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Fantasy Hockey Head-to-Head Primer: Zucker and the Streamers

Jason Chen has the strength of schedule, short-term and long-term options for your fantasy hockey team in Week 6.
Jason Zucker

Be sure to avoid the nights with lighter slates this week because they’re really light – four games on Monday, three on Wednesday and then three on Friday and Sunday combined. All four teams playing on Sunday are also playing the second half of a back-to-back, with only the Jackets getting some reprieve with no travel.

Not that you’d even have many of their players in your lineup anyway, but note the Coyotes play just once this week on Thursday against Vegas. It’s the sixth game of their gruelling 14-game road trip, and it feels like a scheduled loss despite the extra rest because, well, there’s no shortage of fun when Sin City is your only destination in seven days and it’s sandwiched between stops at the Big Apple and Smashville. It’s a great week for team building – wink wink nudge nudge – and we’ll have to see how it impacts their on-ice performance

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 6

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

Blocked Shots (BkS/GP):

1. Jake McCabe, D, CHI (3.00)

2. Connor Murphy, D, CHI (2.64)

3. Niko Mikkola, D, STL (2.17)

4. Brian Dumoulin, D, PIT (2.13)

5. Matt Roy, D, LA (1.94)

6. Marcus Pettersson, D, PIT (1.93)

7. Andrew Peeke, D, CLB (1.93)

8. Vladislav Gavrikov, D, CLB (1.86)

9. Colton Parayko, D, STL (1.77)

10. Caleb Jones, D, CHI (1.75)

Hits (Hits/GP):

1. Jared Tinordi, D, CHI (4.36)

2. Noel Acciari, C/LW, STL (3.85)

3. Josh Archibald, LW/RW, PIT (2.93)

4. Reese Johnson, C/RW, CHI (2.78)

5. Jason Zucker, LW, PIT (2.77)

6. Carl Grundstrom, LW/RW, LA (2.69)

7. Connor Murphy, D, CHI (2.50)

8. Alexey Toropchenko, LW/RW, STL (2.45)

9. Sean Kuraly, C, CLB (2.42)

10. Niko Mikkola, D, STL (2.33)

Goalies:

Erik Kallgren, Toronto

It was a shaky stretch, but the Leafs have no choice. Keith Petruzzelli had a .922 save percentage in six games with the Marlie,s but it says a lot about the coaching staff’s confidence in him after Kallgren was tabbed to start both of their back-to-back games. Had Kallgren faced more than 22 shots against Pittsburgh, things may have been different, but that’s now two wins and 10 goals allowed in his past four starts. There’s still no timetable for when exactly Matt Murray and/or Ilya Samsonov will return, which means Kallgren still has plenty of fantasy value, and note the Leafs have been playing better than their recent record suggests.

Cam Talbot, Ottawa

Talbot has started three of the past four games for the Sens, including a 37-save win against the Flyers on Saturday. During his absence, Anton Forsberg failed to make much of an impression, and when the Sens acquired Talbot from the Wild during the off-season, remember the assumption was that Talbot would be the 1A option since he had much more experience. Losing Thomas Chabot for at least a week due to a concussion will really hurt the Sens defense, but their offense is good enough to cover up those areas. Talbot is a mid-tier starting goalie who should be rostered in most standard leagues.

Spencer Martin, Vancouver

Martin and Thatcher Demko split the weekend back-to-back and, once again, Martin outperformed Demko. The matchups were difficult, but Martin’s performance and numbers have been far superior this season, and he’s really forcing his way into more playing time. He’s won the praise of his coaches despite playing behind a porous defense, and Demko still has yet to show signs of turning his game around. In what’s looking more and more like a lost season, the Canucks may opt to play Martin more to take pressure off Demko and shift their focus to next season.

Stuart Skinner, Edmonton

Jack Campbell will continue to get starts because the Oilers made a huge financial investment in him, and part of his poor performance this season has been an awful team defense. However, Skinner has put in some fantastic performances, including three games in which he’s had to make at least 40 saves. This is shaping up to be at least a 50-50 timeshare, with an outside possibility of Skinner ending up being the 1A to Campbell’s 1B. It takes some courage to make that call, but the Oilers can deny the truth for only so long. Skinner needs to be rostered in most standard leagues.

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

Adam Ruzicka, C, Calgary

A little frustrating that Ruzicka is still listed as a center even though he’s been playing left wing the entire time, because center can be such a deep position. Even with Jonathan Huberdeau returning to the lineup Monday, Darryl Sutter has opted to keep Ruzicka on the top line due to his burgeoning chemistry with Elias Lindholm. While Huberdeau returns to PP1, Ruzicka has stuck around on PP2 and managed to score two points in a big win over the Jets on Saturday. Not sure how long Ruzicka will stay in that role, especially if Huberdeau heats up, but at the very least, Ruzicka should be a good streaming option in the next couple of games.

Mason Shaw, C, Minnesota

Shaw keeps doing it, scoring an assist Sunday against the Sharks, giving him four points in seven games. It’s a very modest total, but he’s also getting time on PP2 and has proven in the AHL that he can be a reliable scorer. Shaw should gain LW eligibility soon since Marco Rossi is the center on his line.

Jason Zucker, LW, Pittsburgh

Zucker’s too injury-prone and streaky to be a reliable scorer, but he’s definitely got the hot hand now with six points in his past five games. One big difference with Zucker’s fantasy value this season is the significant increase in physical play, averaging almost three hits per game even though he averaged two hits last season and in his career.

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

Filip Chytil, C/RW, New York Rangers

Having that RW eligibility is huge because it allows you to get faceoffs from a wing position, but also note Chytil is on a four-game point streak. It’s a little unfortunate Chytil is playing behind Vincent Trocheck and Mika Zibanejad because it means Chytil will never get to play a lot of minutes, but note the Rangers have put the “Kid Line” back together with Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko on his flanks. They were one of their best performers in the playoffs last season and did not play together earlier in the season.

Kirby Dach, C/RW, Montreal

That’s now three multi-point efforts in his past four games, including back-to-back games where he collected two assists. As long as Dach stays on the top line, he should continue to pile up the points as the playmaker.

Tomas Tatar, LW/RW, New Jersey

Tatar has been a staple all season next to Nico Hischier, who is in the midst of a breakout season, and the analytics are finally proving to be right. Tatar has always been a darling due to his strong possession numbers, but with Hischier’s explosion on offense, Tatar has also managed to take advantage with a seven-game point streak. With a role on PP2 and averaging 15 minutes per game, Tatar could double his 30-point output last season.

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

William Karlsson, C, Vegas

For the nth time, the “Misfits Line” is back and they’re killing it (again). Karlsson has six helpers in six games, Reilly Smith is now rostered in over 50 percent of leagues and the Knights’ top six looks locked in for the rest of the season.

J.J. Moser, D, Arizona

Defense doesn’t offer up a lot of premier options, but for the second straight season, the former Swiss League pro is flying under the radar. Through 14 games, Moser is the team’s leader in ice time, averaging over 23 minutes per game. He’s sharing PP1 duties with Shayne Gostisbehere on one of the league’s few two-defensemen units, and six of his eight points have come with the man advantage. Along with a steady diet of hits and blocked shots, Moser is shaping up to be a very dependable, all-around defenseman in categories. With Jakob Chychrun’s return still unknown, expect Moser to continue in his role as their No. 1 option in all situations. The Coyotes play just once this week, so the trigger doesn’t have to be pulled now – just keep Moser’s name in mind anytime you’re looking for some help on defense. 

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