The second half of the fantasy hockey season is underway. Christmas is just around the corner, which means a slight lull is in store for this coming week. Everyone will either play two or three games, but we’ll get to that later. For now, let’s look back on what Week 12 had to offer. Week 11 impressions can be found here. As always, reach out to me on Twitter (@jkj0787) or leave a comment below if you want more on anyone, listed or not.
Note: For the sake of consistency, Yahoo! standard leagues are the baseline for all rankings and ownership rates.
Week 12 Fantasy Hockey Impressions
Let’s get this one out of the way. Noel Acciari of the Florida Panthers did in fact score seven goals this past week. He followed up a pair of hat tricks with another goal Saturday, giving him 12 goals on the season. All that aside, do not expect this kind of thing to continue; the veteran had 18 career goals entering this season. Acciari has a place on banger rosters if blocks count, as he is the only forward with more than 50. Plus he hits a good amount. Otherwise, let someone else waste a transaction on a flash-in-the-pan scoring output.
Hall Makes a Splash
The Arizona Coyotes won the Taylor Hall sweepstakes, trading some prospects and picks for the former Hart Memorial Trophy winner. He both underwhelmed and impressed in his first week with his new squad. Hall did register a point in all three games, scoring his first goal as Coyote on Sunday. One goal and two assists may seem a little anticlimactic to some. In reality, it takes time to gel with new linemates. The fact he’s already producing is a great sign.
The Winnipeg Jets have survived so far this season mainly due to rock-solid goaltending. Lately, though, the offence is kicking things into gear as well. Blake Wheeler took longer than usual to get going, but he’s up to 30 points in 36 games now, with 20 of those coming in the last 16 games. Patrik Laine has five goals in his last six games. Mark Scheifele can’t seem to not score these days, bagging nine goals in his last 12 contests. Even Josh Morrissey and Neal Pionk are hot, with five assists apiece in the last four games.
Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi has been a little quiet for most of the 2019-20 campaign, but things are trending in the right direction of late. Domi put up 72 points last season, but only has 24 in 36 games so far (55-point pace). The good news is he has seven in his last eight games, including goals in his last two games – a feat he hadn’t accomplished since the second week of the season.
A duo of Chicago Blackhawks defencemen have made themselves fantasy relevant. Erik Gustafsson came out of nowhere last season, finishing the 2018-19 season as one of only six defenders to score 60 points. This season has been hugely disappointing, but Gustafsson has five points in his last six and is seeing the kind of ice time we’ve gotten used to. Connor Murphy has become a banger-league bastion, with 33 hits, 41 blocks, 26 shots, and seven points in his last 15 games – only two defenders have more blocks in that time, but those two combined have fewer hits.
Normally, elite players performing well wouldn’t get mentioned. Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi deserves it, however, even if it’s only because he has proven his overvalued status as completely unfounded. Josi is on a 30-goal pace after tying a career-high last season with just 15. As for those power-play points, he’s already equaled last season’s total of 12. Oh, and he has six goals in his last four games. Safe to say he was a bargain at where he got drafted.
A couple Toronto Maple Leafs forwards are on a tear. Mitch Marner had five points this past week, and has 12 in his last seven games. That’s now 30 points in only 26 games. Zach Hyman has eight points in his last eight and is coming off a three-point performance on Saturday. Hyman is logging a lot of minutes and should be rostered on this high-powered offence, yet only 13 percent of leagues are paying attention.
Predators forward Craig Smith had three goals and an assist in Week 12. The 30-year-old also had 16 shots and 14 PIMs. In the deepest of leagues he could have value, but for the most part this was just an outlier week. Smith does well with the ice time he’s given, but that doesn’t mean he should be on your fantasy team. He’s listed here to and not above to make that clear.
A Wild Bust
The Minnesota Wild and Arizona Coyotes had a slugfest on Thursday, combining for 13 goals. And ice-cold Mathew Dumba had a hand in exactly zero of his team’s eight goals. Dumba is rapidly losing minutes to the likes of Carson Soucy and Jonas Brodin. It’s looking exremely dire for his fantasy owners.
Colorado Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi had a good run, but it’s probably time to move on if you’re still hanging onto him. He does have 28 points in 36 games, but only has one in his last six. While the studs were injured, he filled in well. But pretty much everyone’s back that matters (except Cale Makar) and Donskoi is back to his bottom-six role. Might as well try to sell high and see who bites.
P.K. Subban finally got a point! And it was on the power-play! Sadly, that doesn’t change anything for the New Jersey Devils star. It’s still an appalling season and not a lot suggests he’ll rebound. Subban has one point in his last 23 contests. His personal and five-on-five shooting percentages are low, so maybe there’s more he has to offer. But there’s no sugar-coating the level of bust we are witnessing.
Once again we find a slew of San Jose Sharks frustrating fantasy hockey owners. Popular sleeper pick Kevin Labanc has zero points in his last four and only 19 on the season, exactly a 41-point pace. Logan Couture managed a goal Sunday night but has four points in his previous eight games. Forward Timo Meier is pointless in three straight now, with only four in his last 10. Though he’s still hitting, Evander Kane has contributed just three points over his previous nine. His shot totals are down some over that period as well: seven times he’s only managed two or fewer shots.
Over the years, Washington Capitals defenceman Radko Gudas has made a name for himself as the king of banger leagues. For the past four seasons, Gudas has racked up at least 100 hits and 100 blocks. Since November 1, there have been 13 instances where he’s failed to block a shot. Four other times he had just one. For context, last year Gudas had zero blocks only 15 times all season. He’s still on pace to carry the 100-100 streak to five seasons, but he’ll fall short in blocks if this kind of pace keeps up.
A Buy-Low Candidate
Last year was a huge breakout year for Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat. Only eight goals this year, which paces out to just 18 for the season. At least the assist rate is a bit higher than last season, but that’s not why you drafted him. There’s reason to be hopeful, though: DeBrincat is pacing for more shots, and his shooting percentage is wildly low compared to his career average. If there’s a prime buy-low target, it’s this guy.
Only a couple shutouts on the ledger this week. Joonas Korpisalo of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets. Hellbuyck continues to carry the Jets into contention in the Central, posting a 17-10-2 record and three shutouts. Korpisalo improved to 16-10-3 and has two shutouts (and kind of a third – see below).
It’s rare, but Korpisalo pulled it off: a four-win week. No other goalie in fantasy hockey Week 12 even had three. Korpisalo only allowed six goals, making 92 saves and posting a .939 save percentage in the process. The week prior he carried a shutout into overtime, and this week he saw one all the way through. Elvis Merzlikins has been as big a bust as anyone, so there’s no threat of Korpisalo losing time either. Total dominance lately (Yahoo’s No. 1 player the past seven days), and fantasy hockey owners are catching on – he’s up to 62% owned.
Philadelphia Flyers goalie Carter Hart is playing well again. Hart earned two wins this past week and posted a sparkly .966 save percentage. He allowed just one goal in each outing, improving to 12-7-3 on the season.
St. Louis Blues backup Jake Allen, as predicted, is seeing more playing time than he’s seen in a while. Given this is Jordan Binnington‘s first full season as an NHL starter, the Blues are looking to rest him as much as possible in preparation for defending their Cup title. Allen got two starts in Week 12 – to Binnington’s one – and won both, stopping 69 of 72.
Two more wins in two starts for Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry. For the week, the breakout sensation posted a 1.50 goals-against-average and a .952 save percentage, stopping 59 of 62 total shots. He’s now won 11 of his 16 appearances.
Though he likely won’t see much time moving forward, Panthers backup Chris Driedger went out and played like a starter once again. It was his first start since December 3, yet there was no rust at all in a 42-save winning effort. In deep leagues, Driedger isn’t a bad handcuff if something were to happen to starter Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Not So Good
Maple Leafs backup Michael Hutchinson finally notched his first victory of the season in a 29-save, 4-1 win over Detroit. Hutchinson’s record now sits at 1-5-1, with a disgusting 4.06 goals-against-average and .886 save percentage. There are some handcuffs worth stashing (see above), but this isn’t one.
Dallas Stars goalie Ben Bishop would like to forget fantasy hockey Week 12. Winless in three chances, he gave up 12 goals total, with 10 of those coming in his last two. Since his shutout on December 10, Bishop hasn’t been able to add to the win column.
Something had to give for the impenetrable wall that is the New York Islanders tandem. Both Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov lost dismally this week, even though Varlamov played well in another start. Greiss only made one appearance and pinned his owners with five goals against and a .667 save percentage. Varlamov, in three appearances, allowed 10 goals. At least he won a game. Greiss was a total liability this week.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray finally got another shot to impress, and again he flopped. Murray only stopped 10 of 14 shots in a losing effort. Jarry is still playing exceptionally, and it’s looking more and more like he’ll take the job outright.
There’s another backup who looks like the job could be his soon, and that’s Pavel Francouz for the Colorado Avalanche. Starter Philipp Grubauer is healthy again but not playing well. He gave up 10 goals in three outings and didn’t find a win. Francouz was praised last week, and after this past week, the case is solidifying.
Week 13 Schedule Highlights (Dec. 23 – Dec. 29)
Here are the most and least games by teams this week. If your fantasy hockey league locks lineups weekly, consider sitting all but the very best players who will only play once or even twice. For streaming purposes, focus on the four-game guys, or at least guys who play off-nights. Heavy nights are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Off-nights are Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
Anaheim, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, San Jose.
No one plays four games this week due to the holidays, and everyone not listed above plays three. Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and San Jose all have back-to-backs slated, so it’s likely a starter and a backup will each get to play.
For goalie streaming, the four teams above with back-to-backs will most likely give the backups a go, and the best option is definitely Anton Khudobin in Dallas. He’s won two of this last three, allowing five goals total. Khudobin was huge on Thursday, stopping 45 of 48 in a win.
As for skaters, you could try to ride the Acciari hot streak – he’s available in 80 percent of fantasy hockey leagues. Gustav Nyquist had six points this past week and is only 25 percent owned. With Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, look for Nyquist’s role to increase. Justin Faulk is finally playing like the guy the Blues traded for, with points in four of his last five and 24 shots in that timeframe.