Fantasy Hockey: Changing on the Fly, Volume 2
Both of those article series are worth a read if you are in fantasy football or basketball leagues. Here, we take a look at a few transactions that will help you improve your fantasy hockey team and win your league.
All percent owned stats will be used from Yahoo! leagues, and we'll assume a standard 6x4 scoring system (Goals, Assists, Plus/Minus, Power Play Points, Penalties in Minutes, Shots on Goal; Wins, Goals Against Average, Save Percentage, Shutouts). Transactions are listed in relative order of importance.
Sell Nick Foligno, LW - Columbus Blue Jackets (53% owned)
Nick Foligno has been hot this year, and he is currently ranked 30th in Yahoo! leagues. With seven goals and eights assists, he is on pace for more than a point per game. Normally gaudy numbers like that would encourage owners to add him en masse. However, buyer beware: Foligno's shooting percentage is through the roof, unsustainably so.
|Prior to 2013||396||67||644||1.63||10.4%|
It is unlikely that Foligno will be able to find the back of the net anywhere near this rate for the rest of the season; this is a sell-high candidate if you have him on your roster.
Add Derek Stepan, C - New York Rangers (53% owned)
Derek Stepan made his season debut Friday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, earning an assist. He missed the start of the season with a fractured fibula but now figures to play on a line with Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider; if the Rangers do a line shuffle, Stepan could easily end up with Rich Nash and Martin St. Louis, and then he'd be a must-own. Kreider has been hot to start the year on Broadway and Stepan should reap the benefits of playing with him. Throughout his career, Stepan has produced, and in his fifth year we could see improvement from last in the points-per-game numbers.
Stepan may take some time to get into game shape, so early expectations should be tempered, but he is a steady performer and should be on most fantasy rosters.
Sell Johnny Boychuk, D - New York Islanders (85% owned), Add Lubomir Visnovsky, D - New York Islanders (12% owned)
Back on Thursday, I mentioned that the New York Islanders power play was one of four fantasy hockey situations to watch. As I mentioned then, early in the season Johnny Boychuk was playing on the Islanders' first power play unit; however, in the last eight games since returning from an early season back injury, Lubomir Visnovsky has retaken his spot quarterbacking the man-advantage. Here are Boychuck's and Visnovsky's game logs and how they relate to the Islander power play.
|Date||NYI Total PP Time||Boychuk PP Time||Boychuk % PP Time||Visnovsky PP Time||Visnovsky % PP Time|
It is quite obvious from the table that Visnovsky's return has eaten into both Boychuck's total man-advantage ice time and the percentage of the Islanders power play ice time. Here is a summary of Boychuk's usage pre- and post-Visnovsky's insertion into the lineup on October 23rd.
|10 October - 21 October (6 games)||23 October - 8 November (8 games)|
|Total NYI PP Time||37:16||46:26|
|NYI PP Time per Game||6:12||5:48|
|Boychuk PP Time||24:57||20:13|
|Boychuk PP Time per Game||4:09||2:53|
|% of NYI Power Play Time||66.9%||49.7%|
|Visnovsky PP Time||-||32:57|
|Visnovsky PP time per Game||-||4:07|
|% of NYI Power Play Time||-||71.0%|
Coach Jack Capuano's first power play unit consists four forwards - John Tavares, Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Kyle Okposo - and Visnovsky. Right now, Boychuk is ranked at 57th (8th best defenseman) for standard Yahoo! Leagues; the time to sell high is now, and hopefully his recent knee injury doesn't hurt his value too much, as he is currently day-to-day.
Drop Matt Moulson, LW - Buffalo Sabres (39% owned)
Matt Moulson and the whole Buffalo Sabres (-1.32 nERD) team have been awful this year. Moulson has a single goal to go along with two assists and a minus-eight plus/minus. He may eventually refind his scoring touch that he had with the New York Islanders, but until he starts to show it, Moulson is not worth rostering in most fantasy leagues.
Buy Jonathan Drouin, LW - Tampa Bay Lightning (62% owned)
The start of Jonathan Drouin's NHL career has been somewhat frustrating. The Tampa Bay Lightning have taken their time with the 2013 third-overall draft choice, first having him spend an extra year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, playing for the Halifax Mooseheads, and now they have him play fourth-line minutes. While this has surely been annoying for owners who drafted Drouin at an average draft position of 126th, there is a buy-low chance for the opportunistic and Drouin is as good of a trade target as any. To compare, Nathan MacKinnon (Drouin's draft-mate), also had a slow start to his career; here are how their first 10 games stack up:
The rest of MacKinnon's rookie year, he had 23 goals and 33 assists (16 power play points) and was a plus-17 to show for his 220 shots. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy, and owners who gave him up early were kicking themselves after the first month. Drouin and MacKinnon's early career number are very comparable, and as he starts to get a little more ice time and get comfortable with the league, Drouin's production should see dividends. Now would be a good time to test the waters and see if you can convince a Drouin owner to move him for someone with less upside.
Add Jori Lehtera, C â€“ St. Louis Blues (14% owned)
Vladimir Tarasenko has been lighting up the league in his sophomore year with 9 goals and 7 assists in 13 games. While Tarasenko (87% owned) and linemate Jaden Schwartz (71% owned) are probably unattainable in most leagues, their center, Jori Lehtera remains widely available.
The Finnish rookie has 2 goals and 8 assists in 12 games for the Blues. If you can add a center and you like the idea of jumping early on an asset, Lehtera may be your guy. The Blues (0.60 nERD) are one of the best teams in the league, and he and his linemates are hot; any one of their top two lines is worth owning.
Add Carl Soderberg, C/LW - Boston Bruins (33% owned)
Normally a third-line guy isn't a huge fantasy asset but Carl Soderberg has had himself a nice year to this point, marking 12 points in 15 games. He is seeing first-unit power play time with Reilly Smith, Patrice Bergeron, Loui Eriksson and Dougie Hamilton.
Hold Anze Kopitar, C - Los Angeles Kings (99% owned)
The most traded player in Yahoo! leagues right now is Anze Kopitar. If you own him, think hard before exchanging. Before Saturday night, his 9.5% shooting percentage was well below his career rate of 12.3%. While there is a slight concern about the number of shots he is taking (1.81 shots per game versus 2.71 for his career average), selling Kopitar now wouldn't return max value, and a savvy owner would be wise to wait this out. His shots and goals will come - he has lead the Kings in scoring for seven straight seasons and has plenty of time to make up ground on his teammates.
Add Cam Ward, G - Carolina Hurricanes 27% owned
The Carolina Hurricanes are not a good team; they have only four wins and sit 27th with a -0.56 nERD ranking. However, all four of those wins have come when coach Bill Peters elects to go with Cam Ward instead of Anton Khudobin (41% owned). So far this year, Ward has outperformed his creasemate and earned himself more playing time because of it.
|Player||Games||Wins||Goals Against Average||Save Pct||Shutouts|
Timeshares in net are never fun to deal with as a fantasy manager, but if you were to pick one of these two goalies right now, I'd go with Ward. He has dealt with injuries that past few seasons that have hampered his results, but he is still only 30 years old, and this season's numbers are close to his career marks of a 2.76 Goals Against Average and .909 Save Percentage.
After Ward had won four straight games, Khudobin got the start against the Washington Capitals (-0.03 nERD) Saturday night and lost 4-3, giving up 4 goals on 39 shots. Expect Peters to go back to Ward when the Hurricanes face the Calgary Flames (-0.11 nERD) Monday.
Add Sean Monahan, C - Calgary Flames (26% owned)
Sean Monahan has broken out of his start-of-the-season slump in a big way. After going scoreless the first eight games of the season, he has scored six goals in the last eight games. Now with 11 points in 16 games the first-line Flames center is worth a look. Last year, he finished the season with 22 goals and 12 assists in 75 games; this year, he is on pace for 56 points, so Monahan is a true fantasy asset.
Drop Valeri Nichushkin, RW - Dallas Stars (25% owned)
Valeri Nichushkin started the season playing two games and then was placed on the injured reserve. He came back November 4th, played two more games, had no points, a minus-two plus/minus and then the Dallas Stars have placed him back on the injury list with the same groin ailment. Nichushkin is a young player in his second year with a lot of upside, but there is now an injury concern. His production from last year (14 goals, 20 assists in 79 games), while acceptable, can be easily replaced. Unless your league has an injury spot, drop Nichushkin and find yourself a healthy body.
Add Benoit Pouliot, LW - Edmonton Oilers (1% owned)
With Taylor Hall hitting the disabled list, someone had to move up on to a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. So far, that lucky player has been Benoit Pouliot. He scored a goal and picked up an assist on a Nugent-Hopkins' tally Sunday night and his average ice-time has increased to 20:12 from 14:05 since moving up to the top trip on November 4th. By virtue of playing with these two talented forwards, Pouliot will pick up points almost by accident. As long as Hall is injured and he gets to play with Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins, Pouliot is a good grab in deep leagues.