20 Fantasy Thoughts: Players to target as injuries start to pile up

Vegas Golden Knights forward Evgenii Dadonov (63) drives the puck away from Los Angeles Kings forward Adrian Kempe (9) during the first period of an NHL hockey game. (Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)

Tell me hockey’s back without telling me hockey’s back.

We’re not even a week into a brand spanking new NHL season, and already, the moaning and groaning has commenced for disgruntled fantasy owners alike.

What’s the matter, you ask? Well, there’s the whole Jack Eichel saga, will it ever end? As per usual, the injury bug is causing chaos, especially in Vegas. And then there’s that whole world pandemic thing, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Just ask the Colorado Avalanche.

Moral of the story, there’s lots to discuss and dissect.

Every Sunday during the regular season, I’ll share my 20 Fantasy Thoughts; weekly musings curated from the latest news and developments in the NHL world.

Build your roster and compete for a share of $50,000 in cash prizes!

1. No team has been hit harder in the early going by injuries than the Vegas Golden Knights. Max Pacioretty will be sidelined roughly six weeks, Mark Stone, among others, is on the shelf, too.

Enter Evgenii Dadonov, Vegas’ key offseason pickup from Ottawa. The 32-year-old, who’s coming off a dreadful season, undoubtedly stands to gain a significant promotion up the lineup with this news. Take a flier.

By the way, Pacioretty and Stone combined for 45 goals and 112 points last season. Woof.

2. Externally, there’s a bevy of dual-eligible wingers who could help fill the void in the meantime: PHI Joel Farabee, DET Tyler Bertuzzi and CAR Nino Niederreiter are a couple names.

3. Mike Hoffman is another. The sniper could make his Canadiens debut this week after missing all of training camp due to a lower-body injury he sustained in the offseason.

The Canadiens (0-3-0) have scored three goals in three games. There’s no doubt Hoffman could help both them and your fantasy team.

4. Too early for a prognosis on Nikita Kucherov but, if he’s forced to miss time, Anthony Cirelli could be in-line for an elevated role. For now, just monitor the situation closely.

5. Elvis Merzlikins, Cal Petersen, Kaapo Kahkonen and Anton Khudobin are four very solid Petr Mrazek injury replacement options. The Leafs goaltender is expected to miss a couple weeks due to a lower-body issue.

6. Stream Anton Forsberg. In the absence of number-one Matt Murray (illness) to start the year, the journeymen Forsberg has been excellent (1-1-0, 2.55, 0.935). Think about it.

7. Ryan Suter is the logical in-house replacement for the banged-up John Klingberg.

Externally, CAR Jaccob Slavin, COL Bowen Byram, ANA Jamie Drysdale and STL Justin Faulk can do a job for you, too.

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8. Put Rasmus Sandin on your watch list. The 21-year-old has averaged around 17 minutes of ice over the first three games for Toronto providing some sneaky category coverage (2 A, +2, 1 PP, 7 SOG). If the Leafs power play continues to struggle, it’s not inconceivable to suggest a PP1 promotion for Sandin. Be mindful.

9. Keep close tabs on Noah Dobson as well. The 21-year-old is anchoring New York’s first power-play unit and playing with Zdeno Chara at even strength. He’s tallied one assist through two games.

10. Welcome to the NHL, Seattle! Upfront, Jordan Eberle, Jared McCann and Jaden Schwartz are the most owned Kraken forwards in standard leagues right.

That being said, don’t sleep on Yanni Gourde. I could definitely see a scenario where he’s the highest-ranked Kraken by season’s end. The 29-year-old, who’s coming off offseason shoulder surgery, could make his debut for Seattle as soon as this week. He’s been centring a line with Schwartz and Eberle in practice. Value buy!

11. Take a flier on Viktor Arvidsson. The dual-eligible winger has looked comfortable so far on Los Angeles’ top-line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Talk about a plum line assignment. I’m all about Arvidsson this season.

12. Add Jesse Puljujarvi. He’s playing with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid and as long he continues to produce, that won’t change. Enough said.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

13. Mark my words: Nazem Kadri is a must-own fantasy file this season. Not only is the 31-year-old centre slated to become an unrestricted free agent season’s end, but he’s also coming off a down season as well. Translation, he’s hungry and ready to eat. Kadri has four points (1 G, 3 A) in two outings to kick things off.

14. I’m also extremely bullish on a Logan Couture bounce-back season. I think the Sharks captain is primed to surge back into fantasy relevancy. Grab him!

15. Another bounce-back file that I’m feeling is Max Domi. The 26-year-old, who like Kadri is in a contract year, has tallied a goal and three helpers in two games so far for the Blue Jackets. Domi’s looking to get paid, and probably not by Columbus.

16. Pick up Kirby Dach. The 20-year-old, who centred Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane on Saturday night, has two goals in the early going. Dach’s an RFA following the season. Cha-ching!

17. Target Sam Bennett. The 25-year-old has picked up where he left off last season following the trade to Florida. Including his three goals in two games this season, Bennett has tallied 10 goals and 23 points in 17 total games as a Panther. Not too shabby.

18. Scoop up and stash Jakub Vrana. Even though he’ll be out of action for four months, he could be a difference-maker for your roster down the stretch and into playoff time.

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19. Setting up the first full week of the season (Oct. 18 – 24):

Monday: 4 Games

Tuesday: 11 Games

Wednesday: 2 Games

Thursday: 10 Games

Friday: 4 Games

Saturday: 13 Games

Sunday: 4 Games

Total: 48 Games

20. Steer clear of waiver adds from Carolina, Dallas, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, and Tampa. They play just twice.

Anaheim, Detroit, Nashville, New York (Islanders) and San Jose are the four-game teams. Of those five teams, I like the Sharks’ schedule the best, even though they’re all on the road.

San Jose Sharks Tues (@MTL), Wed (@OTT), Fri (@TOR), Sun (@BOS)

Waiver Looks: Timo Meier, Logan Couture

SN Fantasy Pool: Brent Burns (2), Logan Couture (2)

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