GAMES PLAYED THIS WEEK BY TEAM
4 Games: CAR, DAL, FLA, LA
3 Games: ARI, BOS, BUF, CGY, COL, DET, EDM, MIN, MTL, NSH, NYI, NYR, OTT, PHI, PIT, STL, VAN, VGK, WSH, WPG
2 Games: ANA, CHI, CBJ, NJ, SJ, TB, TOR
The tough thing in fantasy hockey is deciding when to drop the players drafted in the top rounds for players who are doing better right now. That is where the risk comes in. With a month into the season, it is easy to get annoyed with high-drafted players that are struggling. Here are some players with hot streaks and some things to consider for each of them.
JASON ZUCKER – LW/RW – MINNESOTA WILD
65% Owned on Fantrax
To say that Jason Zucker is on a hot streak would be an understatement. In the last three games, the Wild have scored six goals. Zucker has scored all six of them. He had two goals against the Leafs on Tuesday, a hat trick against the Canadiens on Thursday and then he had the only goal in the Wild-Flyers game on Saturday. The 25-year-old California native has nine goals and five assists in 46 shots on goal in 16 games this season. He is getting 18 minutes of ice-time on average on the second line and on the second power-play unit. Zucker’s shooting percentage is 19.6, which is pretty high, and that can be a sign that he’ll cool off, especially considering that his career shooting percentage is 12.4. However, with hot streaks and shooting percentages, we don’t know exactly when Zucker will cool off. Considering he had six goals last week, there is a strong chance that Zucker is already taken in a shallow league. But if he is somehow still available, pick him up and ride his hot streak. Who knows? Maybe Zucker will wind up being more than just a streamer.
CHARLIE LINDGREN – G – MONTREAL CANADIENS
37% Owned on Fantrax
Montreal has made the playoffs four out of the last five seasons. The one they missed out on was when Carey Price was injured for a long period of time. Price is injured again. But all is not lost this time. The Canadiens have Charlie Lindgren to hold the fort while Price can heal. Lindgren made three starts before this season, and he won all of them. He also won the first two games. Lindgren became the first Habs rookie goalie to win his first five NHL games since Wayne Thomas. So far, the Minnesota native is 3-1-0 in four games played with five goals allowed, including one shutout. With backup Al Montoya injured, it is certainly possible that Lindgren could solidify himself as the backup when Price returns and play more often. Of course, Price’s starting job is safe when he returns. Once that happens, Lindgren would only be worth owning in deep leagues with plenty of bench spots. But if you’re in need of a goaltender right now, Lindgren is a good option while he is hot.
ALEX KERFOOT – C/RW – COLORADO AVALANCHE
33% Owned on Fantrax
Since you are reading this article, there is a pretty good chance you’ve heard of the big three-way trade between Colorado, Nashville, and Ottawa. The Senators acquired Matt Duchene, and the Predators received Kyle Turris. Both centers will certainly help their teams in their playoff runs. This trade also leaves a spot for the second line center that used to be Duchene. That spot is occupied by Alex Kerfoot. So far, Kerfoot is making the most out of that opportunity. He has a goal and an assist in the two games since the trade. With 13 points in 16 games, Kerfoot was producing even before the trade. This is especially impressive considering his ice-time fluctuated throughout the season. Kerfoot was one of those players who never signed a contract after graduating from college. Considering that Kerfoot is getting his opportunity now in his rookie season, it appears that Harvard degree might be useful after all. He had 45 points in 36 games his senior year at Harvard. If Kerfoot can keep the second line center role, he might be worth taking a flier on in most leagues.
ESA LINDELL – D – DALLAS STARS
43% Owned on Fantrax
For the past couple of years in Dallas, it has been Seguin, Benn, and Klingberg producing all of the points. This season, Esa Lindell has become another weapon for the already deadly Stars team. Last week, he had one goal and one assist with seven shots on goal in two games. It wasn’t always like this. Last season, Lindell had six goals and 18 points in 73 games with 99 shots. Thi season, Lindell already has seven points in 16 games. His four goals this year puts him tied for fifth among defensemen. Lindell also has 37 shots on net, which is already a third of the shots he made last season. These are all signs that Lindell is set for a breakout season. Now, of course, the Stars still have John Klingberg, who has 18 points so far, as their top defenseman on the powerplay. But Lindell has an average ice time of 21:27 and is paired with Klingberg as the top pair. He is also getting power-play time on the second unit, so he is getting his opportunity. With four games this week, Lindell will be a good add for a trial run.
CHRISTIAN DVORAK – C – ARIZONA COYOTES
48% Owned on Fantrax
I know what you’re thinking. “The Coyotes have barely won one game so far this season, so surely they don’t have any streaming options.” It’s true: The Coyotes have stunk this season. However, much of their failure has to do with the defensive side of things — mainly their goaltending. As for the offense, Clayton Keller, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Max Domi have all been pretty good. If any of those three is somehow available, pick them up. However, Christian Dvorak has also been good this season, and he’s available in most leagues. Dvorak was okay in his rookie season, but it appears he is finally getting it together in his second season. He has two goals and eight assists in 19 games so far. Two of those eight assists were last week. Dvorak is getting 17:31 minutes of ice time on average as the second-line center, and he is on the second power-play unit. Since he is a Coyote, there is no rush to get him. However, Dvorak might be a sneaky add that will benefit your team, in the long run, that is if you think the Coyotes can’t be this bad.
Let’s take a look at how the players I previously mentioned did last week. Knowing when to drop your streamers is just as important as adding them. Besides Gourde, I didn’t have a great week. The following guys should be kept in all keeper and dynasty formats unless stated otherwise.
Jacob Markstrom – This may have been the biggest blunder I’ve made so far this season. In four games last week, Markstrom gave up 13 goals with a .896 SV%. Markstrom is still valuable considering he is Vancouver’s starter, but he’s a risky option regardless of his opponent.
Tim Heed – Heed failed to score a point in his three games last week. However, he did have nine shots on goal. So he still is getting opportunities. Heed could be dropped in shallow leagues and keepers. But I’d hold on to him a little longer in deep leagues.
Yanni Gourde – I hope my Yanni Gourde prediction makes up for the Markstrom mishap. Gourde has three assists in four games last week with five shots. Since the Lightning have two games this week, it will be tough to keep him. But he’s earned the spot on your roster at least, for the moment.
Josh Anderson – Anderson had only one goal in the four games last week with nine shots. The Blue Jackets are kind of a mess at the moment, and John Tortorella will likely cycle the lines a lot. This means that Anderson can be safely dropped at this point.
Ondrej Kase – If you had Kase, you probably know by now that he had an upper-body injury and is day-to-day. He wasn’t exactly impressive before that injury. You could put him in your IR spot if you have space, but otherwise, he can be dropped.
Players to Drop: Devin Shore, Jesper Bratt, Sven Baertschi, Will Butcher
Players to Hold on in Shallow Leagues: Conor Hellebuyck, Dustin Brown, Kyle Connor, Mathew Barzal, Pavel Buchnevich
Stash in Deep Leagues: Noah Hanifin, Mikhail Sergachev, Sven Baertschi, Jonathan Marchessault
Maybe Pick Up Again: Brandon Montour, Sven Andrighetto, Jan Rutta