I torturing myself by holding on to both Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko on my roster?

No need to panic on either front – it’s super early.

It’s good timing to address this question with the Devils beating the Rangers 5-2 on Thursday night.

In Newark, the Devils are off to a terrible start, on both sides of the puck. Before Thursday night’s five-goal output, they had mustered just 13 measly goals in six games to start the year. It’s astonishing how much better 18 in seven looks. The offence will awaken for New Jersey and so will Hughes.

On Broadway, I don’t expect as much out of Kakko, at least in the short-term. Inevitably, he’ll almost certainly find himself on New York’s top line skating with Artemi Panarin. For now, Rangers head coach David Quinn will do his best to shelter his prized 18-year-old thoroughbred. In the meantime, his second line deployment is nothing to scoff at.

Eventually, the training wheels will come off. And that stands for both youngsters. Be patient.

Haris Shahid – @greatestharis98

I have Brayden Point in my Yahoo! fantasy league. I got offered Point for Aleksander Barkov. Should I take Barkov or hold onto Point?

It’s close but I’d hang onto Point. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve beat the Barkov drum for a long, long time. I love him more than most, falling just short of Sportsnet.ca’s Rory Boylen, who’s an actual Florida Panthers fan.

I just can’t overlook the offensive arsenal that Tampa possesses. Point is currently centering Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, a line that certainly rivals the firepower of Colorado’s No. 1 trio. Imagine game planning for them? I can’t.

Even with the slow start, I have no doubt that Barkov will eventually catch fire. He’s an absolute monster. If you’re asking for the better overall player, it’s Barkov. From a fantasy focus, I’m siding with Point, by a hair.

Matt McCausland – @Matt_a_D0R

What should I do with Dustin Byfuglien?

As I disclosed in last Sunday’s ‘20 Fantasy Thoughts’, I’d cut bait with Byfuglien. At this point, no one seems to have firm indication – either way – what he wants to do. Even if he does return, what kind of shape will he be in? With no decision in sight, there’s no point in holding onto him.

Make the move and don’t think twice about it.

Ommmzzz – @Ommmzzz

Who are some players with low ownership (5% or less) that we should be adding to our watchlist?

Believe it or not, now’s the time to find a diamond in the rough off waivers. While most of the following players don’t look too glamorous at the moment, they’re worth taking a flier on or at least monitoring closer. You’d be surprised what value you can find this time of year:

Martin Necas — Carolina – C/RW – 3%

Oskar Lindblom — Philadelphia – LW – 3%

Kyle Turris — Nashville – C – 2%

Alex Wennberg — Columbus – C/LW – 2%

Robert Thomas — St. Louis – C/RW – 2%

Calle Jarnkrok — Nashville – LW/RW – 2%

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