Connor Hellebuyck, Jets
Hellebuyck is 0-4-2 since his last win on Jan. 13, the longest losing streak of his career. He made just 28 saves in a 5-1 loss to the Canucks on Thursday, just the fourth time he’s lost to them in 15 games in his career, and as a whole looked listless and disinterested. They’re in danger of missing the playoffs if this malaise continues, but in retrospect, it’s been a pretty good run. Over the past four seasons, Hellebuyck ranks second in wins, and perhaps constantly facing tough Central Division opponents has simply just been too taxing. He remains a solid goalie in most standard fantasy leagues, but unless the Jets turn it around, managers should think about upgrading if there is a better goalie available.
Ville Husso, Blues
Husso has been excellent and won the starting job fair and square, and it’ll be obvious favoritism if they go back to Jordan Binnington. By just about every metric, Husso has outplayed him, and even though his season was interrupted by injury after a shutout in his season debut, it has been nearly two months since he lost a game. However, we remember that goaltending is voodoo and it’s a fickle position, and that somewhere down the line, there is definitely a chance Binnington wins back the starting job. He will also have Cup-winning experience and a giant price tag to trump Husso, and it’s exceedingly rare for young goalies to just step in and dominate right away. That means Binnington is still worth rostering and, hopefully, in a worst-case scenario ends up being a 50-50 timeshare like the Islanders with Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov.
There’s “we have no goaltending” and then there’s “we have no goalies.” Michael Houser joined Dustin Tokarski in COVID protocol on Friday, Craig Anderson, Malcolm Subban and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen are injured and Aaron Dell is suspended, leaving the Sabres with literally zero goalies. They’re in the midst of a four-game road trip with three games in four nights, including back-to-backs on Saturday and Sunday, but according to The Buffalo News, there is chance that either Anderson or Tokarski (or both) will be able to play. The Sabres just can’t catch a break, and while some of this is certainly their own doing – how long did they really think Anderson would last as the starter – it’s that time of year where fantasy managers start ganging up on the Sabres again. Arizona’s prospects suddenly look good on Saturday in a toilet bowl game.
Matt Boldy, LW, Wild
Another point against the Rangers on Friday means Boldy’s on another point streak, and he’s been scoring at a blistering pace since getting called up. A reminder that Boldy was drafted three slots ahead of Caufield at the 2019 draft, and even though Caufield outscored Boldy by 12 goals in their draft year with the NTDP, many believed Boldy’s bigger size and more well-rounded game would make it easier to carve out a pro career. Having Boldy and Fiala on the same line has provided yet another winger duo behind Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello, and Dean Evason has not been shy about playing Boldy significant minutes. He’s just rostered in five percent of Yahoo leagues, and it would not be surprising to see an explosion of interest in him soon.
Cole Perfetti, C/RW, Jets
The wins have been really hard to come by for the Jets, and you’d think with the scoring talent the Jets possess they would rank higher than 19th in GF/GP, and they’re well off last season’s 3.04 GF/GP pace. It’s been a whirlwind season for Perfetti, who started in the pros and was loaned for the World Juniors until it was cancelled, but he’s been one of the few bright spots and now playing a top-six role in Nikolaj Ehlers’ absence. Until Perfetti becomes a more consistent scorer, he’ll only hold value in the deepest of leagues, but he’s at least a name to remember. He may stay with the club all season, considering how dominant he’s been in the AHL recently.
Alexandre Carrier, D, Predators
Carrier averaged a little over 20 minutes per game during the first three months of the season but has seen an increased role in January, averaging 22:07 and has played over 22 minutes in each of his past five games. The injured Dante Fabbro has opened some opportunities for Carrier to skate more minutes, and with three assists in his past five games, he’s been instrumental in generating offense for the Preds. In roto leagues, Carrier is a modest contributor in all categories, so he’s the type of fantasy player who can be very useful for depth, but not quite good enough or a specialist in any category to win your league.
Lassi Thomson, D, Senators
Thomson was called up when Erik Brännström was placed in COVID protocol, and immediately made an impact skating 20:22 and adding an assist. A depleted Sens blue line means Thomson will get plenty of opportunity to play, but where he gives fantasy managers the edge is his usage on the power play. While Thomas Chabot’s status as their top defender is certainly not in question, Thomson will mop up any minutes that are left over, and he’s one of the few players that can really move the puck to their forwards, though the absence of Drake Batherson means they will be lacking a little more bite than usual. Thomson could be a short-term, streaming option for fantasy managers looking for some offensive upside, otherwise he’ll likely be re-assigned to the minors following Brännström’s return.
Evander Kane, LW, Oilers
The Oilers made it official on Friday, signing the two-time 30-goal scorer to a one-year contract that carries a cap hit of a little over $2 million. Kane’s a controversial player and person off the ice, to stay the least, and it remains to be seen how he will mesh in a locker room that seems frustrated and desperate for wins, and on the ice having not played since May 12 of last year.
Those reservations aside, when healthy, Kane is a rare commodity in fantasy hockey, offering up above-average offense with excellent peripherals, especially in PIM and hits. Where he plays in the lineup is to be determined, but he’ll undoubtedly play a top-six role and the Oilers have two of the best centers in the league, so in either scenario Kane will be put in a position to succeed right away. The question will be how the rest of the lineup shakes out; which one of Warren Foegele, Jesse Puljujärvi and Kailer Yamamoto drops out of the top-six Does Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ever move back to center? Will the presence of Kane allow the Oilers to form a new line around him and stack Connor McDavid with Leon Draisaitl again? It’ll be interesting to see, but Kane is rostered in only 60 percent of Yahoo leagues even though his upside could be tremendous.