I’m here to overreact. Here are some fantasy thoughts before Saturday’s slate of games in the first edition of the Weekend Rundown.
(All positions and percentage rostered numbers are based on the Yahoo default.)
Panthers (1-0-0) at Sabres (1-0-0)
This is a good litmus test for the Sabres, who thumbed their nose at the Summer of Dorion in their season opener. AHL rookie of the year Jack Quinn (nine percent rostered) played 11:25 at even strength, sixth among forwards, but then you realize that’s all he played because he didn’t play a single second on the power play in a penalty-filled game. If Quinn doesn’t get power-play time, his fantasy value is close to nil.
Also, Craig Anderson and Octobers, man. The 41-year-old’s age is only a factor later in the season, and historically has been excellent in October, going 4-1-0/.939/1.98 last season and 50-32-11/.914/2.86 in his career. Still, gonna explore other options first because their upcoming schedule (FLA, @EDM, @CGY, @VAN, @SEA) is pretty tough.
Interesting that Brandon Montour (13 percent) led all Panthers with 24:56 TOI, including 7:47 on the power play. That’s a big change this season, playing two defensemen on their top unit; last season, Aaron Ekblad averaged 3:31 on the power play per game compared to Montour’s 1:22. Montour’s known for his offense – he was once the San Diego Gulls’ scoring leader in the AHL – and playing on PP1 gives him a lot of fantasy value. He’s worth picking up now.
Canucks (0-1-0) at Flyers (1-0-0)
Blowing a 3-0 lead by allowing five unanswered goals to your division rival is not a good sign. However, Andrei Kuzmenko (40 percent) is the real deal and showing 30-goal potential. But that also means Brock Boeser (76 percent) is moved to PP2, and his chase for the elusive 30-goal season becomes harder if he’s not playing on the power play with Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller.
True to his word, John Tortorella played the guys who worked the hardest. Rookie Noah Cates (zero percent) drew praise during the pre-season and played 19:04 in the season opener, fourth among forwards. He doesn’t profile as a high-scoring forward, which means zero fantasy value, but keep an eye on both Tony DeAngelo (85 percent), who has the potential to be just as productive as he was in Carolina with increased playing time in Philly and also Morgan Frost (two percent), who scored two goals and needs to have a good season or otherwise be labelled a bust.
Coyotes (0-1-0) at Bruins (1-0-0)
David Krejci (22 percent) with David Pastrnak together ALL season?! Sign me up. The two combined to score seven points in the season opener. Heck, they even managed to let Pavel Zacha score a point, a second assist on a breakout pass in the Bruins’ own zone. Prediction: Pastrnak’s new cap hit will start with 12.
Red Wings (1-0-0) at Devils (0-1-0)
Okay, it’s Alex Nedeljkovic’s (34 percent) turn. Ville Husso (73 percent) shut out the Habs last night, and if Nedeljkovic wants a chance to establish an early stake in their timeshare, he’ll need to at least come close to Husso’s performance. The Wings look good overall, especially that humongous third line of Elmer Soderblom, Michael Rasmussen and Oskar Sundqvist.
Wildest stat of the week so far: per naturalstattrick.com, in just 11:37 at 5-on-5, the Devils had 30 (!) shot attempts and just four against when Jesper Bratt (82 percent) was on the ice, which amounts to a league-best 88.24 5v5 CF percent and 154.73 CF/60. (Should Bratt play more minutes? Yes. Is it also the first game of the season? Yes.) Meanwhile, Alexander Holtz (four percent) scored his first NHL goal – good for him – but projects to have little fantasy value given his limited ice time and few peripherals.
Canadiens (1-1-0) at Capitals (0-2-0)
Panic time for the Caps? Pish posh. But admittedly this is not a good start. Darcy Kuemper did not quell any talk of him being overrated, and Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson are a combined minus-7 with zero points when the team needs them to be their best players. This is now a good time to pay extra attention to Charlie Lindgren (four percent) and see if he can impress early on and earn himself a few more starts down the road.
Senators (0-1-0) at Maple Leafs (1-1-0)
Do you trust Matt Murray (62 percent) in this spot? After that horrible start despite an excellent pre-season? Against his former team? I’m buying tons of Ilya Samsonov (80 percent) stock at this point.
Not a great start for the Sens, including Shane Pinto (four percent) who is minus-3 and averaging 13:12 even though he was expected to push higher up the depth chart.
Lightning (0-1-0) at Penguins (1-0-0)
Tampa playing the second half of a back-to-back with travel and starting Brian Elliott… I’ll give the advantage to the Pens for this one, and Sidney Crosby looks as good as he ever was. The most notable player between the two teams is Mikhail Sergachev (80 percent), who’s primed for a breakout season with a significant increase in minutes.
Ducks (1-0-0) at Islanders (0-1-0)
Here’s a prediction: John Klingberg (87 percent) enjoys life in Orange County and, over the course of the season, becomes convinced that what the Ducks are building might be special and re-signs on a long-term deal. Mason McTavish (30 percent) had a big season debut with two helpers and three shots, but note he played just 13:03. The lack of significant minutes will be the big reason why he’s not firmly on the fantasy radar. Not worth picking up just yet but hold if you already have him, just in case.
The Isles just don’t have any offense. Other than Noah Dobson, none of them give me confidence they would outperform expectations. I’m also totally done waiting for Anthony Beauvillier (two percent) to break out, too; he played 17:35 with zero shots on goal.
Blue Jackets (0-1-0) at Blues (0-0-0)
Justin Danforth (one percent) is worth a short-term pickup as long as he plays on the top line in Patrik Laine’s spot. He scored a goal last game and was once a scoring leader for his clubs in the KHL and Liiga.
Kings (0-2-0) at Wild (0-1-0)
We need to talk about Kevin. But that’s kind of the problem – there’s literally nothing to talk about. Through two games, Kevin Fiala is barely to be seen – zero goals, zero points, minus-3 and only four shots. Dumping Fiala now has too much potential to be a regret, so continue to hold and hope he busts his slump.
One thing that really stood out in the Wild’s opener: Calen Addison (13 percent) played 20:25 to lead all defensemen, including 16:16 at even strength. This is really something since it was believed Addison would be more of a PP specialist and play sheltered minutes at evens. Addison is worth keeping an eye on if he’s going to dish passes to Kirill Kaprizov all season on the power play.
Predators (2-1-0) at Stars (1-0-0)
That Preds’ second line looks like the real deal. If they can keep this up, Ryan Johansen (29 percent) is immediately worth rostering and Nino Niederreiter (33 percent) is an excellent streaming option for some hits and offensive pop.
Wyatt Johnston (one percent) scored in his NHL debut and his career trajectory has been incredible. He missed an entire development season due to the pandemic, only to be named the top player in major junior. It’s been one game, but he’s certainly an early dark horse for the Calder and worth an add to the watch list.
Golden Knights (2-0-0) at Kraken (1-0-1)
Logan Thompson’s (82 percent) shutout in his second start of the season will calm the team after losing Marc-Andre Fleury (trade) and Robin Lehner (injury) in consecutive years. It was their biggest question mark this season.
Matty Beniers (49 percent) looks like a lock for the Calder, and he’ll get you points, shots and faceoff wins with keeper league value. Shane Wright (14 percent) was a healthy scratch for game two and looks like he’s headed back to the OHL. More importantly, the Kraken look so much better than they did last season.
Blackhawks (0-2-0) at Sharks (0-2-0)
Max Domi’s (four percent) worth a streaming start for one reason only: he’s Patrick Kane’s center.
The Sharks may be the most uninteresting team for fantasy. Timo Meier (goals, hits) and Mario Ferraro (hits, blocked shots) are awesome in banger leagues and Tomas Hertl is solid, but the rest of the roster is middling. Their two marquee rookies – Thomas Bordeleau and William Eklund – were assigned to the minors. There’s no upside with this team, kind of like the Isles.
Flames (1-0-0) at Oilers (1-0-0)
I had picked the Flames to make it to the finals but lose. I take it back. I think they might win. Jacob Markstrom is on his way to being a top-five goalie this season. Tyler Toffoli (73 percent) is worth picking up as their top-line right winger opposite Jonathan Huberdeau.
The Oilers, meanwhile, beat up a Canucks squad that gave up midway through and it all is for naught unless they can make it far into the playoffs. Dylan Holloway (nine percent) saw limited action due to all the penalties, but it doesn’t look like he’ll figure into the fantasy season. Only two Oilers wingers are of any consequence in fantasy: Zach Hyman and Evander Kane, which is incidentally part of the Oilers’ problem in real life.