Welcome back to another fantasy hockey week in review, where I cover the week in fantasy hockey; the latest streaks, trends, and anything else that catches my attention.
I’m mixing it up a little bit this week. I’ve noticed that I can’t get to every team in my articles. I thought I would try a different format, covering the top fantasy story from each NHL team over the past week. It will mean shorter commentary on each topic, but I won’t be seen as biased toward specific teams.
Fantasy Hockey, Week in Review
Frank Vatrano, LW, has 11 goals. That’s a 64-goal pace. It won’t last, but 40 might be possible. Mason McTavish has 15 in 14 games, yet no one is talking about him, that will change over the next few weeks. And Zegras is on the IR, mind you, he could return next Wednesday.
Logan Cooley, C, has one goal, and 11 points in 14 games. He has 22 shots on the season, 12 of which have come in the last three games. The tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Sean Durzi, D, is the early winner of the power play derby with 10 points, five of which are goals.
Expect an even split in net. Both goalies have played well, but neither has taken the reigns of the crease as of yet.
David Pastrnak, RW, and Brad Marchand, LW, are doing typical elite Pastrnak and Marchand things. Both are on expected paces. I’m not sure who the biggest surprise is so far, the 19-year-old, 54th overall pick, Matthew Poitras, C, with eight points in 15 games, or the rejuvenated James Van Riemsdyk; or perhaps Charlie Coyle, who is on a 65-point pace.
After scoring six goals against the Leafs, the Sabres have only scored seven in their next four games. Devon Levi, G, has been expectedly inconsistent as a rookie goalie. Growing pains are tough. I would hesitate to rely on him as a top-two goalie for my fantasy team.
Elias Lindholm, C, only has one goal in his last 11 games and two on the season. And none on his last 22 shots (over 10 games). His career shooting percentage, as a Flame is over 15%. He sits at 5.1% currently. Based on career averages, he should have an extra four goals than he does. He’s not the only cold Flame in Calgary to start the year.
Freddy Andersen is injured, again. After an 0-3 start, Kotchetkov tossed a 22-save shutout against the Tampa Bay Lightning. This should increase Rod Brind’Amour’s confidence to start him with more frequency. A 50-50 split with Antti Ranta is very possible until Andersen returns.
Chicago Black Hawks
The Connor Bedard, C, era is really underway. With four goals and six points in his last two games, Bedard is putting the hockey world on notice. If it wasn’t already. Only 13 games into his NHL career, he’s on a 56-goal pace. He’s also averaging 3.3 shots per game. He could be the first since Sidney Crosby to score 100 points in his rookie season.
Humiliated against St. Louis, the Avalanche had a solid bounce-back Monday against the Seattle Kraken, winning 5-1. Nathan McKinnon, C, led the way with three assists. With a goal and an assist, Cale Makar, D, is now up to 18 points in 14 games, a 105-point pace. The Norris will come down to him and Quinn Hughes if they both remain healthy.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Patrick Laine, RW, returned to the lineup after missing three weeks on November 11. Unfortunately, the Blue Jackets have lost all three games.
Erik Gudbranson, D, has four assists in his last four games, which leads the team over that span. It has been that kind of start for the Blue Jackets.
They’ve won four in a row. Tyler Seguin has six points in those four games. I don’t want to curse what could be a good thing, but this could be the makings of a bounce-back season.
Matt Duchene, C, RW, is settling in nicely, with six points (3 goals, 3 assists) in his last three games.
Detroit Red Wings
Shayne Gostisbehere, D, is pointless in his last seven. He’s averaging 62.5% Red Wings power play ice-time. Either the slump ends or Jake Walman, D, will steal some of those minutes. Moritz Seider, D, is already averaging 55.9% of the Red Wings power play ice time. he can’t really log much more.
Keep an eye on Walman, who also has 42 blocks. He doesn’t hit, but he looks primed to surpass 150 hits and 150 blocks. He should also hit double-digit goals. He’s a 40-point dark horse.
Yikes, it’s been a week. Maybe Connor McDavid, C, came back a little early? He’s been disappointing to date, for him. Zack Hyman, LW, threw the team on his back against the Seattle Kraken with a first-period hat trick.
Leon Draisaitl, C, responded emphatically with a goal and three assists. He was also 58% in face-offs. A nice bonus on top of a big game.
Sam Reinhart, RW, is on a tear, with ten points in his last four games. It also marked his fourth straight game with two points or more. it is quite obvious why he was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, has been rejuvenated by the warm Florida sunshine. Maybe he doesn’t like rain? Regardless, he has nine points in 14 games, including four from the power play. It will be interesting to see what happens to his deployment when Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour return to the line up. I’m expecting his production to dip.
Los Angeles Kings
I mentioned Quinton Byfield, C, recently. He is just chugging along at a nice pace. The stats aren’t flashy, but 13 points in 14 games is still a 76-point pace. I expect this to slide closer to 60-to-65 points by the end of the year. Regardless, this is a great first full season for Byfield to build on.
It hasn’t been the first quarter anyone expected for Filip Gustavsson, G, to say the least. In his last 5 starts, he has one win and a save percentage of .838.
If you own him, bench and hold. He’s too good to drop, even in one-year pools. If you don’t own him, there’s no better time than now to try and buy low.
Montreal has a way of pulling the best out of a defenceman. Remember when they acquired Jeff Petry, D, for peanuts from Edmonton? Mike Matheson, D, is the latest to come into his own after arriving in Montreal.
With five points, four on the power play, in his last four games, Matheson has become a must-own, must-start defenseman in every standard 12-team pool. Already up to 9 power-play points on the year, he’s on track to destroy offensive career highs.
Filip Forsberg, LW, is off to another strong start. Coming into Tuesday’s game he had 18 points in 15 games and five goals in his last three. His problem has never been production, it has been health. He hasn’t played 70 or more regular season games since he played all 82 in 2016-17.
It feels like an injury is a matter of when with him.
New Jersey Devils
Another season of subpar goaltending. Neither goalie has a save percentage above .900 heading into Tuesday night. They will need to outscore their problems all year unless this improves. Losing Jack Hughes, C, for a month is not going to help this.
Timo Meier, LW/RW, is quietly finding his footing.
New York Islanders
This roster keeps getting older and slower. I feel for Ilya Sorokin, G, owners. This superstar goalie is wasting away on a team going in the wrong direction. Similarly is Noah Dobson, also having a solid year.
Brock Nelson, C, appears on track for another season with 35-plus goals. At least owning Islanders won’t crater your plus-minus if you count the stat. They’re still stingy.
New York Rangers
It took 216 games, but Alexis Lafreniere, LW/RW, appears ready to break out. With seven goals in 14 games, he’s on pace for 41. Approach this number with caution. He also has a 29.2 SH%, About 13% higher than his career average. He could still use to shoot the puck more, averaging 1.7 per game.
Hopefully, he can counter regression with increased shot output.
Brady Tkachuk, LW, has 12 points in 13 games with, 34 penalty minutes, 50 shots and 41 hits. These are Alexander Ovechkin, LW, numbers.
Did any goalie receive any more pre-season scrutiny than Joonas Korpisalo, G? So far, he’s been average, but improving. He’s now up to a .907 save percentage. Which is markedly better than Anton Forsberg’s .833. I had high hopes for Korpisalo entering this season. I am pretty sure I am still in the minority thinking he will improve and turn into a good signing by the end of the season.
Carter Hart, G, appears set to return. Keep an eye on tonight’s starter as he has not been ruled out. It would be his first game in two weeks. Hopefully, it was just a minor injury as Hart is having his best season in four years.
For everyone writing him off, he is starting to show why you should never give up too soon on a young player, especially a goalie. After all, goalies are voodoo.
Needless to say, Erik Karlsson, D, is fitting in well. It took a couple of weeks, but with 11 points in his last six games, we are all witnessing the Karlsson show once again.
Also watching the Karlsson show is Kris Letang, D, who has lost his coveted spot on the first power play. Karlsson is currently raking in 72% of all power-play ice time. While Letang is literally taking seconds at 25.5%. Letang is one injury away from moving up to the first unit unless that injury is him, so you can’t drop him.
San Jose Sharks
Somehow, MacKenzie Blackwood, G, has a .900 save percentage on a team giving up 4.46 goals per game. Six of his 11 starts he has had 36 or more saves. Including, the Sharks’ only two wins of the year against Philadelphia and Edmonton where he had 38 and 39 save performances. If your fantasy hockey pool counts saves as a stat and you are desperate, he could serve as a spot start
The Sharks also acquired Calen Addison, D, a puck-moving defenseman that they needed in the worst way. Unfortunately, Addison has a lot of holes to fill with his defensive game. On the bright side, he’ll get lots of opportunities to iron these out now.
Joey Daccord, G, is beginning to pull the starting job away from Philipp Grubbauer, G. Neither is playing lights out, but Daccord has been better.
For those who thought Vince Dunn’s 64-point season was a fluke, he has 14 in 16 games to start the year. He’s on track to replicate, if not improve.
St. Louis Blues
Robert Thomas, C/RW, his shots on goal are way up. his previous career high of 1.57 shots per game is in danger of being obliterated. With 31 shots in 15 games, he is averaging over 2 shots a game for the first time in his career.
If you’ve read my column(s) previously you know I’m a stickler for forwards that shoot the puck. Ideally, I get 2.5 per game. With this kind of improvement though, Thomas could achieve a new level of production if it holds.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Nikita Kucherov, RW, only missed one game. Perhaps he wished he missed a second as Tampa Bay is on the wrong end of a second consecutive shutout.
Toronto Maple Leafs
William Nylander, RW, was the second star of the week. and has points in all 15 games of the Maple Leafs season. He is making himself very expensive for the Leafs to re-sign him.
Schedule note, the Leafs are in Sweden and only play on Friday and Sunday. Then they don’t play again until the following weekend. If your roster is heavy on the Leafs, this will impact your matchup.
Speaking of expensive contracts, Elias Pettersson, C, is currently leading the NHL in points, with 25. His next contract likely starts with a 12. If you’re in a salary cap pool, I would start preparing now. I mean, you can’t move him.
Vegas Golden Knights
“Wild Bill” is back. William Karlsson is having the best season he’s had since the inaugural year in Vegas. Sitting with 18 points in 16 games, Karlsson could break 60 points for the second time in his career. He is riding a 28.6 SH%, which we know is almost always unsustainable. Although, in 2017-18, when he scored 43, he had a 23.6 SH%. it is worth noting his career average is 12.8%.
I’ve seen a lot of, ‘what is wrong with John Carlsson, D,’ comments online. The answer, it is a slow start. There’s no real reduction in his shots on goal and he is still munching huge minutes, averaging 26:23 on the season. If anything, the Capitals are relying on him more than they have in several years.
Things will level out.
Alex Iafallo, LW, wasn’t exactly a depth player with the Los Angeles Kings. He averaged over 17 minutes a game over his six seasons. And played a lot with Anze Kopitar, 5 on 5. Something is clicking in Winnipeg though. He only needs 30 points over the next 67 games to surpass his career high.
Cole Perfetti is having a really strong second season, with 13 points in 15 games. At the end of the year, he’ll still be almost a full season away from his breakout threshold. This one has star potential.
That’s all for this week. This was a fun experiment. Although, I expect to return to my previous format next week. This is a little long in the tooth, so to speak. Perhaps, I’ll sprinkle this style in a couple of times throughout the year, almost as wrap-ups to the weekly wrap-up.
Thanks for reading.
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