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Fantasy Hockey Head-to-Head Primer: Reunite the Vegas ‘Misfits’

If your fantasy team has Jonathan Marchessault, Jason Chen recommends picking up William Karlsson and Reilly Smith as well.
William Karlsson and Reilly Smith

It’s going to be a slow week for five teams who play only two games in Week 5. The Blue Jackets and Avalanche get a pass since they just recently returned from Finland for their two-game Global Series, and neither team will play until Thursday. The only two teams worth considering among the group of five are the Ducks and Panthers, who at least play one of their games on Wednesday, which features only four games, tied with Friday for the fewest number of games each day.

It's going to be a tough week for Pacific Division teams, too, with the Oilers, Flames, Canucks and Coyotes running the gauntlet. The Oilers will swing through the old Southeast Division and face four teams with Cup aspirations, including a back-to-back in D.C. on Monday and then Tampa on Tuesday. The Flames have lost four straight and now face three of the stingiest teams. The Canucks have two sets of back-to-backs including Toronto and Boston over the weekend. Lastly, the Coyotes will make all four stops in the tri-state area.

The East holds 10 of the top 16 spots in the league, and two of the West’s top seeds are, surprisingly, the Stars and Kraken. The West also represents five of the bottom seven. If it hasn’t already been abundantly clear, the East is the beast this season.

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 5

Goalies:

Erik Kallgren, G, Toronto (nine percent rostered)

Ilya Samsonov was placed on injury reserve on Sunday, which means Kallgren will be the No. 1 goalie for the time being. With injuries to both Matt Murray and Joseph Woll, the Leafs were forced to sign Keith Petruzzelli on Saturday – their crease has been a headache all season, though this development isn’t exactly surprising. Two bits of good news: Kallgren was very good on Sunday against the Canes, making 29 saves in a 3-1 win, and Murray is expected to return to practice this week ahead of schedule. For the roughly the next two weeks, expect Kallgren to start their games.

Scott Wedgewood, G, Dallas (19 percent rostered)

Wedgewood has performed very well in Jake Oettinger’s absence, securing three straight wins including a statement win against the Oilers on the road. Oettinger will be re-evaluated this week, but there’s no need to hurry with Wedgewood holding down the fort so well, and if Oettinger is expected to miss more time, then Wedgewood is looking at a workhorse role. Backup Matt Murray – the other Matt Murray – has zero NHL experience and was splitting duties in the AHL with Anton Khudobin – there’s probably not a lot of confidence there.

Eric Comrie, G, Buffalo (32 percent rostered)

Comrie has started all but four of the Sabres’ games, and he’s pretty much cemented himself as the starter. His numbers aren’t very good, but the Sabres are a young, talented team who will occasionally go on a hot run. Their defense is thin, so Comrie doesn’t get a lot of help there, but that can be a good thing because it means Comrie will see a lot of shots. That’s valuable in fantasy leagues that count saves.

Stuart Skinner, G, Edmonton (44 percent rostered)

Jack Campbell’s loss on Saturday to the Stars further reinforces the notion that the Oilers will go with a 50/50 timeshare. He’s been rotating with Skinner for almost two weeks, and Skinner still looks like the better goalie. Granted, the Oilers are playing a lot looser when Campbell is in net, but if starting Skinner is the only way to motivate them to play well, then maybe they should simply play Skinner more often. Managers who have Campbell rostered would be wise to roster Skinner as well, and those who stash Skinner on the bench are looking at a young goalie who could potentially take over the starting job on a very good team.

Top 10 Weekly Banger Picks (< 50% rostered on Yahoo, on teams with four games this week):

Blocked Shots (BkS/GP):

1. Alexander Romanov, D, New York Islanders (2.75)

2. Josh Brown, D, Arizona (2.64)

3. Travis Sanheim, D, Philadelphia (2.36)

4. Ryan Lindgren, D, New York Rangers (2.33)

5. J.J. Moser, D, Arizona (2.27)

6. Chris Tanev, D, Calgary (2.25)

7. Niko Mikkola, D, St. Louis (2.13)

8. Nick Seeler, D, Philadelphia (2.00)

9. Trevor van Riemsdyk, D, Washington (1.92)

10. Derek Forbort, D, Boston (1.80)

Hits (Hits/GP):

1. Cal Clutterbuck, RW, New York Islanders (4.73)

2. Luke Schenn, D, Vancouver (4.17)

3. Noel Acciari, C/LW, St. Louis (4.00)

4. Sammy Blais, LW/RW, New York Rangers (3.90)

5. Nicolas Deslauriers, LW, Philadelphia (3.82)

6. Martin Fehervary, D, Washington (3.77)

7. Zack MacEwen, RW, Philadelphia (3.67)

8. Matt Martin, LW, New York Islanders (3.64)

9. Garnet Hathaway, RW, Washington (3.62)

10. Liam O’Brien, LW/RW, Arizona (3.55)

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

Miles Wood, LW, New Jersey (four percent rostered)

One of the reasons why the Devils have been so good is because their lineup is dangerous from top to bottom, and that includes Wood who plays on their fourth line with Mike McLeod and Nathan Bastian. They’re super fast and aggressive, and their forecheck is paying off with Wood scoring four goals and seven points in his past three games. It’s a soft schedule coming up with three straight home games against the struggling Flames and Sens and the lowly Coyotes.

Jamie Benn, C/LW, Dallas (31 percent rostered)

Benn is coming off a hat-trick performance against the Oilers but, beyond that, has been surprisingly effective on offense this season. All Stars players were likely to score more under Peter DeBoer’s offense, but Benn is on pace to have his best statistical season in five years, and his current 12.9 shooting percentage matches his career average. He’s found a home playing on the third line with Wyatt Johnston and Ty Dellandrea.

Mid-Term Holds (< 50 percent rostered on Yahoo):

William Karlsson, C/LW, Vegas (34 percent rostered)

Jonathan Marchessault is rostered in nearly 90 percent of all Yahoo leagues, and it’s about time the rest of the fantasy community gets back on the “Misfits Line” bandwagon. They’ve been excellent as Vegas’ second line, and there’s good reason why all three coaches in franchise history keep going back to this line. Karlsson has two goals and six points in his past six games, and as long as their line stays intact and Vegas keeps rolling, Karlsson deserves a spot on your roster for his position flexibility and contributions in both faceoffs won and points.

Reilly Smith, LW/RW, Vegas (42 percent rostered)

It’s time to collect the trifecta, and Smith has scored four goals and seven points in his past seven games. He shoots the puck a fair amount and could finish with 25 goals. He’ll also get the occasional power-play point playing on the second unit with Karlsson.

Kirby Dach, C/RW, Montreal (13 percent rostered)

Dach’s moved up to the top line with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, and he’s been thriving, scoring three assists Saturday against Vegas and extending his points streak to four games. This was Sean Monahan’s spot for a while before Dach was slotted in, and the results so far have been better. Dach is more of a passer than a shooter, so his main contribution will be assists, but he gets the opportunity to set up their best goal-scorer in Caufield.

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

Brock Nelson, C, New York Islanders (48 percent rostered)

Last season, Nelson scored as many points as Mat Barzal, and it’s going to be another tight race again. While Barzal is often forced to play with two poor finishers on his wing, Nelson and Anders Lee’s chemistry has really drove the Isles’ offense. Nelson has scored five goals in his past five games while Lee has scored two goals and five points during the same span. If coach Lane Lambert can keep the Isles’ offense flowing like this all season – and it seems like they’ve taken to his new philosophy quite well – both Nelson and Lee are worth rostering.

Andrei Kuzmenko, LW, Vancouver (34 percent rostered)

Kuzmenko is on a hot run with six goals in his past five games after going without a goal in six games since the season opener. His biggest asset so far this season has been the play of Elias Pettersson, who, along with Bo Horvat, have been big drivers of the Canucks’ offense. Kuzmenko has shown great chemistry with Pettersson at both even strength and on the power play, and he has also taken the injured Brock Boeser’s spot on the top power-play unit. 

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