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Weekly Wrap: Fantasy Hockey Week in Review

Welcome back to another fantasy hockey week in review.  Things are a little different this week. I’ve scrapped the NHL three stars for this one. Below you’ll find snippets on Nikita Kucherov, Auston Matthews, Sam Reinhart, Lucas Raymond, and some unsolicited fantasy hockey playoff draft advice.

Let’s dive in…

Fantasy Hockey Week in Review

Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers:

He hit 100 assists Monday night, becoming only the fourth player in NHL history. The extra assists seem to have replaced goals this year, with his goal total being half of his 2022-23 totals. As impressive as this accomplishment is, it won’t (or shouldn’t) be enough to win the Hart Trophy this year. A 130-point season is nothing to sneeze at.

Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning:

With one game remaining, Kucherov needs one assist to reach 100 assists for the season and become the fifth player in NHL history to do so. I think Kucherov was eyeing 100 assists a little too much on Monday. It was only the third time all season Kucherov was held shotless.

With career highs in goals, assists, and points, we’ll see how important a milestone of 100 assists is to Kucherov and the Lightning. They have the second wild card wrapped up and have nothing to play for. Scratching Kucherov could ruin a team’s championship chances. It would impact mine.

Auston Matthews, C, Toronto Maple Leafs:

His eight-game goal streak was broken last night. He sits with 69 goals with one game against Tampa Bay remaining. Like the Lightning, the only reason to play Matthews would be to give him a final shot at hitting 70 goals. The Leafs and Lightning play tonight, so we won’t have to wait long to see if Matthews gets some rest before the playoffs or gets one final chance to write another chapter in the Leafs’ record book.

Artemi Panarin, LW, New York Rangers:

He put up a monster season, obliterating his previous career high in goals with 49 (previous – 32) and points with 120 (96). He also averaged 3.7 shots on goal for the season, more than a shot per game more than any previous year. He also ended the season on a 13-game point streak (11 goals, 15 assists).

Mikael Granlund, C, San Jose Sharks:

Granlund has quietly put up two solid seasons in a row. He followed up his 64 points in 80 games last year with the Nashville Predators with 59 points in 68 games this year with the Sharks. He ended the season with 14 points during his 12-game point streak. He’s currently rostered in 42% of Fantrax leagues. Expect a double-digit drop during the off-season. Outside of points-only pools, Granlund doesn’t offer much in the way of peripheral value. With another year under contract in San Jose, expect Granlund to continue to roll. Add him to your watch list. There’s some low-key value here.

Lucas Raymond, C, Detroit Red Wings:

Let’s add in some late-game heroics to cap off his breakout season. His 31 goals, 41 assists, and 72 points are all career highs. He only averaged two shots per game, but if he can increase that output closer to three per game, Raymond could unlock an entirely new level of production. Still, his eleven points over the final six regular-season games boosted more than one team through the semi-finals and finals. Raymond had two huge goals to lead the comeback versus Montreal on Monday night. He scored the tying goal with under two minutes to play and then the game-winning goal in overtime.

Trevor Zegras, C, Anaheim Ducks:

This wasn’t the breakout season everyone anticipated. Instead, Zegras’ season was riddled with injury. On the bright side, he does have five points in his last four games and will end the season with 211 career NHL games played. Zegras will start the 2024-25 season on his breakout threshold. Owning him in three pools, I’m expecting big things. I’ll also be kicking tires in my other two pools all summer hoping to find some opportunity to ‘buy low.’

Timo Meier, LW/RW, New Jersey Devils:

It has been a tale of two seasons for Meier. Luckily, I couldn’t even trade him for a couple of draft picks mid-season. Even the low-ball offers I received were insulting if he were a lesser player. In his last 21 games, he produced 15 goals and 24 points. He also fired 72 shots on the net. Expect Meier to return to his previous form next year – meaning, 35 goals, 70 points, and 300-plus shots.

Sam Reinhart, C/RW, Florida Panthers:

Sam Reinhart scored two more goals in the Panthers’ final game of the season. Those two goals helped the Panthers to a 5-2 victory over the Leafs. The Panthers win coupled with a Boston Bruins loss means the Panthers won the Atlantic Division and set up the long-awaited battle of Florida. It also means the Maple Leafs and Bruins meet in the first round, once again. Back to Reinhart. His two goals give him 57 for the season. He also ended the season with a 24% shooting percentage. We can safely expect that shooting percentage to slide at least six percent.

Fantasy Hockey Playoffs

There’s a select segment of fantasy hockey enthusiasts who don’t let the end of the regular season stop them.

Playoff hockey pools present a different challenge and require a different drafting strategy. If you simply pick the best player available as you progress through the rounds, hopping from team to team, the odds of winning your playoff pool are slim to none.

Typically, playoff pools operate as straight-point leagues, awarding one point for a goal or an assist, and a range of one to three points for a goalie win and a shutout.

The playoff drafting strategy is relatively straightforward:

Step 1: Choose your teams. Select your favorite team to win the Stanley Cup. Pick a second team from the other conference as your favorite to make the Stanley Cup finals. Then, pick a third team—a dark horse or underdog team that could surprise, akin to this year’s Florida Panthers. Once you’ve made these selections, your draft list is relatively set.

Step 2: Your initial three to four picks should come from your top-choice team. If several others have also selected this team, adjust by prioritizing your second team early to secure elite players.

Step 3: Alternate between your two favorite teams for subsequent picks.

Step 4: Once your top teams are depleted of top-tier and mid-tier talent, conclude your draft by selecting players from your sleeper team.

Step 5: Always have a backup team from each conference to replace one of your Cup favorites. If you draft late in the first round and find your initial choices depleted, be ready to pivot to an untouched team with available stars.

Step 6: After drafting, sit back and hope your selections prove successful. Remember, you’re choosing teams to go deep in the playoffs, not individual players who will score points.

With only two days remaining in the NHL regular season and most fantasy hockey finals, I wish you good luck, and may the puck luck fall your way. Thanks for reading.

Follow me on X: @doylelb4

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