Now that the two-week All-Star break matchup is in the rearview, we’ve got a lot to mull over. Playoff time is nearly here, and every roster move holds more weight each and every day in fantasy hockey. Without further ado, let’s jump right in. Comment below or hit me up on Twitter (@jkj0787) with any questions, concerns, complaints, and the like. Last week’s impressions are here.
Note: For the sake of consistency, Yahoo! standard leagues are the baseline for all rankings and ownership rates.
Week 17 Fantasy Hockey Impressions
A Well-Oiled Line
There’s a new-ish second line in Edmonton, and it’s arguably the best second line in hockey right now. Centred by Leon Draisaitl and flanked by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto, this line has been absolutely lethal. Draisaitl leads the league with 83 points and has 22 in his last 11. Nugent-Hopkins has 19 points in his last 14. Yamamoto has 10 points in the 11 games since getting called up in late December. Odds are RNH is taken in your league (79 percent owned), but Yamamoto is still only 11 percent owned. Add him, as Edmonton has a very favourable fantasy playoff schedule. He doesn’t shoot much, but the points will come as long as he’s with Draisaitl. Oh, and he’s averaging more than two hits a game.
Discount Blue Jacket
Columbus Blue Jackets winger Oliver Bjorkstrand just won’t stop, and for some reason fantasy hockey owners are gun-shy. His availability sits at 58 percent in Yahoo! leagues, and that’s just absurd. What else do you need to see? Bjorkstrand has 23 points in his last 21 games. Ten goals in the last eight. Dual-wing is eligible, tons of minutes and tons of shots. He’s even plus-12 over the past eight games.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad missed almost a month with an injury but has been on a tear since coming back. He has four goals and 15 shots in four games. Going back, even more, he has seven goals in his last eight. Saad is fresh off a two-goal, near-hat-trick effort on Saturday. He’s playing alongside Patrick Kane, which can only lead to good things. At only nine percent owned and with two off-night games this week (including Sunday), he’s a very worthwhile stream.
Frank the Tank
Florida Panthers forward Frank Vatrano‘s season has turned the corner of late. Vatrano is a very nice banger league option these days, posting 11 points over the last nine games. The shots are decent and the hits are good. The Panthers score in bunches, and Vatrano is only 30 percent owned. It’s a four-game week for Florida, too.
Zach Sanford is on the fantasy hockey radar again. In fact, over the past seven days, he’s ranked ninth overall. Sanford is seeing time with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron. Over the past week, Sanford has five points, eight shots, and 17 hits. He’s available pretty much everywhere.
Ottawa Senators forward Tyler Ennis has been another top-10 fantasy player over the last week. In that time, he has four points (three on the power play), 16 shots, and six hits. The minutes aren’t ideal, but he’s making the case for getting more.
Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher hasn’t skipped a beat since coming back. In three games, he’s got two goals, an assist, and 12 shots. Play him with confidence. This probably hurts Ilya Kovalchuk‘s lasting value – though he may get traded anyway.
Jeff Skinner should not be on any fantasy hockey roster. Skinner only has 19 points this season and only one single solitary point in the last 12 games. He’s not with Jack Eichel anymore, so he’s just not very good anymore. What else is there to say?
Not So Bright Star
Even though he had a two-goal game last week, Dallas Stars forward Alexander Radulov is still having a pretty bad season. Those two goals were his only points in the past seven games. Radulov is averaging one shot per game over the last 10. The Stars play great defence and their goalies are great for fantasy hockey, but pretty much no one else on that roster is worth more than a stream.
Philadelphia Flyers star Claude Giroux continues to baffle owners. No matter who Giroux skates with, he can’t seem to produce very much. Especially not at the rate we’ve seen in the past. One of the very best players of the last decade has only put up a 55-point pace this season, with only four assists in his last nine games. He hasn’t scored a goal in a month. All of this screams buy low, but at this point in the fantasy hockey season, it’s quite a gamble.
Another ice-cold Flyer is defenceman Ivan Provorov. In the first 35 games, Provorov had 22 points – a pace of 52 points; not bad for a defender. Sadly, in the 17 games since, he only has three points. This kind of production doesn’t have a place on your roster at this juncture. You’re better off streaming that spot.
Blake Coleman hasn’t recorded a point in four games, but he still has 10 shots and 10 hits in that time. Not bad, not great. The goals came in bunches recently, but he was bound to cool off. Coleman isn’t a very viable points-league option, though he maintains multi-category value.
Slumping Blue Jacket
Cam Atkinson busted out five points (three goals, two assists) in his first two games back from injury, but since then he has zero points. The deployment is solid and shots are still adding up, so maybe it’s nothing to worry about.
For Week 17, there were five shutouts: Brian Elliott, Curtis McElhinney, Henrik Lundqvist, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Carey Price. Elliott’s came way back on January 21, and he followed it up with a dud (16 saves on 20 shots). Lundqvist earned his first shutout since the 2017-18 season.
Carey Price seems to have found his way out of the funk he was in. Over his last eight appearances, the veteran is 6-2-0 with a bright and shiny .951 save percentage. Going back to his last 12 games, there are no more wins to show for it but the save percentage is still a nice .936.
Igor Shesterkin looks like the real deal, and that’s saying something playing for the New York Rangers. The defence is improving, but it leaves much to be desired. In four starts, he’s allowed 10 total goals, good for a 3-1-0 record and a .927 save percentage. The Rangers play four games this week, all on off-nights, so keep an eye on which of the three goalies will be playing.
Jacob Markstrom has allowed three or fewer goals in six straight outings, winning five of them. Markstrom has been one of the best for the past month and a half – lately, he’s posted an 11-2-0 record with a .921 save percentage.
The bad season for Pekka Rinne is still going strong. Rinne had three appearances in Week 17. He gave up 11 goals and lost twice. He still resides in the fantasy hockey ugly zone: a goals-against-average over 3.00 and a save percentage below .900.
Sergei Bobrovsky is lucky he plays for Florida. They score enough to bail him out most nights. Like Rinne, he’s also still in the ugly zone. Even though he won two of his three games this week, he allowed 11 goals. The wins are among league leaders, but everything else is among the league’s worst.
The most recent Battle of Alberta was unkind to Calgary Flames goalies. David Rittich gave up six goals and got pulled. Cam Talbot allowed two goals in relief while also taking a beating in the NHL’s first goalie fight since 2013.
Rinne and Bobrovsky each gave up 11 goals this past week, but John Gibson was close behind with 10 goals allowed. Gibson is very close to the ugly zone and has given up four or more in seven of his last 10 games. Ouch.
Four, four, four, and three. That’s how many goals Jordan Binnington has allowed in his past four games. The All-Star has only won one game in that time. The Blues defence is making costly mistakes, so it doesn’t all fall on him, but that doesn’t mean much in fantasy. Binnington is ranked 510th overall over the last 30 days.