The NHL regular season has begun, which means fantasy hockey leagues are in full swing. The draft is done, maybe you have a player with an injury already, or maybe you just want a do-over on a pick. Well there are plenty of rookies who broke the roster to start the season and are fantasy relevant. Chances are Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Patrik Laine and the like are all long gone. Not to worry, here are several players widely available in Fantrax leagues who can help your team in a variety of leagues.
Sebastian Aho – Carolina Hurricanes, 58% owned
Don’t sleep on Aho if he is a free agent in your league, especially if it is a keeper league! Aho had an unbelievable past two season of development and is a legit top prospect in the NHL. He has had the most improvement in that time over any other prospect except perhaps Patrik Laine. To start the season he is playing on a young line in Carolina and to date has two points while playing over 13 minutes a game. Frozen Pools lists his line mates as follows below
Nikita Zaitsev – Toronto Maple Leafs, 55% owned
The Leafs defenceman with the most power play time to date has been Zaitsev. He has the trust of the Coaching staff in Toronto and has acquitted himself to the NHL very well after coming from the KHL. Zaitsev was arguably the best defenceman for Russia at the World Cup just before the season and allowed him some time on not only the NHL ice size, but in Toronto as well. Zaitsev should provide a decent supply of goals and assists for a NHL rookie, and he also has posted some peripheral stats in three hits and four blocks in his first two games played.
Mike Matheson – Florida Panthers, 39% owned
Matheson had a strong showing at the World Championship for USA after an impressive rookie season in the AHL. Matheson broke camp with the Panthers and has been outstanding early on playing close to 20 minutes a night with six shots on goal and an awesome first career NHL point leading to an overtime game winning goal.
This Mike Matheson shift, my gord: pic.twitter.com/Vdgd4cOvXb— AOL Keyword: Mike (@mikeFAIL) October 14, 2016
Tyler Motte– Chicago Blackhawks, 33% owned
There are a lot of rookies on the Hawks roster this year and Tyler Motte has been one of the more impressive to date. Motte has two points after three games with four shots and is also contributing peripheral stats as well with five hits and five blocks after three games. His physical and all-around game should lend to a good amount of ice time in a variety of situations while playing on a top line.
Stephen Johns – Dallas Stars, 29% owned
Johns has been playing a top four role this season paired with veteran Johnny Oduya. While the pair is leaned on more for defence than offence, Johns does have one goal already. But as I mentioned, his forte is defence and he has six hits and two blocks in his first two games. For leagues with defensive stats, Johns has good value.
Devin Shore – Dallas Stars, 18% owned
If it were not for Auston Matthews, you would probably know that Shore has three points in two games this season. Playing on a line with Korpikoski and Ritchie, Shore is earning his points and not simply passing to the likes of the Stars superstars in Jamie Benn or Tyler Seguin. While his low faceoff winning percentage of 37.9% is low and needs to improve, it suggests the coaching staff will insulate his line and play them on offensive zone situations more often than not. After a strong start in the AHL last year he was called up to the NHL and shortly after suffered an injury. He seems to have picked up where he left off and is a potentially great value add.
Rob O’Gara – Boston Bruins, 3% owned
Big O’Gara has made the team out of camp with the departure of Denis Seidenberg and injuries to Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller and has done an admirable job. While you can’t count of him for offence, in leagues with categories for hits, blocks and PIMs he can be a serviceable option. The 6-4, 207 pound defensive defenceman has three hits and five blocks after two games.
In the next episode of DobberProspects Radio, Paul and I discuss these players and more in the first segment. In the second segment we say “stay” or “nay” to Travis Konecny, Mitch Marner and Jakob Chychrun in regards to the question of will they stay for the entire season? And don’t miss the third segment interview where we talk to Hockey Prospect Radio host Shane Malloy. Subscribe to the show on iTunes
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