Fantasy Hockey: Week 10 Impressions

Fantasy hockey
UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 05: Vegas Golden Knights Teammates hi five Vegas Golden Knights Right Wing Alex Tuch (89) for scoring a goal during the second period of the National Hockey League game between the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the New York Islanders on December 5, 2019, at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Week 10 of the fantasy hockey season is behind us. Next week will mark the midway point in Yahoo! standard leagues, with playoffs kicking off in Week 22. There’s still time to improve your squad or fill in any holes in your roster, but it’s crazy to think the fantasy hockey regular season is almost halfway over. Let’s get caught up on the week that was. Week 9 impressions can be found here.

Note: For the sake of consistency, Yahoo! standard leagues are the baseline for all rankings and ownership rates.

Week 10 Fantasy Hockey Impressions

Who’s Hot – Forwards

Vegas Golden Knights

Alex Tuch hasn’t gotten off to a good start in 2019-20, but the Vegas Golden Knights forward is finally putting together a solid run of play. Tuch is seeing top power-play time and had two power-play points in Week 10. Three goals and three assists with 12 shots as well. Over the last seven days, he was the No. 5 overall player in fantasy and is only 30 percent owned. The former 1st-round pick put up 52 points in 74 games last year, and is playing around that pace this season – but that includes a seven-game scoreless stretch. Good news: solid deployment is leading to solid production. Bad news: his shooting percentage is currently over four percent higher than his career-best. Tread carefully, but his dual-eligibility makes him a flexible option if you’re in need of offence.

Fellow Golden Knight Jonathan Marchessault had four goals this week, including a hat trick. Marchessault has been pumping out the shots (111 on the season). He’s also hitting more than ever; his 59 hits put him on pace for 151 this season (his career-high is 105). Marchessault had 75 points in 77 games a couple of seasons ago but dropped to 59 last season. Even if his current season pace of 56 holds up, owners won’t be disappointed with the peripherals.  

Philadephia Flyers

In our sleeper picks series over the summer, Scott Laughton was an honourable mention for the Philadelphia Flyers. Main sleeper pick Oskar Lindblom has been everything and then some, but lately Laughton has provided excellent value. In his last six games, he has four goals and two assists. Toss in his 11 shots and 18 hits over that span and you’ve got a real category stud on your hands. Laughton is barely owned: only one single percent. He’s third line on the depth chart, but in the past three games he’s seeing top-six minutes. Keep in mind: his advanced metrics this season are well above his career averages, but he’s also seeing considerably more ice time than he ever has.

Colorado Avalanche

After scoring one single point in his first 16 games, Colorado Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin has six in his last nine. Things looked promising for the former 10th overall pick in his rookie season, scoring 14 goals and adding 20 assists for the Dallas Stars. His career has fallen flat since then. Not including this season, Nichushkin has only had nine goals since that year – in 144 games. But lately, he’s shown flashes of what made him a top-10 pick back in 2013. All four of his goals this season have come in the past seven games. He’s been flirting with top-six minutes over that span, adding a steady amount of shots and hits, with even the odd block or two every now and then. The 24-year-old is out there in 98 percent of leagues.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Alex Killorn is quietly having a very production season for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Maybe not so quietly after his four-point showing on Saturday – Killorn had a goal and three assists, adding two power-play points and five shots. He’s up to 22 points in 25 games this season and is seeing top-unit power-play deployment. He is simply a must-own at this point. Only 23 percent of leagues have claimed him.

Who’s Hot – Defencemen

New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils defenceman Sami Vatanen tallied three assists in Week 10, but extend that one more day and it’s up to four. Three of those four came on the power play. The Devils have a new interim coach now, and that’s always a wild card in terms of fantasy hockey repercussions. So far so good for Vatanen at least. He’s seeing top unit power-play time and is a top-four pairing at even strength. P.K. Subban continues his bust-worthy season, while Vatanen has propelled himself up to being the defender to own in New Jersey.

Dallas Stars

Stars defender Miro Heiskanen is back to providing owners with excellent production. Heiskanen had a goal and three assists this past week, registering 11 shots and two power-playing points. That’s now 21 points in 31 games for the sophomore. The 20-year-old had 1.0 points-per-60 in his rookie campaign, and it’s up to 1.7 this season. He’s on pace for 56 points this season and that’s with second power-play unit time. It’s difficult to imagine him bumping John Klingberg from the top power play. Regardless, Heiskanen is budding into a fantasy star.

Minnesota Wild

Minnesota Wild defenceman Jonas Brodin has put together one of the best runs of his seven-year career, totaling four assists in Week 10. Brodin improved to 12 points on the year. His career-high is 25, which he set back in 2016-17. If you take into account only his last 12 games, Brodin is scoring at a 62-point pace. That absolutely will not keep up, but if you’re sorely hurting for defensive help, Brodin is practically available everywhere (one percent owned in Yahoo! fantasy hockey leagues). Might as well try to capitalize while he’s hot. Who knows, maybe a career year is in the works?

Who’s Not – Forwards

San Jose Sharks

A pair of San Jose Sharks have had a rough time the past week or so. Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl have combined for one point in the past two games. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster year for both. Streaky production is the bane of every fantasy owner’s existence – it’s great when a player is on and it’s hell when they’re not. Overall, Hertl has 23 points to Meier’s 19; however, Meier has more in the way of peripherals. Meier even has more hits than category wizard Evander Kane. Lately though, neither has done anything noteworthy.

Nashville Predators

No points for Nashville Predators centre Matt Duchene in Week 10, and only three points in his last seven games. Beyond that, Duchene has only nine points in his last 18 games after firing out of the gate with 11 in his first nine. Predators fans and fantasy owners hoped Duchene would help spark Nashville’s tepid power play, but that hasn’t been the case. He only has five power-play points on the season (zero since November 7). Duchene is down to 63 percent owned in Yahoo! fantasy hockey leagues. He’s a decent buy-low target, but nothing suggests much better is in the cards.

Columbus Blue Jackets

It’s been a tough past several games for Columbus Blue Jackets centre Pierre-Luc Dubois. One point in his past seven games. There was fear the departure of Artemi Panarin would have negative ripple effects. After 61 points last season, his second, he’s at a 51-point pace right now. There is a bit of a silver lining, though. Dubois had a 20-game stretch where he had 17 points. His advanced stats show there’s room for his numbers to improve, especially the fact that his linemates are shooting only just over six percent five-on-five. He’s still putting up over two points-per-60 as well.

Who’s Not – Defencemen

San Jose Sharks

The pointless streak is up to eight games for Sharks star Brent Burns. The long-time veteran still has 21 points on the season, so surely this is just a blip and will be forgotten when the numbers start to climb again. But as was mentioned last week, his rates are slowing down. Burns didn’t do much in Week 10 to suggest they’re trending back up either. Twelve shots is a small improvement but nothing close to what we’ve come to expect. The points should come again sooner or later, but it’s looking like the days of Burns being in a category of his own are dwindling.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Well, 2019-20 Tyson Barrie is looking like 2019-20 Barrie again. He scored in three straight for the Toronto Maple Leafs right after the Sheldon Keefe hiring, but it’s been five straight games without a point since then. Barrie even replaced Morgan Rielly on the top power play, but nothing has come of it so far. For now, Barrie has still been featured on that top unit, and it’s only a matter of time before they start to gel. They’re simply too good not to. It’s still frustrating to see Barrie fail to capitalize after finally getting the opportunity owners have been hoping for all season.

Vegas Golden Knights

Shea Theodore has gone pointless in six games now. The Golden Knights veteran was a popular sleeper pick this season among pundits, including here at Last Word on Hockey. At this point in the season, that’s been a bust. Theodore only has 12 points, which would end up at 31 at that pace. He’s the top power-play point man but only has five points on the man advantage. He hasn’t been a total bust at least – with 84 shots, he’s on pace for 215, which would be a personal best. Any top power-play defenceman is worth a roster spot in fantasy hockey. The bad news is if this kind of production continues then he may not be there much longer.

Goalie Notes

The Good

It’s time to worry, Matt Murray owners. Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry posted back-to-back shutouts in Week 10. Jarry has certainly looked the better option for the Penguins lately, posting a 7-4-0 record with a glittering 1.81 goals-against-average and .943 save percentage. Only once has he allowed four goals in a game, and again only once allowed even three goals. Every other outing has been two or less. In his last seven, he’s 6-1-0 and has made 192 saves on 202 shots. Murray, on the other hand, sits at 10-5-4, with a 2.85 goals-against-average and an ugly .897 save percentage. Murray has allowed 21 goals in his last five appearances.

Another backup is making a case for becoming the full-time starter, and that’s New York Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev. In his past four starts, Georgiev has allowed four goals total, book-ended by a pair of shutouts. He made three appearances in Week 10, stopping 114 of 118 shots, earning two wins in the process. Georgiev improved to 8-5-1, with a 2.67 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage.

Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky oddly didn’t start until Saturday but still get in two starts this week. Both were sensational outings. He only allowed one goal in each game, stopping 63 of 65 total shots. Everyone was waiting to see how the struggling star would respond in his first game against his former Blue Jackets. Bobrovsky carried a shutout late into the game, and the only goal came on a screen. The only goal he allowed Sunday was on the power play. Bobrovsky has been arguably the single worst goalie in the league, falling near the very bottom in goals-saved-above-expectation. Maybe this is a sign of things to come.

It probably won’t amount to much fantasy-wise, but Minnesota Wild rookie Kaapo Kahkonen dazzled again. His debut last week was great, and the youngster stopped 44 of 46 his second time out. Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock remain ahead of Kahkonen in the depth chart, but it can’t be said he hasn’t passed with flying colours so far.

In addition to Jarry’s and Georgiev’s shutouts, Boston Bruins backup Jaroslav Halak and Blues backup Jake Allen also had clean sheets. Halak has been exactly as advertised, being arguably the best backup in the league. Allen struggled early this season, but lately, he’s been looking like the guy the Blues thought they had all along before Binnington came on the scene. There’s no threat of Allen taking over, but he’s probably going to get to play more often so Binnington doesn’t get overworked.

The Not So Good

St. Louis Blues starter Jordan Binnington didn’t have a strong week. In only two appearances, Binnington let in seven goals and was winless. He got pulled early against the Maple Leafs on Saturday, marking the first time in his career he’s been pulled in a regular-season start. On the year, Binnington is still third in the league with 13 wins and is making tough saves, ranking in the top 10 in goals-saved-above-expectation (see the same link in Bobrovsky section above). The Blues are a sound team defensively, which should lead to continued fantasy hockey success for the sophomore goalie.

Both New Jersey Devils goalies are playing terribly. MacKenzie Blackwood and new man Louis Domingue are getting hung out to dry night after night. Blackwood played well his last outing, but before that he’d allowed 13 goals in four games. Domingue has been worse, allowing 11 goals in his past two. The Devils are figuring things with a new man behind the bench, but for now, it’s safest to avoid anyone between the pipes for New Jersey.

Sharks starter Martin Jones is back to his frustrating ways. In three starts this week, Jones didn’t win any of them and let in 13 goals. It had been a couple of weeks running of better play and lots of wins. The Sharks up-and-down season continues, and Jones being the workhorse is suffering every step of the way. He remains a good fantasy hockey option if sheer volume matters in your league, but there isn’t much else going for him.

Week 11 Schedule Highlights (Dec. 9 – Dec. 15)

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.

Four Games

Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Vegas.

Of these, Boston and Vegas have two off-night games, while the others have just one. Danton Heinen is getting top power-play time in Boston and is virtually unowned, so give him a look this week.

Other Schedule Notes

Colorado plays Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Starter Philipp Grubauer left injured last time out, so if you can add Pavel Francouz then that’s a must, just in case.

Planning ahead for Sunday streamers, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Vegas, and Winnipeg all play. All but Vegas and Winnipeg will be on the heels of a back-to-back.

There are no two- or one-game teams this week.

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