Welcome to the first Fantasy Hockey Friday of the 2014-15 NHL season. As always, I will be providing weekly advice that will improve your fantasy roster and boost your team up the standings. This year I have altered the format, so as to group players into a variety of categories, depending on how the demand will be, the ownership percentage, and the “unknown factor.” The categories will include:
One-Day Only Sale = Players that are on strong hot streaks that you will need to add immediately before they are claimed by another team.
Flash Sale = Similar to the ODO category, except these players will not be as highly demanded. They will be claimed relatively quickly, but are not completely known to all teams.
Bargain Bin = Players that are currently very low in ownership percentage, but have proved worthy of adding. This category will also include less-skilled players that are currently playing on good lines and as every studious fantasy owner knows, line combinations are everything.
One-Day Only Sale:
Paul Stastny – C, 83% owned
The St. Louis Blues have only played in two games so far, but Stastny has wasted no time fitting in with his new team. In those two games he scored a goal and three assists, with two of his assists coming on the power play. He centers the second line with Alex Steen and Joakim Lindstrom on the wings. He also plays on the first power play unit with David Backes, Vladimir Tarasenko, Steen, and Kevin Shattenkirk. That combination just screams goals and assists.
Jaroslav Halak – G, 79% owned
No one knows exactly how or how long the Islanders will be dominant, but there’s one thing we do know. Pick up Halak, because he’s 3-0-0 through three games. He just defeated the New York Rangers Tuesday and the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
Alex Goligoski – D, 78% owned
Three points in his last two games (one power play assist), along with top-line minutes on the Dallas Stars makes Goligoski one to watch. His numbers aren’t outstanding now, but the Stars are a very talented team. If you’re looking for a defenseman that plays a lot and is on the second power play unit, consider picking him up.
Joffrey Lupul – LW/RW, 76% owned
Lupul has scored two goals and an assist through Toronto’s first four games (one power play point). He has recorded twelve shots and ten hits as well. He plays on the second line alongside newcomer Daniel Winnik and center Nazem Kadri. Lupul and Kadri play alongside David Clarkson on the team’s second power play unit.
Johnny Boychuk – D, 74% owned
His stock has shot up drastically since the season’s start. After leaving the Boston Bruins for the New York Islanders, he has become a top-pairing defenseman. He has six points through the team’s first four games. His best stat you ask? Five of those points came on the power play. In addition to carrying a plus-five rating, he has seven hits. Sign him quick before he’s claimed.
Radim Vrbata – RW, 72% owned
Vrbata, in his first season with the Vancouver Canucks, is already showing signs of success. Playing on a line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin makes the transition a little easier. His two goals and an assist through two games is only a sneak preview of what he has to offer for your fantasy team. His plus-two rating, two power play points (a goal and an assist), and nine shots will help in many different scoring categories. His first goal of the year was the game-winner.
Chris Kreider – LW, 72% owned
Kreider dropped a bit in value when he was taken off the top line in New York recently. After starting the season with Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash, it seemed he would be a steal in every league. However, his current demotion to the second line alongside Derick Brassard and Lee Stempniak isn’t likely to be permanent. He scored two points in the season opener, and has notched four points in four games. Additionally he had a 17 penalty minute night on October 11th and a seven shot night on October 12th. He is still very useful in every category, as he also has eight hits.
Darcy Kuemper – G, 69% owned
How Kuemper is owned in just 69% of leagues astounds me. He’s play two games, recorded two shutouts against the Colorado Avalanche, and has solidified his position as the starting netminder for the Minnesota Wild. Pick him up immediately.
Frederik Andersen – G, 69% owned
If you’re like me, you thought drafting John Gibson would be better than drafting Frederik Andersen. Unfortunately, we were wrong. Andersen is winning the starting gig in Anaheim, while Gibson is spending the weekend in the minors. Andersen has won three straight games, and has posted an impressive 1.95 GAA and .928 SP. All three wins came on the road. He’s the real deal, at least while Gibson isn’t showing any signs of usurping his job.
Valtteri Filppula – C/LW, 69% owned
Filppula is a consistent playmaker whose career was rejuvenated following his signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning. After struggling to produce with an older Detroit Red Wings team, he has meshed very well with the young Lightning squad. He has played with a variety of wingmen this season, including Calder Trophy nominee Ondrej Palat and the recently acquired Ryan Callahan. He currently plays between youngsters Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson. He is on the team’s top power play unit with Palat, Stamkos, Callahan, and the red-hot Victor Hedman. Filppula has four assists in four games. He had a great season last year, so look to him for consistent production.
Ryan Callahan – RW, 63% owned
Callahan is currently on the top line in Tampa Bay, alongside Ondrej Palat and Steven Stamkos. Need I say more? The trio also comprise the first power play unit. Callahan typically plays a more physical style, while chipping in points here and there, but with the skill of his linemates, he might accidentally have the most productive season of his career. He collects a lot of hits (he currently has nine in four games) and an above-average amount of penalty minutes (he currently has four PIMs). Additionally, he has two goals and one assist so far, while shooting the puck nine times.
Pascal Dupuis – LW/RW, 61% owned
Dupuis, while slightly less valuable when not playing with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, is still a very good fantasy player. He plays on a line with Brandon Sutter and Evgeni Malkin, so there are still many opportunities to produce points, as evident in his first game of the season when he scored a goal and added three assists. He’s a plus-four with a power play point and ten shots on net. Dupuis is also on the second power play unit with Sutter, Steve Downie, Christian Ehrhoff, and Paul Martin.
Update: If his injury is long-term, you can disregard this.
Jonas Hiller – G, 60% owned
Picking up a Calgary netminder is always a risk, but if Hiller’s 49-save showing against the Chicago Blackhawks on the road is any sign of things to come, add him quick. Karri Ramo is still breathing down his neck, but Hiller is more than capable of holding onto the starting job.
Michael Cammalleri – C/LW, 59% owned
Cammalleri is a player that everyone overlooked in their fantasy drafts. He is a tough forward with a strong scoring touch. This off-season he landed on the New Jersey Devils, and has produced five points in just three games, with two of the points coming on the power play. He is also a plus-three after New Jersey’s strong start to their year. He is currently playing on the left wing alongside Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr on the team’s first line. He is on the second power play unit with the same linemates. I don’t see his production slowing very much, so grab him while you still can. He also is able to play center or left wing.
Craig Anderson – G, 58% owned
Perhaps fantasy owners are still a bit apprehensive about Anderson’s lackluster performance last season. However, you should forget about last season and focus on this one. The Ottawa Senators are 3-1-0, and Anderson is a big reason why. With two wins, including one shutout, a 2.01 GAA and .939 SP, he’s showing everyone that last year was nothing more than a fluke.
Tomas Plekanec – C, 53% owned
Plekanec has had a fantastic start to the season. In his first three games he scored four goals and one assist. As can be inferred from his four goals, he is no stranger to shooting the puck. In four games he has recorded 12 shots on net, while also earning a plus-four rating. He centers the second line with Alex Galchenyuk on his left and P.A. Parenteau on his right. Parenteau is a consistent playmaker and setup man, similar to Nicklas Backstrom in terms of assists. His line is also on the second power play unit.
Tyler Bozak – C, 51% owned
The fact that Tyler Bozak is only owned in half of all Yahoo fantasy leagues astounds me. He scored in each of his first three games and has six points in his first four. He centers the top line in Toronto with James van Riemsdyk on his left and Phil Kessel on his right. The trio also run the team’s top power play unit. Three of his six points have come on the man-advantage.
Brock Nelson – C, 43% owned
Brock Nelson probably isn’t a name you’re familiar with hearing. But that changes now. The center that is currently playing to the left of Mikhail Grabovski and Ryan Strome on the New York Islanders is off to a red-hot start. Through three games, Nelson has scored four goals and three assists. He also has a +3 rating and six hits. The Islanders are undefeated, so pick him up while you can.
Marek Zidlicky – D, 42% owned
Zidlicky is part of the red-hot New Jersey Devils team that is surprising the hockey world. Alongside captain Bryce Salvador, he’s on the first pairing. Scoring three assists through the first four games, he’s off to a decent start. He’s also on the first power play unit, with one of his assists coming on the man-advantage.
Alex Galchenyuk – C/LW, 42% owned
The 20-year old Galchenyuk will score more than his 31 point performance last season. He is playing on a line with Tomas Plekanec and P.A. Parenteau, so that will lead to good stats. In his first three games he had one goal and two assists. He also has nine hits and a plus-four rating. His line is on the second power play unit.
Alex Stalock – G, 34% owned
As a backup, Stalock has played two of the Sharks’ last three games, stopping a combined 72 of 75 shots (.960 save-percentage). His first start resulted in a shutout. He’s a great secondary option in net.
P.A. Parenteau – RW, 34% owned
Parenteau, as mentioned earlier, is a highly skilled playmaker. He has three assists through his first four games. In 295 career games, he has recorded 135 assists and 208 points. He is playing on a line with Galchenyuk and Plekanec, but of course you already knew that.
Tyler Toffoli – RW, 34% owned
Toffoli is off to a hot start after winning the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings. He has two goals and three assists through the team’s first four games, along with a plus-eight rating. He plays on the second line to the right of Tanner Pearson and Jeff Carter. Toffoli is also on the first power play unit with captain Anze Kopitar, Carter, Slava Voynov, and Drew Doughty. The one drawback is his lack of playing time. The first three games saw him play between twelve and thirteen minutes, while he saw 15:29 of ice time last game.
T.J. Brodie – D, 30% owned
Brodie and the Flames have been doing surprisingly well. He has played an average of 24:38 of ice time, including two straight 27 minute games. He’s also on a four-game point streak with two goals and three assists. Three of those five points came on the power play. He’s on the first defense pairing alongside Mark Giordano. The duo are also on the first power play unit.
Tanner Pearson – LW, 29% owned
Pearson, like Toffoli, is red-hot as well. In his first four games, he has recorded four goals and two assists, while earning a plus-six rating. He has one power play point, seven shots on net, and four hits, while serving four minutes in the penalty box. Pearson plays on the Kings’ second line with Carter and Toffoli. Unlike Toffoli, Pearson plays on the second power play unit alongside Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams.
Brendan Gallagher – RW, 28% owned
After being bumped from the second line to the first line, Gallagher has been on fire. He has three goals and two assists in his last three games (one power play point). His linemates are Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais. Two of his goals came against the Bruins on Thursday night. His line comprises the top power play unit.
Sami Vatanen – D, 26% owned
Usually I wouldn’t recommend a defenseman on the third pairing, but Vatanen is also on the first power play unit. Each of his three assists have come on the man-advantage. He doesn’t shoot the puck a lot, but his value on the power play alone will lead to a decent amount of points. With Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler, the assists could add up.
Cam Atkinson – RW, 21% owned
Atkinson has scored four points through his first three games, including three goals. He’s a plus-three with thirteen shots. He’s on the top line for the Blue Jackets with Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen, as well as the first power play unit. Two of his three goals were game-winners against the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres.
Nick Leddy – D, 19% owned
Johnny Boychuk’s defense partner isn’t getting much attention with the way Boychuk’s been playing, but Leddy has two goals and an assist in his last two games. He hasn’t produced as many points as Johnny, since he plays on the second power play unit (Boychuk scored five power play points while on the first power play unit), but he can still be an effective blueliner in deep leagues.
Karri Ramo – G, 17% owned
Yes, I’m including both Calgary goalies. Why? Because they’re both playing outstanding. Ramo and Hiller have been playing every other game, and collectively, Ramo has the better stats. In his two games, he collected two wins, a 1.92 GAA and a .934 SP. If Hiller’s already taken in your league, why not give this guy a shot.
Jiri Tlusty – LW, 11% owned
The Carolina Hurricanes will not be a good team this year, but Tlusty can still provide value for your team. Playing on the top line with 21-year old Swedish rookie Victor Rask (only while Eric Staal is out) and Russian sniper Alex Semin, the Czech winger already has three goals after scoring a hat trick in his second game this season. He also added an assist in his first game. Three of his four points have on the power play. His line is also on the first power play unit. His plus-minus will likely be very low, so if that’s what you’re looking for, pick up a different player.
Damon Severson – D, 11% owned.
The 20-year old defenseman is off to a great rookie year through New Jersey’s first four games. He has four points, including three goals (one power play point). The Devils are 3-1-0, and Severson’s a good play for any fantasy team. He’s a plus-five with fifteen shots on net (eight on Thursday when he scored his team’s only two goals.
Anton Stralman – D, 4% owned
Stralman hasn’t been known to produce a lot of points (his best offensive performance was 34 points in 2009-10) but with the high-scoring Tampa Bay Lightning, that’ll change. He already has points in three of his first four games (one power play point). He’s a plus-three with eight shots and five hits. He plays top line minutes every night, and is on the second power play unit.
Stuart Percy – D, 4% owned
The 21-year old Toronto rookie has registered three assists in his first four games. Two of those helpers came on the power play. Playing on the second defense pairing, he’s still seen over twenty minutes of ice time each night. He’s on the second power play unit with Morgan Reilly.
Matt Nieto – LW, 3% owned
In deep fantasy leagues, Nieto is a steal. He’s still relatively unknown, but once he spends more time on the second line with Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture. Additionally, he’s on the second power play unit with youngsters Tomas Hertl and Tommy Wingels. He has three points through four games, including a power play point. His ice time has increased in each game, from 14:11 to 15:47 to 17:01 to 19:56 last night. It’s clear that the Sharks are beginning to trust him in more important situations. With those linemates, he will easily get points.
All references courtesy of Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, Hockeydb.com, and DailyFaceoff.com
If you have any questions regarding your fantasy team, I will be more than happy to answer them. Just shoot me a tweet @yungspork