09 Nov 2016/17 Fantasy Hockey – Hot/Cold List #2
This is the 2nd edition of The SportsCrew’s “Hot/Cold List”, a bi-weekly piece on fantasy hockey talking about the players making an impact (or lack of) around the NHL (part 1: http://thesportscrew.com/201617-fantasy-hockey-early-season-hotcold-list/). The NHL season has hit the 1-month mark, and it’s time to look at the players who are creating a buzz around the league:
Mark Scheifele (14 GP: 9 goals, 9 assists, 18 points, +8, 39 shots, 4 PP points)
Mark Scheifele is blossoming into an elite NHL center right in front of our eyes, he has been fantastic for the Winnipeg Jets early on this season leading the NHL with 18 points through 14 games. Scheifele has shown great chemistry early on with linemates Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers, a group that has 23 of the Jets 42 goals this season. He had a career-high 29 goals and 61 points last season, I expect Scheifele to be 30+ goals and 80+ points by the end of the season.
Artem Anisimov (13 GP: 8 goals, 9 assists, 17 points, +11, 24 shots, 4 PP points, 3 GWGs)
The often overlooked member of the Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line, Anisimov leads the Hawks with 8 goals and 17 points in 13 games (both 2nd in the NHL too). After having a fantastic year last season, the Anisimov-centered line is 1-2-3 in Blackhawks scoring (Kane 16 points, Panarin 13 points) and off to another fast start. If Anisimov continues his early-season surge he looks well on pace to break his career-best 22 goals and 44 points. Either way, Coach Quenneville has to like what he’s seen out of the Russian center.
Patrick Kane (13 GP: 5 goals, 11 assists, 16 points, +9, 41 shots, 4 PP points)
Speaking of that talented Blackhawks line, the reigning Art Ross Trophy-winner is off to a great start with 5 goals and 16 points in 13 games. Kane lead the NHL with 106 points last season and sits just 2 points back of the NHL lead, while it might be a difficult to match his career-best year of 46 goals and 106 points from last season it is definitely possible to see Kane go over the 100 point total again this season. The Hawks currently sit top of the Western Conference at 9-3-1, and a big part of this is thanks to the fast start of Kane and his fellow linemates.
Connor McDavid (14 GP: 5 goals, 12 assists, 17 points, +5, 37 shots, 5 PP points)
One of the names that’s going to be pushing Kane for the Art Ross Trophy is Connor McDavid, the newly named Oilers Captain who’s off to a great start this season with 5 goals and 17 points in 14 games. Fresh off a 3-assist game against Sidney Crosby, McDavid looks to become just the 3rd Sophomore player to win the Art-Ross Trophy (Wayne Gretzky 1980-81, Sidney Crosby 2006-07). You can read my piece on Connor McDavid’s chances at winning the Art Ross Trophy here: http://thesportscrew.com/connor-mcdavid-youngest-captain-in-nhl-history-future-art-ross-trophy-winner/.
Carey Price (8 GP: 8-0-0, 1.63 GAA, .953 SV%, 1 Shutout)
The Habs are off to an incredible start at 11-1-1 and there’s no question that Carey Price has been nothing short of spectacular this season. Price leads the NHL with 8 wins, while sporting a dazzling 1.63 goals against average and .953 save percentage. Price has only allowed 13 goals in 8 games, and looks well off to another Vezina Trophy assuming he can stay healthy. With Price on the top of his game again, the Habs are back to being a serious threat in the Eastern Conference.
Patrik Laine (14 GP: 11 goals, 4 assists, 15 points, +2, 44 shots, 7 PP points)
In the last edition I talked about #1 overall pick Auston Matthews and his incredible start, but surpassing him has been #2 overall pick Patrik Laine who is making serious waves in Winnipeg. Laine leads the NHL with 11 goals in his first 14 career games, while scoring 2 hat tricks in that time. There was no question that the 18-year old Laine was NHL-ready this season, but he’s showing an elite-level goal scoring ability that puts him with the best in the NHL already.
Sidney Crosby (7 GP: 8 goals, 2 assists, 10 points, +5, 23 shots, 3 PP points)
It seems like people almost forgot about Crosby in the opening few weeks of the season, after all a concussion sidelined him for the Penguins first 6 games of the season. Crosby has responded with 8 goals and 10 points in 7 games, picking up right where he left off in the World Cup leading the tournament with 10 points in 6 games. The reigning Conn-Smythe trophy winner has the Penguins in pursuit of being the first back-t0-back Stanley Cup Champions since the Red Wings did it in 1997 and 1998. Despite missing 6 games, I think it’s entirely possible to see Crosby at 50 goals/100 points at season’s end.
Brent Burns (13 GP: 5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points, even, 3 PP points, 71 shots, 30 blocks)
The NHL-leader for points by defenseman, Burns has 5 goals and 12 points in 13 games this season for the Sharks. He has points in 8 of 13 games this season, while firing an incredible 71 shots on goal which is 13 more than the next player in the league. With steady minutes (24:00 ice-time per game) Burns is looking to top his career-high of 29 goals and 75 points from last season. He is a big part of the Sharks offense and one of the best offensive defenseman in the NHL today.
Tuukka Rask (8 GP: 7-1-0, 1.74 GAA, .941 SV%, 2 Shutouts)
If anyone has been as good as Carey Price early on this season, it’s been the Finn Rask who has been a brick wall for the Bruins so far. Rask is 2nd in the NHL with 7 wins, while sporting an impressive 1.74 goals against and .941 save percentage with 2 shutouts. Rask has been one of the most consistent goalies in the NHL the past few years, and with unreliable backups in Boston he’s in line for another heavy workload this season. Look for Tuukka to remain in the Vezina Trophy race.
Claude Giroux (14 GP: 4 goals, 11 assists, 15 points, -7, 36 shots, 9 PP points)
The Flyers Captain has been lights out early on this season, with 4 goals and 15 points while going pointless just twice this season in 14 games. After a down year last season with just 22 goals and 67 points in 78 games, Giroux is off to a fast start and playing some of his best hockey. The NHL’s highest scorer over the past 7 seasons (458 points in 462 games), look for Giroux to push for his career-high in goals (28) and points (93) by the end of this season.
Jakub Voracek (14 GP: 6 goals, 9 assists, 15 points, -4, 58 shots, 5 PP points, 28 Penalty Minutes)
Speaking of the Flyers, Giroux’s running mate Jakur Voracek is off to an impressive start himself with 6 goals and 15 points in 14 games so far this season. Voracek has the 2nd most shots in the NHL with 58 points, while putting up 5 PP points and 28 penalty minutes giving him great value in multi-category leagues. Much like Giroux, Voracek had an off-year last season with just 11 goals and 55 points in 73 games, but he looks well on his way back to similar stats from 2014/15 where he had 81 points in 82 games.
Nikita Kucherov (12 GP: 4 goals, 11 assists, 15 points, +3, 31 shots, 7 PP points)
After a slow start with just 3 assists in his first 5 games, Kucherov has exploded for 4 goals and 12 points in 7 games since including two 4-point games. Many people feel Kucherov is the biggest bargain in the NHL right now after signing a 3-year, $14.3 million deal this summer that pays him $4.76 million a season. After all he lead the Lightning with 66 points (3o goals) in 77 games last season and has 21 goals and 41 points over the last two playoffs for Tampa Bay. Assuming he stays healthy he’s well on pace to set new career-highs in goals (30) and points (66) this season.
Johnny Gaudreau (14 GP: 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, -11, 33 shots, 1 PP point)
There’s no question the Flames have struggled this season at 5-8-1, and a big part of their problem seems to come from the struggles of their top line with Johnny Gaudreau. He has just 2 goals and 8 points in 14 games this season, while sporting a dreadful -11 and just 1 powerplay point. If the Flames want to even have a chance at competing for a playoff spot this season, they need Gaudreau to pick up his game. Don’t expect him to be on this list for long.
Sean Monahan (14 GP: 4 goals, 1 assist, 5 points, -10, 25 shots, 1 PP point)
Speaking of those Calgary Flames, Gaudreau’s linemate Sean Monahan has struggled just as much with 4 goals and 5 points in 14 games. Monahan is a -10 while having just 1 powerplay point and 25 shots on goal, and considering he’s been 60+ points the past two seasons he’s well under that pace this year. Like I mentioned with Gaudreau above, the Flames desperately need Monahan to get things going to get their season back on track.
Evgeny Kuznetsov (12 GP: 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, +4, 18 shots, 0 PP points)
Another guy (like Monahan) who was on this list in the first edition, Kuznetsov has started very slowly this season with just 1 goal and 6 points in 12 games. Kuznetsov has a mere 18 shots on goal and no powerplay points, much less of an impact then he had last season when he lead the Capitals with 77 points. Fortunately for Kuznetsov the Caps are off to a great start at 8-3-1, it’s only a matter of time before he turns it around. Kuznetsov owners would be wise to be patient with him.
Semyon Varlamov (8 GP: 2-6-0, 3.67 GAA, .881 SV%)
The Avalanche are off to a slow start under new Head Coach Jared Bednar at 5-7-0, and a huge part of their struggles has been goaltender Semyon Varlamov. He has just 2 wins in 8 games this season, while sporting a miserable 3.67 goals against average and .881 save percentage. Varlamov is already starting to lose starts to Calvin Pickard (see below) and very potentially could lose his starting job all together in the long run. Varlamov is drop-able at this point unless he starts to show any signs of playing better.
Antti Niemi (8 GP: 3-2-1, 3.65 GAA, .892 SV%) / Kari Lehtonen (7 GP: 1-4-2, 3.28 GAA, .878 SV%)
Speaking of a team with struggling goaltending, the Dallas Stars have been below-average this season at 4-6-3 and veteran goaltenders Antti Niemi/Kari Lehtonen have been equally bad. Niemi has just 3 wins while sporting a 3.65 goals against average and .892 save percentage, while Lehtonen has 1 win with a 3.28 goals against average and .878 save percentage. Many people predicted the Stars to be one of the best teams in the NHL this season, and they are going to need much better goaltending to reach that level. Either way both of these guys are a huge risk right now, tough to trust either one.
Andrew Ladd (13 GP: 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, -2, 27 shots, 0 PP points)
Easily the most disastrous start for any offseason signing has been Andrew Ladd, who has just 1 goal (scored just the other night too) and 2 points in 13 games since starting with the Islanders. The Islanders went all-in on Ladd with a 7-year $38.5 million deal this summer, and he has looked uncomfortable so far moving throughout the lineup. Many people expected Ladd to be a mainstay on the John Tavares line, but that hasn’t been the case every game and remains to be a question mark until Ladd starts producing.
Aleksander Barkov (13 GP: 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, +1, 25 shots, 2 PP points)
The Panthers have looked very inconsistent early on this season at 6-6-1, and part of this has been the struggle of the Panthers top line in the absence of Jonathan Huberdeau. Barkov has just 2 goals and 6 points in 13 games this season including just 1 point in his last 9 games, while Jaromir Jagr has just 1 goal and 5 points in 13 games. Barkov was fantastic last season with 59 points in 66 games, it’s only a matter of time before he gets things rolling again so be patient with him.
Aaron Ekblad (13 GP: 2 goals, o assists, 2 points, -5, 34 shots, 2 PP points)
Speaking of the Panthers, 20-year old Aaron Ekblad has had an equally slow start with just 2 goals and a -5 in 13 games this season. After seasons of 39 and 36 points for Ekblad, experts expected him to take a big step in his 3rd NHL season and that hasn’t been the case so far. The minutes remain there for Ekblad (23:20 ice-time per game) as he blossoms into an elite NHL defenseman, it’s only a matter of time before he picks up his game and the Panthers get back on track.
Brian Elliott (9 GP: 3-6-0, 3.33 GAA, .887 SV%)
I mentioned above the struggles of the Flames offensively, but a big part of their issues have been in net with newly-acquired goaltender Brian Elliott. Elliott has just 3 wins in 9 games, while he has a bad 3.33 goals against average and .887 save percentage. Elliott has allowed 4+ goals in 5 of 9 games and at least 2+ goals in 8 of 9 starts, one wonders how much this has to do with the Flames awful defense. Either way Elliott has been bad and owners are right to worry.
Torey Krug (13 GP: 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, -8, 45 shots, 2 PP points)
I talked about Krug in the first edition, despite having just 2 assists in 13 games this season things are slowly starting to turn around for him. After going pointless in the first 9 games of the season, Krug has points in 2 of the last 4 games and has a team-best 45 shots on goal. The Bruins offense has been very hot and cold at points early this season, and Krug needs to be more consistent to get things going for Claude Julien’s team.
James Neal (12 GP: 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, -3, 46 shots, 1 PP point)
Neal was also mentioned in the first piece, just 1 assist in his first 5 games of the season was a terrible start. He has gone on to score 3 goals and 3 assists in 7 games since, and is starting to turn things around. However, I still include him on this list because the Predators offense was expected to be one of the best in the NHL and 7 points in 12 games is still a slow start for Neal. He scored 31 goals last year and will need to pick it up to reach that pace again this season, but things are definitely turning around.
Filip Forsberg (12 GP: 0 goals, 8 assists, 8 points, -4, 22 shots, 3 PP points)
Continuing with the Predators theme here, Forsberg hasn’t been particularly bad either but he also hasn’t scored yet in 12 games this season. Forsberg has 8 assists while being a -4, and he’s averaging less than 2 shots a game with only 22 shots on goal. He lead the Predators with 33 goals and 64 points last season, and still leads the team with 8 points this year, so it’s only a matter of time before Forsberg starts lighting the lamp. Fantasy owners need to be patient with Forsberg he’s due for a hot streak.
Free Agent Targets (Owned less than 50%)
Rickard Rakell (4 GP: 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, +1, 14 shots, 2 PP points) – 26% owned
After sitting out the first 9 games of the Ducks season while being unsigned, Rakell has exploded out of the gate with 3 goals and 6 points in 4 games since his return. Rakell has clicked with Corey Perry and remains a big part of the Ducks offense, and he’s a must grab if he’s still on the waiver wire (still just 26% owned on Yahoo).
Kevin Hayes (14 GP: 6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points, +11, 21 shots, 1 PP points) – 44% owned
The Rangers have seen a resurgence in their offense this season thanks to some young offensive pieces, and Kevin Hayes has been a big part of that with 6 goals and 13 points in 14 games this season while being a +11. Hayes has looked fantastic centering a line with JT Miller and Michael Grabner, a line that has 18 goals already this season. He was less than 30% owned last week, so scoop him up if while can.
Alexander Wennberg (10 GP: 1 goal, 11 assists, 12 points, +3, 14 shots, 8 PP points) – 23% owned
Another young player off to a great start, Wennberg has 1 goal and 12 points in 10 games this season for the Blue Jackets. He has 8 powerplay points, 2nd to Claude Giroux (9) for most in the NHL. The Blue Jackets have been surprisingly good early this season at 5-3-2, and the top line of Scott Hartnell-Wennberg-Nick Foligno has been a big part of this. Wennberg had 40 points in 69 games last year, look for him to go 50+ points as he gains more minutes.
Nikolaj Ehlers (14 GP: 3 goals, 8 assists, 11 points, +5, 36 shots, 1 PP point) – 41% owned
I touched on Ehlers linemates Mark Scheifele/Patrik Laine above, but the young Danish forward has been fantastic this season with 3 goals and 11 points in 14 games for the Jets. Ehlers has shown chemistry with the two stars and is a must grab if he’s still available on the waiver wire. He had 38 points in 72 games last year, look for him to go 50+ points this season as he’s well on his way to a career year.
Jacob Trouba (RFA just signed) – 24% owned
Speaking of the Jets, if you are looking to grab a defenseman with few options look no further than the recently signed Trouba, who was an RFA up until signing a 2-year $6 million deal yesterday. Trouba is expected to be a big part of the Jets going forward and will get top 4 minutes upon his return.
Mitch Marner (13 GP: 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, -5, 35 shots, 1 PP point) – 41% owned
Over-shadowed by fellow rookies Auston Matthews and William Nylander, Mitch Marner has been fantastic for the Maple Leafs with 4 goals and 10 points in his first 13 NHL games. Marner has shown great chemistry with linemates Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk, and he’s a great add on the waiver wire if he’s still there.
Dennis Seidenberg (13 GP: 4 goals, 4 assist, 8 points, +10, 15 shots, 35 blocks) – 37% owned
This one is a little strange to me, considering Seidenberg hasn’t topped 17 points in the last 4 seasons it’s hard to justify how he already has 8 points in 13 games with the Islanders. It’s always tough to judge guys with hot starts and I’d be cautious picking up Seidenberg, but he has value in multi-category leagues with a +10 and 35 blocks and is worth a grab if you have a defenseman you’re aching to drop.
Michael Grabner (14 GP: 7 goals, 3 assists, 10 points, +12, 30 shots) – 31% owned
I mentioned above Grabner’s linemate Kevin Hayes and his strong start, but this has been more of a career resurgence for Grabner with 7 goals and 10 points with a +12 in 14 games this season. Grabner has never really found his game after scoring 34 goals and 52 points in 2010/11, including just 9 goals and 18 points in 80 games last year with the Leafs. The Rangers really like his speed and he’s getting good minutes, so he’s worth a grab if you have someone to drop.
Derek Stepan (14 GP: 1 goal, 9 assists, 10 points, +1, 26 shots, 4 PP points) – 38% owned
Another Ranger on this list, Stepan is always a guy that’s underrated and often overlooked in fantasy despite having 10 points in 14 games for the Rangers. He has shown chemistry with linemates Jimmy Vesey and Rick Nash, and with Stepan being owned just 38% in yahoo and he’s a must-grab if he’s still available.
Damon Severson (12 GP: 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points, -3, 17 shots, 5 PP points) – 29% owned
The Devils are off to a great start at 6-3-3 this season, and one of the offensive surprises has been defenseman Damon Severson who has 2 goals and 9 points in 12 games this season. Severson is average 20:23 icetime playing on the top pair with Andy Greene, and he’s been a big part of the Devils powerplay with 5 PP points. If you are looking for some production on defense, Severson (29% owned) is a great add.
Brandon Manning (14 GP: 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points, +2, 24 shots, 33 hits) – 35% owned
A guy that is not particularly flashy, Manning has value in multi-category pools with his production early on this season. Manning has 2 goals and 8 points in 14 games, while also putting 24 shots on goal and 33 hits. If you are looking for a defenseman to put up stats beyond just points, Manning is worth the add.
Calvin Pickard (5 GP: 3-1-0, 2.08 GAA, .923 SV%, 1 Shutout) – 19% owned
I mentioned above Varlamov and how he’s starting to lose his job, but Pickard has been great this season for the Avs going 3-1-0 with a 2.08 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. He has certainly earned more starts going forward, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes over for Varlamov all together in the near future.
Forman’s Play to Watch
Claude Giroux fantastic shootout winner vs. the Islanders.