GAMES PLAYED THIS WEEK BY TEAM
4 Games: ANA, BOS, CBJ, PHI
3 Games: ARI, BUF, CAR, COL, DAL, DET, EDM, FLA, LA, MIN, MTL, NSH, NJ, NYI, NYR, OTT, PIT, SJ, STL, TB, TOR, VAN, WSH, WPG
2 Games: CGY, CHI, VGK
It’s the holiday season, which means there are a lot more games this week as schools are starting winter break and people are traveling home for the holidays. This is also a good time of the year to evaluate your hockey team and really determine if they can make it to the playoffs.
Jesse Puljujarvi – RW – Edmonton Oilers
57% Owned on Fantrax
It seems like every week, the Oilers find a new right winger to play alongside Connor McDavid. Not only are Mike Cammalleri, Drake Caggiula, Kailer Yamamoto all really fun hockey names, but they have all had their right-wing stint with McDavid this season. However, another fun hockey name, Jesse Puljujarvi, has been on McDavid’s line since the start of the month, and he just might stick. In December, he’s had four goals and two assists in the last seven games. He has eight points in 16 games so far this season. However, there are some concerns. Even though he is playing McDavid for most of the time now, he’s still getting around 13 minutes of ice time. He also isn’t on the power-play. Now, the 2016 fourth overall pick has a lot of potential in his own right and has been improving every game. For instance, in November, Puljujarvi had two goals in nine games with 23 shots on goal. He has six points in seven games in December with 19 shots. He currently has 42 shots in 16 games, compared to 41 shots in 28 games last year. He’s getting more and more used to the NHL. Because of his ice-time, Puljujarvi could be left on the wire for the time being. But at the same time, he is on McDavid’s line for the near future and could at least be worth a stream.
Oliver Bjorkstrand – RW – Columbus Blue Jackets
57% Owned on Fantrax
Despite having a career average of 14:07 time on ice, Bjorkstrand still managed to have 43 points in 71 career games. However, he is now getting more ice-time as the left wing on the second line. He’s been putting up numbers on the scoresheet for the time being. This past week, he had one goal and five assists in three games, including three assists against the Islanders on Thursday. Bjorkstrand has 22 points in 33 games this season. Eleven of those points have come in the last 14 games, so he’s just getting hot. The only real concern for him is that he’s getting around 14 minutes of ice-time every night. But he is still producing right now and might get more of a role for the offensively- challenged Blue Jackets. Bjorkstrand is more of a playmaker than a sniper, so keep that in mind if you are going to add him. He’s averaging 1.8 shots per game. However, Columbus has four games this week and Bjorkstrand is worth more of a look. Plus, you have the added bonus of getting the left wing position eligibility eventually.
Tyler Johnson – C/RW – Tampa Bay Lightning
76% Owned on Fantrax
There was a time when Tyler Johnson was a part of the dangerous line with Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat. This season, that line has been split up. Nikita Kucherov is one of the best players in the game with Steven Stamkos as his center. Palat has 21 points, and Tyler Johnson has 23 points in 32 games, which, of course, isn’t bad. However, relative newcomers Brayden Point (31 points), Vladislav Namestnikov (28 points), and Yanni Gourde (23 points) have overshadowed those two. Tyler Johnson had only four assists in the month of November. In December, however, Johnson has yet to have a game where he didn’t get a point. He’s had four goals and eight assists in the seven December games. Johnson does have an injury history, which can deter owners, but when he first broke out on the scene, he had 72 points in 77 games. He’s still on the second line for an explosive team. Being owned in 76% of Fantrax leagues, he is likely not in many free agent pools, but he should be owned in more as he has a historic pedigree of getting points.
Anton Stralman – D – Tampa Bay Lightning
34% Owned on Fantrax
You’re getting another Lightning player who used to be pretty good but now is experiencing a bit of a resurgence lately. Tampa doesn’t just have forwards who can score. They also have defensemen who can put up points, with Victor Hedman (21 points) and Mikhail Sergachev (23 points) leading the charge. Anton Stralman still has a ways to go to catch up with those two, but he’s recently been on a tear. This past week, Stralman has two goals and three assists in the last five games, including two goals and an assist on Saturday. He currently has 11 points in 31 games. So not great. But he has been helping Sergachev get acclimated in the NHL as his defensive-partner. Stralman also historically been pretty good for the Lightning in his fourth year with the team. He has been injured last year and had a bit of a decline in points, but he also has 105 points in 260 games, or .40 points per game in his time with Tampa, which is decent for a defenseman. Pick up Stralman in deep leagues if you’re desperate for a defenseman.
Justin Braun – D – San Jose Sharks
26% Owned on Fantrax
For the past couple of years, Braun was a decent defenseman to own because of two stats: hits and blocked shots. He had 136 hits and 161 blocked shots. But now, at 30 years old, Braun has been a little more offensive-minded. Braun has one goal and 13 assists in 31 games. Over his last 12 games, Braun has eight assists. He is doing this while still putting up the peripherals, too, with 58 blocked shots and 63 hits. I’m sure anyone who has picked him up for his blocked-shots ability are thrilled to see he can contribute in other ways. Braun averages 21 minutes per night, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic is his defensive partner, so his job security is pretty good. Braun may be a late-bloomer, but don’t expect him to keep up with the assists. However, he is worth owning in leagues that count blocked shots and hits.
This is where we take a look at the performances of the players I mentioned in last week’s article. Knowing when to drop your streamers is just as important as knowing when to add them. The following guys should be kept in all keeper and dynasty formats unless stated otherwise.
Adam Henrique – Funnily enough, as this article was being posted, it was announced that Ryan Getzlaf was returning for the next Ducks game. Henrique failed to get a point last week. With Kesler expected back soon, expect Henrique to be a third line center. Third line players are really only valuable in deep leagues. So drop him unless that’s the case.
Kevin Fiala – Fiala has continued to be hot. He is on a three-game goal streak in which he also had an assist. Fiala might be worth more than just a streaming spot at this point.
Tom Wilson – Wilson had one assist in four games last week. Wilson is still with Ovechkin and Backstrom on the top line, but he may not be worth a roster spot even with that. However, he’ll be useful in any league that counts hits. He’ll probably be moved down in the lines when Oshie returns. When that happens, Wilson can be dropped in all leagues.
Erik Haula – Haula has a goal and two assists in three games last week. It seems like he is growing into his role. Like Fiala, Haula might be worth more than a streaming spot at this point. But it remains to be seen if Vegas will ever stop being this hot for the entire season.
Sam Bennett – Bennett has one goal and three assists in three games with seven shots last week. It should be noted that those four points came on Sunday. While impressive and a good indication that he is getting things together, he’s still a risky pick-up due to his deployment. He should be kept for another week.