10 fantasy hockey takeaways: Elias Pettersson is back

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Elias Pettersson has been showing flashes of a star of late. (Photo by Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Elias Pettersson has been showing flashes of a star of late. (Photo by Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The problem with a player like Elias Pettersson in fantasy hockey is if he's not finding the scoresheet, he's not giving you much.

Pettersson is one of the bright young stars in the NHL, but he doesn't do much for fantasy managers during cold stretches like the one he endured to open the 2021-22 campaign. With no high-end hitting or shot-blocking seasons on his resume, the games where Pettersson is held without a point can really hurt.

The fortunate part of a player like Pettersson, however, is he's a proven point producer in the league. So when he starts to get going, like he is right now, he can be sensational.

Here are my 10 fantasy hockey takeaways from the week that was, starting with the Vancouver Canucks' middle man.

1. Walk with Elias Pettersson (96 percent rostered on Yahoo)

Pettersson seems to be very much back after a poor start.

Through the first nine games of the season, the Canucks' centre struggled. During that stretch, he posted just one goal and four points, owned a minus-3 rating, and had posted three shots or more in a game just three times. Since then, however, Pettersson has been a much more productive player.

Over his last five contests, the Swedish star has recorded two goals and five points and has rifled three shots or more on goal in four of those outings. Additionally, the underlying numbers support his uptick in production. His 1.38 individual expected goals (ixG) mark sits fourth on the squad, his 28 individual Corsi for (iCF) rating ranks second, and his 17 scoring chances are second, according to Natural Stat Trick.

Pettersson has been one of the most traded players in Yahoo Fantasy in the last few days, and if you're wondering what action you should be taking, it's that you should be trying to buy the 23-year-old.

In a one-for-one deal, I'd be willing to move players such as Elias Lindholm, Johnny Gaudreau, and William Nylander.

2. David Pastrnak (100 percent rostered on Yahoo) is going to be fine

The most-traded player in Yahoo Fantasy hockey over the past few days has been David Pastrnak, and if the Pasta manager in your league is willing to deal the sniper, I suggest you do whatever you can to make a deal happen.

One of the reasons why I believe Pastrnak has been moved so much in fantasy hockey leagues is because of Boston's very light schedule to begin the year. The Bruins have played just 11 games so far, the fewest of any squad in the Atlantic division, and the Czech winger recently went through a four-game pointless stretch that spanned 10 days. He was also demoted to the second line in one of those contests, a move that could've spooked some fantasy managers.

Pastrnak is once again playing alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, however, and any worries about his fantasy value should subside. He's registered two goals and five points over his last three games and has combined for 20 shots on goal.

The 25-year-old leads Boston in ixG, iCF, and scoring chances. He's fine, and if someone in your league is a little nervous about him, send them an offer. You should be willing to move almost anybody to acquire him.

3. Troy Terry (68 percent rostered on Yahoo) has arrived, but his breakout is unsustainable

It took a little longer than some were expecting, but Troy Terry has finally broken out in the NHL. Through 14 contests, the 24-year-old has potted 11 goals and 19 points.

It's the goal-scoring that has really caught me off guard, as Terry profiled as more of a playmaker than a sniper, but it doesn't appear as though it's sustainable.

Terry is rocking a ridiculously high 33.3 percent shooting, a mark much higher than his career number of 12.1 percent. The Anaheim Ducks forward has only played 143 games, so his career number is based on a relatively small sample size, but even for the best goal scorers, 33.3 percent is unsustainable.

To put it in perspective, Leon Draisaitl leads all NHL skaters in shooting percentage over the past five years with 18.8 percent, and no offence to Terry, but he's not Draisaitl. Additionally, he's only posted an ixG of 3.27 this year, meaning he's nearly tripled his expected goals total despite hovering right around that number in each of his past three campaigns.

I do think Terry can stay somewhat fantasy relevant, however, as I expect his assist total to rise with all of the ice-time he's seeing. Terry has topped 20 minutes of time on ice in five of his last seven outings, and he's playing on Anaheim's top line. That being said, Terry is a recommended sell-high candidate.

4. Jonathan Quick (25 percent rostered on Yahoo) or Calvin Petersen (43 percent)?

The Los Angeles Kings have been quite good to begin the 2021-22 season, and are riding a seven-game win streak into the weekend despite missing their best defenceman in Drew Doughty. With Jonathan Quick's play declining rapidly over the past few seasons, a lot of people expected Calvin Petersen to take over the crease this year, but that hasn't been the case at all.

Quick has outduelled his teammate, posting a better save percentage (.935 to .907), goals-against average (1.98 to 2.82), and goals-saved above expected (4.9 to -0.5), according to MoneyPuck. He's gained the edge in starts, manning the crease in eight games as opposed to six for Petersen.

But even with all of this early-season success, I'd still side with Petersen.

Quick's past few seasons are just too bad to ignore. From 2018-19 through 2020-21, Quick produced a horrendous .896 save percentage, and a 3.05 goals-against average. Those are much worse than the .916 save percentage and 2.79 goals-against average Petersen earned during the same period.

Additionally, Petersen's 2021-22 numbers are highly skewed by one bad start. In his third outing of the campaign, the 27-year-old allowed seven goals on 40 shots to the St. Louis Blues. If you dropped that contest from his record, he'd own a .930 save percentage this year. 

If both are available on your waiver wire and you're looking to pick one up, I recommend Petersen. He's been solid throughout his NHL career, and he'll likely take this crease over at some point this season.

5. J.T. Compher (30 percent rostered) is the player to target in MacKinnon's absence

The Colorado Avalanche's first line has not been able to stay on the ice this season as all three members — Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon - have missed time. MacKinnon, for the second time, will find himself on the sidelines, as the superstar is set to miss three weeks with a lower-body injury. His absence creates a very fantasy-friendly opportunity for J.T. Compher, who has already seen success while stepping up in the lineup for the Avs.

Through 11 contests, Compher has produced six goals and 10 points. Also, his 3.18 ixG mark ranks second on the Avalanche this season, sitting ahead of both Landeskog and MacKinnon. Compher will slot onto Colorado's first line and top power-play unit, setting him up very well for the next three weeks.

Andre Burakovsky is also worth monitoring, as the winger will see some time on the first power-play unit as well. He's available in nearly 50 percent of Yahoo leagues.

6. You can drop Oliver Ekman-Larsson (75 percent rostered on Yahoo)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson's time with the Vancouver Canucks hasn't done much to bolster his fantasy-hockey value, and if you're eyeing someone on the waiver wire, feel free to drop the blue liner.

In two of his last three games, Ekman-Larsson hasn't played more than 20 minutes. Additionally, while playing on the Canucks' second unit, Ekman-Larsson isn't having nearly as much power-play success as he did last year.

During the 2020-21 campaign, 14 of Ekman-Larsson's 24 points came on the man advantage. Although he's still seen a respectable 37.2 minutes of time on ice on the man advantage, he's not taking the ice with Vancouver's best players, which puts a damper on his upside. He has one point on the power play this year, and that's a major reason why he has just three points in 14 games.

If his ice-time continues to steadily decline, it'll also hamper his hits and blocks totals. At this point, you're likely better off playing the waiver wire than waiting for Ekman-Larsson to rebound.

7. The Ryan O'Reilly (93 percent rostered on Yahoo) buy-low window is open

Ryan O'Reilly was the most-traded player in Yahoo fantasy hockey on Thursday, which tells me people are a little nervous about the St. Louis Blues centre.

Well, I'm not, and I'd actually be looking to acquire him.

O'Reilly has played three games since returning from a stint into the NHL's COVID-19 protocols, and he hasn't recorded a point. After his first game back, he stated that he didn't quite feel fully normal, a claim that could certainly make some fantasy managers anxious. It doesn't bother me, though, because some rust after being sidelined with an illness for 10 days should've been expected.

Prior to his absence, O'Reilly had posted five points in five games and ranked third on the Blues in ixG with a 1.74 rating. I expect sooner rather than later, O'Reilly will return to his old ways.

Some players I'd be willing to swap for the Blues captain are Claude Giroux, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Jonathan Marchessault.

8. What to make of the Dallas Stars' goaltending situation?

There's an old saying that goes "If you have two goalies, you don't have a goalie." The Dallas Stars have four goalies, which we're learning is twice as bad as having two.

Nobody wants to cease control of this crease. After four really strong starts to open the season, Braden Holtby has posted a save percentage below .900 in three of his last four outings. Anton Khudobin has been worse, as he doesn't have a save percentage higher than .910 in any of his four starts this year, and to top it all off, Jake Oettinger has been lit up for 17 goals in his last four starts for the AHL Texas Stars. Are we sure a banged-up Ben Bishop is worse than this?

In all seriousness, the Stars have been massively disappointing to begin the season, but there's enough talent on this roster to turn things around. That's what makes this such an intriguing crease for fantasy hockey, because getting the lead netminder on this squad could be a league-winning move. How should fantasy managers approach this situation, though? That's the tough question.

My recommendation is that fantasy managers who are in dire straits between the pipes add Khudobin, as he is the easiest to acquire in fantasy hockey, being rostered in just 17 percent of leagues. Given the volatility and uncertainty that surrounds Dallas's goaltending, getting the goalie who'll cost you the least is usually the smartest way to approach a situation like this. If Holtby is available in your league, you can add him instead, but considering he's rostered in 50 percent of leagues, there's a smaller chance that he's kicking around on your waiver wire.

Unless you play in a dynasty league, there's really no need to cling onto Oettinger. Until he figures it out in the AHL, he isn't going to be promoted to the main roster anytime soon. Bishop has been practicing with the team and is eligible to return from LTIR, but he can't re-join the squad until it clears up enough cap space. He's worth stashing with an open IR spot if you have one.

9. Neal Pionk (92 percent rostered on Yahoo) appreciation post

There's something to be said about dependability in fantasy hockey, and few players are more reliable than Winnipeg Jets defenceman Neal Pionk.

Through the first 13 games of the 2021-22 campaign, Pionk's delivered 10 points — with four coming on the power play — 32 shots, 16 blocks, and 39 hits. He's been one of the MVPs of the fantasy-hockey season so far, being rostered on 18.2 percent of the top-500 Yahoo public-league teams, tied for the sixth-most of any player.

Of course, the main reason for that was his ADP in drafts this offseason. Pionk was being selected outside the top-100 players in fantasy hockey, slotting in behind guys rearguards like Jeff Petry, Jakob Chychrun, and Tyson Barrie.

Someone who produces like Pionk is going to remain fantasy-relevant throughout the year. His value derives from his ability to rack up hits and blocks, and considering he has three seasons on his resume of 70-plus blocks and 100-plus hits, he won't slow down in either category.

The point production will likely fall off a bit, but he's finished each of the past two campaigns with a 49-point pace or better extrapolated over an 82-game season. It also helps that he's featured on the first defence pairing and top power-play unit.

He's worth buying high on, as the Pionk manager in your league may not truly value the blueliner appropriately.

10. Sell high on Tyler Bertuzzi (83 percent rostered on Yahoo) Round 2

If you hung onto Tyler Bertuzzi after he scored six goals in four games then proceeded to watch him go pointless in the three games following that, consider yourself lucky, you have a second chance to sell high on the Detroit Red Wings winger.

Bertuzzi has heated up once again, as he's produced three goals and six points over his last four games. The reason why you want to deal Bertuzzi, however, stems from the fact that his shooting percentage is unsustainably high. The 26-year-old has scored nine goals on 29 shots, resulting in 31 percent shooting, a mark nearly double his career 15.9 percent, which is already fairly high.

Players I'd be trying to target in trade are Jason Robertson, Tyler Seguin, and Bryan Rust.

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