20 Fantasy Thoughts: Is Canes’ Nedeljkovic in for Binnington-type moment?

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Alex Nedeljkovic (35). (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)

Not even three weeks into this unusual NHL season, we’re up to 11 game postponements (and counting) due to COVID-19.

This past week alone, the Vegas Golden Knights had three games rescheduled – one versus St. Louis and two against San Jose – due to potential coronavirus exposure.

Meantime, the injury bug hit the NHL hard on Saturday night. Petr Mrazek, Tyler Bertuzzi, Kris Letang and Matt Dumba, among others, all left their respective games and did not return due to various ailments. Suffice it to say, fantasy owners will have to adapt on the fly this season.

1. If Mrazek misses time, James Reimer would see the bulk of the load for the Hurricanes. That said, don’t sleep on Alex Nedeljkovic – this could be a good time for Carolina get a legitimate look at its former 2014 second-rounder. This take is probably too rich, but so be it: Could this be a Jordan Binnington-type moment for Nedeljkovic? We’ll see.

2. Truthfully, it would be wise to look outside of Detroit for a Bertuzzi replacement. Anthony Duclair, Alex Killorn and Kasperi Kapanen could all be of service to you.

3. Speaking of Duclair and the Panthers, take a look at Carter Verhaeghe (C/LW) too. The 25-year-old has four goals in five games to kick off the season. Verhaeghe, Duclair and Aleksander Barkov currently comprise Florida’s top-line. Be mindful.

4. John Marino is the logical in-house replacement for Kris Letang, but don’t sleep on rookie Pierre-Olivier Joseph. The 21-year-old, who was a key return from Arizona in the Phil Kessel deal for the Penguins, tallied three assists on Saturday night. Keep tabs.

5. Target Charlie McAvoy on the trade market. The 23-year-old has notched one goal and six assists over a modest four-game point streak. In addition to that, David Pastrnak made his season debut for the Bruins on Saturday night. His arrival is good news for McAvoy, who’s currently quarterbacking Boston’s number-one power-play unit. Is the offensive breakout finally here?

6. Especially now that he’s off the first power play unit, don’t be afraid to cut bait with Tyson Barrie.

In-house, Darnell Nurse is your guy. Externally, Ty Smith, Noah Dobson and Rasmus Andersson are worth a look.

7. Ditto for Anthony DeAngelo. He’s done virtually nothing. If he gets going, you can always circle back down the road.

8. Put Blues defender Vince Dunn on your watch list. The 24-year-old, who was a healthy scratch earlier this week, potted a goal in his return to the lineup on Saturday night. Furthermore, multiple reports suggest St. Louis has been actively shopping Dunn. Trust me when I tell you that there’s plenty of offensive upside to be found here.

9. Make a move for Max Domi, whose buy-low window will fade quickly with the imminent debut of Patrik Laine. Only one way to go from here for Domi, and that’s up. This is a great bargain buy.

10. Looking for a Sam Reinhart injury replacement? Internally, Dylan Cozens has been playing up the Sabres’ lineup. Personally, I’d pick up Jordan Kyrou or Pavel Buchnevich to fill the void.

11. Sticking with Buffalo, I’d try to acquire Rasmus Dahlin as soon as possible. This kid’s way too talented to stay down for long. Rest assured, there are plenty of impatient fantasy owners out there itching to make a deal. Capitalize!

12. Not for anything, but I think Vitek Vanecek has earned himself more playing time as the season progresses. The unheralded rookie is 5-0-2 to start his NHL career to go along with a 2.78 goals-against and .918 save-percentage. Take note, Ilya Samsonov owners.

13. Scoop up Kevin Lankinen. The Hawks rookie netminder is off to a strong start –through five appearances, he’s notched a 2.16 goals-against and 0.930 save-percentage. Having said that, it’s still Chicago, so don’t expect a ton of victories. Still a good option if you’re chasing better numbers in-between the pipes.

14. Staying in the Windy City, if you’re searching for a daily play or two, consider Pius Suter, Mattias Janmark and Duncan Keith. Alex DeBrincat and Adam Boqvist are currently on the COVID-19 list.

15. Pick up Jonathan Drouin. The 25-year-old has tallied a goal and seven helpers through eight games for the Canadiens. Not is only is he skating with Nick Suzuki and Josh Anderson five-on-five, but Drouin’s also on the first power play unit too. Value buy!

16. Take a flier on Brandon Saad. The dual-eligible winger has three goals and six points over his past three outings. Oh yes, money motivation is a beautiful thing.

17. This week’s buy-low targets: Jake Guentzel, Kyle Palmieri, Brayden Schenn and Seth Jones. Fire off some trade offers!

18. Time to look at this week’s schedule (Feb. 1 – 7):

Monday: 5 Games

Tuesday: 10 Games

Wednesday: 2 Games

Thursday: 11 Games

Friday: 5 Games

Saturday: 9 Games

Sunday: 7 Games

Total: 49 Games

19. Steer clear of Edmonton, San Jose, Toronto and Vegas – each team plays just twice.

20. In total, nine teams boast a four-game slate (ARI, BOS, CGY, COL, MIN, MTL, PIT, STL & VAN).

Of those squads, here’s my favourite fantasy schedule:

Boston Bruins: Mon (@WSH), Wed (@PHI), Fri (@PHI), Sat (BUF)

Waiver Looks: David Krejci, Craig Smith

SN Fantasy Pool: David Pastrnak 4, Charlie McAvoy 1, BOS Goalies 4

Also, there’s substantial fantasy value to be found in Tampa’s three-game docket:

Tampa Bay Lightning: Mon (NSH), Wed (DET), Fri (DET)

Waiver Looks: Alex Killorn, Yanni Gourde

SN Fantasy Pool: Steven Stamkos 3, Victor Hedman 2, TBL Goalies 4

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