Fantasy Hockey Trends Weekly: Leveling Out

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DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 03: Matt Duchene #9 of the Colorado Avalanche controls the puck against the Calgary Flames at Pepsi Center on November 3, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Flames 6-3. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Has it been long enough to consider NHL developments true fantasy hockey trends? Five weeks into the fantasy hockey season, the league still doesn’t look the way many thought it would. But now that the first month of the NHL season is complete, we can start looking at trends and past performances and look at them as potentially “sustainable.” It also gives managers a chance to recognize the flaws in their rosters. Plenty happened over the past week. Let’s take a look.

Fantasy Hockey Trends Weekly: Leveling Out

Week 5 Review

Vadim Shipachyov

The Shipachyov experiment came to an unfortunate end this week as he announced the termination of his contract to return to the KHL. Shipachyov was unable to crack the Vegas Golden Knights lineup consistently and his contract status made him an easy AHL option. Unfortunately, the potential for Shipachyov made him a popular pick in fantasy drafts this year. But at a 197 ADP (average draft position) he was likely a very late pick if you did end up drafting him. While it would have been nice to see him succeed as a late gamble, there are plenty of forward and center options elsewhere in the league.

Blake Wheeler

The Winnipeg Jets have begun to take flight, thanks in large part to Blake Wheeler. In three games this week Wheeler scored a goal and four assists for five points with two on the power play. He now has five goals and 12 assists on the year, leading the team while Laine and Ehlers continue to find their groove. Winnipeg was touted as a potential offensive powerhouse this offseason, and are beginning to find form after a sluggish start. They will be relying on Wheeler to continue scoring throughout the season if they want to contend for the playoffs. A very consistent scorer, Wheeler should remain a top ten right wing this season.

Claude Giroux

A couple weeks ago I referred to Dustin Brown‘s resurgence this year. However, early season success does not always last. Keep that in mind if you own Claude Giroux. At one point in his career, Giroux was considered a top three player in the NHL. Now, years later, he has been trending downward for quite a while. A 58 point season last year was satisfactory but left owners wanting a lot more. His point totals have declined every year since 2012.

So far this season, Philadelphia Flyer Giroux has found great chemistry with Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier. He has 17 points now through 15 games. His value may be the highest now that it has been in years. He may prove to be a great value later pick by years end. Or he may continue his regression and finish the year with under 60 points. Giroux’s true value may be as a trade piece at this point in the season, as he may be able to give you a great return.

Sami Vatanen

Since his return to Anaheim Duck‘s lineup this week, Sami Vatanen is likely on most managers’ free agent radar. He is still readily available in most leagues but you may not want to grab him just yet. In four games so far, he has no points and is a -4. While it may not be fair to write him off after four games, looking at his last year’s stats may be enough to dissuade you. He scored only three goals and 21 assists for 24 points in 71 games last season. Also, Hampus Lindholm looks like he is the new PP1 defenseman for Anaheim. Even if he sees some time on the second power play unit, the real value on Anaheim’s blueline lies in Lindholm and Brandon Montour. This may change later in the year if a younger Montour can’t find his way, but until then, Vatanen is a weak final spot defense option.

Matt Duchene

The Matt Duchene trade speculation finally ended Sunday night after rumors swirled all week. Duchene was traded to the Ottawa Senators in a three-way trade that also involved Nashville. After months and months of rumor and speculation, Duchene will try to regain his form from years past in Ottawa. Assuming he would slot in on the second line behind Derick Brassard, Duchene projects to center Zack Smith and Ryan Dzingel. It is an upgrade on Nail Yakupov and Sven Andrighetto, but Duchene’s fantasy value hasn’t changed much. His best hope may be to somehow find his way alongside Mike Hoffman when Bobby Ryan returns from injury. He should continue to put up some points, but don’t expect him to turn into a point per game player after the trade.

Watch Listers and Waiver Wire-ers

Ondrej Kase

Ownership – 2% in Yahoo, 4% in ESPN

Kase has taken advantage of Ryan Getzlaf‘s absence by posting five goals and two assists so far this year. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar going into the year, and at less than 5% ownership rate he still doesn’t seem to be. Getzlaf is once again on the IR after taking a puck to the face this week. Kase should remain on Anaheim’s top line and PP1 until Getzlaf returns, providing great hidden value.

Jonathan Marchessault

Ownership – 32% in Yahoo, 29%

A lot of people, myself included, were hesitant to expect Marchessault to repeat his 2016-17 season. Considering he played with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau last year and was moving to an offensively starved Vegas club, the hesitation was understandable. But he has been very good for Vegas so far this year, scoring four goals and five assists in seven games this year. The jury is still out on Vegas and whether they will be able to keep scoring, but Marchessault is surely one of the Knights’ best fantasy players.

Connor Brown

Ownership – 6% in Yahoo, 8% in ESPN

Connor Brown has been one of the lone bright spots for the Leafs over the past two weeks.  Brown moved up into Mitch Marner‘s spot when Toronto began to struggle. The lines were juggled once again, and Brown now finds himself playing with Patrick Marleau and James van Riemsdyk. Now he has a goal in three straight games. A 37% shooting percentage is sure to fall, but he could be a nice pick up while he takes advantage of his opportunities.

Brock Boeser

Ownership – 31% in Yahoo, 32% in ESPN

In the week two review, I noted that Brock Boeser was called up and skating with Bo Horvat on Vancouver’s top line. He has played ten games now this year and has 13 points. Even if you look past his four-point night Saturday, he is scoring at about a point per game. That Horvat, Boeser, and Sven Baertschi top line has been a great surprise for Vancouver. At ~30% ownership, Boeser may be available in your league and offer some scoring touch to round out your roster.

Yanni Gourde

Ownership – 4% in Yahoo, 4% in ESPN

A great week for Yanni Gourde has him on a three-game scoring streak. He finds himself in a great situation playing alongside Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point. Tampa’s top line is one of the strongest scoring lines in the league. As a result, their secondary scoring sees more opportunities against weaker opponents’ defenses. With such a strong second line, Gourde may prove to be a great waiver wire pick up later this year. Get in on him early as he is owned in only 4% of leagues.

Scheduling

This week, nine teams will play 4 games including Washington, Vancouver, and New Jersey. It’s a very busy week in the NHL, but the focus should be on a few teams, specifically.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins

Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins play four games this week. They cap their respective weeks off with a home and home doubleheader Friday and Saturday. Toronto has lost five of their last seven, and Boston has lost four of their last six. Both teams are struggling and will surely be looking to turn their seasons around this week. Both clubs have first lines that are producing, so secondary scoring may prove to make the difference in this doubleheader. Tuukka Rask and Frederik Andersen have struggled to start. The doubleheader should offer spot start opportunities for each team. A backup goaltending duel could be a toss-up.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets have an interesting schedule this week, with four games coming in two back-to-backs. They see the Rangers and Predators on Monday and Tuesday, and Carolina and New Jersey on Friday and Saturday. Both sets of games will have travel days as well. Back to backs with travel in between are usually difficult second nights. A tired team with a backup on one of those nights makes for difficult games. Even still, Joonas Korpisalo is one of the better streaming options this week as he will likely see two games.

As we wrap up week five of the fantasy hockey season, there is plenty to look out for. A big trade, slumping teams, and streaking veterans are factors to look out for. Also look for an article examining goaltending performances this week. Until then, keep winning those matchups and climbing the standings.

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