It’s hard to believe it, but the fantasy hockey regular season already is winding down. Playoffs start in the not too distant future. This week is a weird one since it’s All-Star week. Head-to-head matchups are extended to a two-week period since over half the league doesn’t even lace up this week. Hate to break it to anyone relying on Blackhawks, Avalanche, or Islanders players, but they only play once this week and next – a grand total of twice in this matchup. It’s a whacky one, so be sure to closely monitor who’s playing and when. Stream accordingly. Anyway, let’s take a look back at the week that was. Feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Twitter (@jkj0787) with questions, comments, concerns, etc. Last week’s impressions are here.
Note: For the sake of consistency, Yahoo! standard leagues are the baseline for all rankings and ownership rates.
Week 16 Fantasy Hockey Impressions
Dominik Kubalik has been sizzling hot over the last couple of weeks or so. The Chicago Blackhawks forward is the 11th ranked player in Yahoo! standard leagues over the past 14 days and really should be owned in all formats at this point. He’s sniffing around the top-100 overall for the season with his recent goal surge – ten in his last eleven. Going back farther, he has 13 goals in the last 15 games (19 total points). Dual-eligible winger. Still out there in roughly half of Yahoo! leagues.
He fell off for a bit, but Anthony Cirelli is right back on track after his hat trick Saturday. He had three assists this week as well, adding a fair amount of shots and hits. Cirelli is seeing a good chunk of ice time, but it’s a bummer he’s on the second power-play unit. The Tampa Bay Lightning play zero games this week but have four the next. At only 17 percent owned, you could go ahead and scoop him and have a good shot at some production down the road.
The change-of-scenery effect is real, folks. Ilya Kovalchuk continued his stellar start to his career with the Montreal Canadiens. The grizzled veteran had three goals and an assist this week. The shots and hits keep coming in, as well. Once Brendan Gallagher gets back he’s sure to bump Kovalchuk down, but it’s clear the 36-year-old still has some gas in the tank. He should still be able to produce if he can maintain a top-six role, and he’s certainly earned it. Same situation for Montreal as Tampa, no games this week but four the next. Kovalchuk is sitting at 33 percent owned.
Phillip Danault earns himself a mention here after a rough stretch of underwhelming play. He won’t blow you away with category-filling production, but the 26-year-old can help lots of fantasy hockey owners out there. If he could ever register some power-play points his stock would be even higher. Currently sitting at 36 points for the season, the former first-round pick had five points this week and is a top-75 player overall thanks to hits and a good plus-minus. Like Kovalchuk, Danault is available in two-thirds of leagues.
Nice week for New York Islanders forward Jordan Eberle. His ownership spiked a little given the five-game week, and he did not disappoint. Eberle netted three goals and two assists playing alongside Mathew Barzal on the top line. Two of his points were on the power play. If you’ve got the room and his deployment keeps up, he’s a borderline hold right now. The Isles only play twice total in the next matchup, though. Eberle is available in over 80 percent of leagues.
Minnesota Wild veteran Zach Parise has goals in three straight games (four total). Three-fourths of those were power-play goals. The Wild aren’t a sexy team, but they keep winning more often than just about everyone thought. And there are some solid fantasy hockey options on this team as well. Parise is 23 percent owned and can still score and provide a decent amount of shots. The Wild play twice this week but only one time next week.
The Dallas Stars are a fantastic defensive squad, but the offence leaves much to be desired. There aren’t a lot of fantasy options in green and white, and Alexander Radulov is no exception. Radulov was zero help to owners this week, scoring no points and doing almost nothing else either. After a nine-game point streak, he only has one in his last seven. Honestly, 89 percent owned is too high. Dallas doesn’t know how to score anymore.
Speaking of too-highly owned, another Star really shouldn’t be on any rosters at this point. Joe Pavelski, a staple on fantasy hockey rosters for years, has fallen to maybe-worth-a-stream status in 2019-20. Yet, 66 percent of owners can’t seem to pull the trigger. Pavelski has 19 points in 48 games – that’s a 32-point pace. Who can afford a 32-point player on their roster? He has one goal and four assists in his last 16 games. There’s no reason whatsoever to hold onto him. Forget the name value and move on.
It felt inevitable, and now Ottawa Senators centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau has regressed to the mean. He managed an assist Sunday, but still only has two points in the last seven games. Dating back to his last 23 games, Pageau has 12 points – a 43-point pace. JGP is still a fine option in bangers category leagues, but if you’re in a points league and still holding onto this guy, it’s time to cut the cord.
Overall it’s been a good season for Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, but he’s riding a five-game pointless streak. With only two points in his last eight games, things are tough for his owners these days. Shots and hits are still doing okay, but the points are concerning. Tkachuk hasn’t scored a goal since December 27.
Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty may be more of a categories-only option nowadays. Doughty has two points in his last 11 games, and his season pace has slipped to 44 points. Points are few and far between, but the veteran still racks up hits and blocks galore. Plus-minus is never going to be good playing for the Kings, either.
Bunch of shutouts this week. Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins is a literal brick wall right now. He has three shutouts in his past four outings, two of which came this week. The following only had one this week: Carey Price, Ilya Samsonov, Connor Hellebuyck, Philipp Grubauer, and Alex Stalock.
For the second straight week, Elvis Merzlikins won three games. In addition to his two shutouts, Merzlikins stopped 32 of 34 against the Hurricanes. Everything you can say about this guy has been said. He’s been otherworldly since the injury to Joonas Korpisalo. In those 10 games, he’s 8-2-0 with a dazzling .955 save percentage. A lucky 40 percent of you in Yahoo! leagues can still go get him. Even when Korpi comes back, Elvis is 100 percent a hold.
Carey Price as we know pitched a shutout this week, but he’s also boasting a four-game win streak. Price has been terrible at times, but he’s been fantastic of late. In those four, Price has stopped 142 of 148 shots. The 32-year-old is trending up in terms of goals saved versus expected goals, according to Charting Hockey (search for Price and check out the handy chart in the bottom right corner).
Buffalo Sabres goalies Linus Ullmark has been one of the better goalies in the league over the past week. Ullmark has gone 5-2-0 in his last seven, posting a .932 save percentage along the way. The Sabres are nothing to write home about, but Ullmark has turned into a workhorse goalie who could help in the right league. And he’s allowed two goals or less in six of those seven.
New York Rangers backup Alexandar Georgiev won two games this week, allowing two goals in each outing. That’s the third straight game he’s allowed only two goals. Georgiev has been a popular name tossed around in trade talks. At this point, he’s worth a spot start if the matchup is right, but his fantasy hockey value depends if he can land a starting gig somewhere.
The Not So Good
Semyon Varlamov owners were probably salivating over the prospect of three guaranteed starts in juicy matchups; naturally, he has a bad week. Varlamov lost all three outings (two against the Rangers and one against the Capitals). He allowed 14 goals in total. Over his last seven, the 31-year-old is 1-5-1, with a nice round .900 save percentage. As bad as he’s been, there’s no telling who suits up for the Isles in the two games they play over the upcoming two-week matchup period.
St. Louis Blues All-Star Jordan Binnington was excellent last week, but he’ll head into the break with a bad taste in his mouth. Binnington allowed four goals in both his starts, failing to earn a win. On Saturday, the division rival Avalanche dropped four on him on only 11 shots, resulting in an early exit. It was a rough week, but the second-year pro is still one of the best fantasy hockey options in net.
Toronto Maple Leafs starter Frederik Andersen eeked out one win this week, but it wasn’t pretty. He lost his other two starts and gave up a total of 11 goals. In three of Andersen’s past four starts, he has given up four or more goals against. He only has one win and a gross .864 save percentage over his last six, earning yet another mention for all the wrong reasons.
Even though he began the week with a shutout, Connor Hellebuyck gave up nine goals in his next two starts and ultimately did more harm than good for his owners. The Jets have been atrocious on defence, and Hellebuyck can only do so much. He’s been sensational but tread lightly moving forward. They’re dead last in the league in expected goal share. Yes, worse than Detroit.