Time again for our weekly recap of all things fantasy hockey. The second quarter of the season is in motion, so let’s get right to it. Week 7 impressions can be found here. Here’s what stood out through Week 8. For the sake of consistency, Yahoo! standard leagues are the basis for rankings and ownership rates.
Week 8 Fantasy Hockey Impressions
New York Islanders
A trio of New York Islanders forwards have been consistently producing of late. Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauvillier, and Derick Brassard are stealthily providing a ton of fantasy hockey value, yet ownership rates for all three are rather low. Over the last seven days, all three rank within the top 60 overall. Nelson is 45 percent owned, Beauvillier 19 percent, and Brassard 25 percent.
Nelson is fourth overall in that span, in which he’s had four goals, one assist, 16 shots, and six hits. He and Beauvillier both are averaging over 20 minutes of ice time per night. The latter is 17th overall in the past week, with four points, two power-play points, eight shots, and six hits. Brassard has been the most consistent Islander forward lately, with points in 10 of his last 13 games. He’s ranked 58th in the past seven days, standing out mostly with three assists and 12 hits. It helps even more that he’s eligible at all three forward positions.
A note of caution: While Nelson isn’t benefiting from any bloated metrics, both Brassard and Beauvillier have high shooting percentages and very high PDOs on the season.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Anthony Cirelli is on a four-game goal streak. He scored in all three games in Week 8, adding two assists in the process. Cirelli was pegged as a sleeper before the season started, and things are starting to pick up for the 22-year-old. In 19 games now, he’s tallied 14 points. Most of those, 10 to be exact, have come in his last nine games. Cirelli’s ice time has been climbing, and the points have come steadily. His 60-point-pace would be a vast improvement on the 39 he tallied in 82 games last year. A boost in power-play time could be in order.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Another sleeper whose numbers have been improving is Columbus Blue Jackets winger Oliver Bjorkstrand. In Week 8, the 24-year-old scored a goal and had five assists. Four of his points came on the power play. Bjorkstrand doesn’t usually throw too many hits into the mix, but he did land five hits in Tuesday’s game. Fantasy owners probably will want to see more consistent production before jumping to add him, but it’s hard to overlook four power-play points in three games. Regardless, he’s been a steady shots contributor. Bjorkstrand is eligible at both wing positions and is available in 98 percent of leagues.
Toronto Maple Leafs
It’s only been two games, but the Toronto Maple Leafs look much, much better under new coach Sheldon Keefe after the firing of Mike Babcock. The biggest early beneficiary of the change has been defenceman Tyson Barrie. Barrie hadn’t scored a goal all season, but he has one in each of Keefe’s first two games at the helm. With points in four straight, he looks to be righting the ship. Barrie went through a disastrous stretch where he had a single point in 18 games. A good number of fantasy hockey owners gave up on him, cutting him loose. The Leafs are back to their offence-heavy approach, and that’s where Barrie truly shines. If you’re in the lucky 19 percent of leagues where he’s available, make sure to get him on your roster.
Veteran forward Bryan Rust continued his regression-defying play for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rust is up to eight goals and five assists in 12 games after registering a point in all three Week 8 games. Thanks to a bump in power-play time, he logged over 20 minutes in each of those games. He earned his first power-play point of the season as well, and owners will hope he builds on that moving forward. Even without the power-play production, Rust has been a huge bargain so far. In addition to the point pace, he adds a healthy amount of shots and hits to fill out the stat sheet. Sooner or later he’s bound to drop back to the 40 or so point pace he’s always had.
Winger Johnny Gaudreau can’t get anything going lately. The Calgary Flames star is one of the worst-ranked players in Yahoo! leagues over the last seven days. Despite 19 points on the season, he has only one assist in his previous five games. He’s on pace for a career-worst 60 points, which is fine for fantasy hockey purposes, but nowhere near his potential. Rumours are swirling about a potential trade, and it will be interesting to see how things play out. Gaudreau’s shooting percentage is about half of what it was last season. That would be more encouraging if the Flames weren’t struggling so much offensively – the team ranks 23rd in goals for, when last season they were 2nd.
Defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere is zero percent fantasy relevant anymore. What a fall from grace for the former 65-point man. The Philadelphia Flyers veteran disappointed countless owners last season with a mere 39 points, and this season is even worse; he’s on pace for 22. Gostisbehere was a healthy scratch Saturday and only played 24 minutes combined in the other two games in Week 8. After zero points in his first six games, he had six points in the next 10. But since then it’s been more goose eggs. There is no reason whatsoever to roster Gostisbehere at this point. Ivan Provorov is the defender to own in Philly.
Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie started the season strong, but it’s been a while since he’s contributed much for fantasy owners. Oshie had no points in three games this past week. Usually, if he’s not producing points, he’s contributing elsewhere. In Week 8, though, he totalled five shots and three hits. Oshie has 10 goals on the season, but seven of those came in the first 10 games. He hasn’t registered a power-play point in over a month. Centre Nicklas Backstrom is out injured, so there’s been some line shuffling in Washington. As a result, Oshie’s production has slowed.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs may have a new coach ready to let the skill players shine, but so far that hasn’t been the case for superstar John Tavares. Four straight games without a point now. Tavares missed several games due to injury, and he still has 14 points in 18 games, but it’s tough as a fantasy owner to watch your 1st-round pick struggle. Given his 83 combined goals in the past two seasons, six so far this season is disappointing, to say the least. That would be 27 goals if the pace stays the same. That’s unlikely, of course, but that doesn’t change the negative impact he’s having on fantasy teams at the moment.
Not a week Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price will want to remember. Price made three starts, even getting the nod in back-to-back nights, but was unable to earn a single win. Three easy matchups on paper, but no wins and 13 goals allowed. The opponents get tougher next week, but Price has been very good overall this season, so look for him to bounce back.
Vancouver Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom started the week getting manhandled by the Dallas Stars, letting in six goals on 31 shots. Markstrom rebounded, winning his next two starts and stopping 77 of 81 shots. The Canucks had been mired in a run of poor play, and Markstrom hadn’t won a game all month until this week. The wins haven’t been common, but Markstrom has been a solid fantasy hockey option this season. He’s only a hair below the mark for making the saves he should make, with a -0.09 goals-saved-above-expectation, according to Charting Hockey. It’ll likely be an up-and-down season as far as wins go, but all signs point to strong ratios from the Swede.
Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was the only netminder to win three games in Week 8. The Bruins endured a rough patch of five losses in six games recently, but they’re back to doing what they’ve done all season: winning games. Rask’s numbers are fantastic. His record improved to 11-2-2, with a 2.18 goals-against-average and a .928 save percentage. Just about every week he’s been worthy of praise, and it looks like his reputation as a regular-season disappointment could be a thing of the past.
Three shutouts this week. St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington pitched a shutout against the Calgary Flames on Thursday, stopping all 40 shots. It was his first shutout of the season. Antti Raanta has taken a back seat to early Vezina Trophy favourite Darcy Kuemper, but the Arizona Coyotes backup has played well when called upon. Raanta stopped all 31 shots from the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. He got another start Saturday against the Kings, earning another win by stopping 43 of 45 shots. Carolina Hurricanes backup James Reimer got his first shutout as well, stopping 19 Detroit Red Wings shots on Sunday night.
Week 9 Schedule Highlights (Nov. 25 – Dec. 1)
Here are the most and least games by teams this week. If your fantasy hockey league locks lineups weekly, consider sitting all but the very best players who will only play once or even twice. For streaming purposes, focus on the four-game guys, or at least guys who play off-nights. Heavy nights are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Off-nights are Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
Boston, Buffalo, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, NY Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Vancouver.
A staggering amount of four-game teams for Week 9. In a weird week, Tuesday and Thursday are light on games. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are all loaded up.
If you’ve been relying on Florida Panthers players to carry your offence, you’ll have to hope your other guys pull their weight. Odds are they’ll be playing four games, at least.
No one-game teams this week.
Highlight of the Week
Tuukka Rask made one of the craziest saves you’ll ever see. No stick, no problem – that just means he has two gloves to work with.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 22, 2019
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