10 fantasy hockey takeaways: Send out your offers for Brady Tkachuk

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Now's the time to buy low on Brady Tkachuk, Jeremy Swayman is still criminally under-rostered, and eight more fantasy hockey takeaways to consider this week.
Now's the time to buy low on Brady Tkachuk, Jeremy Swayman is still criminally under-rostered, and eight more fantasy hockey takeaways to consider this week.

The Senators didn't even really play this past week yet their captain somehow managed to headline the top-10 takeaways.

Yes, the Sens are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that has resulted in a number of players being placed into the league's protocols and three postponed games. Just because the team has been inactive for the past seven days, however, doesn't mean there isn't an impact in fantasy hockey because of it.

While you may not be affected because you have no Sens on your team, there are people in your league that have been, and that technically impacts you, too.

Here are my 10 fantasy hockey takeaways from the past week in the NHL.

1. This is your chance to buy low on Brady Tkachuk (98% rostered on Yahoo)

The Brady Tkachuk manager in your fantasy league may be a little unsatisfied with how little the winger has actually been in the lineup this season — and potentially a little more willing to deal him. That's where you come in.

The Sens captain has recorded just seven points in 12 games, which puts him on pace for a mere 48 points over the course of a full 82 game season. He's also averaged fewer shots per game (3.93 to 3.00) than he did last year, by a fairly decent margin. So his production when he's actually been on the ice hasn't been overwhelming.

There are a couple of reasons why you want to send out some offers for Tkachuk, though. He's still hitting everything in sight, as he's dished out 56 body checks, which sits fourth amongst all forwards. Additionally, he still rates well in individual expected goals per-60. His mark of 1.15 is tied for 37th in the NHL, meaning he's still playing a style of game that is conducive to generating offense.

2. Jeremy Swayman (59 percent rostered on Yahoo) is running away with the starter's job

Still somehow available in over 40 percent of Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues, Jeremy Swayman is really looking like he's the netminder to roster from the Boston Bruins.

What made this past week notable for the young puck stopper was the fact that he started on both Saturday and Sunday for the Bs, and impressively won each contest. He's now won four-straight starts and has posted a .930 save percentage across those games. 

His rise is coming at the perfect time, too, as teammate Linus Ullmark has faltered of late. In his last five starts, the Swede is just 2-3 and has earned a shaky .887 save percentage. 

Ullmark (66 percent rostered on Yahoo) is actually rostered in more leagues than Swayman, but that shouldn't be the case. 

3. Logan O'Connor (17% rostered on Yahoo) next man up for Colorado Avalanche

Injuries and absences have defined the early portion of the Colorado Avalanche's season, and Logan O'Connor now finds himself in a prime spot to carry some fantasy value for a couple of weeks.

While Nathan MacKinnon remains sidelined with a lower-body injury and J.T. Compher joins him with an upper-body injury, O'Connor is slotted onto the wing of the Avs' top line alongside Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. 

Over his last three games, O'Connor has logged 16-minutes or more in each outing and has registered two goals and three points. Overall, O'Connor is not an overly intriguing player as he was undrafted and never really had a standout season points-wise as a prospect, but he carries some fantasy relevance in his current role. The Avs play four games next week, so he will be useful.

4. The Oliver Kylington (22% rostered on Yahoo) conundrum

Few NHL players have been more efficient than Oliver Kylington this season.

For someone who sees virtually zero time on the power play and owns an average time on ice of 16:28, which is low for a defenseman, he's been highly productive. In 16 games, he's recorded 12 points. This extreme efficiency begs the question: How?

For starters, he has a pretty impressive individual Corsi-for per-60 mark of 12.39, which sits 39th in the NHL amongst rearguards. It ranks ahead of players like Seth Jones, Miro Heiskanen, Aaron Ekblad, and Victor Hedman. Additionally, his shots per-60 mark slots in at 29th, besting peers like Thomas Chabot, and Victor Hedman.

With all of this being said, Kylington is a fine add for those in need of help from the back-end, but if his minutes don't increase, it's very unlikely he's able to continue producing at the rate he is, even with the impressive underlying numbers.

5. I never stopped believing in Trevor Zegras (39% rostered on Yahoo)

On Wednesday, Trevor Zegras was added in 4,842 Yahoo leagues, making him the third-most added player in all of Yahoo fantasy hockey. For those who weren't quick enough to scoop him up off the waiver wire, I'm not sorry, you should've been stashing him like I was this whole time.

Since returning from a two-game absence due to an upper-body injury, Zegras has been great. In his last three games, the 2019 first-round pick has recorded four goals and five points despite seeing less than 15-minutes of ice-time in two of those outings. While the ice-time has been a little lower than expected since his return, I don't expect that to last. He was seeing 18-plus minutes a night pretty consistently before his injury, and as someone who's featured on the top power-play unit and is producing, he'll likely see a minutes bump sometime soon.

The 20-year-old is someone I'd be willing to acquire via trade or free agency in all formats.

6. I'm willing to give Cole Caufield (30% rostered on Yahoo) a second chance

Cole Caufield has been recalled to the NHL by the Montreal Canadiens after a brief stint with the Laval Rocket in the AHL.

Of course, the promising sniper was sent to the AHL because of a slow start to the year with the Habs that resulted in zero goals and one point across 10 games. Despite a poor go with the Canadiens to begin the 2021-22 campaign, I'm willing to give Caufield a second chance now that he can be acquired for basically nothing in most leagues.

I wasn't in on the 20-year-old when he was being selected ahead of players like Neal Pionk, Bryan Rust, and Vladimir Tarasenko in fantasy drafts, but now that the market has corrected on him, I don't mind the idea of adding him. He recorded five points across his last five games with the Rocket and rifled nine shots on goal in his final outing.

He's been added to the Habs' top line and he will also see some time on the power play. Even though Montreal was held scoreless on Thursday night, I'm willing to overlook it. Players that have scored well over a point-per-game at the NCAA level that also feature Caufield's goal-scoring ability are hard to come by, there's likely nobody on your waiver wire who has more upside.

7. Dropping Conor Garland (59% rostered on Yahoo) isn't that bad of an idea

Vancouver has been a trainwreck of late, and while it's worth trying to buy low on some of its top members, a player like Conor Garland can be dropped if you're looking to make more roster space.

The 25-year-old scored in his most recent outing against the Avalanche, but that was his first marker in 10 games. The one major reason why I've soured on Garland is his inconsistent ice-time. He opened the year seeing 16-minutes or more in five of his first seven games, but since then, he's topped that mark just four times in his last 10 outings. This shift is largely due to the strong play of Nils Hoglander, who has bumped Garland down to the third line.

Additionally, with just 11 hits and three blocks, there's not much Garland is bringing to your fantasy team other than point production.

With just five points in his last 11 games, there's likely someone better on your waiver wire than a third-liner on a struggling team, and that's why I'm willing to cut bait.

8. What does Aleksander Barkov's (100% rostered on Yahoo) injury do to the Panthers?

With nine goals and 17 points to open the 2021-22 season, Aleksander Barkov was proving why he's one of the true superstars in the game and someone who deserves Hart Trophy consideration. Unfortunately, the talented centre will miss some time after a brutal knee-on-knee hit courtesy of New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield.

Barkov's lower-body injury has earned him the return designation of week-to-week, which basically means he'll be out for more than six days. As the top centre on one of the best teams in hockey in the Florida Panthers, his absence is huge for both the Cats and fantasy hockey managers.

His spot inside the squad's top-six forwards will initially be given to middle-man Anton Lundell, which is very intriguing for fantasy purposes. Lundell was the 12th-overall pick in the 2020 draft, and he's started the 2021-22 campaign strongly with three goals and seven points across 13 games. Lundell captained Finland at last year's World Juniors and posted 25 points through 26 games for HIFK in Finland's premier hockey league. He's rostered in just eight percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues, which makes him one of the best waiver wire targets right now.

Additionally, Sam Reinhart should see a slight uptick in fantasy production. The 26-year-old has been promoted to fill Barkov's slot on the top power-play unit. He's gone a little cold with just one goal in his last 12 games, but tethered to an elite man-advantage unit in the interim, Reinhart should be able to notch a few feel-good tallies to get back on track. He's someone I actually wouldn't mind buying low on if possible.

9. Is Kaapo Kakko (10% rostered on Yahoo) finally breaking out?

Kaapo Kakko's ice-time has jumped pretty significantly since Sammy Blais suffered a torn ACL and he's been making good on his expanded opportunity.

Since the game in which the incident occurred, Kakko has recorded two goals and two assists, while logging 20:01, 17:2, and 16:41 in time-on-ice in each of the three contests, respectively. Despite it being a small sample size, Kakko has been highly productive in these games, leading the New York Rangers in individual expected goals and being tied for second in high-danger chances with four. 

As the second overall pick of the 2019 NHL Draft and someone who recorded 38 points in 45 games while playing for TPS in Liiga as an 18-year-old, any sign of Kakko figuring things out should have fantasy managers rushing to the waiver wire to add him.

10. The sell-high window for Marc-Andre Fleury (86 percent rostered on Yahoo) is OPEN

If you have Marc-Andre Fleury in fantasy hockey and you aren't trying to trade him right now, you aren't doing it right.

The Chicago Blackhawks' netminder may not be worth the fourth-round pick many used to select him, but his value has increased over the past week or so which makes this the perfect time to cash out and cut your losses.

In his last three starts, Fleury has posted a .950 save percentage and owns a sterling 3-0-0 record. The wins have brought his overall record to a little more respectable mark of 4-7-0, while his save percentage on the year has risen to .901. On a Chicago team that has a bad defense and is likely going through a temporary surge following head coach Jeremy Colliton's firing, this is probably the strongest chance you have to recoup something for the soon-to-be 37-year-old.

The Blackhawks are still allowing the eighth-most scoring chances per-60 in the NHL despite playing better recently, according to Natural Stat Trick, and there really aren't players in place to help drastically improve the play of this unit. Some goalies I'd be looking to target in trade are Spencer Knight and Semyon Varlamov, as these are netminders splitting starts on teams that'll likely be much better than Chicago this season.

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