Skip to main content

Fantasy Weekend Rundown: Add Cates, Start Thompson, Sit Fleury

There are plenty of NHL games this weekend for a fantasy hockey comeback. Jason Chen examines who's worth starting and who's not.
Logan Thompson

There are 13 games in the NHL this Saturday, so chances are you'll face the nerve-wracking task of choosing who to bench with most teams in action. There are five games on Sunday as well with four of 10 clubs playing the second game of back-to-backs. 

Games start at 1 p.m. eastern time on Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, so set those lineups in time to hold your lead or start the comeback.

Here's the fantasy hockey weekend rundown heading into the final days of Week 2 matchups.

Minnesota Wild at Boston Bruins

Based on the goalie rotation, Jeremy Swayman (83 percent rostered) is in line to start, but I say let’s end this timeshare madness already and go with Linus Ullmark (66 percent rostered), who has been much better so far. Given how ridiculously good the B’s offense has been, I would plant Marc-Andre Fleury (94 percent rostered) on the bench until the Wild turn it around and, no, a win against arguably the league’s worst team in overtime does not count as a turnaround.

Calen Addison (22 percent rostered) is third on the team in scoring with six points and needs to be rostered as their only defenseman with significant offensive upside, and it’s time we cooled all the talk about Marco Rossi (six percent rostered) until he plays more minutes. For the Bruins, Hampus Lindholm (63 percent rostered) is firmly on the fantasy radar as the leader in ice time averaging 24:26 per game as their top PP QB and worth rostering if you need help on defense.

San Jose Sharks at New Jersey Devils

The Devils are a really good team. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call them a playoff team because they look like it – a few pre-season public models predicted the Devils were more likely to make the playoffs than not – and it should be easy if their goaltending was just even slightly better. Their puck possession has been dominant, and in their previous game against the stingy Isles, they outshot them 43-17. There’s no shortage of options on the Devils, but talk of Alexander Holtz making an impact in fantasy this season is premature since he’s averaging less than 10 minutes per game.

For the Sharks, keep starting Timo Meier even though he has zero goals in six games – he will break through at some point as their top goal-scoring option.

St. Louis Blues at Edmonton Oilers

It’s been hard to get a read on the Blues because they’ve played just two games, and this is a great test to also see where Jordan Binnington (84 percent rostered) is at. He’s been good so far, but the competition has been easy. It’s also early in the season, but it’s worth noting that Ryan O’Reilly (59 percent rostered) seems to have really taken a backseat to Robert Thomas (79 percent rostered) this season, averaging 17:44 to Thomas’ 20:18, and struggling a little bit in the dot (46.4 FOW percent). O’Reilly derives much of his fantasy value from being a good depth scorer and ranking in the top five in faceoff wins, but I’m skeptical he’ll be able to do it again this season based on their usage so far.

The Oilers – outside of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl – continue to be a frustrating team for fantasy. Tyson Barrie (66 percent rostered) should not be playing ahead of Evan Bouchard (85 percent rostered), especially on the power play, but as long as Jay Woodcroft makes the decisions, it’s hard to make a case for Bouchard to have much fantasy value. I would shop Bouchard to see what’s available with Barrie firmly in front of him on the depth chart. Jesse Puljujarvi has also been disappointing with zero points and a minus-4 rating in four games after flashing some 20-goal potential last season.

Arizona Coyotes at Ottawa Senators

No doubt the Sens offense is electric, which means Anton Forsberg (66 percent rostered) is still worth starting for the wins despite performing below expectations. Josh Norris (83 percent rostered) has been the other laggard with one assist in four games, but as their top center, he will still get more opportunities than anyone else, and the upside is too significant to dump him this early.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Winnipeg Jets

There’s very little room for error with the way the Leafs are built, and they’re on shaky ground with Matt Murray and Jake Muzzin potentially injured long-term. This is unlikely to affect their chances of making the playoffs, but one player that’s worth rostering right now is Nick Robertson (19 percent rostered). He scored two goals in his season debut and played alongside John Tavares and William Nylander. If Artturi Lehkonen is already the best waiver-wire pickup of the season, then either Robertson or Philly’s Noah Cates (more on him later) is next in line.

The Jets are harder to figure out, but they also have an ace up their sleeve in Cole Perfetti (15 percent rostered). He’s playing 16 minutes per game and has not fallen out of the top-six spot he was pencilled in for before the season even started. It is slightly concerning that Neal Pionk (55 percent rostered) is their current goals leader, but note that we should’ve seen all this coming with Rick Bowness behind the bench. It’s a little early to call, but we might get a more muted season from top scorer Kyle Connor.

Dallas Stars at Montreal Canadiens

It’s interesting that Peter DeBoer is really spreading out his ice time – no Stars forward is averaging more than 17 minutes per game or below 12 minutes per game. At the top, surprisingly, is Tyler Seguin (69 percent rostered), who is clawing his way back to fantasy relevance with five points in four games. He’s shown good chemistry with Mason Marchment (57 percent rostered), their current leading scorer with six points, and Ty Dellandrea. It’s Jamie Benn (22 percent rostered) who’s been really fading for them and closer to falling completely off the fantasy radar.

Nick Suzuki (69 percent rostered) and Cole Caufield (89 percent rostered) are fantastic players with great long-term value, but I still wouldn’t touch the likes of Sean Monahan (three percent rostered) or Kirby Dach (13 percent rostered). It’s too soon to think they will keep this up all season and remember that the Habs punched above their weight for a while last season before falling back down to earth.

Los Angeles Kings at Washington Capitals

They’re both underwhelming teams, and if I had to make a call right now, Kings coach Todd McLellan’s seat is one of the hottest in the league. Kevin Fiala was acquired to elevate their offense, but he hasn’t quite done so, and his fantasy value has fallen significantly, though still not worrying enough to trade or drop him. The big surprise has been Gabe Vilardi (43 percent rostered) with seven points in six games and, folks, his breakout season might be real. Vilardi is at least worth a streaming start in this matchup and worth a stash if you have room.

I also think Charlie Lindgren (four percent rostered) is a good stash if you have room. Darcy Kuemper’s off to a shaky start, and given his injury history, there’s just too many headwinds right now for him to even be a top-15 fantasy goalie. The Caps lineup is pretty thin now that Connor Brown (seven percent rostered), who was expected to take Tom Wilson’s (48 percent rostered) spot while he recovered from a knee injury, has been placed on injured reserve and not expected to return until November. Connor McMichael (four percent rostered) has been a prospect to watch for the Caps over the past two seasons but gets barely any playing time.

New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Isles rightfully beat up the Sharks and Ducks, but this is still a team that really has trouble scoring against tougher competition. They were thoroughly outplayed by the Devils, and it’s not a particularly trustworthy offense with a lack of a premier finisher on Mat Barzal’s (62 percent rostered) wings – he’s unfortunately stuck with Anthony Beauvillier (two percent rostered) and Kyle Palmieri (one percent rostered). Their rostered percentages should tell you all need to know how bleak their offense looks.

The Lightning’s lack of depth might be a problem all season. Excluding Steven Stamkos’ six goals, four of which have come on the power play, only Brayden Point (89 percent rostered), Ross Colton (six percent rostered) and Corey Perry (two percent rostered) have scored among their forwards. That’s a problem when Stamkos or Nikita Kucherov aren’t on the ice, and their AHL grads this season – forwards Cole Koepke and Gabriel Fortier, and defenseman Nick Perbix – a source they’ve relied on so much over the past few seasons for depth, have yet to make a big impact. This might be the first time in six seasons Andrei Vasilevskiy will not lead the league in wins.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets

The Pens are an excellent team when they’re healthy, which they are right now. This is huge because it means Jason Zucker (five percent rostered) is fantasy-relevant again, and Jeff Carter and Kasperi Kapenen (two percent rostered) are also worth considering in deeper leagues. The continuing question mark right now is Rickard Rakell (40 percent rostered), who has two goals on 12 shots playing on the top line, but he has never been a good finisher and scored more than 30 goals just twice in his career. Rakell is a hold at the moment.

The Jackets have a habit of crafting top-six players out of thin air, and two names are worth noting: Justin Danforth (one percent rostered) and Yegor Chinakhov (two percent rostered). Both are relatively unknown – Danforth was a leading scorer for lesser-known teams in Russia and Finland, and Chinakhov is a trivia answer for obscure first-round picks. Other than Johnny Gaudreau, it’s tough to figure out who will score for them on a nightly basis, but I’d rather put my faith in Danforth and Chinakhov than Cole Sillinger (five percent rostered), who is struggling right now, or Kent Johnson (seven percent rostered), who doesn’t get enough playing time. It’ll be a rotating cast of top-six players all season, but Danforth and Chinakhov have the most upside right now.

Philadelphia Flyers at Nashville Predators

Noah Cates (zero percent rostered) is worth picking up right now. He’s a left winger who is playing center (Yahoo has not added C eligibility yet), he can score and he’s getting plenty of minutes under John Tortorella. Travis Konecny (47 percent rostered) is also climbing back up the ranks and should easily reach the 25-goal mark after scoring 16 goals on a paltry 7.3 shooting percentage last season and deserves to be rostered in most leagues. Morgan Frost’s (three percent rostered) improved scoring pace is a good sign, but the thing about Tortorella is that he leans on certain players a lot, and Frost isn’t part of his trusted inner circle yet, averaging 14:32 TOI per game. Carter Hart (71 percent rostered) always had the talent, and he’s worth rostering now that the Flyers are much better and not leaving him out to dry as often. The theme right now is to jump on the Flyers bandwagon.

The Preds got a head start with two wins against the lowly Sharks and are now winless in four games. While an improved second line is nice, their defense has also scored zero goals so far. Roman Josi has just one assist on 24 shots with a minus-4 rating – he will bounce back sooner than later, but it seems unlikely he will match last season’s pace and has fallen behind Cale Makar, who was Josi’s biggest rival atop the fantasy rankings for defensemen going into the season.

Buffalo Sabres at Vancouver Canucks

The Sabres are a really fun team and that starts with Rasmus Dahlin, who is currently the league’s top-scoring defenseman. He’s still a tier below Cale Makar, Victor Hedman and Adam Fox, but he’s not far from it and could easily top 60 points this season, becoming just the second Sabres defensemen to do so in history.

The Canucks are a huge mess, and hopefully, the home opener can right the ship after a brutal road trip. They’re so discombobulated that J.T. Miller looks like he’s going to have trouble cracking the top 50 in fantasy, and their glut of quality wingers that includes Conor Garland (18 percent rostered), Brock Boeser (72 percent rostered), Andrei Kuzmenko (31 percent rostered), Ilya Mikheyev and prospects Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Hoglander have scored just two goals (!) combined. Their woes have tanked Thatcher Demko’s fantasy value early in the season, and given how there’s no immediate fix for their defense, it’ll be an uphill climb for Demko to maintain his status as a top-10 goalie.

Colorado Avalanche at Vegas Golden Knights

Artturi Lehkonen (73 percent rostered) will maintain his fantasy value so long as Gabriel Landeskog is out of the lineup, and he may not return until January or later. If Lehkonen isn’t rostered in your league right now, he definitely should. Other than the top line, the Avs’ offense is in a bit of flux since Valeri Nichushkin (87 percent rostered) and Bowen Byram (82 percent rostered) are the only other players providing any scoring, and that breakout performance from Alex Newhook (seven percent rostered) might not be happening this season.

For the Knights, Logan Thompson (85 percent rostered) is climbing up the charts, and it’s getting to the point where he’s a must-start every night. He’s got a deep defense in front of him and enough goal support to get him wins even if he’s not sharp. That also extends to Adin Hill (nine percent rostered), who’s performing well above expectations. It’s a good thing that both goalies are playing well since that will also prevent the Knights from potentially overusing Thompson and potentially risking injury or fatigue.

Carolina Hurricanes at Calgary Flames

It’s interesting that Darryl Sutter is spreading out the ice time. It makes sense because they don’t have a superstar player, and note that Jonathan Huberdeau is averaging just 16 minutes per game. That means it’s unlikely he’ll match last season’s 115-point output, dropping him out of the elite tier of fantasy performers. The consensus was that Gaudreau’s scoring rate would drop playing for Columbus while Huberdeau had a better chance of maintaining last season’s pace with Calgary, but I would venture to say that both will end up with very similar point totals by the end of the season.

For the third straight season, Jordan Staal’s playing time has decreased. It’s been six seasons since he’s scored at least 20 goals, and this is the season where he completely falls off the fantasy map. He still takes a ton of draws, but that’s about it in terms of fantasy value. The players to concentrate on are Jesperi Kotkaniemi (four percent rostered) and Seth Jarvis (63 percent rostered) beyond their usual suspects. 

Sunday Rapid-Fire

The Seattle Kraken are in Chicago as Matty Beniers looks to break a three-game points drought. 

The Detroit Red Wings host the Anaheim Ducks, where Frank Vatrano's three goals, 14 shots, six hits and eight blocks may be worth a look. 

The Columbus Blue Jackets will complete a back-to-back as they face the New York Rangers. Chris Kreider has only scored in one game out of five, with two goals against the Minnesota Wild.

Meanwhile, the New York Islanders will also finish a back-to-back against the Florida Panthers. Brandon Montour returned to Florida's lineup on Friday and got two assists against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Finally, the Philadelphia Flyers host the San Jose Sharks as both teams play their second game of a back-to-back.


Olen Zellweger

Reacting to Team Canada's 2023 World Junior Camp Roster

Team Canada’s preparing for the world juniors after naming 29 players to the camp roster. Tony Ferrari lists some surprises, snubs and other players to watch.

Logan Cooley

Reacting to Team USA's 2023 World Junior Camp Roster

Tony Ferrari lists the snubs, the surprises, the first-year NHL draft eligible players and an X-factor as Team USA released its world junior camp roster on Monday.

Jacob Trouba

Fischler Report: Figuring Out the Flawed New York Rangers

Stan Fischler's report defines a team that's crumbling and a team that's invincible, evaluates players under pressure, praises the Kraken and more.