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Fantasy Hockey Head-to-Head: Week 2 Primer

Jason Chen lets you know which players you should grab while they're still available for early success in your fantasy hockey league.
Matty Beniers

Hopefully, you’ve made out of Week 1 unscathed.

No devastating early injuries. RIP to fantasy managers who drafted Patrik Laine to be a dark horse Rocket Richard candidate and thought Matt Murray would silence all doubters.

No poor performances. RIP to fantasy managers who thought Darcy Kuemper and Marc-Andre Fleury were can’t-miss starters and J.T. Miller for being on the ice for all eight goals against the Canucks.

But at least we know have an idea of how 2022-23 might go. It’s a busy Week 2 with no fewer than three games on any day of the week, including 12 on Thursday and 13 on Saturday. They’re traditionally the busiest days for the NHL, so it’s back to normal after a 10-day Week 1.

Twelve teams will play a week-high four games, but only two of them – Panthers and Kraken – will not be playing back-to-back. Still, it’s a good chance we will see the backups in action. The Panthers are also at the top of the schedule matrix, but it’s a tougher four-game slate than the Avs (ranked second) or Bruins (third), so I would target their players first, including Evan Rodrigues, Alex Newhook, Craig Smith and Pavel Zacha.

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 courtesy Yahoo fantasy.

Week 2

Goalies:

Ilya Samsonov (82 percent rostered) and Erik Kallgren (2 percent), TOR

This is your tandem going forward, and I don’t mean to be overly dramatic here, but maybe for the rest of the season. Joseph Woll has not recovered from a shoulder injury and Dennis Hildeby, the only other goalie under contract, is currently playing for SHL Farjestad. Everyone knew the risks of a Matt Murray (55 percent rostered) experiment, and it’s imploded much sooner than anyone expected. Samsonov needs to be rostered immediately – he’s available in nearly one-fifth of all Yahoo leagues.

To the seven very special fantasy managers who dropped the other goalie Matt Murray, the unsigned UMass-Amherst grad now backing up Anton Khudobin in the AHL, know that your hilarious mistake didn’t cost you all that much in the end.

Philipp Grubauer (29 percent) and Martin Jones (3 percent), SEA

Grubauer allowed five goals in the season opener and Jones was pulled in just his second start. The Kraken have a stronger lineup this season but the goaltending and defense remain big problems. Both goalies are waiver-wire fodder for streaming starts unless goalie starts is a category.

Stuart Skinner, EDM (10 percent)

Jack Campbell has allowed seven goals in two starts and Skinner stopped all 31 shots he faced in a relief appearance in the Battle of Alberta. That Campbell played so poorly in such a big rivalry game was not good, and his leash won’t be long. Remember, he almost lost the starting job last season. Skinner’s a great bench stash in any league, and the key will be to watch how Campbell fares against Carolina or St. Louis.

Charlie Lindgren, WSH (4 percent)

Similar case in D.C., where the expensive new starter – Darcy Kuemper this time – does not play as well as expected. Lindgren earned a multi-year, one-way deal from the Caps, which shows you how much faith they have in him after coming off a season spent mostly in the minors. The Caps won’t be as quick as the Oilers to bench their starter, but it’s worth noting if you miss out on Skinner and need another goalie stash. He should get at least one game this week and the opponents – Canucks, Sens, Kings – aren’t particularly tough.

Top Five Weekly Bangers (< 50 percent rostered on Yahoo, on teams with max games per schedule matrix):

Blocked Shots (’21-’22 BkS/GP):

1. Mario Ferraro, D, SJ (2.40)

2. Ryan Pulock, D, NYI (2.32)

3. Andrew Peeke, D, CLS (2.06)

4. Sean Durzi, D, LA (1.89)

5. Alexander Romanov, D, NYI (1.82)

Hits (’21-’22 BkS/GP):

1. Luke Schenn, D, VAN (4.14)

2. Cal Clutterbuck, RW, NYI (3.88)

3. Matt Martin, LW, NYI (3.31)

4. Brandon Tanev, LW/RW, SEA (3.27)

5. Sean Kuraly, C, CLS (3.12)
*Mathieu Olivier, RW, CLS (rookie, 10 hits in 3 GP)
*A.J. Greer, LW, BOS (rookie, 9 hits in 2 GP)

Blocked Shots + Hits (’21-’22 BkS/GP + ‘21’22 Hits/GP):

1. Luke Schenn, D, VAN (5.59)

2. Alexander Romanov, D, NYI (4.70)

3. Mario Ferraro, D, SJ (4.62)

4. Andrew Peeke, D, CLS (4.39)

5. Brenden Dillon, D, WPG (4.05)

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

Pavel Zacha, C/LW, BOS (L2/PP2)

Zacha gets four games this week against three potentially porous teams (Sens, Ducks, Wild) and he’s been a very lucky passenger with three points on David Krejci and David Pastrnak’s line. I can’t get over the fact that one of his assists was from a play where he last touched the puck in the defensive zone.

Evan Rodrigues, LW/RW, COL (L2/PP2)

Slow start for Rodrigues with zero points and minus-3, but four games are coming up and two of them already have goalie trouble: Wild and Kraken.

Gustav Nyquist, LW/RW, CLS (L1)

Worth a one-game play against the struggling Canucks on Tuesday. The upside is that Nyquist is getting his turn on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau, but the downside is Nyquist doesn’t play on the power play, and Justin Danforth, whom Nyquist replaced following Patrik Laine’s injury, continues to show that he deserves more minutes. His line had an 86.67 5v5 CF percent against the Blues.

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

Jaden Schwartz, LW, SEA (L2/PP2)

Schwartz is a 60-point scorer if he can stay healthy, which is the biggest question. He played just 37 games last season and ranks second in even-strength TOI/GP on a team crowded with quality wingers.

Nino Niederreiter, LW, NSH (L2/PP2)

Currently at 70 percent in expected goals percentage with that second line, per moneypuck.com, and a really good source of goals and hits in banger leagues.

Jason Zucker, LW, PIT (L2/PP2)

Like Schwartz, health is a big thing. Zucker’s in an excellent spot with Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust. He’s part of a group of underrated wingers such as Adrian Kempe and Niederreiter who can score 25 goals and over 100 hits. The Zucker-Malkin-Rust line ranks first in expected goals for percent, according to moneypuck.com.

Calen Addison, D, MIN (L3/PP1)

Addison had a big debut leading all Minny defensemen with 20:25 TOI, but dropped to 17:09 the next game. Those fluctuations are pretty normal for a young player, but as long as Addison is feeding Kirill Kaprizov pucks on the power play, he can be a good source of power-play points.

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

David Krejci, C, BOS (L2/PP1)

Playing with Pastrnak all season could be worth 40 assists. Center can be a deep position, but their chemistry gives Krejci a value boost, and he’s a potential top-100 player if he can reach 60 points.

Matty Beniers, C, SEA (L1/PP1)

The Kraken’s rookie and top center is already on the cusp of “graduating” at 50 percent rostered already. This is your last warning to pick up the early Calder favourite.

Joel Eriksson Ek, C, MIN (L2/PP1)

Eriksson Ek is the second-line center by name only and presents more upside than 1C Ryan Hartman with a little more playing time on the power play and overall. He’ll emerge as their clear-cut No. 1 by the end of the season.

Mason Marchment, LW/RW, DAL (L2/PP2)

Marchment’s been a really great fit for the Stars and ranks second in even-strength TOI/GP at 12:48, trailing only Jason Robertson’s 13:30. Coach Peter DeBoer has always shown tremendous success in his first year with any team, and so far, things have been looking good. Last season seems to be no fluke, when Marchment was on pace for 27 goals and 71 points.

Travis Konecny, RW, PHI (L1/PP1)

Konecny can be very valuable if he keeps this up. He’s got 25-goal, 60-point, 200-shot and 100-hit potential in a top-line role. The question is whether or not Philly can keep this up after John Tortorella got them flying out of the gate.

Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, SEA (L2/PP1)

Lots of quality minutes for Bjorkstrand and the Kraken’s current leader in shots with 15, averaging three per game. He emerged as a high-volume shooter last season with 402 attempts, 215 of which were on target – that was the first time he registered over 200. Last season, only 23 players scored at least 25 goals and 250 shots. Bjorkstrand has a good shot at that milestone.

Martin Necas, RW, CAR (L2/PP2)

The big thing is that Jesperi Kotkaniemi seems to be up to the task as the 2C. He’s winning faceoffs and generating offense, which can only be a boon for Necas’ offense. Necas’ playing time has also increased, and he’s playing a career-high 18 minutes per game in what is looking like a breakout season.

Brandon Montour, D, FLA (L2/PP1)

The Panthers are opting to play Montour and Aaron Ekblad on PP1, which will be excellent for Montour’s fantasy value. Offense has always been his arsenal, having led AHL San Diego in scoring. Now that he’s getting a significant amount of minutes – five more per game compared to last season and three more than his career average – Montour’s firmly on the fantasy radar. 

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