While you may be an avid fan of a particular NHL team — and keep up to date on all the news and rumors regarding that franchise — there are 29 others playing in 2016-17. As a fantasy owner, it can be a bit daunting to keep tabs on everything. That’
Oct 27, 2016
While you may be an avid fan of a particular NHL team — and keep up to date on all the news and rumors regarding that franchise — there are 29 others playing in 2016-17.
As a fantasy owner, it can be a bit daunting to keep tabs on everything.
That’s where the Fantasy 30 comes in — a rundown of the most fantasy-relevant updates on every team. Here’s what’s happening around around the NHL in Week 3.
Anaheim Ducks: As of Thursday morning, Hampus Lindholm and the Ducks have agreed to terms on a six-year deal with an average annual salary of $5.25 million. A growing fantasy favorite, the 22-year-old blueliner will now have to wait for a work visa, which may take up to two weeks. In the interim, the Ducks must clear space under the salary cap, which has led to increased chatter that Cam Fowler will be dealt. Stay tuned!
Arizona Coyotes: The days of Oliver Ekman-Larsson munching up mega minutes on the Coyotes’ blue line may be over. In fact, a recovered Michael Stone narrowly eclipsed Ekman-Larsson’s on-ice totals in New Jersey on Tuesday, and coach Dave Tippett seems satisfied with that trend. A fantasy-friendly fixture on the top power play, and entering his prime at 26 years old, Stone is aiming to build on last season’s career-best 36 points in 76 games.
Boston Bruins: The good news is Tuukka Rask might be ready to return from a lower-body injury as soon as Saturday. The bad news is the Bruins have few appealing options otherwise. With Anton Khudobin out hurt until mid-November, and both Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre each falling short in their respective relief auditions, Boston’s management may have to get creative in the crease, or hope for better outcomes from one of the youngsters.
Buffalo Sabres: Battling the flu, goalie Robin Lehner is unlikely to suit up for Thursday’s tilt with the Minnesota Wild. Daily fantasy players scrutinizing outside-the-box goalie options should know that Anders Nilsson was pretty good in Tuesday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, stopping 38 of 41 shots.
Calgary Flames: Even in the short term, don’t count on Matthew Tkachuk seeing action game in and game out for the Flames. The Calgary club is reportedly keen on spacing contests out for the highly touted 18-year-old, thereby extending his nine-game trial before a decision must be made on whether to return him to his junior team. Invested fantasy owners with day-to-day flexibility should remain nimble while this trend continues.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes may be without Jeff Skinner — who’s dealing with an ambiguous “middle-body” injury — again on Friday. Forward Viktor Stalberg most recently subbed in for the winger on the Hurricanes’ top scoring line.
Chicago Blackhawks: Young defenseman Gustav Forsling could rejoin the Blackhawks’ lineup as early as Friday after suffering a minor injury in Monday’s match against the Flames. By no means a sought-after fantasy asset — even in the deepest of leagues — the taco-loving 20-year-old is pegged to remain in Chicago’s lineup. He’s worth keeping a casual eye on, in any case.
Colorado Avalanche: Following his conditioning stint with the San Antonio Rampage, Mikko Rantanen is poised to make his 2016-17 debut on a line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikhail Grigorenko. Keep this big kid on your fantasy radar; after getting a brief taste of NHL action this past season, the 10th overall draft selection from 2015 is projected to take the next step.
Columbus Blue Jackets: You might think Sergei Bobrovsky is the only functioning goaltender on the Blue Jackets’ roster. After starting his top guy in five straight games to start 2016-17, coach John Tortorella is toying with playing Bobrovsky in back-to-back contests (again) Thursday and Friday. While short on wins (only two), Columbus’ No. 1 is rocking an impressive .929 save-percentage and 2.41 goals-against average to date.
Dallas Stars: Scanning the Stars’ updated list of injuries, we can probably rule out Jason Spezza, Jiri Hudler, Patrick Sharp and Ales Hemsky for Thursday, if not beyond. So Patrick Eaves — recently recovered himself — is again pegged to fill a prominent role up front for Dallas, including with the top power-play unit. The 32-year-old winger scored a goal in that circumstance against Winnipeg on Tuesday — a club the Stars face once again on Thursday.
Detroit Red Wings: With Justin Abdelkader set to return to action on Thursday, it presents an interesting lineup decision to coach Jeff Blashill. Namely, what is to be done with Andreas Athanasiou, who’s been excellent as Abdelkader’s lineup substitute (two goals, one assist in two games)? If nothing else, the club has learned it can lean on Athanasiou when injury strikes in the top six.
Edmonton Oilers: Serving as the undisputed No. 1 netminder for the top team in the Western Conference, and new dad to twins, Cam Talbot has little to gripe about this autumn. And for those worried about an impending nosedive for the netminder, the Oilers’ new — and still developing — top defensive pairing of Adam Larsson and Oscar Klefbom is receiving a great deal of credit for the goalie’s early-season success. Plus, Talbot’s just playing well. He should be spoken for in the vast majority of ESPN fantasy leagues, and yet he is not.
Florida Panthers: According to casual chatter from a Finnish hockey writer, forward Jussi Jokinen (knee) will be out for at least two weeks. As it stands, coach Gerard Gallant appears content enough with skating rookie Kyle Rau in the veteran’s place.
Los Angeles Kings: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Having won three straight games, Peter Budaj remains top banana, by default, between the pipes in La-La land. Mind you, with Jonathan Quick out long term and Jeff Zatkoff on the injured shelf until next week, an altogether untested Jack Campbell (one NHL game with the Stars in 2013-14) is primed to make an appearance in one of two back-to-back games this weekend. Further, the Kings won’t hesitate to make a bolder move (trading for Ondrej Pavelec, maybe?) if the goaltending wheels start to wobble wildly. They’ve already signed Anders Lindback to a professional tryout, which could eventually evolve into a gig in the NHL.
Montreal Canadiens: Give Paul Byron a fresh fantasy look ahead of Thursday night’s tilt, if not beyond. Thrown onto a line with Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, the diminutive forward scored early in the second period of Wednesday’s 3-2 win against the Islanders. You might expect Habs coach Michel Therrien to stick with that trio versus the Lightning 24 hours later.
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Minnesota Wild: Veteran reporter Michael Russo suggests coach Bruce Boudreau may refrain from rushing Jared Spurgeon (upper-body injury) back in light of how well other defensemen — including fantasy asset Matt Dumba — have risen to fill the void. Pairing with Ryan Suter at even strength and with the extra skater, Dumba has two assists, while averaging nearly 26 minutes per game, in three recent contests missed by Spurgeon. The young D-man is owned in only 27 percent of ESPN leagues.
Nashville Predators: Coach Peter Laviolette might give his lines a shuffling after Wednesday’s ugly 6-1 loss to the Ducks. Of note, young, fantasy dark-horse forwards Kevin Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson have been skating among the Predators’ top six. Let’s see if they remain up there to start Thursday’s tilt in Los Angeles.
New Jersey Devils: The most recent beneficiary of coach John Hynes’ lineup juggling is rookie Pavel Zacha, who finds himself on the Devils’ top scoring line with Taylor Hall — who, in turn, appears to enjoy playing with the 19-year-old centerman. Add that endorsement to Zacha’s pair of primary assists on Hall’s goals against the Coyotes Tuesday, and you’ve got yourself an under-owned and under-rated fantasy asset in the making, especially in keeper leagues.
New York Islanders: Defenseman Johnny Boychuk is shooting the puck a bunch, and it’s paying off. Averaging over 20 minutes of ice time in his past three games — including valuable minutes with the man advantage — the 32-year-old has two goals and one assist on 16 shots. He’s also ramped up his physical play, with nine hits. Ride him while he’s hot.
New York Rangers: While Chris Kreider’s return feels improbable, rookie forward Pavel Buchnevich is a solid “maybe” for Friday’s game against the Hurricanes. As such, if Buchnevich immediately reclaims a spot in the Rangers’ top six, that could spell the end of J.T. Miller skating alongside Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello.
Ottawa Senators: Dzangling his way into the hearts of Ottawa hockey fans, Ryan Dzingel is a modest threat to remain on a line with Derick Brassard and Bobby Ryan for at least one more game. Four goals — including two in Vancouver Tuesday — and two assists in five contests has rightfully earned the 24-year-old another prominent shot in Calgary on Friday. DFS players with an eye for timely bargains should give the lad a thought.
Philadelphia Flyers: As anticipated, the Flyers have placed Michael Raffl on injured reserve with an upper-body issue. The move means rookie Travis Konecny is likely to see at least another handful of games competing as a top-six forward, skating with the likes of Jakub Voracek. After opening the season with five assists, the 19-year-old scored his first NHL goal Tuesday against the Sabres.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Dressing as backup Tuesday to Marc-Andre Fleury following a two-week absence to begin the season, Matt Murray appears to be at least one more game off starting in the Penguins’ crease. With Fleury pegged to compete Thursday, Murray might look ahead to Sunday’s matchup with the Flyers — largely depending on how well the aforementioned veteran plays against the visiting Islanders.
San Jose Sharks: Judging from the Sharks’ projected lines against the visiting Blue Jackets Thursday, coach Pete DeBoer is willing to give Mikkel Boedker more than a game or two on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. We’d advise Boedker’s fantasy owners remain loyal to the speedy winger for a bit yet, his one, lonely goal notwithstanding. It’s still so early.
St. Louis Blues: Anticipated back for Thursday’s game versus the Red Wings, Jori Lehtera is tapped to rejoin linemates Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko at left wing, as opposed to his usual spot at center. As it happens, the domino effect of this shuffling knocks David Perron out of the top six, where he’s enjoyed some recent success.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Don’t expect Vladislav Namestnikov to fall from the Lightning’s top scoring unit before Thursday’s gig in Montreal. The 23-year-old added a goal and assist Tuesday to the previous game’s goal and assist, while skating alongside Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Despite watching his No. 1 goalie surrender a cringe-worthy 22 goals in five games, Leafs coach Mike Babcock isn’t giving up on Frederik Andersen anytime soon. Fine and good, but we remain committed to steering clear of Andersen as a fantasy asset until his fortunes — partially dictated by some key improvements on team defense — dramatically improve.
Vancouver Canucks: If you’re one of the small sector of forward-looking fantasy owners who believes Nikita Tryamkin might, in fact, be the league’s next Zdeno Chara, the following will be of interest. After an ugly standoff to begin this campaign — with the self-admittedly out-of-shape defenseman shunning the AHL — Elliotte Friedman suggests there be a light at the end of the tunnel. One that shines on the towering, 22-year-old blueliner playing on this side of the Atlantic in the very near future. Again, this is more for those willing and able to risk a roster spot, but it is indeed a ray of hope.
Washington Capitals: Nothing to clatter the china here, but we’d wager Philipp Grubauer splits starts with No. 1 Braden Holtby this weekend. The Capitals extend their western Canadian swing with stops in Vancouver on Saturday and Calgary on Sunday. Washington’s backup was perfect in his only appearance this season, an 18-save shutout versus the Avalanche (Oct. 18). Keep him top of mind as a DFS option whichever game he draws.
Winnipeg Jets: No Drew Stafford (upper-body injury) for Thursday’s contest in Dallas means rookie Kyle Connor may join the Jets’ top-six gaggle after sitting one game as a healthy scratch. An inspired performance from the 19-year-old may spare him a (pending?) demotion to the Manitoba Moose.