Week Two (or a long Week One in Yahoo leagues) is over. As always, it’s been an eventful week for fantasy hockey. Thanks to a weird scheduling issue, the New York Rangers only played once. The Los Angeles Kings, Winnipeg Jets, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights, and Calgary Flames all logged four games. Players are re-emerging as fantasy assets, while other surefire studs are still struggling. If you missed last week’s impressions, you can find them here. As for this week, here’s what stood out:
Week 2 Fantasy Hockey Impressions
The mind-blowing trade of James Neal and Milan Lucic looks even wilder after two weeks of the regular season. Neal set a record for goals by an Edmonton Oiler to start a season, and Lucic has amassed zero points and 26 PIMs. Neal erupted for four goals on Tuesday, with seven in total on the year. Fantasy hockey owners who nabbed him with a late draft pick are reaping the rewards.
Another Oiler whose fantasy hockey stock is skyrocketing is on defence. Oscar Klefbom has been a power-play wizard thus far. During the offseason, just about everyone expected Darnell Nurse or even Evan Bouchard to quarterback the top unit, but Klefbom has run away with that job. The 26-year-old is currently third in the league for points by a defencman. Yet only 57 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey owners have him rostered, making him a great option for those looking to bolster their defence.
Los Angeles Kings
Los Angeles Kings winger Dustin Brown is off to a strong start. So far in five games, he has three goals, three assists, and 14 shots. In addition to his offence, he has 15 hits and two blocks. Not bad for someone who was drafted 262nd overall in Yahoo leagues.
Connor Hellebuyck had an awful first start, so he got benched for the next two. Since then, he has won three straight. In that first start, he gave up five goals to the New York Rangers. He’s given up five total in his past three starts. The Winnipeg Jets defence has been in shambles, yet they’ve played their best hockey as of late. The wins may be a bit more infrequent than in the past, but the counting stats could turn out to be better than some expected, considering the rumours surrounding Dustin Byfuglien.
St. Louis Blues
St. Louis Blues netminder Jordan Binnington had an up-and-down week. He kicked off his week with an impressive win against the high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs, only giving up two goals. Fast forward to Saturday, and the Montreal Canadiens peppered him with five goals. Chalk it up to a bad night all-around for the Blues and look for Binnington to bounce back against the New York Islanders, assuming he gets the nod.
Tuukka Rask had a sensational week. On Tuesday, he stopped 31 of 34 in a 4-3 win against the Vegas Golden Knights. On Saturday, he blanked the New Jersey Devils in a 3-0 win, stopping all 31 shots. Rask has three wins and has stopped 90 of 94 shots. Jaroslav Halak will take starts away, but in leagues that count ratios instead of totals, Rask is looking like a superstar.
Carter Hart is looking every bit like what Philadelphia Flyers fans have hoped for: a franchise goalie. Even though he lost his most recent start, he still only let in two goals. Earlier in the week he earned his first career shutout against the New Jersey Devils. On the year, he’s got a 2-0-1 record, with a 1.62 goals-against-average and .938 save percentage. Hart is young and will likely stumble at times, but he’s shaping up to be something special. See below for a save for the ages.
Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson has been simply outstanding. Almost perfect, considering the team he plays for. Gibson has only let in five goals all season. He has three wins in four starts, a paltry 1.26 goals-against-average, and a sparkling .961 save percentage. Gibson was the 11th goalie off the board on Yahoo, but on other platforms, he was lower. This makes him arguably the biggest steal at the position. And not to mention all those off-night games giving him even more value.
The Oilers are still perfect with five wins in five games. Connor McDavid looks hungry for an MVP award. Neal and Klefbom are absolutely killing it right now. Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith are playing solid in net. The fantasy hockey meat-and-potatoes is the power-play, though. It’s second-best in the league at 41.2 percent. McDavid, Neal, and Klefbom have some kind of chemistry going, combining for 16 power-play-points so far.
Star rookie defenceman Cale Makar is still going strong. He’s assisted on a power-play goal in every game. On Saturday, he also had one assist at even strength. That makes for five assists in four games for the rookie. This is a very strong start for a player whose offence shined in college. His strong play has seemed to silence any doubters and the sky is now the limit. Expect him to continue impressing as the season goes on.
A popular breakout pick for this season was 22-year-old Travis Konecny. He’s proving everyone right so far. He has three goals and three assists (and three power-play-points) in three games. It’s unlikely he’ll break out for 164 points like he’s on pace for but the largely undrafted winger has been a bargain and then some.
St. Louis Blues
Last week, Sammy Blais was praised for his banger-league star potential. He carried his confidence and tenacity into Week 2, scoring two points while adding 14 hits and four blocks. Coach Craig Berube has talked about Blais’s game and has rewarded him with a bump in ice time. His ownership in Yahoo has shot up as well, but it’s still only at 40 percent.
Another hot Blues player is Brayden Schenn. He now has a goal in four straight games and added an assist against Montreal. Schenn tallied seven shots on goal and pummeled the opposition with 10 hits. Last Word on Hockey listed Schenn among the league’s best bounce-back candidates, and all signs point toward that being the case.
Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Dougie Hamilton‘s fantasy hockey stock rose once Justin Faulk was traded to the Blues. His recent play has driven his stock even higher. Hamilton has a goal in four straight games. There’s one complaint, though, being the fact that he’s being featured on the second power-play unit as of now.
Jaccob Slavin was pegged as Carolina’s best sleeper pick, and has had an impressive start. He’s tallied two goals and three assists, great stats from a defender. He also slots in with double-digits in shots, hits, and blocks.
The third Hurricane on this list, veteran Erik Haula, has found the back of the net in all but one game. The 28-year-old now has five goals in total. No assists, though. Haula suffered a nasty knee injury last year with Vegas but looks incredible this year. He’s owned in only 37 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Patrik Laine was being talked about this offseason for all the wrong reasons. He didn’t appreciate not being on the first line. It looked like he could be traded or have a lengthy holdout to start the year. He signed, though, got his top-line deployment, and has been on fire ever since. Laine has 11 points in six games. The biggest question is whether he’ll repeat last year’s epic collapse. Odds are he won’t.
New Jersey Devils
All the hype leading up to the season seems to be too much for the Devils. They look flat out horrific. They played three games this week, losing them all, and got shut out twice. Taylor Hall has three assists and 21 shots at least, but no goals. Nikita Gusev has seen inconsistent ice time and has two goals to show for it, but the playmaking skillset we heard about has been fruitless. Two measly assists from breakout pick Nico Hischier have also disappointed many. Both goalies are off to poor starts as well. MacKenzie Blackwood has been atrocious (so much for that sleeper pick). The icing on the cake is the new poster boy P.K. Subban boasting just one assist.
Centre Aleksander Barkov is still struggling, at least by his standards. He did manage two assists on Tuesday against Carolina but still has yet to score a goal after tallying 35 a year ago. The shots have picked up at least, with 11 in three games this week (he had two in two games last week). It’s only a matter of time before Barkov gets back to being a fantasy hockey star.
There’s been good news and bad news with Sebastian Aho. The bad news is that he only has one goal in six games. The good news is the rest of the team is blazing, and he has 25 shots on goal. While he has been lackluster, there’s no reason to worry just yet.
The Dallas Stars find themselves under “Who’s Not” once again. Their leading scorer is Roope Hintz, who has five points in six games. Their second-leading scorer is Mattias Janmark with four. Ben Bishop has been okay in net, but nowhere near the first-or second-round status he was drafted at. Things could turn around, but the Central is a loaded division. Joe Pavelski hasn’t had a point since the first game. But at least John Klingberg, Alexander Radulov and Jamie Benn finally got points this week, right?
Phil Kessel is not adjusting well to life in the desert. No points this week for Kessel. Still only one assist on the season. The good news for Arizona Coyotes fans is Nick Schmaltz has scored in his last two and Antti Raanta is back. Darcy Kuemper has played excellently between the pipes but hasn’t received any offensive support.
Big Names Return
Evander Kane and Evgeny Kuznetsov are both back after serving three-game suspensions. Both have contributed nicely to their respective teams. Kane has a goal and an assist in three games, adding eight shots, six hits, and two blocks. Kuznetsov has a point in each of his three games to go along with nine shots.
Tampa Bay Lightning star Brayden Point made a spectacular return to the lineup. Point scored two goals and added a helper against Toronto. He also had five shots. But then the Ottawa Senators stunned Tampa with a 4-2 win on Saturday, and Point didn’t score. Regardless, he’s on the top line with one of the very best in Nikita Kucherov. A 90-point season is probably Point’s floor.
Highlight of the Week
Feast your eyes upon this save by Hart. In fantasy hockey, this one save wasn’t worth any more than another. In real life, it quelled a 5-on-3 New Jersey power-play and sparked the team. Hart ultimately held on for the shutout.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) October 10, 2019