20 Fantasy Thoughts: Dawson Mercer emerging as a dark horse Calder candidate

New Jersey Devils center Dawson Mercer reacts after scoring a goal against the New York Islanders during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, in Newark, N.J. The Devils won 4-0. (Adam Hunger/AP)

American Thanksgiving is on Thursday, and by now, we all know what that means as it pertains to the NHL standings.

Since 2005, approximately 75 per cent of teams in a playoff spot on that day have gone on to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That’s why most coaching changes are typically made this time of year -- teams don’t want to wait around.

To this point, there’s been only one performance-based firing: Jeremy Colliton got the hook in Chicago following a dreadful 1-9-2 start. The Blackhawks have responded with a 4-1-0 record through five games under interim head coach Derek King.

Here are 20 fantasy-relevant thoughts as this milestone on the NHL calendar approaches.

1. Pick up Cole Caufield. After a six-game stint in the AHL, the 20-year-old is back, and through two games, he’s still goalless. That’s one helper in 12 outings for the pre-season betting favourite to win the Calder. Be patient.

2. Snatch up Dawson Mercer, who’s quickly emerging as a dark horse candidate to take home the rookie of the year award. The Devils forward has three goals and seven points over the past six outings. Sleeper alert.

3. Sticking with New Jersey, I would jump to grab Mercer’s linemate, Jesper Bratt, too. The dual-eligible winger has tallied 12 points (4 G, 8A) over the past 11 contests. He’s on fire.

4. Put Canes rookie Seth Jarvis on your watch list. Quietly, the 19-year-old has scored in three straight games, but most importantly, he’s been skating on the top line with Andrei Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho. Talk about a favourable line assignment.

5. Pick up Anton Lundell. The Panthers freshmen is your best in-house replacement for the injured Aleksander Barkov.

6. Scoop up Boone Jenner. Somewhat surprisingly, the dual-eligible forward has been making noise as Columbus’ number-one centre. The Jackets captain has nine goals and 11 points in 15 games to start the campaign.

7. Grab Robert Thomas, who mystifyingly enough is still under 30 per cent owned in standard leagues at the moment. The 22-year-old has 16 points in 17 games to start the season, need I say more? That Thomas/Tarasenko combo in St. Louis has been money in the bank.

8. It could be time to take another flier on Flyer Derick Brassard. The veteran has two goals and four points in two games while filling in for the injured Kevin Hayes in Philadelphia’s top six. Think about it.

9. Jeff Carter, Joel Eriksson Ek, Mikael Granlund, Trevor Zegras and Kirby Dach are five other centres worth looking at to fill the big-time Barkov void.

10. With Darnell Nurse on the shelf for the next couple weeks for Edmonton, Evan Bouchard should be back on your radar. Monitor 2019 eighth overall pick Philip Broberg closely, too.

11. Here’s a couple other Nurse injury replacement options to consider rostering: Brandon Montour (FLA), Shayne Gostisbehere (ARI), Alex Goligoski (MIN) and Jake Bean (CBJ).

12. Trade for Jake Guentzel. Don’t look now but the 27-year-old has goals in four straight games. Sidney Crosby’s back, expect that Guentzel stock to keep rising.

13. No need to be contemplating a sell-high on Calgary’s Andrew Mangiapane. The 25-year-old, who’s in the midst of a breakout season, has 14 goals in 18 games to start the year. Dating back to last season, the winger has potted 17 goals in his past 25 regular-season outings. I think this is legitimate.

14. The time is nigh to execute a buy-low on Minnesota’s Kevin Fiala. Once again, the 25-year-old has found himself deep inside Dean Evason’s doghouse. This won’t continue.

15. Flames backup Dan Vladar has emerged as a cheeky streaming option if you need a goalie start. The 24-year-old is 3-0-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average, 0.933 save percentage and one shutout.

16. Move Mikko Koskinen. Unsurprisingly, the 33-year-old has hit a rough patch, yielding eight goals over the past two appearances. I’m sorry, I just can’t trust him long-term. Do it quick.

17. On that note, snatch up Stuart Skinner, who’s now won back-to-back starts for the Oilers. With Koskinen struggling and Mike Smith suffering a recent injury setback, there’s suddenly opportunity for Skinner to show what he’s got. Take the plunge.

18. Not for anything but there’s not a single Seattle Kraken file I’m champing at the bit to own right now. Perhaps I’ll revisit later this season, but for now, I’ll pass.

19. 52-game week ahead in the NHL (Nov. 22-28):

Monday: 6 Games

Tuesday: 3 Games

Wednesday: 14 Games

Thursday: 0 Games (American Thanksgiving)

Friday: 13 Games

Saturday: 9 Games

Sunday: 7 Games

20. Your four-game teams: ANA, BUF, CAR, COL, CBJ, NSH, OTT, PHI, PIT, SJS, STL, WPG.

Take a closer look at these two schedules:

Carolina Hurricanes: Mon (@SJS), Wed (@SEA), Fri (@PHI), Sun (WSH)

Waiver Looks: Seth Jarvis, Jaccob Slavin

SN Fantasy Pool: CAR Goalies 4, Anthony DeAngelo 1

Colorado Avalanche: Mon (OTT), Wed (ANA), Fri (@DAL), Sat (NSH)

Waiver Looks: Logan O’Connor, Alex Newhook

SN Fantasy Pool: COL Goalies 4, Nazem Kadri 1

Steer clear of depth adds from Arizona, Calgary, Detroit and Los Angeles. Each play just twice.

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