image courtesy of NHL.com
Almost a month ago, I rambled about the line combo usage of several fantasy-relevant rookies that we need to keep tabs on as fantasy owners. Now that teams are finding their groove, it’s time to revisit. Here’s a summary of what we’ve seen in the last month:
- In Carolina, Foegele looks to have locked down a 2nd line winger spot alongside Staal and WIlliams. Svechnikov and Wallmark are 3rd line and Zykov sitting on the 4th. However, out of the 4 rookies, Zykov is on PP1 so he’s not totally done-for from a fantasy perspective. Necas was the odd man out, being sent to the AHL rather than see middling minutes with the Canes.
- In Anaheim, Troy Terry has lost the rookie battle to Sam Steel. Steel is seeing PP1 usage while Terry is in the AHL rather than play 4th line NHL minutes.
- In Montreal, the news isn’t great for Kotkaniemi. Playing not very many ES minutes, and is starting on PP2 for the time being. He’s not even close to 50/50 on draws so he might see more time on the wing. His single-season relevance is fading.
- In Chicago, Kahun remains on a line with Toews and DeBrincat that is producing well. He still doesn’t shoot enough, but his shooting percentage is low enough to anticipate him potting a few soon.
- Bad news for another top name – Dahlin is one of Buffalo’s lowest used d-men at even strength over the last few games (paired with Nelson). He has however been their top-used PP defenceman (passing 5:00 on three occasions already!), which seems like a decent trade-off. The assists will increase once the team starts clicking on the man advantage.
- Opposite trend for Heiskanen in Dallas – he has locked down 2nd line usage at ES but on PP2 he only gets more than a minute per night when there are a lot of calls. Don’t bank on PPP despite his impressive TOI numbers. He’s a real life stud d-man but not a fantasy stud.
- In Toronto, Johnsson has been a healthy scratch for the past week. If Matthews is injured he may draw back into the lineup, but he did not impress coaches and has a long way to go to work himself back into contention as a winger in the top-nine.
- In Pittsburgh, Sprong is averaging around 7 minutes TOI per game, on Cullen’s wing. One game he played only 3 and a half. Bad news unless a winger ahead of him gets injured.
- Michael Rasmussen has hung around in Detroit, but still isn’t seeing much ES usage. His PPTOI also fluctuates dramatically, making him a very high-risk play at this point. Strong candidate to be returned to junior soon so watch out.
- Chytil hasn’t found his way onto PP1 in NYR, which is about the only way to be fantasy relevant there right now. 2nd-line ES usage lately, but the lines are very much in flux so who knows what the plan is here.
- Max Lajoie seems to be coming back down to Earth in Ottawa after a ridiculous start. He still puts the puck on net well for a d-man and is getting some consistent PP2 time, but he isn’t putting up hits or blocks which hurts his multi-cat value.
In addition, here’s an addendum to the list for a few players I skipped the first time around:
- Lawson Crouse has found himself playing shotgun with Keller and Galchenyuk in Arizona. No PP time and this line sees little ES usage, but if this clicks there is a huge opportunity here for the potential multi-cat winger
- Import Antti Suomela is holding down a decent 3rd line role in San Jose, centering Sorensen and Donskoi. Could get hot a few times this year.
- Mathieu Joseph is plying regularly on the 3rd line in TB with the very capable Killorn and Cirelli. The SOG and hits are already fantasy-relevant, but the points just aren’t coming. If he starts clicking, it could be a big deal in fantasy.
This week, the CHL leagues announced their rosters for the upcoming CIBC Canada/Russia Series. Breaking these down in full would require a different rambligns entirely, so for now I’ll stick to providing the links and a few players to watch for:
Just so much firepower in this lineup. The Suzuki brothers will probably get the most attention, but severla recent high picks will be present including Hayton (ARI), Frost (PHI), Merkley (SJS), Tippett (FLA), and many more. Can’t wait for these games.
Team WHL features some more “well-rounded” top prospects that are just as close to NHL duties but have slightly less flash to their game. Glass (VGK), Smith (NJD), and Anderson-Dolan (LAK) could be NHL regulars as soon as next year and will want to stand out here to cement themselves as top options for the WJC.
Lafreniere (2020) will be looking to impress, and Veleno (DET) will be looking to impress the many scouts that passed on him in the 2018 Draft. Dobson (NYI) and McIsaac (DET) could really impress on defence.
FIRST NHL GOALS TIME!
Evan Bouchard did exactly what he was expected to for his first – blast a quick half-slapper home from the point on the powerplay:
Mentioned above – Suomela shows us why you dont let NHL players get a full head of steam and cut to the net. What a beautiful first gal for him:
Missed in last week’s article – Kiefer Sherwood tipped one home for his first. Gotta love those big smiles after:
Thanks for reading, and best of luck making those sneaky picks to keep yourself on top!