When most people think of the Tampa Bay Lightning blue line, the first name that comes to mind is Victor Hedman. Mikhail Sergachev, though, is quickly working himself into the conversation.
Sergachev is averaging a point a game and has even bumped Hedman off the first power play unit, while doubling Hedman’s point total on the year. He also has twice as many power play points as Hedman and he’s been far superior for blocks as well. Unless something unforeseen happens, Sergachev should have little trouble obliterating his career high of 40 points.
It’s going to be fascinating to watch this play out in 2022-23. No one would argue against Hedman still being the better overall player, but he’s eight years older than Sergachev and at some point Sergachev is going to overtake him as the best fantasy option.
It may be happening sooner rather than later.
1. To say Moritz Seider is having a disappointing season up to this point would be a major understatement. The Detroit Red Wings defender finally delivered a solid offensive performance Saturday, but he still has just a single goal and is only sitting on nine points. That’s a significantly lower pace than the 50 he scored last season, where it seemed like he was only scratching the surface of his talents.
There are a few reasons why Seider is struggling offensively, with the main one being he’s saddled with Ben Chiarot as a partner this season. He’s also receiving significantly fewer offensive zone starts than he did as a rookie. The good news is, his hits and blocks are up, so there’s value there. Hopefully Seider can build off of Saturday’s strong showing.
2. Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews have been split up for a few games and thankfully, it doesn’t really seem to be impacting their value. Marner is on a 12-game point streak and Matthews has six points in his past four games. Besides, they are still on the power play together where they should have no trouble continuing to click. Playing with John Tavares and William Nylander for Marner and Matthews respectively isn’t a bad consolation prize.
3. At last, Mathew Barzal has scored a goal. The New York Islanders forward had 19 assists going into Saturday and was on pace for more than a point per game in 2022-23 even if he never scored. What’s interesting about his lack of scoring is that Barzal is actually on pace for well over 200 shots this season, which would easily be the highest output of his career.
Barzal was probably the player people were most excited about when Lane Lambert took over behind the bench, with the hopes that he would become more of an offensive threat once again. Unless you’re in a league that values goals more heavily than assists, Barzal’s production is just fine, even if he isn’t finding the back of the net all that often.
4. Jason Zucker is up to 15 points in 16 games this season. It feels like Zucker has been with the Pittsburgh Penguins forever, but we really haven’t gotten a true sense of his value because he’s played so sparingly due to injuries and the shortened season. If this is any indication of what he can do when healthy, Zucker will be a useful option to carry the rest of the way.
5. More concerning in Pittsburgh is the play of Bryan Rust. He finally got on the scoresheet Saturday after going pointless in seven straight games. What’s most scary is that he’s spent the majority of his time with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. Rust has to be able to produce points with that group regularly or he won’t be worth holding.
6. The St. Louis Blues are starting to figure it out and so is Jordan Kyrou. He was the one Blue that had a good argument to be kept during the Blues’ struggles because of his shot rate. Kyrou is averaging more than three shots per game and some of those shots are starting to go in. He’s up to three goals and eight points in his past six games.
7. With Marc-Andre Fleury injured, Filip Gustavsson has emerged as a waiver wire option in net. I can’t say I’m as high on Gustavsson as I am other options like Pyotr Kochetkov, Stuart Skinner and Adin Hill. The teams in front of those three are stronger than the Minnesota Wild and Fleury may not be out that long.
8. Jason Robertson has officially reached elite status. He’s recorded 20 points on a current 11-game point streak and Robertson is sitting in the top 10 in league scoring. Hopefully you weren’t scared off from drafting him because Robertson was still without a contract just days prior to the season.
9. A demotion to the third line is having the opposite effect of what you might think for Jonathan Huberdeau. The Calgary Flames winger has points in two of his past three games since returning from injury and being placed with Mikael Backlund and Trevor Lewis. Huberdeau’s current deployment is the one thing I worry about somewhat when drafting players on Darryl Sutter or John Tortorella coached teams. Both aren’t shy about sitting players or moving them down the lineup if they start to struggle. Hopefully Huberdeau will find his way back to the top line if he keeps trending in this direction.
10. The player that took Huberdeau’s spot on the Flames top line is starting to gain some major traction. Adam Ruzicka now has four goals and seven points in four games since getting a bump in the lineup. Who knows how long this is going to last, but at three per cent rostered, he’s widely available in most leagues. What do you have to lose?
11. Don’t look now, but Jordan Binnington has won his past five starts and has a .936 save percentage over that stretch. Given how bad the Blues started out, he may have been dropped in your league. Binnington might be worth bringing back into the fold if you need help between the pipes.
12. Kudos to you if you held onto Carter Verhaeghe through a difficult stretch to start the season. He’s now on pace for 50 goals this year after scoring nine in his past 10 games. Verhaeghe probably won’t finish with that many, but he’s certainly an offensive asset you want on your team. He has a tough schedule next week, though, with just two games.
13. If you’re looking to take a flier on someone, Juuso Parssinen might be a good candidate. Parssinen was recently called up and rewarded the Nashville Predators for using him on the top line by scoring three goals and five points in his first four games. He’s getting top power minutes, too. The Predators are giving him a real shot to excel and they also play four games next week, so there may not be a better time to add Parssinen.
14. Jonathan Quick has not been good recently, giving up 10 goals in his past two starts. Perhaps a crack for Cal Petersen to take advantage of and work his way into more playing time?
15. I’m not sure there’s another fourth-line fantasy option out there providing better value than Arthur Kaliyev at the moment. Kaliyev has 13 points this season and put up a whopping 10 shots this week. He also gets power play time as well. Despite only playing around 11 minutes per game, Kaliyev can be valuable for stretches when the Kings have a favourable schedule.
16. Owen Tippett has a four-game point streak going for the Philadelphia Flyers after a pair of goals Saturday, and he’s averaged around 20 minutes of ice time over that stretch. He’s getting a big opportunity in the top six and on the first power play.
17. Keep an eye on Pavel Francouz. He had two phenomenal starts recently — both against the Carolina Hurricanes — to bring his save percentage up to .925 on the season. Francouz was likely dropped in a lot of leagues after playing sparingly thus far, but if he works his way into more starts, he’ll be worth rostering.
18. Artturi Lehkonen is currently sporting a six-game point streak. The Colorado Avalanche forward is flourishing on the top line and is on pace for 67 points this season. With Gabriel Landeskog still out for the foreseeable future, Lehkonen’s value should continue to soar.
19. Warren Foegele notched his third goal in five games Saturday night. He seems to have the best grasp on that right wing spot next to Leon Draisaitl that’s been open since Evander Kane’s injury. Still, I wouldn’t rush out to grab Foegele, as he doesn’t provide much in the way of shots and he isn’t really getting any power play time. I’m skeptical he’ll be able to keep up this scoring pace for much longer.
20. If Matt Murray could only stay healthy, he’s going to have major value in the Toronto Maple Leafs crease. He has two wins and a .933 save percentage since returning from injury and looks every bit like the consistent starter the Leafs have been searching for. With Ilya Samsonov currently injured himself, Murray has a real chance to gain some separation and cement himself as the starter.