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Fantasy Hockey Head-to-Head Primer: Chicago Pickups

Week 4 begins as the NHL heads into November. Here are the players to grab to try to win your fantasy hockey matchup this week.
Jonathan Toews

The Bruins and Golden Knights are the conference leaders heading into Monday. Who would've thunk it? The real kicker is that I think both teams are legitimately very good. Last season’s champion is 23rd but there’s zero panic.

Week 4 promises to be busy but, once again, the schedule is a little quirky with a busy Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with 39 games combined, while Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday combine for just 10 games.

There are seven teams that will play four games this week, and all of them have one back-to-back set, while five teams will play just twice. That includes the Avalanche and Blue Jackets, who play a “home-and-home” set, except both games will be played in Tampere, Finland, as the second part of the Global Series. (Noted with an asterisk in the schedule matrix below).

Start times for the Global Series will be 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET, so adjust your rosters accordingly. Due to the longer-than-normal travel, the Avs and Jackets will also be out of action until next Thursday following their two-game series, which means two straight weeks where they will see limited action. Keep that in mind if you like to plan ahead.

The Ducks and Sharks are two other teams that will face each other multiple times this week, though it’s a bit odd they will meet Monday and Friday with a different opponent on Wednesday, not to mention both games will be in San Jose.

Legend:
P% = season points percentage
Opp. P% = opponents’ season points percentage
Diff. = difference between P% and Opp. P%

Green is good. Red is bad. All advanced stats courtesy naturalstatrick.com. All positions and rostered percentages are courtesy of Yahoo fantasy.

Week 4

Goalies:

Stuart Skinner, Edmonton (24 percent rostered)

Could the Oilers regret that Jack Campbell contract so soon? Jay Woodcroft elected to go with Skinner after Campbell struggled yet again his last start, allowing five goals on 36 shots, giving up multiple leads and only sealed the win thanks to Leon Draisaitl’s game winner with 38 seconds remaining in the third period. Skinner should be rostered in way more leagues because he’s been very impressive in the early going – he’s accounted for two of their four wins during their streak, and this is shaping up to be a timeshare.

Vitek Vanecek (36 percent rostered) and Mackenzie Blackwood, New Jersey (27 percent rostered)

I can tell this is going to be a headache all season, but it’s worthwhile because the Devils are good. They’ve taken a step forward this season, but their careless mistakes and inconsistent goaltending has really cost them. When Vanecek and Blackwood are good, they’re excellent, but one week it looks like Blackwood’s got a hold on the starting job, another week it’s Vanecek. Roster both goalies if you can while the Devils work out their rotation.

Scott Wedgewood, Dallas (three percent rostered)

Jake Oettinger left Saturday’s matinee matchup against the Rangers in the second period, but the good news is that he stayed on the bench to finish the game. An update is expected before the Stars’ next game on Tuesday, but it goes without saying that if Oettinger misses time, the Stars will be without their best player. Wedgewood beat out Anton Khudobin for the backup job, which isn’t saying much, but he showed to be a capable backup last season. With the Kings and Coyotes coming up, Wedgewood has some short-term fantasy value due to the favourable matchups.

Top Five Weekly Banger Picks (< 50 percent rostered on Yahoo, on teams with four games this week):

Blocked Shots (BkS/GP):

1. Nathan Beaulieu, D, Anaheim (2.75)

2. Dmitry Kulikov, D, Anaheim (2.25)

3. Matt Roy, D, Los Angeles (2.10)

4. Ilya Lyubushkin, D, Buffalo (1.67)

5. Marc Staal, D, Florida (1.67)

Hits (BkS/GP):

1. Martin Fehervary, D, Washington (4.00)

2. Garnet Hathaway, RW, Washington (3.44)

3. Nic Dowd, C, Washington (3.22)

4. Dmitry Orlov, D, Washington (3.00)

5. Adam Erne, LW/RW, Detroit (3.00)

Blocked Shots + Hits (BkS/GP + Hits/GP):

1. Martin Fehervary, D, Washington (5.00)

2. Nathan Beaulieu, D, Anaheim (4.50)

3. Garnet Hathaway, RW, Washington (4.44)

4. Dmitry Orlov, D, Washington (4.44)

5. Nic Dowd, C, Washington (4.22)

Short-term Streamers (< 50 percent rostered on Yahoo):

Frederick Gaudreau, C/LW/RW, Minnesota

The spot between Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello will feature a rotating cast of players all season, but it’s undoubtedly the most coveted stop in the lineup from a fantasy standpoint. Gaudreau has skated in that spot for the better part of the past two weeks, and he’s making a strong case to stay there with four points, 13 shots and 24 faceoff wins over the past three games. Few players have triple-position eligibility, which gives rosters maximum flexibility. Note, however, that Joel Eriksson Ek is the preferred option on PP1, and it’s one of the best units in the league.

Caleb Jones, D, Chicago

There’s a ton of Blackhawks content this week because they’re winning games and punching above their weight. Luke Richardson has been a highly-regarded coach coming into the season, and it’s obvious to see why. With Seth Jones suffering an injury on Saturday that will likely keep him out of the lineup for three to four weeks, it’s younger brother Caleb who has stepped into his spot on PP1 and rookie Filip Roos being added to PP2. As long as Patrick Kane is on the power play, Jones should have an opportunity to pick up a few extra points along the way.

Vince Dunn, D, Seattle

Betting against Justin Schultz usually works out. He’s an underwhelming puck-moving defenseman who isn’t nearly as dangerous on the power play as he should be because he doesn’t shoot very often or very well. That means the focus should be back on Dunn, who plays more minutes and is currently on a four-game point streak.

Mid-term holds (< 50 percent rostered on Yahoo):

Jonathan Toews, C, Chicago

Sometimes, it’s easier to play when there’s no pressure. In his second season since sitting out the entire 2020-21 season due to illness, Toews is looking more like his former self, scoring seven points in nine games and winning 65 percent (!) of his faceoffs. His 27.8 shooting percentage screams regression, but the offense should continue to flow with a soft schedule coming up.

Brock Nelson, C, and Anders Lee, LW, New York Islanders

The Isles are usually underrepresented in fantasy because of their reputation of being a low-scoring team. That hasn’t been the case this season with four games featuring five or more goals – they had just 10 such games last season – but note they’re just not very consistent. When their offense does ignite, it’s Nelson and Lee who should be the focus of fantasy managers. Both feature on PP1 and are more valuable in fantasy than top center Mat Barzal, who often has to drag two lifeless wingers with him.

Reilly Smith, LW/RW, Vegas

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Knights have gone back to their “Misfits Line” with Smith, William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault, and they’ve been very good. They’ve combined to score 22 points this season, and it looks like Bruce Cassidy has really settled on his top six.

Brandon Montour, D, Florida

Montour’s calling card has always been his offense, and with a thin blue line, he’s been averaging over 26 minutes per game over the past four games. He’s also scored two goals and three assists during that span, and as long as Aaron Ekblad is out, Montour is the defenseman to roster on the Panthers.

Long-term Pickups (< 50 percent rostered on Yahoo):

Max Domi, C/LW/RW, Chicago

Domi plays onto the long-term pickup list due to his overall scoring, top-line role at both even strength and on the power play, and, surprisingly, his ability to win faceoffs. Perhaps no player’s stock has risen as much as Domi’s through the first month, who went from an afterthought in free agency to quickly becoming a valuable trade-deadline target. His numbers are just insane; 30.8 shooting percentage and 67.2 FOW%, and a 70-point pace that he’s maintained just once in his career. Hot streaks can last an entire season, and until noted otherwise, Domi deserves a spot on your team, especially in roto leagues.

Martin Necas, RW, Carolina

Necas is on a three-game point streak and now leads the team with 11 points, drawing praise from Rod Brind’Amour, who notes Necas has arguably been their best player. Necas is a little thin on peripherals, but his scoring pace demands a roster spot, and the extra 27 faceoff wins coming from a winger is also nice to have. Continuity and consistency are key for the Canes – Brind’Amour has barely changed his top six this season. 

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