Whether it be bounce-back campaigns by goaltenders, rookies starting to shine through or veterans providing a good value, it was another interesting week in the world of fantasy hockey.
Let's take a look at some notables players from the past week:
Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins
The hardest decision the Canadian Olympic team has to make are the three goalies they will take to Beijing, and they have one B.C.-born candidate who deserves a spot. Of course, I am talking about Jarry, who ranks third among Canadian-born goalies with a .929 Sv% (min. 5 GP) and tied for third in wins (5). He would have more if not for three shootout losses and another one in overtime, and quite frankly being 5-3-4 without Sid or Geno, and instead using 36-year-old Jeff Carter as your No. 1 center, is quite the accomplishment. Alas, Jarry was not among the “The Original Six” Canada has on their shortlist.
This has been a very strong bounce-back season for Jarry, who ranks eighth in naturalstattrick.com’s 5v5 GSAA model for this season and over the past three seasons. Depending on the league settings, Jarry has been a top-10 fantasy goalie this season, and the Pens are slated to get better as their injured players return to the lineup, which means his fantasy value might be near its lowest points right now.
Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers
Hart’s 2.32 GAA and .931 Sv% rank 12th and ninth in the league, respectively, and a big winner for fantasy managers who stuck by him or gambled on a huge rebound. The Flyers’ problem right now is they can’t score, having scored at least three goals only four times this season, and none since Oct. 27.
Martin Jones (3-0-0, .950 Sv%, 1.67 GAA) is also pushing for more playing time, but Hart’s tracking to be at least a top-15 goalie and should always be rostered for the rest of the season. Hart’s 5.61 5v5 GSAA ranks third in the league, trailing only Jacob Markstrom (.935 Sv%, 1.81 GAA) and Jonathan Quick (.935 Sv%, 1.98 GAA), and statistically is having his best season ever.
MacKenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils
Blackwood is Canada’s other young wild card in net, and after missing the first month of the season has come out swinging with a 2-0-1 record and .945 Sv%/2.00 GAA line, including an impressive 42-save shutout win in his season debut and wins against the Islanders and Panthers. Don’t sleep on the Devils, who are still without their top player in Jack Hughes. They’re fast, aggressive and very talented, and currently tied for fourth in a very tough Metro Division in spite of their mediocre special teams.
If Blackwood can keep playing like this – as he did last season when he made 47 saves on the road against the Rangers, and the season before that with a 46-save shutout on the road against the Flyers and a 52-save win against the Jackets – the Devils are going to be a playoff team. Blackwood is rostered in only 61 percent of Yahoo leagues and his tremendous upside deserves an instant stash.
Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins
To be fair to Linus Ullmark, I think Swayman’s gotten the softer matchups. Ullmark’s had to face the Oilers, Leafs and the Panthers twice in his past four games, while Swayman has drawn starts against the Sens, Wings, Hurricanes, Flyers and Stars this season. This is starting to look like a long-term timeshare since neither goalie can really maintain a firm footing on net, but if we’re going by the most recent performances, Swayman definitely has the statistical edge.
The Bruins have two back-to-backs coming on Nov. 13-14 and then Nov. 20-21, so look for them to split the starts. Plan accordingly, and also don’t expect the Bruins to anoint a No. 1 coming out of it. There’s still a big gap between Ullmark (76 percent) and Swayman (53 percent) in percentage of leagues rostered, and it really shouldn’t be. Try to grab both or risk losing a precious roster spot starting the wrong goalie when Bruce Cassidy makes his starter a last-minute, game-time decision.
Zach Fucale, Washington Capitals
Congratulations to the former second-round pick and Halifax Moosehead standout – he’s the franchise leader in wins (126) and shutouts (12) – who made 21 saves for a shutout win in his NHL debut, eight years after getting drafted. He finally gets a page on hockey-reference.com, making him the 22nd and final member of the vaunted 2015 World Junior team, which snapped a six-year gold-medal drought, to play in the NHL. The Caps maintain that Vitek Vanecek is “good” but, he was scratched in both back-to-back games and there is still not return date set.
The Wings have been a pesky opponent this season but they certainly weren’t on Fucale’s night, and the bigger test may come on Nov. 16-17 and Nov. 20-21 when the Caps have back-to-backs again. Fucale’s a dicey play because he’s so unproven – though we’ve seen no-name goalies go on career-defying runs before – and even though both Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov have struggled for stretches this season, I hardly think that Fucale will usurp both. Fucale’s a nice story but not fantasy-relevant unless he sticks around the team long-term.
Other goalies we’re keeping an eye on: Marc-André Fleury and Kevin Lankinen, Blackhawks; Stuart Skinner, Oilers; Cal Petersen and Jonathan Quick, Kings; James Reimer and Adin Hill, Sharks
Cole Sillinger, C, and Yegor Chinakhov, RW, Columbus Blue Jackets
If the Jackets play this right, Sillinger and Chinakhov will form their core for the next two decades. They’re already two-thirds of their current top line with veteran Jakub Voracek, and while they’ll occasionally have duds like the one Friday when Sillinger and Chinakhov combined for three shots and a minus-4 rating, they have actually been quite good in their new roles.
According to naturalstatrick.com, in 20:54 of 5v5 TOI through seven games, they’ve outshot their opponents 22-15 with an expected GF% of 66.65 percent. Those are elite numbers albeit a small sample size, but it’s enough to go on and the Jackets aren’t a low-scoring, grind-it-out team anymore; they rank 11th in goals scored per game with 3.09. This is one of the few rookie lines that has a chance to really stick all season considering the Jackets’ focus on getting their young players quality playing team as they rebuild.
Alexander Holtz, RW, Devils
Holtz is still looking for his first NHL goal after firing nine shots on goal through his first four games. His ice time has fluctuated but at least the Devils are playing to his strengths, lining him up with Nico Hischier on the top line and on the top power play unit. The Devils are 3-1-0 with Holtz in the lineup, and they won’t mess with a good thing. With the way they’ve been playing, the Devils will be hot commodities on the fantasy wire. Hischier, by the way, is rostered in only 25 percent of Yahoo leagues but he’s an excellent two-way center on a four-game point streak and wins a ton of faceoffs.
Alex Newhook, C, Colorado Avalanche
Newhook played 14:08 in his second game of the season and managed to get an assist in a 7-1 rout of the Canucks. He played 10:30 in the season opener and was promptly demoted, but an injury to Nathan MacKinnon opened up a roster spot and Newhook centered a line with Tyson Jost and Logan O’Connor. Newhook’s a good offensive player who’s going to get an extended look since he is waivers-exempt and worth keeping an eye on.
Seth Jarvis, C, Carolina Hurricanes
We shall see what Jarvis can do, but he was moved to the top line for stretches on Carolina’s top line with Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov. The Canes only scored once against the Flyers and Jarvis finished with zeroes across the board, but watching Rod Brind’Amour be so willing to use him in that role is very encouraging. Jarvis is a sneaky roster stash in very deep leagues just in case he continues to play in the top six.
Anton Lundell, C, Florida Panthers
Everyone knows he’s back, right? Two points in five games is admittedly low, but tack on nine shots, 22 faceoff wins and eight blocked shots? He’s a potential roto beast, not unlike a similar two-way player on his own team who is also from Finland.
Other rookies we’re keeping an eye on rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues: Jamie Drysdale, D, Ducks; Jonathan Dahlen, C/LW and Ryan Merkley, D, Sharks; Jonas Røndbjerg, RW, Golden Knights; Connor McMichael, C, and Brett Leason, RW, Capitals
Andreas Athanasiou, LW/RW, Los Angeles Kings
Arthur Kaliyev and Kale Clague have also been playing well, but it’s Athanasiou who might have the most long-term fantasy value. His return bumped Kaliyev to the fourth line, who’s essentially a power-play specialist at this point, and Clague’s current pace seems highly unsustainable. That leaves Athanasiou, who has scored five points on 10 shots in four games since his return and plays on the second line with Alex Iafallo and Philip Danault, both of whom have also been scoring more often after a slow start. We shall see what happens when Viktor Arvidsson returns to the lineup.
Mikael Granlund, C/RW, Nashville Predators
Could it really be Granlund is having a career season at 30 years old? He’s always teased high offensive potential with back-to-back 60-point seasons, but like all the expensive new toys Nashville had acquired over the past few seasons, he was largely a disappointment. Now playing center again after a lengthy spell on the wing with the Wild, Granlund is the Preds’ leading scorer and ranks third with 91 faceoff wins, picking up some of the slack left by Erik Haula and Matt Duchene, who is now primarily a winger. The scoring pace won’t continue and the low faceoff winning percentage is slightly concerning, but Granlund is on track to have his best performance in three seasons, and may get even more minutes with Filip Forsberg injured.
Ryan Hartman, C/RW, Minnesota Wild
Like the way he plays, Hartman simply won’t go away. Hartman isn’t known for his technical skill, but he gets the job done and the frontrunner for the Cy Young with seven goals and one assist. He shoots the puck a lot and wins a lot of faceoffs, and his dual-position versatility makes him very valuable in roto leagues. There’s a good chance Hartman continues his strong play with games against Seattle, San Jose and Dallas coming up.
Oliver Kylington, D, Calgary Flames
Kylington scored the Flames’ lone goal – it was a beauty – in Friday’s overtime loss to the Leafs, and now leads his fellow defensemen with nine points in 13 games. The eight Flames defenders who have played this season have combined for 29 points, already nearly 30 percent of last season’s total of 101, and we’re roughly 15 percent through this season. He’s paired with the ultra-reliable Chris Tanev, who helped Quinn Hughes played some of his best hockey. Given how thin the defense position can be, Kylington is worth an add for his offensive upside.