Clear pictures of potential roles this season are beginning to take hold, which means we have to start considering the negative end of the spectrum with some of the players we drafted. That’s right, it’s time to consider cutting bait with guys you ha
Nov 4, 2016
Clear pictures of potential roles this season are beginning to take hold, which means we have to start considering the negative end of the spectrum with some of the players we drafted. That’s right, it’s time to consider cutting bait with guys you have have invested a pretty penny in during your draft. We spend so much time looking at potential free-agent additions, but the other side of that equation is someone who needs to be dropped from your roster to make room.
Get caught up with all the latest fantasy-relevant news around the NHL, including injury fill-ins and new line combinations, with intel on every team.
When considering every NHL team’s microcore (No. 1 center, No. 1 defenseman, goalie), who comes out on top? Our panel ranks the entire league.
Need help in a specific stat category on your fantasy hockey team? Here are the players you should pick up or trade for right now. Plus, updated rest-of-season rankings.
So who can give up the fantasy ghost and why?
Scott Hartnell, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets: The youth movement is in high gear for the Blue Jackets, and Hartnell’s usage is perhaps the clearest indicator. Down from 15:35 in average ice time per game last season to just 12:33 through eight games this season, Hartnell has only seven shots on goal so far. Hartnell’s five points belie his real potential if that kind of usage keeps up this season for the veteran.
Robby Fabbri, C/LW, St. Louis Blues: With everyone getting healthy for the Blues, Fabbri is being pushed out of a scoring-line role. He’s only played around 14 minutes of ice time the past four games, while he was flirting with more than 19 minutes at times earlier this season. What about his lowly 16 shots on goal through 11 games for a supposed scoring-line player? The harsh reality is that Fabbri doesn’t look like a top-six winger, especially not when stacked up against the following list: Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Alexander Steen and David Perron. With Nail Yakupov also set to battle Fabbri for the odd look in the top six, it’s time to get off the Fabbri train in re-draft leagues.
Leon Draisaitl, C, Edmonton Oilers: This is a case where we might point you to our Pacific Division fantasy preview prior to the season and tout the eerie accuracy of the “trending down” tag we applied to Draisaitl. To sum it up, we said Draisaitl would be relegated to the third line, get fewer minutes and lack chemistry with his linemates. Check, check and check. After a solid start in the first two games of the season, here’s what he’s done in the past eight games: one assist and 10 shots on goal. Injuries in the Oilers’ top six would make Draisaitl a hot commodity, but unless you can afford to stash him, it’s time to bail in shallow and standard leagues.
Andre Burakovsky, LW/RW, Washington Capitals: The difference between playing in the Capitals’ top six and bottom six is not just the quality of players dropping significantly, from the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. In Burakovsky’s case, the difference is also about four minutes of ice time per game and a real role on the power play. This talented winger still has breakout potential this season, but with Marcus Johansson on fire and T.J. Oshie also fighting to get back to a scoring line, it’s fair to set Burakovsky aside for now.
Fantasy Forecaster: Nov. 7-13
We are starting to see signs that the Fantasy Forecaster formulas have enough data to chew on from this season in the ratings now. How can we tell? Even going against one of the worst possession teams this season Monday in the New York Islanders, the Vancouver Canucks only score a “1” on offense. That sounds about right for a squad with a grand total of 16 goals this season.
Only seven teams have the advantageous four-game schedule, while only the Calgary Flames have the disadvantage of just two games on tap. Most importantly, we have our second “white whale” of the season, begging the question of just how rare and occurrence a five-game week is going to be this season. Read on below to find out where you should dig for your fantasy starters.
Download the forecaster chart PDF here
For those new to the Forecaster chart, here are some explanations: “O” (offense) and “D” (defense) matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup) and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team’s season-to-date statistics, their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played, as well as their opponents’ numbers in those categories. The “Ratings” column lists the cumulative rating from 1-10 of that week’s offensive (“O”) and defensive (“D”) matchups.
Boston Bruins: Another five-game week to take advantage of as the Bruins play two back-to-back sets next week around a Thursday matchup. First things first, make sure both David Pastrnak and David Backes are back in your lineups after they sat out this past week with a suspension and elbow injury, respectively. Pastrnak scored a goal in his return to the lineup Thursday, and Backes is eyeing a Saturday return from injury, putting them both on track for a big week. The second move to make in shallow leagues is to check on the availability of Torey Krug. Some owners are giving up on him, but that is entirely too premature. He leads the Bruins in shots on goal and ice time on the power play. He finally earned his first point of the season Thursday, and a busy schedule should help him break out of his funk. Lastly, check the lineup Saturday with Backes back in action, as whoever joins Backes and David Krejci on the second line is a great free-agent target for next week. The leading candidate is Ryan Spooner, but Danton Heinen could surprise with another chance in the top six.
Dallas Stars: The Stars are our secret road warriors so far this season, leading the NHL by a healthy margin in shot attempt ratio on the road. Next week has them on a four-game run through western Canada, which also means some pliable defenses, including the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets. The Stars are still plagued by injury up front, but broke out for a six-goal night Thursday. One of next week’s best pickups would be Patrick Eaves, who has struggled on the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, but can only struggle there for so long. Benn and Seguin have been struggling in their own right, but busted out with seven combined points Thursday. Eaves is available in almost all ESPN leagues, and has managed 20 shots in his past five games.
Goalie notesGiven the Kings’ schedule for the upcoming week, Peter Budaj could add three wins to your fantasy ledger.Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Condon wasn’t an ideal fantasy option on the defensively sound Montreal Canadiens last season, so he’s not going to be an every-night option for the less defensively sound Ottawa Senators this season. That said, Condon will get some time between the pipes in the near future as Craig Anderson takes personal time to be with his family, and Andrew Hammond is hurt. Shutting out the Canucks on Thursday isn’t something to write home about, given their lack of scoring this season, but it’s a good sign Condon can have spot start value for however long Anderson is away.
As something resembling a straight rotation begins to take hold for the Detroit Red Wings, watch the starts next week for who gets the middle one. If Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek are trading off the crease, one of them will face two of the top-five scoring offenses in the NHL next week, while the other catches the 30th-ranked Canucks in between the difficult bookends.
Peter Budaj remains available in just shy of 75 percent of ESPN leagues and he absolutely shouldn’t be. The Los Angeles Kings give him a chance to win and post decent — if not great — ratios every time he steps on the ice. The Kings are on a road show through eastern Canada next week with four games, so Budaj has a good shot at earning three wins for the scoring period.
We should begin to see more starts from Cam Ward in the ilk of his 30 saves and only two goals allowed from Tuesday night. The Hurricanes are winning the possession battles, posting the sixth-best shot attempts ratio per game this season. This team is doing the right things, the results just aren’t coming yet.
The New York Islanders are getting annihilated in the possession department, sporting the second-worst shot attempts against per game in the NHL this season. Jaroslav Halak or Thomas Greiss? It doesn’t really matter if the Isles keep allowing a whopping 49.7 shot attempts per game, nobody in this crease will have much fantasy value.
One door closes, another opens. Scott Wilson was sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ third line Thursday, with Carl Hagelin replacing him on the top line with Sidney Crosby. Hagelin, who should be on waivers right now in your league after a horrible start, finished at plus-2 on the night.
The San Jose Sharks lines were all over the place Thursday, but one obvious takeaway was that Mikkel Boedker wasn’t in the mix for the top line anymore. Melker Karlsson spent most of the first two periods with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, while Tomas Hertl was there for most of the third as the Sharks shortened the bench. We were giving Boedker a pass because he was still playing on the top line, but it’s hard to keep doing that now.
In their third game back, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Tatar and Justin Abdelkader finally combined on a goal Wednesday. This line was the Red Wings’ best trio last season and should get at least a little more time to re-establish chemistry.