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Fantasy Hockey: Players to Know (Week of March 26)

Jason Chen looks at some notable names in fantasy hockey this week, including a pair of Western Canadian forwards getting hot and a range of interesting goaltenders.
Kailer Yamamoto

Goalies

Logan Thompson, Golden Knights

There’s still no word when Robin Lehner will return and the Knights, once thought to be runaway favorites for the Pacific Division title, enter Saturday one point out of the final wild-card spot held by the Stars, who have four (!) games in hand. I know being under the sun is more preferable than, say, being in Winnipeg during the winter, but there couldn’t be a more apt description of Vegas’ recent foibles than the story of Icarus; in this modern fable, the sun is the salary cap and Icarus would be George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon’s unfettered hunt for every big name and the big contracts that they often come with.

And, so, it falls on Thompson to carry the load for now, having started five straight games for the Knights and gone 3-2-0, receiving no help at all in both losses with literally zero goal support. It’s a surprising turn of events considering how often they’ve deferred to Laurent Brossoit because he’s the primary backup – they used him in back-to-back starts on March 25 and 26 – but statistically speaking, it’s no contest that Thompson has been the better goalie. For fantasy managers, that means Thompson’s a must-have goalie just for the sheer quantity of starts, with the added bonus that the Knights could turn it around at some point and make a charge up the standings.

Collin Delia, Blackhawks

The departure of Marc-André Fleury has paved the way for Kevin Lankinen to be the starter, but also for Delia to re-join the big club after spending small bits of the past three seasons with the big club. Kevin Lankinen has struggled mightily this season, but both have been victorious in their most recent starts. With no playoff spot to play for, look for the Hawks to likely split the starts or go with the hot hand. Their offense still has plenty of firepower (see Taylor Raddysh below) and with Buffalo, Arizona and Seattle coming up, there will be opportunities for fantasy managers to stream either Lankinen or Delia for a few starts.

Jake Allen, Canadiens

We knew months ago the Habs were not going to the playoffs, but they were officially eliminated Friday night. Allen has gone 1-1-2 since returning from injury and figures to start the majority of the games. It makes sense for the Habs to give some playing time to their youngsters, but Allen has been very good with a .922 Sv% and Samuel Montembeault doesn’t look like a future franchise goalie. Remember, Martin St. Louis came in because the Habs were listless and losing too much even though the No. 1 overall pick was a potential prize for coming in last, and the first thing he did was to ensure that the Habs remembered how to win and compete. Allen gives them the best chance to do right now and he could potentially be a good source of saves and the occasional win for fantasy managers down the stretch.

Rookies

Jack McBain, C, Coyotes

McBain was one of two college players whose rights were acquired by the Coyotes at the trade deadline – the other is Minnesota-Mankato center Nathan Smith – and signed to an entry-level deal right away, but it looks like McBain’s NHL debut will have to wait. The Coyotes are rather thin at center so it robs fantasy managers of an under-the-radar rookie who could’ve stepped into an NHL right away so, for now, the only options on the Coyotes may be Michael Carcone, a former Canucks prospect who scored his first NHL goal on Friday, and Matias Maccelli, the Coyotes fourth-round pick in 2019 who has five points in 11 games this season.

Notables

Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Oilers

Yamamoto has seven goals in his past eight games, representing nearly half of his total goals (18) this season. The former first-round pick hasn’t quite lived up to expectations as a top-six forward but has certainly developed into a very good middle-six forward despite often being perceived as too small. It’s a new career-high, and while the initial reaction is to strike while the iron is hot, it’s been buoyed by a completely unsustainable 38.9 S%. If fantasy managers haven’t already gotten a piece of Yamamoto’s hot run, with each passing game it certainly feels like Yamamoto may fall back down to earth sooner than later.

Tyler Toffoli, LW/RW, Flames

Toffoli was shut out for the second straight game but overall has scored 15 points in 19 games with the Flames. He’s taken Matthew Tkachuk’s spot on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm as the Flames balance out their top six, and remains a sneaky add for some depth scoring down the stretch. He’s joined the top power-play unit, too, and while he’s not the primary facilitator or shooter, having exposure to the Flames’ top scorers does boost his fantasy value a little bit. He is rostered in just 66 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Taylor Raddysh, RW, Blackhawks

Raddysh was a top scorer in the OHL and developed into a point-per-game player in the AHL in the Lightning system but could never crack their top six. It’s no fault of his own because the Lightning are so deep, but it also meant Raddysh wasn’t always put in a role that best suited his talent. A trade to the Hawks has certainly unlocked his potential, and he’s scored four points in four games playing on the second line with Jonathan Toews. He’s put 13 shots on goal, doubling his per game average with the Lightning, and should continue to make headlines in a scoring role. He’s virtually unknown and one of the best waiver-wire pickups right now. 

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