Fantasy trends and hidden gems: Matt Duchene’s positive impact, Pavel Zacha’s ‘motivation’ and more

It’s Friday and we have quite a bit of ground to cover. Let’s just get right into it!

Four-Game Streamers

Filip Hronek, D, VAN | 60% Yahoo

A four-game schedule highlighted by light nights on Monday and Sunday is valuable in itself. But Hronek’s role alongside Quinn Hughes is what really makes him an attractive option. The duo doesn’t have it easy in Vancouver with a role against top competition. But that pairing has been excellent in their minutes and kept the ice tilted. Hronek can sprinkle in fantasy help pretty much across the board, making him a very solid option worth considering. 

Matt Duchene, C/RW, DAL | 28% Yahoo

Heading into Thursday night, the line of Mason Marchment, Duchene, and Tyler Seguin had just 53 minutes of five-on-five play together. But in that time, they earned over 70 percent of the expected goals share and outscored opponents 3-1. A good performance in a super small sample like this can be over-emphasized, so that’s always the risk. Duchene on his own, though, has had such a positive impact on the Stars’ offensive creation at five-on-five so far. With a four-game schedule ahead, plus two light nights on Monday and Sunday, this could be a savvy add for the week. 

Marco Rossi, C, MIN | 3% Yahoo

Rossi’s adding some secondary scoring in Minnesota and can help add to a team’s shot column. But what makes him a player to keep an eye on this week — besides the Wild’s four-game slate, that includes lighter nights on Sunday and Friday — is where he was promoted to on Thursday. If Rossi can stick around on the top line between Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy, then he just got a major value boost (and let the record show, that as this column was being written he scored once with this new-look line and was on the ice for another). It’s entirely possible this line was just an in-game adjustment that won’t last, but if it does… 

Anton Lundell, C, FLA | 3% Yahoo

Lundell’s gotten off to a pretty underwhelming start this season, and his fantasy value has obviously plummeted as a result. But with Sam Bennett sidelined again, he’s been moved up between Carter Verhaeghe and Matthew Tkachuk on the second line. That’s a prime opportunity for the younger center and should get his game going. There should be a real #GoodTeammateEffect boost here. 

Niko Mikkola, D, FLA | 1% Yahoo

On the flip side of managers wanting offense, some rely on defenders to check off the more physical categories. Between his hits and blocks, Mikkola should help.  Florida’s favorable schedule makes him a solid option, with light nights on Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday. Florida’s also in action on a six-game Friday, so he should slot in each day he’s on a roster. But the game to watch is against Carolina — they’re one of the most frequent shooting teams in the league, so it’s easy to imagine him racking up blocks in that meeting. 

Alex Barre-Boulet, C, TBL | 1% Yahoo

Like Rossi and Lundell, Barre-Boulet’s fantasy potential stems from his lineup placement. Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov are an elite one-two punch in Tampa Bay, and whoever rounds out their line is a player to watch. Ahead of Thursday night, this line has earned 57 percent of the expected goals share and seem to be due for better results. 

Light-Night Performers

Screenshot 2023 11 02 at 11.21.07 AM

This week’s schedule construction is pretty much as typical as it gets. There’s light nights on Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday. Friday just falls out of our definition of a light night, but a six-game slate is worth highlighting too. The real positive is that each “light night” actually has a couple of games — at minimum, six teams are in action on the least busy day of the week. 

There’s a ton of overlap with our four-game streamers — so that puts extra emphasis on Tampa, Minnesota, Florida, Toronto, Vancouver, Columbus, and even San Jose. If you’re looking for players who you can actually slot in and not just leave on your bench, who play on more than one occasion, you should be in luck with the aforementioned players. 

Trending Up

Cam Talbot, G, LAK | 57% Yahoo

The Kings are clicking so far this season and are providing their goaltenders offensive and defensive support. That’s helped Talbot settle into his new role in Los Angeles. He’s put up four quality starts in seven appearances, and could play twice next week — in one half of a back-to-back, and is a possibility against the Flyers next Saturday as well. 

Pavel Zacha, C,  BOS | 46% Yahoo

Zacha heard us say “keep” last week but saw there was a timer on that. 

In the five games since that writing (pre-matchup vs. Toronto on Thursday), he put up four goals and two assists. Plus, he’s picked up his shot volume and even kicked in a few hits. The “Fantasy Trends” motivation is apparently real.

Mikey Anderson, D, LAK | 29% Yahoo

Generally, Anderson isn’t a highly ranked fantasy defenseman. Sure, he contributes some shots and blocks but usually managers need more. Well, right now they’re getting it, as he’s currently contributing to the team’s offense a bit more. It won’t be a surprise if this doesn’t last — while he’s a positive on his team’s shot and goal generation at five-on-five relative to his teammates, the scoring chance generation isn’t as strong. But he could be worth betting on next week in certain matchups where his usual contributions could shine — expect blocks vs. a team like Pittsburgh that attempts a lot of shots, or hits vs. a more physical team like Vegas. 

Lukas Dostal, G, ANA | 27% Yahoo

With John Gibson day-to-day, there’s even more playing time for Dostal in Anaheim. The Ducks have been a surprising bright spot in the first month of the season, and this goaltender definitely contributes to that. He’s given his team a chance to win in four of six starts — including a super impressive performance against the Penguins, saving about four goals above expected in just 40 minutes of play. While the Ducks probably can’t be expected to keep piling up the wins, Dostal should still bring some quality goaltending to a team in need. 

Pavel Mintyukov, D, ANA | 26% Yahoo

We covered Mintyukov last week, and if you’re not convinced just yet, we’ll leave you with this… 

Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, SEA | 16% Yahoo

If you’re looking for someone to bring offense and a physical edge, go elsewhere. But if you need a depth forward to chip into the scoring categories, Bjorkstrand should help. Jaden Schwartz is another option in Seattle, but the difference between these two forwards is their five-on-five play below the surface. Bjorkstrand has a better influence relative to his teammates on the team’s expected goal creation, and that should lead to more sustainable results. 

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G, BUF | 23% Yahoo

There tends to be some reliability issues with the goaltending in Buffalo, but Luukkonen impressed this past week with strong performances against Colorado (2.41 goals saved above expected) and Philadelphia (1.53 goals saved above expected). This probably isn’t the goalie to drop someone else for — Devon Levi is likely to play sometime this weekend. But there’s back-to-backs this week, and an opportunity to start early in the week against the Hurricanes depending on how this weekend goes as well. So UPL could provide a little extra goaltending depth for those who need an extra start or two. 

 Erik Gustafsson, D, NYR | 7% Yahoo

If Adam Fox is going to miss any extended amount of time after leaving Thursday’s game early, then Gustafsson will become the team’s power play quarterback on the top unit in his absence. Last year was a prime example of how effective he can be both on the advantage and in a greater role when tasked. While it would only make sense if the Rangers’ high-end power play takes a step back without Fox at the point, the forwards should keep the production going with Gustafsson on that unit if they’re without their No. 1 defenseman. 

Data via Evolving-Hockey, HockeyViz, HockeyStatCards, AllThreeZones, and NaturalStatTrick. This story relies on shot-based metrics; here is a primer on these numbers. 

(Photo of Pavel Zacha: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top