Not only are hockey viewers excited for the sport to be back, but so are the fantasy players! WIth the conclusion of the first, about week and a half of hockey gone underway, there are some notable players around the league that fantasy owners need to consider. In this edition of #FantasyFriday we will look around the league for the top forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders. After diving into who is doing well around the league, I will contrast with players that are not off to a hot start that normally are players most would consider drafting. Before we touch on any of this information just know that these stats and projects will be taken from ESPN’s website, and some of my opinion. No claims of any players to draft or consider drafting, or drop from your team are credible under any circumstance. Lastly, I do not make any recommendations to gamble with any of the information I will be talking about, on any gambling platform.
It sure has been nice to see some of the rookies in this league score their first NHL goal, and hat trick all being in a one game stance. Both Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine have done so, in separate games. For us fantasy junkies who love goal scorers, they will be competing throughout the rest of the season for not only goal scoring, but points and assists as well. It will be fun to continue to see who will win the Calder Cup this year and based off of how the season has started it will be full of nasty goals. Interesting enough ESPN did not have these two at the top based off of goals. As you can see from the screenshot below Richard Panik, or as I call him the ‘Panik-Attack’, is at the top of this filtered list of players who are ranked in the top 5 based off how many goals they have scored. Panik is at the top of 5 players who are at an even 4 goals a piece in the league. Joining Panik in the top 5 goals category are, Vladimir Tarasenko, David Pastrank, and as previously mentioned Auston Matthews, and Patrik Laine.
Defensive Goal Scorers
This next category isn’t based off penalty minutes, because Jonathan Ericsson owns this one, and as surprising as that is to see us Detroit Red Wings fans are not mad about it. Speaking of Detroit’s defensive players, let us talk about goal scoring defenders. Now Detroit has not had a sufficient skater on the point to score many goals since Nicklas Lidstom retired. This isn’t to say that Mike Green is the next Lidstrom, but Green is the first D man to rack a hat trick since Lidstrom has been gone. This milestone has thrown Green into the mix of top 5 goal scorers from the point, thus far. We expect to see Green drop from this top 5 filter, but for now let us enjoy it. Mike Green with his 3 goals, is tied for the top slot with Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks. Burns is a known goal scorer, he along with P.K. Subban, Shea Weber, and Brent Seabrook are to be dangerous at the blue line with hard one-timers. Fantasy owners should be happy with this mix, and we expect to see Weber and Subban net more pucks in the net as they are settling in with their new teams. Along with Burns and Green in this top 5 goal scoring category for defensemen are, Erik Karlsson, Jeff Petry, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson who have each netted 2 goals a piece. Perry and Edman-Larsson are most likely going to fall down toward the middle or the bottom of the fantasy list, just because more likely than not Weber and Subban will join other players such as Kris Letang, Alex Pietrangelo, and Drew Doughty. What you see below is another chart captured from ESPN, and this is filtered by defensemen and the number of goals is what the deciding factor of who is the top 5 on this list. What you can also see are their assets, plus/minus, penalty minutes, power play minutes, average time on ice, and shots on goal. These are all season totals, thus far.
A previous article I posted about fantasy drafts, I had talked about drafting a top goalie the first chance you got. Now, in theory this could have been Carey Price, and like myself you didn’t see a performance from him until last night. Still, there are other factors in fantasy to break down goalie standards. ESPN breaks down the goalies by their wins, goals against, saves, minutes in net, wins, and save percentage. Now it’s harder for me to chose what filter to use to break down the top 5 goalies, but obviously not goals against or saves because the net minders with ‘0’s’ in these categories wouldn’t necessarily be active, starting, or top goalies in the league for fantasy owners to look at. But let’s talk about goalies with the most saves for a goalie, these are the goalies that are in net for pretty much every game so far for their team. For Marc-Andre Fleury this is the case, and not only does he stand at the top for most saves but also for most minutes in the crease. A goalie who was supposed to be behind Matt Murray because of the 2016 Stanley Cup wins from Murray, and Murray’s performance 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Fleury gladly takes his spot in net back as Murray is still injured, but because Murray just signed a 3-year extension, there are rumors of Fleury being departed from their team. Not only would this be a risk for the Penguins, giving Murray his full time starting position back, but a total klusterfuck for fantasy owners that drafted Fleury. GM Jim Rutherford did back this up by saying that, “The focus seems to be on what happens with Marc-Andre, but let’s let this play itself out first. Let’s not just presume that Marc is automatically out. He’s been the franchise goalie here, he is a terrific person, he’s a terrific player and I think that assumption, we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves.” Still, if Fleury was tossed aside I would miss saying ‘no more Fleury’s, for the rest of your days’ while rejoicing in how poorly he can perform against teams. But let’s continue to look at what other goalies are up to. Along with Fleury in the top 5, ESPN also lists Cam Talbot, Al Montoya, Petr Mrazek (more Detroit praise), and Craig Anderson.
Montoya of the Montreal Canadiens started the season as the starting goalie as Carey Price was on IR with the flu, whether or not he had the skating flu will never be known (inside joke with our staff). But, Montoya has had an excellent start, posting one of the only NHL shutouts of the season against none other than the 2016 Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburg Penguins. Another note to make from this mix of goalies is Petr Mrazek, who is going to be the starting goalie for the Detroit Red Wings. Mrazek, who was praised by head coach Jeff Blashill to be not only the starting goalie, BUT one of the most elite goalies in the league- Bold Blashill claim right there, we hear too many of them *eye roll*.
Replacements? Injuries? Who NEEDS to improve?
To sort of roll into my last topic of this, more likely than not, Montoya will fall from this list and I could see Talbot doing the same. Here are some reasons why I believe that Montoya and Talbot will be at the top of this list. Price who started in net last night will continue to do so, keeping Al Montoya as a reliable backup goalie. Carey Price will jump in this top 5 list, eventually, assuming no more injuries to the guy. Also, as Matt Murray makes his return from IR and starting in net for the Penguins his number will finally pay off for fantasy owners as well. That feeling of drafting a goalie, only to bench him most of the season must be painful. I’m sure there are a lot from those who drafted Jonathan Quick, who was injured the first game of the season. Quick is just one some players who are on IR that fans expect to see back to help their numbers, along with Sidney Crosby. Other players that fantasy drafters expect to see back that were placed during training camp, or from the start of the season are: DET Niklas Kronwall (Knee), NYR Dan Girardi (groin), STL Jaden Schwartz (Elbow), and BUF Evander Kane (Ribs). From these just listed, all but Evander Kane should be expected to play sometime this season, Kane has no timeline of his return.
So finally, I want to talk about a couple of players that are not starting this season off to a hot streaky start that fantasy players would have liked to have seen. Dylan Larkin, started off last year in his rookie season with the Detroit Red Wings scoring his first goal on the home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Larkin, who is at a minus 5 with only 1 assist, 8 shots on goal, and no goals thus far. The fast skater, who now lines up to play center for the team is not showing such a fast start- look for that to change. There are other skaters in the league that are not performing so decent to their expectation. Here is a list, with the filter being plus/minus. Out of this list of 10 worst plus/minus so far to start the season there are two players from both the New York Islanders and the Columbus Blue Jackets, who both sit at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division. You can also view on this captured chart how many goals, assists, penalty minutes, power play points, average time on ice, and shots on goal this season. Again, I filtered this to show the worst plus/minus to diagnose the players that are not producing as well, while being on the ice during goals against their team.
So I’ve shared with you some brief statistics on what some of the top forwards, defensemen, and goalies are up to for the start of this season. Given some opinion as to who is doing what, and what may happen in the future. But, by no means are any of my assumptions credible, and under NO circumstance do my opinions serve as a means to gamble under, on any gambling platform. I thank you all for reading this, fantasy players I hope we do well moving forward, it’s sure as hell good to see Carey Price back in net, helps my fantasy team a lot to have that #1 starting goalie back where he belongs. Stay tuned in the future for more fantasy recaps!
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Information, Statistics, and Screenshots taken from: